You have a passion for 40K, but nobody to play with? New to the hobby, or perhaps a vet that has relocated with no gaming club to start as a home base?
Start a gaming club!
Actually easier done then said, does that make any sense?
I walked into the Battle For Salvation gaming club in 2006 and we had about eight or so regular members and a few tables meeting every week…now five years later we have almost a hundred dudes on the roster, dozens of players each week with a full complement of tables, and the backing to host two major tournaments and smaller events each year. BFS is a potent force in the 40K gaming community and the NY scene....no reason why you can't have the same in your neck of the woods.
How did we get from then to here?
How can YOU do it?
It all start with a single person, or perhaps two gaming buds stepping up and having the fortitude to start a gaming club. The first hurdle is TIME and LOCATION.
In order for a club to thrive it NEEDS to have a regular open gaming night- be it once or twice a week, or every other Saturday- you get the idea. Those interested in joining need to know the times they can stop by, and regular members need to know when they can show up.
At least HALF of running a regular gaming club is having a time set in stone, and nothing will kill one faster by being there one week, off a few, then back on, etc.
As the founder of a club YOU need to be able to make sure you are there to open the club and keep it running for the night. Pick a time at first that you can do this, balance family and work so it is possible. Maybe you and a friend can alternate times if needed.
The next step is finding a place to play, and while not actually the hardest step, it certainly is the most daunting as you have to be able to put yourself out there a bit and talk to people.
The easiest thing to do is find a game/comic/hobby shop that could give you a table and some time to play. Make an appointment to talk to the owner, present the game, and your desire to find a home base for the club you are starting. Offer to do it on a trial basis so they don’t have to 100% commit if hesitant.
Points to bring up is that it will get more potential customers into the store, will be free advertising for the store as the club expands- both online and word of mouth which is extremely valuable currency, and long term it might open up a chance to sell hobby related products if they don’t already stock them.
Think big, but start small.
Ask for a place to secure a single gaming table.
Other place to look, and might be more viable options in your area are recreation or community centers, churches/civic halls, etc.
Be bold and take action in securing a place, remember at this moment and time when talking to people YOU are the face of the hobby!
So now you have your place to play each week- two hours on a weeknight, Saturday, whatever.
Your first step is going to be building a board to play on with decent terrain. I’m assuming you are starting your club from scratch or that you and a friend are two are involved so at first you are going to be looking to recruit NON GAMERS into the club, and later other 40K players perhaps new to the area or returning to the hobby.
At this point for the club presentation is EVERYTHING. Unpainted models, proxied crap, and wack terrain will not cut it. During the time your club meets, if it is in a store, or if visitors check it out you want the visual BOMB to go off. Painted minis, terrain, everything looking as best as your ability can spit it out. You ARE selling your club to potential visitors.
In the beginning you want to start out with 500-750 point armies. Enough for a taste, not to overwhelming, and easy to play. At this point level with a single table expect to play a number of three/four way games as you get players involved. As the club grows you add another table, more points, etc.
Kicking off your club you are also going to want two thing before we get to a blog/website which is also part of the strategy. The first is a small flyer or card to leave in the hobby shop or event place that customers/visitors can read talking about the club. The second is a small card/flyer with more info about the game/club that you can give to potential visitors.
When somebody visits and expresses an interest to play the game get them involved! The involvement pushing and upsell is a GW store wasn’t invented or even pioneered by them- but they are right. If a new player is unsure or shy about the hobby but interested let them command a tank or unit in the game- get them rolling dice, blowing stuff up, and they will be back…
Website, Blog, etc.
Once your club is all formal with a place and time you NEED a web presence. It could be a simple static page, forum, or blog. Time, place, and pictures of the game, club in action, events, etc. I’ll let you deal with the exact details- this site will serve two functions- the first is to allow players searching for a club in your area to find you, and the second is a place to allow members to see what is going on if they miss a week or two of gaming.
With a small core of gamers now established the next step is to start layering on other aspects of the hobby. Talk to the store owner or rec center and see if you can book in some extra time for a special event. Every few months or maybe even every other month you should hold an EVENT night. This is a chance and time for the club to come together and build and paint models, make terrain, or play an Apocalypse game- other aspects of the hobby which will help cement the club, build interest, etc. Paint night are a great special event since we all know that an army is never finished. Vets can help neophytes paint and build (inspire), etc.
Once your club now has that critical mass you should hold your first tournament. While tournament play is not for everybody it is another offering by the club, and more importantly starts to establish your club on the 40K map/scene- bringing in other gaming clubs, ideas, and players, which only feeds into more and more numbers.
Follow this plan and in a year or so you will be gaming each week with a dozen or so people and planning a club trip to tournaments or perhaps a Games Day.
Next article in a bit will cover the dark side of gaming clubs…
30 year old man children throwing a temper tantrum who bring down the club, and how to deal with them…
Competitive (read WAAC) players who say they are “fluff” bunnies and prey on new club members walking in the door…
Painters who are jealous at other painters and the poison that it spreads…
Guys who want to “run” the club, reap the ego pump but do NONE of the work…