Hey Folks! It’s been a quiet month on the blog, but I thought I’d take this quiet time to discuss something that is particularly close to my heart; Community Building.
A question that crops up every now and again is “How do I get more players for this game?” and it’s not just restricted to Warhammer Underworlds, though that is what I’ll focus on…for obvious reasons.
In my time in the ‘hobby’ I’ve helped to reinvigorate the Middle-Earth Startegy Battle Game Community; keeping the game on life support during the dark days of Games Workshop by regularly running large events & hosting a successful YouTube Channel despite zero or minimal releases. I still help run these events as the game system hold a special place in my heart, though I no longer play the game itself.
Here are the best tips I can give to help grow a gaming community at your local store or club.
Show up to game night!
This can be a tough one, but consistency is key! Speak to your local gaming store that stocks Warhammer Underworld. You can see what stores are near you through Games Workshop’s Store Finder. Once you have found a store nearby that you want to spend time in then visit it and speak to the Store Manager.
Find a mutual day that works 1) for you (as you’ll be doing the leg work) and 2) isn’t dominated by another game system. For example; Friday Night is for Magic. There is no shifting that play space as it tends to be a game store’s bread & butter. Pick a day where you’ll be able to show up consistently, and honestly expect to be alone for the first few weeks so take something else to do; catch up on painting your miniatures or take a book!
Present yourself well & be social!
It should go without saying BUT we are in the gaming community, wear deoderant, eat a mint, and when you stand up to shake someone’s hand gently wipe the palms of your hands on your trouser leg as you stand up; it takes away any moistness and gives a good first impression!
Introduce yourself to players in the store – it’s likely they’ll ask questions such as “what is that game” or “what’s that game like?” A good answer is to have an elevator pitch that you can quickly rattle off, I’d recommend something along the lines of “it’s kind of like a gang fight where you get points for killing models and controlling areas of the battlefield” if they seem interested then offer a demo game.
You’ll likely need to provide all the materials to get people playing their first demo game. Ensure you have the boards set up, the decks prepared, models already laid out and be ready to get rolling dice as soon as possible. In my four years as a community manager the single most important aspect of a demo game is to get the player rolling dice. Rolling dice is fun!
Present the game in it’s best light!
Bring along two balanced deck lists that show off the core mechanics of Warhammer Underworlds. You’re not prepping someone for a Grand Clash, you’re giving them a taster of what the game offers!
The starter decks in the Shadespire Boxset exemplify this and I would highly suggest using Steelheart’s Champions versus Garrek’s Reavers and offer the Champions to the new player. You can find those decks here.
Take your foot of the gas, make suboptimal plays to allow your prospective player to get some kills and score some glory. It’s kind of an unwritten rule but…let them win, it gives them a good impression of the game and will make them want to come back for more. As everyone knows; the first one’s free 😉
How should I give a demo game?
Before you begin ensure that the warbands are deployed in charge range of each other. Everyone loves to kill things.
Then make sure the starting hands include 3 ploys and 2 upgrades. Ideally give the new player Sidestep, Peal of Thunder, Healing Potion, Great Fortitude and Great Speed in their Power Deck, and Hold Objective X, Slayer of Tyrants and Awe Inspiring in the Objective Hand.
Your starting hand should have Sidestep, Blood Offering, Khorne Calls, Great Strength, and Great Speed. With your objectives being Hold Objective X, It Begins, and Blood for the Blood God.
- Explain that Warhammer Underworlds is a game of three turns each with 4 activations. The winner is whoever has the most Glory (Victory Points) after the third turn. You can score glory by killing models or scoring objectives – show them one of your objective cards and how it is scored.
- Let them know that they can Move, Attack and Charge. You can introduce Guard actions later if the opportunity presents itself.
- Give yourself the opening turn and make a charge action with Targor into Brightshield to explain the Move, Attack and Defend mechanics. It also allows them the chance to Inspire, introducing another mechanic of the game. Whether you damage them or not DO NOT PUSH THEM AWAY!
- Instruct them to make an attack action versus targor with Brightshield – they’re likely to hit and you’re likely to fail the defence roll. If you need to, just change the dice face to ensure that Targor dies. Give them a Glory Point.
- Now you can introduce Upgrades to the opponent. They are likely to give one of their guys the extra wound but it doesn’t really matter!
- You can then use Sidestep to push someone onto an Objective, they hopefully use Peal of Thunder to push them off. This introduces the power step and gives some tactical back & forth.
- Then use Blood Offering and have Saek make a BIG Charge Action to whack a Stormcast down to low health (hopefully).
- Continue to play through the rest of turn one.
- At the end of turn one go through the scoring step, scoring your own first and offer to end your demo game there. If the player is interested then they may ask to play on, but if they’re not enjoying themselves then this gives them an opportunity to politely leave and lets you focus on demoing to someone else.
There are lots of ways to demo a game but this is a relatively quick back and forth that can set you up to teach the core mechanics of Warhammer Underworlds, and is easily learnable and repeatable.
Reach out to players on social media
Like it or lump it we live in a digital world and connecting with like-minded individuals with similar interests is easier than ever. If your local store doesn’t already have a gaming group on Facebook then consider creating one and inviting anyone who’s show an interest in the game. Let your store know this exists and ask them to share it via their store Facebook Page.
Post regularly in the group to let people know you’re attending the store on certain nights, arrange meet ups, and eventually run events through there too and on that note…
Ensure your Local Gaming Store has stock in-store!
There is nothing worse than having a potential new player but having nothing to bait your hook with! Those of us attracted to wargaming are habitual impulse buyers (we’re also generally White, male, aged 25-34 and reading this on mobile – Google Analytics is a scary tool!!) not having stock on the shelf to enable that impulse purchase means that the $40-$50 that would be dropped on a starter set is instead being spent on another game. It will take some convincing for the LGS owner to lay out their cash but ensuring stock is on the shelves makes the transition from prospective player to regular opponent easier.
Secondly, get your store to sign up to receive Games Workshops’ organised play packs. You have no idea the difference that a Glass Trophy and some exclusive goodies can do for attendance figures. Offer to run those events and train the stores staff how to run them. Heck – here is an excel document I use to run our local events.
(It orders players by Tournament Points > Glory Difference > Glory Scored – I don’t track losses for such small events).
Finally, travel to events and ‘network’ with other groups
The only way to grow a scene on a regional/state/national level is to travel to events and make a good impression on their players. Invite them to your facebook group and stay in touch after the events – you have a mutual interest discuss deck builds with them or how you think the latest BAR List is or how they plan to beat Cursebreakers or Mollogs ENGAGE WITH THEM!!
Eventually you’ll just become friends and you’ll use these gaming weekends or days to just meet up and roll dice, and the competitive nature comes second. I can’t begin to even think of the amount of friends for life I’ve made through the hobby.
Hopefully this helps those of you who want to become a champion of your community and give you a platform for introducing the game to new players and building your own community.