Saturday, 29 August 2015

RPG A Day 2015 - Days Twenty Eight to Thirty One

Missed a couple of days and expect to miss a couple more so here's the last 4 entries in 1 post.  Yes I know I'm posting some ahead of when I should but if I don't then I'll miss them too!

28 - Favourite Game You No Longer Play (but want to again).

This post is going to be using the very loose definition of "play" as the RPGs I am currently playing really only works if the word "currently" is used to cover games played this year.

So that's only 2 different RPGs and they are Star Wars : Edge Of The Empire and Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition.  In total I've probably ran about 10 games this year which is far fewer than I had planned.

That aside which RPG do I no longer play that I want to play again?

Erm - I don't think I have one... If you had asked me just over a year ago I would have chosen D&D purely because I was looking forward to playing it at Gen Con.
Now though I'm not sure I have a favourite that I no longer play as my 2 favourite RPGs have pretty much always been D&D and a Star Wars RPG of some form or another.

29 - Favourite RPG website or blog?

Gone are the days when I used to go to EN World or RPG.net and I'm not really sure why other than other content takes up that time.

My entry here is pretty easy and if you have any interest in the Star Wars RPG I suggest you check out this site - Triumph & Despair

Honourable mention for Gnome Stew which I check out from time to time.

30 - Favourite RPG playing celebrity?

I don't have one. Sorry!  In some respects that's probably down to never really associating my RPG hobby with someone else's celebrity status...  Vin Diesel is kinda cool though.

31 - Favourite non-RPG thing that came out of RPGing?

*scratches head* My most prized possession that's RPG related but isn't used in game would be my collection of RPG (and other tabletop game format) t-shirts.  Most of these are from Offworld Designs but I also have others from We Love Fine who do a great range of D&D t-shirts.

Here endeth #RPGaDay2015

Thursday, 27 August 2015

RPG A Day 2015 - Day Twenty Seven

Favourite idea for merging two games into one?

Hmmmm, this is a tricky one.

Merging settings / genres isn't really my bag and merging systems doesn't really float my boat either.

But if there were to be a "mash up" that I'd play/run it'd probably be something that takes elements from the following settings -

Sherlock Holmes / Murder Mystery / Conspiracy Theories galore type thing
Sci-Fi Pulp Setting - Buck Rodgers, Flash Gordon esque
Throw in some evil corporations from the future and a totalitarian government.

For anyone that's played the card games Coup or Resistance that kinda gives a feel for what I think this would look like.

That said this might be what Evil Hat have in mind for The Dystopian Universe RPG.


Wednesday, 26 August 2015

RPG A Day 2015 - Day Twenty Six

Favourite Inspiration For Your Game?

Some of this goes back to the setting post as Dragonlance and Star Wars are my strongest influences in game plot development.

What I'd add into that mix though would be a variety of other media associated with whichever genre of game I'm looking to run.

As an example if I want to run a pulp-y sci-fi game I'll watch ye olde Buster Crabbe versions of Flash Gordon.

The options and sources for inspiration particularly from books and TV/film media are almost limitless but sometimes it's the inspiration that comes from the unexpected that works the best rather than searching explicitly for it.

I remember a game of Squadron UK / Golden Heroes that I ran which essentially came from watching the news about a hostage situation at a school.  Not a story that would normally be associated with inspiring you but the hook for me was that in a world where super-powered beings existed, would those same situations exist.

The short answer was unfortunately yes and so I wrote a scenario about rescuing kids from a school that were being held hostage by super powered villains.  I've only used it a couple of times but it's an interesting use of tone for a superhero game.

Anyway, if anyone is interest I did do a PDF of the scenario concept way back in 2005 and would be happy to share it.  No stats included so works generically.  I think I also have some rudimentary maps somewhere...

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

RPG A Day 2015 - Day Twenty Five

Favourite Revolutionary Game Mechanic

I've never encountered any that felt particularly revolutionary...

Sure I like the dice that come with Fantasy Flight's Star Wars RPGs. They're kinda cool and do add something to the game but are they revolutionary?  Nope.


Now this might be down to me playing the "wrong games" but I don't thing there are revolutionary game mechanics out there.

Evolutionary maybe, interesting and new quite probably but revolutionary?  Nope.

Not even the d20 OGL was revolutionary as a mechanic...

So nope, I don't have one but that's largely down to my not believing there is one...  Mind you that probably says as much about the games I like as it does anything else ;-)

Monday, 24 August 2015

RPG A Day 2015 - Day Twenty Four

Favourite House Rule?

I've used many fudges and tweaks and mods to games over the years but I don't think I've ever actually sat down and said "This is a house rule."

I think the 1 thing I tend to incorporate into all of the games I'm running is that measure of "Does that make sense?" to any odd situations.

Now we're all playing in unreal worlds, even if that world is a mirror image of our own it's still experienced through the suspension of disbelief.  So by their very nature the games are going to have things happen that in the real world wouldn't make sense but can be explained through the setting itself.

However, there are still some pretty easy checks that are likely universal.

e.g. If your character falls off a 500ft cliff, with no means of rescue and has no super power or attribute that would suggest otherwise, the chances are your character is dead.
Similarly if the characters are all in an underground chamber and there's an earthquake causing the roll to fall in then chances are that they're dead.


The thing is I also tend to contradict this "house rule" when it comes to death although that's the easiest situation to explain it.

I don't like having characters die in a game unless it suits the story that the group wants to tell.  That includes player characters and non-player characters.  Yes that does mean I'll wave away poor dice rolls at times.  Don't get me wrong if the characters decide that they're going to take on a horde of dragons with nothing but pitchforks then obviously that's just lunacy and they expect to die.

So my accompanying house rule is that character death should never be without purpose, even if that purpose is temporary insanity on the part of the (player) character...

Similarly I have other GM traits that don't really constitute as house rules -

  • If neither the GM nor the players can remember the specifics of a rule then make something up that fits the moment rather than breaking the cycle of play to check the rulebooks.  In some cases these rules become the norm in others it's a case of checking what the actual rule is in-between sessions.
  • Dice rolls only count if they've landed on the table.
  • When playing in a campaign if a player cannot attend then that character fades to the background or become Passive with no negative impact on their development.  Well, within limitations anyway.

Think those are the only house rules that I apply in general but none of them are specific mechanics that I always apply.

Sunday, 23 August 2015

RPG A Day 2015 - Day Twenty Three

Perfect game for you...

Erm I don't think I've found it yet. But in saying that...

D&D 5th Edition is pretty close but that's largely due to the knowledge I've built up of D&D and indeed Fantasy in general from the past 30 years.  I know I can pick up and run a game of D&D with very little notice (15 minutes) and I have done on several occasions in the past.

I like a game where the -
  • GM has a clear role to play without being over bearing or indeed being a non-entity.  D&D has always been able to accommodate that (yes, even 4th Edition).
  • math doesn't get in the way but is there for the right reasons.
  • the game provides archetypes and structure for the players to make it easier for everyone (new players in particular) to give a 2 sentence summary of who their character is.  The flip side of that though is that the archetype isn't the be all and end all of what the character is.
  • use of dice is optional but when necessary it is easy to determine why they're needed and what the outcome means.
So D&D 5th Edition does all of those things and more.  There are other games that do this too (Edge Of The Empire to name one) but I'm going to fall back onto D&D 5th Edition here.

There was another contender to this list which is Savage Worlds.  The benefit of Savage Worlds is that mechanically it can accommodate a variety of genres and results albeit always with a bit of a "pulp" feel to it.

But overall I like my gaming to be simple and almost effortless and for me simple fantasy is exactly that so I'll always go for D&D.

Saturday, 22 August 2015

RPG A Day 2015 - Day Twenty Two

Perfect Gaming Environment.

I don't think I have one... by that I mean I've gamed in public, at conventions, at clubs, in stores and at home.  None of these are any less perfect than any other so long as the game is working and the players are having fun.

There are things that any gaming environment needs to avoid though, some of which go back to barriers of entry that I've referenced in the past on this blog.

In a nut shell though what I want from a gaming environment is -
  • Space to play with reasonable comfort zone around me and the other players (i.e. not crammed in).
  • Noise levels low enough to not get in the way of any chat or indeed game narrative.  Plus given I'm a wearer of hearing aids noise can make things difficult...
  • Facilities to utilise close by, so that's food / drink / toilets etc.
  • People to play with of course.
Beyond that I'm happy playing anywhere, yes anywhere.


Although I won't dress up for it. Ever.

Friday, 21 August 2015

RPG A Day 2015 - Day Twenty One

Favourite RPG Setting...

Ermmmm Dragonlance is a bit of an easy one here as would Star Wars given how it's largely built into my DNA.

Those 2 aside though there aren't any settings that have grabbed me and encouraged me to become immersed in the lore and such like - except for one and that will be my pick.

Battletech's universe is of interest to me and I do wish I had the time to delve deeper in to the various stories that surround the glory of House Davion (bias mine) but I don't have or haven't made the time to do that.

I first played a Battletech RPG with the old Mechwarrior 1st Edition RPG ran by my friend Gordon who shared an interest in the setting although not the miniatures game.  It was a lethal game and the mechanics were a bit odd in places.


Fast forward to now and you have A Time Of War - Battletech RPG which is a lovely book but again the mechanics are a bit odd.  I've ran it a couple of times and it was a lot of fun but I think the lore can get in the way unless the party are mercenaries as then the House/Clan factions get less in the way.


So yeah, in the interests of diversity I'm going to pick A Time Of War.

Thursday, 20 August 2015

RPG A Day 2015 - Day Twenty

Favourite Horror RPG...

As a reminder, I don't really do horror.

That said if I had to choose one it'd be All Flesh Must Be Eaten.


Having used it for different sorts of games but keeping an undead element I think it works really well in general.  The archetypes in the base game + expansions give anyone the opportunity to be a Survivor and it is the way these archetypes are built and the mechanics around them are used that stick with me.

Almost 2 years ago I wrote a post about Character Motivations (jeez, 2 years!?) and that references a scenario I ran using AFMBE.  The key thing to remember is that I could have removed the undead element from the scenario and yet I still would have chosen AFMBE as the system as it's gritty and deadly enough to match the scenario itself.

Other Horror games I've played -
  • Call of Cthulhu - Not my thing...
  • Chill - MANY moons ago and I really can't remember it.
  • Savage Worlds - Rippers which is horror genre but not really a scary game to run or play. Feels more "pulp horror" than anything else but then again that's Savage Worlds to a tee.
  • Unknown Armies - A game which I could only scratch the surface with and similarly used for an X-Files-esque scenario.
I never played any of the World Of Darkness games of either iteration but had been tempted to pick up the core book for it when they relaunched as New World Of Darkness as I think mechanically it's pretty sound.  Again though, I don't really do horror...

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

RPG A Day 2015 - Day Nineteen

Favourite Supers RPG...

As I've said previously on this blog I've never felt that Superhero RPGs have really worked. Especially confused by this given the episodic nature of Superhero comic books.

If I had to choose one though? It'd probably be Golden Heroes or Savage Worlds : Necessary Evil.

Golden Heroes was the first Superhero RPG I played.  Published by Games Workshop back in the days before Warhammer existed they produced / printed RPGs and this was one of their own.
The game has a new following under the name of Squadron UK.

Savage Worlds : Necessary Evil is their superhero setting where the villains save the world from an alien invasion after the heroes are all killed.  I've never actually played in that setting, instead I've used the rules to run a number of one shot games.

An honourable mention has to go to the Brave New World RPG written by +Matt Forbeck I love the setting and the books are great to read. I just haven't got around to running it yet...

Ask me again in a couple of years and it might be Sentinels Of The Multiverse RPG.  I don't count Atomic Robo as a Superhero RPG as it's really more espionage with gadgets, power and weirdness than it is Superhero.

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

RPG A Day 2015 - Day Eighteen

Favourite SF RPG...

Sci-Fi RPG would have to be Star Wars : Edge Of The Empire, right?

I've played every iteration of published Star Wars RPGs from the original West End Games Edition through their 2nd edition into the d20 versions that WotC produced and now with FFG which I think is the best version of a Star Wars RPG.

Surely that makes it my favourite SF RPG?

Well yes it does but for different reasons to my previous post about D&D being my favourite Fantasy RPG.

I've not played that many different SF RPGs and the draw for me has always been the Star Wars setting.

If there had been a good Star Trek RPG with a set up that enabled things to happen beyond the standard Away Team approach I might have been more inclined to play one of those.  Although to be fair, I never tried or looked at the Decipher Star Trek RPG.

I played a reasonable amount of Traveller in my youth and whilst I like the mechanics the home setting(s) never clicked for me.

I've never played enough of Shadowrun, Cyberpunk 2020 or Paranoia to really decide if they were for me but again the settings never really grabbed my attention. Interesting and fun but never really grabbed me... (sorry Al)

Rifts and Mechwarrior/Battletech worked for me from a setting perspective but mechanically they didn't, especially Rifts... I have a real dislike for the Palladium system... although given there's a Savage Worlds version of Rifts coming I might be tempted.

Judge Dredd RPG kinda fits the bill and I am a fan of the comics too but again it seemed to suffer mechanically in the GW and d20 editions, although never played the Traveller powered version.

So yeah, setting seems to be more important with my SF choice than my Fantasy choice.  Probably due to Star Wars being such a large part of my growing up and geek life.

Monday, 17 August 2015

RPG A Day 2015 - Day Seventeen

Favourite Fantasy RPG...

So this is a shoe in, right?  It's D&D obviously, right?

Actually yes it is but it's not the only Fantasy RPG I've ever played but it's the one I keep coming back to irrespective of which version it is.

Other Fantasy RPGs that I've tried include -

Tunnels & Trolls
Runequest
MiddleEarth Roleplaying Game
Rolemaster

plus the obviously solo games like Fighting Fantasy and Lone Wolf.

None of those have ever had the same pull on me as D&D nor have any of those had the mechanical appeal that D&D has (for me).  D&D and me just fit.

I know there's been a lot of other Fantasy RPGs released over the previous 10 or so years but none of them have had the pulling power to tempt me to try them out.

What am I missing?

Sunday, 16 August 2015

RPG A Day 2015 - Day Sixteen

Longest Game Session Played...

Well I ran a game of 1st Edition AD&D for 24 hours once for charity.  Think that wins?

So how did this happen then?

I think it was 1991 as I would have been about 17 at the time.
My friends and I had signed up to do a sponsored 24 Hour RPG event for Red Nose Day.
I'd volunteered to run a game of 1st Edition AD&D for the full 24 hours and we'd enlisted a couple of extra players to cover off any drop outs over the night.
Venue wise we'd managed to secure the local scout hall which was pretty basic but met our needs.

I'd prepped a bunch of scenarios mostly taken from White Dwarf and Dungeon Magazine and very loosely knitted together a campaign plot that could be played over the 24 hours.

To help fill in any blanks or the need for side treks I'd also bought I13 - Adventure Pack I


I vaguely recall the event being a bit hit and miss in places, largely due to us all struggling to maintain our focus but I can safely say that I and I think 3 others stayed awake for the full 24 and a bit hours and that between us we raised something like £200 for charity.  Not bad really.

Would I do it again?  Yes but perhaps not as 1 big game...

Saturday, 15 August 2015

RPG A Day 2015 - Day Fifteen

Longest campaign played.

This is actually quite hard for me as the bulk of my game play in ye olden days wasn't really campaign based.  Sure the players would keep their characters and move from scenario to scenario but I'd mash that up over various settings and use published scenarios from Dungeon magazine and various 1st Edition AD&D adventure supplements.  It's worth saying though that we played a lot of 1st Edition AD&D over what was probably 5 years but it'd be stretching it to say that this was a campaign as that also included a foray into the world of Dragonlance for a good year or so.

So what was my longest actual campaign?

Clocking in at erm 2 and a bit years maybe with that being run pretty much fortnightly on Saturday's it'd have to be my D&D (very loosely) 3/3.5 game set in my homebrew / Dragonlance-hack of a world called Kilranthia.

I ran this at ORC Edinburgh and it was largely sandbox with some key plot hooks and NPCs as devices to see how the players moved the story on.  The game re-used some earlier concepts and characters from previous homebrew games I'd ran including using former PC names as NPCs this time around.

Players were almost all teenagers for the majority of the campaign and there were some comings and goings but most of all I remember it for being just damn good fun to DM.  Plus with the added bonus that we actually managed to finish with a fairly decisive conclusion to the campaign - the bad guys won...

It's a setting I've often been tempted to return to but the very nature of a sandbox game means it has to have the right group of players to re-create the same effect.  Maybe someday though!

Friday, 14 August 2015

RPG A Day 2015 - Day Fourteen

Favourite RPG Accessory.

Well I would like to nominate my hand crafted Wipebook or perhaps my Dungeons & Dragons playmats or maybe it's my Gen Con 2014 messenger bag?

Can I choose all 3?

Ok so I don't actually use the D&D playmats whilst playing D&D (although I did once) but they're very nice and have the covers of the Monster Manual and Dungeon Masters Guide emblazoned on them.  I tend to use them for board and card games (as they're bigger than say a Magic: The Gathering playmat) as putting 2 of them together takes up a reasonable amount of space.

My Wipebook gets used when I run my Star Wars campaign so that's probably a better shout.

But then again my Gen Con 2014 messenger bag gets used pretty much every day as I also use it when going to work but that's not RPG related.  Oh who am I kidding, it's my favourite accessory that's gaming related so that's good enough for me.

Behold! The Gen Con 2014 messenger bag!


Thursday, 13 August 2015

RPG A Day 2015 - Day Thirteen

Favourite RPG Podcast.

Ok so this one is tricky as I don't actually listen to podcasts of any form any more.  That said about 7 or 8 years ago (need to check that!) I was listening to lots and lots of podcasts although not all of them were RPG related.

Pulp Gamer
Fear The Boot
The Tome Show
Sons Of Kryos
Have Games, Will Travel
Errrrrmmm memory failing me!

There were several / many more that I listened to including a Savage Worlds specific one that I can't remember the name of with Ron Blessing I think?
Yeah Ron and his wife did "The Game's The Thing". Yeah that was pretty good.

Ah wait I was supposed to choose favourite one...

I'll plump for Pulp Gamer but not for RPG reasons. It was the GAMA Trade Show and Family Night podcasts that they did which really spoke to me about what I could achieve through opening up a game store or starting a games club.

For that I'm forever in Don Dehm and the late Derek Rex's debt.  Thanks guys.

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

RPG A Day 2015 - Day Twelve

Favourite RPG Illustration.......

Dang this is a hard one as there are so many to choose from!

Easy answer would be anything by Larry Elmore but that'd probably be cheating although still accurate.  Especially Elmore's early work for D&D and his Dragonlance work.







Overall though there's been that much different art from RPGs themselves and magazines such as Dragon and White Dwarf that have either triggered a purchase response or scenario idea response.

The one I'm going to go with though did none of that, the cover to White Dwarf issue #61 by Chris Achilleos.  That's the original #61 not this renumbering malarkey they've done since then.


Why? Well nothing says RPGs to more than a whateverthatis wearing armour and wielding a whip.

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

RPG A Day 2015 - Day Eleven

Favourite RPG Writer...

Again as with Publisher on Day Ten I don't really have one.

Sure I like the work that Jay Little has done with Star Wars : Edge Of The Empire and I'm keen to see what else he's working on but then again unless the setting piques my interest and of course I know I'm going to have time to play it then I won't be picking it up.

Since first buying and reading Unknown Armies I am intrigued to see what work both Greg Stolze and John Tynes are working on but again I'll only buy it etc etc.

So yeah, I don't really have favourite RPG writer.

Monday, 10 August 2015

RPG A Day 2015 - Day Ten

Favourite RPG Publisher...

I don't have one but that's mostly down to me not following any particular publisher (or author or artist but we'll come to that).

Default would be Wizards Of The Coast but that's be down to the quality of output they've had so far with Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition.

Alternatively I could opt for Fantasy Flight Games but that'd be down to their Star Wars RPG line so not really highlighting them as a favourite publisher.

Or again alternatively I could opt for Pinnacle as they make Savage Worlds which is a great pick up RPG and they also publish some great settings for that too.

But then I could probably list a whole raft of other publishers.

So yeah, I don't have one.

Sunday, 9 August 2015

RPG A Day 2015 - Days Four to Nine

I should have seen this coming really.  Gone are the days where I have the time for daily posts on here so for Days Four to Nine I'm going to do them all in 1 post.

Four - Most Surprising Game

Probably All Flesh Must Be Eaten.  For a game that's pitched at fans of all things Zombie it actually works in a variety of different ways. By that I mean it handles the full range of aspects of the Zombie genre, all the way from comedy through to full on horror.  Mechanically and fluff wise it has a lot of potential.  Just a shame it doesn't get to the table anymore...

Five - Most Recent RPG Purchase

Rise of Tiamat for Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition.  Even though it's highly unlikely that I'll get to run it any time soon I wanted to have the complete storyline should I ever get round to running it on a regular basis.

Six - Most Recent RPG Played

Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition.  Just started to run the scenarios from first Adventurers League season.  I meant to do it when they came out but hey never had the time.

Seven - Favourite Free RPG

Risus by S. John Ross.  Fully flexible system that encourages impromptu play of RPGs.

Eight - Favourite Appearance Of RPGs In Media

Ermmm need to pass on this one as I actually can't think of any that really stood out as being good.  There have been plenty of references and such like but none that made me go "Well done" in relation to how it's been portrayed.

Nine - Favourite Media You Wish Was An RPG

So you mean licensed product?  I actually have no need or desire to see any media as a RPG as any desire to play in a set license I can do with any number of systems.  Never been a big fan of licensed RPGs other than the obvious Star Wars ones...

Monday, 3 August 2015

RPG A Day 2015 - Day Three

Favourite New Game of the Last 12 Months?

RPG wise that's a no-brainer - Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition.

Why? Simple really, it's the best version of D&D I've played and ran. It also reminds me of the best of every version of D&D I've played before now (which is every version).

Whilst I have little / no time to run RPGs these days I continue to have the urge to run D&D. I've managed to start that with a group of gamers in Anstruther and they're all new to 5th Edition although as a group they've got varied background with RPGs.

Sunday, 2 August 2015

RPG A Day 2015 - Day Two

Kickstarted Game Most Pleased You Backed...

So this should be a really short post as I've never backed any game on Kickstarter.

*tumbleweed*  You can read this post if you want to know why... *tumbleweed*

That said I have backed 1 thing on Kickstarter albeit not something RPG related.

Board Games : Now Blind Accessible was one of those Kickstarter ideas that I thought needed to happen.  Not for my own use but it needed to exist anyway.

So with that in mind I repeat, I've never backed any game on Kickstarter.

Saturday, 1 August 2015

RPG A Day 2015 - Day One

Forthcoming game I'm most looking forward to...

So in the RPG sphere this comes down to 2 different RPGs.

First one is the Sentinels Of The Multiverse RPG.

Anyone that's followed this blog knows of my love for Sentinels Of The Multiverse and how it's one of my favourite card games, indeed favourite games so there should be no surprise that the RPG would be of interest.

The Second one would be the Dystopian Universe RPG by Evil Hat in conjunction with IndieBoardandCards.

I thoroughly enjoy Resistance and Coup and am very intrigued how Evil Hat plan to morph those games into a RPG.

So yeah, I've got 2. Which am I most looking forward to? Probably the SotM RPG if I had to pick one, mostly out of curiosity as to how they build it mechanically.

Friday, 31 July 2015

RPGaDay 2015

So last year I did this - http://a2ndchapter.blogspot.co.uk/2014/08/rpgaday.html

This year I'm doing it again but plan to use the blog as well as my Twitter feed.


Are you getting your RPGaDay?

Also as I'm not at Gen Con this year I decided I'm create myself a Gen Can't badge instead.


Want one of your own?  Go here - http://gencant.brainclouds.net/

Sunday, 28 June 2015

UK Games Expo 2015 - Evolutionary Steps

I received some (well deserved) abuse during my visit to UK Games Expo 2015 as every so often I compared what UK Games Expo had to offer versus what Gen Con 2014 had.

Now to be fair to me (!) I wasn't doing it to downplay what UK Games Expo had achieved, it was mostly coming from a "If they had this then it would be better." type of perspective.

So what are those evolutionary steps that UK Games Expo could take?

Honestly some of them they have taken already -
  • Bigger venue - With the move of the trade halls and some of the tournaments out of the Hilton and into the NEC from next year the con will have more space to grow into.
  • Better range of food - Now this was my first time at UK Games Expo but from what I heard the inclusion of the food trucks (and beer bus!) made a big difference to the choices and prices available.
  • Hilton better prepared - Again I've not been before but most of the complaints (if you can call them that) of previous years were down to the Hilton underestimating the demand and as such not having enough facilities available.  They fixed that by putting on lots of mini-bars throughout the hotel to distribute the traffic.  Even if they couldn't get their pricing consistent between them this made a difference.  They could've done with more staff / locations for coffee though...
So what other steps can they take? Keep in mind that these are "in my opinion" suggestions only and are all likely things that the organisers already have on their to-do lists.

More event diversity at registration

Now I'm not talking about RPGs or tournaments here.  The key difference between what Gen Con's event catalogue had to what UK Games Expo had was the array of events available.

Where were the "Introductory" events?

UKGE had lots of tournaments for board games, card games, miniature games and war games alongside a great selection of RPGs. Where were the "Learn to play Battletech / Warhammer / Carcassonne / Magic: The Gathering etc" events? I know they had a Yu-Gi-Oh zone and Asmodee/Esdevium and other manufacturers had demo space but it wasn't enough (due to space mostly) and also it couldn't be planned in (well I dunno about the Yu-Gi-Oh as I didn't go near that).

I'd like to see more events (not necessarily publisher/retailer driven) that could be booked for a nominal fee that enabled guaranteed "play" time.  Some of this stems from my frustrations at there being no game space but it also meant that as I wasn't RPGing or indeed Clixing or Wargaming I largely had no plan of what to do when there.  This was absolutely fine as I did enjoy that but I would have liked to see (and sign up for) more things.

More publishers / manufacturers

This is bit of a challenge I suspect given the relatively small contingent of UK based publishers that we have compared to Gen Con.  It isn't however about scale it's about market recognition.

UKGE had 7,000 unique people at it this year, that's one eighth the size of Gen Con last year. As such it deserves to be better recognised as a global event for the hobby and should be reaching out to manufacturers across the world to attend.

With those comes a greater size of demo space required. If nothing else I'd like to see more space for publishers to demonstrate their games.

That's it really.

If the con is able to grow organically as it seems to have done over the past few years and provide greater access to the hobby as part of that growth through more options of things to do then I can see it becoming ever more important to the hobby.

I've written several other posts about Conventions and what they should do.

If you want to read them here they are in a list. Feedback appreciated!

Conventions: What do you want? Written from an organiser's perspective.
Conventioneering.  What people want from a convention in general terms.
Conpulsion 2014 - The negatives. Where it went wrong and what is needed to move forward.
The Scottish Tabletop Games Convention Scene. Current status and why that is.
Building a Tabletop Games Convention. What's involved in creating a convention.

Saturday, 27 June 2015

UK Games Expo 2015 - Part 4

Of course after commenting in the last post about using the word Two rather than the number 2 I forgot to append the year onto the post.  Argh!

Anyway, there's a convention report to wrap up!

UK Games Expo 2015 - Day Three

So the Sunday morning wasn't as bad as I expect due to +Greg Barr plying me with drink...  I did my "usual" though...

What does that mean?  Well with my day job I do a reasonable amount of travelling, mostly to Manchester which has the added benefit of meaning I get to pop into Fan Boy Three.  Anyway, I'm used to getting up on the last day of a trip and basically being packed and ready to go far too early.  Not sure when that started but anyway, I did the same this time around.  Woke up at 7, showered, dressed, breakfasted, bag packed, bag put into car and checked out all before 8:30.

Given there were 4 of us in the car on the way down and even though my i30 has a reasonably sized boot I did wonder how we were going to fit all of our purchases in.  Similar challenge to the one I had coming back from Gen Con of trying to fit everything into the 1 case but this time I had other factors to consider.  Not least of which was the haul of games bought by Greg, +Ross Hendry and +richard talbot. Fortunately Greg had managed to re-sell his 2 EXTRA copies of Star Wars : Armada that he'd bought on the Friday to people he was playing D&D with and also fortunately Richard had managed to arrange for someone else to take his more bulky purchases back up the road with them.  So that really should have made it easy to get everything in the car, right?

Well my purchases were fairly modest (for me) -


So that's Tsuro Of The Seas, Vikings, Noir (Black Box Edition), Timeline : General Interest, Lords Of Scotland, Wager Master for SOTM, Guise for SOTM, OMNITRON IV for SOTM, Monster Cafe, Cockroach Poker (no I don't know why!), Biblios and Khrysos Hunters (again not sure why). Plus a dice bag, some dice and a UK Games Expo T-Shirt.
Pretty much all of that fitted into my suit case and Gen Con bag so at least I wasn't needing any more space.
Ross needed the most (he bought lots of board games) and Greg has no willpower.

So I'd got my case into the car and went for some last few hours of browsing. We'd aimed to leave no later than 2pm so there was a fair bit of time for random last minute purchases.

I took more time going round the trade halls on the Sunday, really just trying to identify (beyond the obvious gaming retailer and publisher ones) what the other traders were. There were a few artists there (including Wayne Reynolds of D&D / Pathfinder fame) and you had the obligatory t-shirt sellers too.  I think because of the way the con had to split up the traders though there was a definite feel (for me at least) that the smaller traders were almost "relegated" to the smaller halls. Probably unavoidable to a certain extent but it was a bit odd.

The play space was as ever completely maxed out right up til the point that we left which for a Sunday at a con I was pleasantly surprised by.  I think that is a great testament not only to the con itself but the audience it's built up and nurtured over the past 10 years.

Ross, Greg and I met up for some lunch in the restaurant whilst Richard was off doing stuff at the British Isles Traveller Society stand.  This was a reminder that a) the price of food was a bit high and b) the food whilst decent wasn't actually that good.  That said though it filled us up.
The topic of "If we were to organise a con what would we do?" resurfaced and more brainstorming was done of what could be done.  As ever Greg knew which buttons to press with me and I probably (likely) went into semi-rant mode.

After lunch there was time for another circuit before meeting up with Richard and the game of "does it all fit into the car".  We successfully completely this puzzle like the expert gamers that we are and with that said farewell to UK Games Expo 2015.

The drive home was relatively painless even if we did get lost trying to find diesel for the car before hitting the motorway (was a necessary stop for supplies though).

Safe to say that I had a really good time as did everyone I met.  The con has a bright future and with 2016 involving a split site model by using part of the NEC I think it could be a very interesting time.

I have some thoughts on what could be done differently next year but I'll save those for another post...

Monday, 22 June 2015

UK Games Expo - Part 3

I realised after posting Part Two (rather than 2) that I'd used the word rather than the number. Completely unplanned as that was it reminds me how out of the habit of this blogging I am.

Anyway, onto matters more pressing.

UK Games Expo - Day Two

The hordes descend…  If there was any kind of indication that the Hilton was struggling to contain the con it was proven on the Saturday when the numbers increased substantially.

I had noticed ahead of the con that I had those tell tale signs of a cold coming on. Saturday was when it really hit home.  Breakfast was accompanied by Lemsip before the day's exploration began. Breakfast was accompanied by a long and healthy chat with a fellow DWARF - Richard Coates.

I've got a lot of time for Richard and his musings on the hobby and life in general. He epitomises the generation of board gamer before me in that it's all about the experience of play and that respectful air for things that are not of his liking.  He flooded me with enthusiasm for board games which is probably Richard's one true love besides his family of course.

Anyway, after breakfast it became clear that the Hilton was indeed bursting at the seams.  Gamers of all shapes, sizes, ages and interest levels had descended on the venue.  Families aplenty, which is a marvellous thing to witness, all equally eager to explore and be entertained.

With this influx though came a different challenge for the con.  No space whatsoever.  None. No wonder they're having to look at the NEC for next year's show.

To counter that and given that +Greg Barr was playing D&D all day I'd agreed with +Ross Hendry that we'd hit the Playtest zone at some point on the Saturday.  What's a Playtest zone? Well it's an opportunity for the budding game designer to show off their wares and get immediate feedback on their product.  It was organised by the fine folks at www.playtest.co.uk who organise meetups across the country (well England) where people can try out the newest games being developed.

The game we played was Turistico.  It was (and I hope the designers don't mind the comparison) essentially Ticket To Ride re-skinned as a tour operator game where you have to take your tourists round specific routes in London.  I reference Ticket To Ride not just due to the theme but mechanically the game was similar.  You collect "tickets" which instead of buying you trains bought you taxi, subway, bus and walking routes between the various sites of London.

All in all it was a solid enough game albeit I found it a) a bit long and b) not quite my cup of tea. I enjoy Ticket To Ride but Turistico didn't quite hit the mark for me. In the hour that we played it we got through half of the game and also there was 1 turn where I couldn't do anything. To be fair to the designers that was something new to them and they both took notes to look at that.

Having played Turistico my Lemsip was wearing off so Ross and I split up.  I went back to my room and lay down for an hour. Something I was thankful of later on.

After more purchases (full list to come in the next post) I met up with a few others for food outside at the food trucks.  With my body refueled with Lemsip and quality food we went back inside to find a place to play more games. Ross and I played Fantasy Flight Game's Age Of War with Dougie and Laura.  I'd seen it on a number of the stalls and had picked it up only to put it back down again.

It's a dice game (by Reiner Knizia) set in Feudal where the players are trying to take control of various houses or clans.  It played well but the trouble with dice games is that if the dice aren't with you then the game can drag on, this unfortunately was one of those occasions.  I think we had 3 or 4 turns where nobody did anything other than roll dice and get frustrated.  That aside it was a fun game of pushing your luck to match symbols with each clan's house to take control of it.  In the end though I decided it wasn't something I wanted to buy.

After Age Of War we met up with Scott and Michelle who had just played Colt Express and subsequently bought it.  We searched for about 30 minutes to find an open space and finally got a table big enough for 6 to play it.
Colt Express was one of the hit games at UK Games Expo and has a had a LOT of really good press. I try not to get caught up in the hype of a game though and on this occasion I was glad of that restraint... Suffice to say I wasn't impressed.
It's very cool to look at and it's got some nice mechanics but on the second play through I decided to take a very different approach.
The game is based on making a number of actions, some public and some hidden, where you're trying to move your character along the train collecting loot and gems and ultimately avoiding the sheriff. 1st time through I paid attention to what everyone else was doing and tried to counter their moves whilst still trying to collect the loot.  This seemed to work out ok but there was something not quite right about it.  On the 2nd time of playing I took that different approach. I basically ignored all the plays of each of the other players unless they moved the sheriff.  Only then did I re-think my strategy and the end result?  I won. By a country mile.
So by essentially playing against the game (rather than the players) I won.  That didn't feel right. Most of the others seemed to enjoy it but it just isn't a game I'd want to play again (sorry Scott).

After that it was coming up to 11pm and the others were looking for an early night.  I'd said to Greg that I'd meet him in the bar for a drink post his D&D games so after dropping my bag off in my room I did just that.

What followed was a fair amount of beer and a lot of chat. Greg knows which buttons to press with me and we talked about KoA, my former employees, how we ARE going to Gen Con next year (although I don't remember signing any paperwork to guarantee that) and latterly about the convention scene in Scotland...  It was soon approaching 3am and I knew I had the drive back up the road on Sunday so we called it a night but not before what was probably an hour of "If we were to organise a con what would we do?" chat.  More on that to come methinks...

Oh and 1 last thing before I bring the Saturday to a close.  The ATM in the hotel ran out of money. This would prove to be a mistake on the part of the hotel as it wasn't replenished on the Sunday which meant a number of traders that were cash only probably lost out.

Anyway, next post will be about Sunday, my purchase pile and then some retrospective on the con itself and what refinements I think they should consider for next year and beyond.

Thursday, 11 June 2015

UK Games Expo 2015 - Part Two

UK Games Expo - Day One

Let the con begin!
We had planned to meet for breakfast but we all failed miserably at meeting at the same time.  Perils of my body clock meant I woke up at 5am but fortunately I was able to get back to sleep.
Breakfast (and parking at the hotel) are all included in the room rate which is great and does make the approach of staying on-site much more reasonable.

So on Day One what did I do?
Well I played lots of games, mostly through use of the Board Game library system they have at the con which is provided by Thirsty Meeples game cafe. £10 deposit and you can borrow 1 game at a time to play. Nice and simple really.

Games played on Day One were -
  • Mr Jack - Greg and I tried this 2 player game which I'd discounted from my to-buy list because it's "only" a 2 player game. More fool me as it's a fun game of deduction where 1 player is Jack The Ripper and the other is a detective trying to deduce which of the characters in the game is secretly Jack. It benefits from very simple mechanics and pretty fast game play and overall was a lot of fun. Does that mean it goes onto my to-buy list? No, 2 player games just won't get the table time unfortunately... If that were to change however then yes it probably would.
  • Ventura - Greg and I tried this one too, largely down to an ENT related reason.  At ENT in 2015 we've played games starting with all the letters of the alphabet other than V and X so I wanted a look at this.  Made by FFG so lots of bits but we got the hang of it pretty quickly and for a game that is essentially an area control game with some bells and whistles it was pretty light although I suspect if played with more people (2-4) it could be very tactical.  Is it on my to-buy list? Not sure but it's in that neck of the woods.
  • Noir - One of my purchases from the convention. It ticks a number of boxes for me; deduction, good range of players and it has a variety of "modes" which keeps the game quite fresh. Greg, Ross and I played one of the modes suitable for 3 players and after a few minutes we'd all got the hang of it and were scratching our heads trying to deduce who each other was amongst an array of 25 spies.  Sorta "Guess Who" but with a lot more to it as you arrange the grid to get closer to your suspect before capturing them.
  • One Night Ultimate Werewolf : Daybreak - So I own the non-Daybreak version of this bluffing game and have to say I won't be buying this version... The additional roles are a bit more clunky than the core game and it certainly seemed to make it harder for the Werewolves to bluff their way through the game. Played it with a group of 7 (Douglas, Laura, Scott, Michelle, Ross and Greg) and whilst it was fun it's not as good as the original.
Other highlights of the day were the Beer Bus and the food trucks.
Last year the con didn't have these and I think the consensus of people I've spoken to is that these are a winner. Good food and decent beer go a long way to improving the overall experience.  The hotel seemed to have a bizarre pricing policy as depending on which bar you went to and at which time you went some beers were varying from £3.50 to £5 a pint for the same beer... One of the few real negatives of the event.

The trade halls don't compare with Gen Con and it'd be unfair to really compare them given the scale difference.  Good selection of stands albeit it seemed to be heavily retailer focussed rather than publisher focussed. Now that might just be a perception thing but that's what I took away from Day One.

Purchase wise I picked up -
  • Noir (as mentioned earlier)
  • 2 mini-expansions for Sentinels Of The Multiverse
  • Monster CafĂ© (as it reminded me of an iPad game my daughter plays)
  • Lords of Scotland which looks good
  • Cockroach Poker (another bluffing game) and 
  • Timeline General Interest.  Timeline is a game I was highly sceptical of at first but having played it at PEGS launch I think there's a good knowledge game there and of course it's semi-educational.
I also picked up 5 copies of the new Tabletop Gaming magazine which is being launched at the con. They aren't all for me (obviously) and I am slightly confused by a new print magazine but it looks professional and has the backing of a publisher that makes a variety of other niche market magazines so time will tell.

The night of Day One ended with some more beer and chat, Day Two (Saturday) was looking like being the busiest day for attendees so we shall see what that brings.

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

UK Games Expo 2015 - Part 1

So after Gen Con last year I decided that 2015 would be the year I went to UK Games Expo.

Not since the days of Gen Con UK has the UK had a suitable equivalent to the big convention that North American and indeed other countries have had available to the fan base.

My approach to UK Games Expo was always going to be very different to the one I took for Gen Con last year.  There are a number of reasons for this but the main one is that Gen Con was pretty much a one off in terms of budget and and represented a long held ambition to go.
I do want and indeed plan to return but simply put the costs associated with getting to Gen Con are not something I can do every year and probably not even every other year.  So financially UK Games Expo was a better option in 2015.
Alongside that though Gen Con 2014 had D&D 5th Edition "launching" at it as well as the added element of being the main event that publishers focus their release schedule around.  It also has a very different set up in that intro games and demos etc are all part of the event booking system and so if you fancied trying out Battletech Alpha Strike or the latest game from Fantasy Flight Games you could book a slot.  That makes for a much more structured schedule.
UK Games Expo only (not the fairest word) has pre-booking for Tournaments and RPGs.  None of which really formed "must do" items on my agenda.  So if there is something I think they could do better / add to their set up for next year and beyond it'd be to add more pre-booked events.  The approach of turn up and hope to get a table / game is great when there's acres of free space but as I've learned whilst being here that space is in short supply within the venue, which supports the plans that the organisers have to expand into the NEC.  More thoughts on that to come.

So here's part 1 of my diary of UK Games Expo 2015.

UK Games Expo - Day Zero

M6 is an unpredicatable motorway at the best of times but the Thursday was one of those days where I was reminded of how troublesome it can be.
Everything went according to plan up to our rest stop at Westmorland services. Ok so Greg will probably point out that we left Westmorland 15 minutes later than the "Travel Plan" said we would but overall no problems.

The M6 was frustrating for about an hour with the Google Maps app suggesting we should leave the motorway on a number of occassions but that would only really benefit us by 5 minutes here and there so we stuck it out on the M6.

By the time we got past Manchester it was looking like we would be 2 hours behind schedule which whilst not a real problem was frustrating... So we stopped off at Sandbach services for a quick "comfort break" and a Magnum ice cream (well I had one anyway).  When we rejoined the M6 things seemed to be better and once we got onto the M6 Toll (All 5.50 earth pounds of it) we zoomed through to the hotel and were parked by 1815, only an hour behind schedule and in time to pick up our badges etc so all good.

Richard was staying elsewhere (perils of free accommodation as part of GMing Traveller all weekend) so Ross, Greg and I checked in to our rooms at the Hilton before grabbing some dinner and beer.  On the Thursday night the con is fairly quiet with 2 open play zones available. The first was organised by Coiled Spring Games who distribute a variety of "family friendly" games including those produced by Gamewright, makers of Forbidden Desert. Unfortunately the room was packed with no tables available for gaming so we ditched that (although we acquired more beer first) and then headed to the Marquee where the open gaming area was.  Now fortunately I had brought some games with me to play - Love Letter, Bang (The Dice Game), Dragon Slayer and Get Lucky.  After several games of those (none of which I won, including Dragon Slayer) we called it a night.

Day Zero was done.

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Tumbleweed Mark 2

So I've not written anything here for a while and whilst part of me feels bad, overall I don't really feel like I've missed it.

I've been really busy with game related stuff and also with work so not really had the time nor the impetus to post much.  The topics I set out in the turn of the year post are still ones I want to cover and hope to get to in due course but there's a general feeling of "we're done" with the primary objective of the blog i.e. chart the journey of re-discovering my hobby. I think I'm pretty much there now.

Ok so there are things I still want to do with my hobby and the Wheaton maxim of playing more games is part of it but the original reasoning for creating the blog was to chart that journey of re-discovery.

Through that journey I've found that board and card games are where I'm at and whilst other formats are still important to me I don't feel the need to plough ahead with doing more of those whereas the desire to play more board and card games remains.

With East Neuk Tabletop about to celebrate it's 1st Birthday this weekend coming and with recent exploits of promoting board games in schools I think I'm pretty much there with what I wanted to achieve with the blog.

So there comes a question - what's next?

I could mothball it until that impetus returns.
Or...

I dunno.
Rethink the core objective?
Well I know what I don't want this blog to be, trouble I don't know what I DO want this blog to be...

Let's see what happens.

Monday, 6 April 2015

Games aren’t just for kids, but should be for them too.

So I've been busy the past couple of months which has resulted in no updates to this blog (ironically another post to come on that).

What have I been busy with? Well it turns out one of my planned themes for a post (this post's title) turned out to be the cornerstone of a project I've helped launch.

So I'm skipping over the planned 2nd topic and jumping to this one as it's very real right now.

What am I babbling about?  This.


There are a couple of mis-quotes in the article but all in all it's a great thing to see this sort of event, coverage and project being given the attention it is.  Fantastic day and very proud to be a part of making it happen.

Monday, 12 January 2015

Community Engagement

So you’re part of / organise a community of gamers and want to increase the profile of your community or indeed you’re a game store owner who wants to reach a new audience.  How do you do that exactly?

I related in a previous post about Growing The Dice Pool about introducing new people to the hobby. Where that post stopped though is where this one starts – community engagement.
It’s all around us really, the community I mean.  Clubs, societies, community groups, libraries, schools and it’s really just about contacting them and giving them a reason to want to be involved in what you do.  Of course if you’re a community and not a store then you probably want to engage with any local stores too!

For the most part though there are some things you need to consider before you invest time in community engagement.

1 Are you prepared to sell the hobby to someone who knows nothing about it?
2 Are you and your community ready for a new influx of people? Or counter to that the potential for the community to splinter as it grows?

If these are all fine with you then the first point to consider is who to engage with and why.

Group?
Who are they?
What’s in it for them?
Clubs
This would include Scout groups, Girl Guide groups, Boys Brigade and other similar bodies. 
Clubs are always looking for new and different things for their members to do. Especially when there are merit badges involved and indeed if they’re aligned with Duke Of Edinburgh Award skills (of which tabletop games qualify).
Societies
Local community societies like Sci-Fi / Fantasy fiction groups, Science groups, Storytelling groups, Comic Book / Graphic Novel discussion groups and more of that ilk
These can be group that have synergies with a tabletop community, that’s not to say there will be direct cross over but there are synergies so there may be interest, particularly in board games, across each of these groups.  Plus those synergies work both ways so there may be benefits to those groups from your existing community.
Libraries
In many areas these are becoming more than just the simple book lending service that many people still associate with a library.  In the UK we’re not quite blessed with the exposure that games have in the American Library Association libraries but that may simply be a matter of time.
Footfall is the main benefit for a library. If you’re there then you’re likely to take advantage of the services they offer.
Some libraries also have space available for events whether that be meeting room or break out spaces. Yes you do have to watch noise levels but they’re generally approachable.
Schools
I’m primarily aiming this at Secondary schools as with Primaries the age tends to be leaning towards the too young level, your mileage may vary though as from 8 onwards (P4) there are many good games out there.
Social engagement is a strong part of school life. Disaffected and dis-connected social groups for kids/teens is something that schools generally are unable to tackle unless a teacher is prepared to volunteer to organise something themselves.  Indeed your local school may have such a community and if so that’s worth engaging with.  Games do have educational value especially in literacy and numeracy (hence their inclusion in Duke Of Edinburgh award) but I personally believe that the primary benefit is the social inclusion element.
Stores
These aren’t just the specialist retailer who sells tabletop games, these can be stores that stock a limited range of games (e.g. Waterstones) but the core thing is that they have a product range that appeals to your community.
Customers, pretty simple really.  This can become a “You scratch my back, I’ll scratch your back” relationship with the store sending customers to your community for play and you sending people back to them as customers.
There is a fine balancing act here though as many of the newer stores that are popping up have game space as part of their business model so it’s important (as a community member I mean) to understand that whilst there will be crossover there will also be competition between your community and the store-based community.  There are ways to ensure that this is a complementary relationship though.

So it’s all well and good having a table breaking these things down isn’t it but how do you actually engage with these groups?

There’s really only 1 good answer to this – In Person.

Ok so usually you can’t just turn up and speak to people about this sort of thing but in many respects doing it in person is the only way to engage properly.  Also you can’t really expect to engage with ALL of the target groups at once, indeed picking a few targets and building those relationship first can help when it comes to engaging with other groups.

To soften the engagement you probably want to think of it as something like this -

Engage – First Impression
Follow Up – Second Impression
Establish – Third Impression and Agree what the relationship is and deliver on that
Sustain – Fourth and subsequent Impression

Engage – This is probably best in writing whether that be via email or a letter.  Obviously if you are able to do this in person then that would make sense but even then the pitch should be the same.  The purpose of this is to primarily say hello and let the contact know that you’re interested in building some sort of partnership and what the benefit to them is.  This is not where you go on about how awesome this partnership will be for your community, it’s about selling the partnership to the contact on the basis on what it will do for them.  As part of the “Hello” it’s best to include some contact details, best times for them to contact you but also primarily to ask them when the best time for you contact them is.  Keep the communication channels open by giving the contact something to respond to so long as it’s not 20 questions…

Follow Up – So you’ve done the initial “Hello”, now you need to follow up on that.  In today’s world most people are so busy doing stuff that they probably don't have time to worry about your community.  Yes that may be shocking but in reality this is as much about reminding them that you exist and that you were in touch.  This one is best done in person, either face-to-face or over the phone.  That’s not to say you can’t do a follow up via email or letter but if you want people to pay attention to you then you the direct route is often the only route.  This is where your sales pitch has to be refined, but mostly it is also a chance for you to ask them questions about other community groups they interact with and as such understand why they should want to interact with your group too.

Establish – Ok so you’re going to have varying levels of results with those you contact.  Some of that will be down to their interest levels and some of that will be down to whether they’ve even read your email…  Once you’ve got someone to speak to though you need to make the most of it.  This can take a variety of forms, whether that be you doing a demonstration or a talk or something like that about the hobby to the contact and anyone else that might be curious at their end.  Invariably this is on their “turf” as it were and you need to be sure before hand what you’re going to do/say.  I would almost suggest treating it like an interview but that’s way too formal.  Once they’ve agreed to do something more then agree the terms of what that "something" is.
E.g. Is it a monthly visit to the group to focus on a different type of game?
Once you have that agreement then it’s all about delivering on that, under the expectation that they will reciprocate by promoting and encouraging their member/staff/pupils/whatever to join in and hopefully become members of your community.

Sustain – So this is really just about keeping things going and building momentum.  As I say above if you foster a strong relationship with 1 group then use that to your advantage with all future engagements.  There is a word of warning here though.  As you build relationships you’re going to find that a critical mass may form around available time to sustain those relationships.  This is a good thing and a bad thing as what you want to avoid is that this becomes too much to handle.  Of course you can spread the load with others inside the community you’re trying to promote (and I would encourage that strongly) but you have to be mindful that this is essentially a formal relationship that you’re creating with another group.

So there’s one group category that I’ve not touched on.  The general public.
Obviously you can’t really contact them to Engage etc and there is very little in the way of formalising any kind of approach here.

Gaming in public though is at times a very cool thing to do and I would encourage people to do that in whatever way they so choose however, I would suggest that you be mindful that playing games in a public setting does have it’s own challenges.  Not least of which is space but most of all it’s about behavioural challenges and I don’t just mean of the gamers playing the games.
That aside having played games in public on many many occasions I can happily report that it’s a good thing, although the strike rate of gaining new gamers is very low.  Targeting your audience through groups is not only easier, it’s also more likely to result in success.

Hopefully there's something useful in what I've posted above, indeed if you think I've missed anything or need to expand further on any area then please let me know.

Sunday, 4 January 2015

Expanding the tabletop horizon…

So I’ve spoke about changing how I engage with my hobby and that has a number of facets which I’m going to break down over several posts to provide greater detail than I would in 1 post.  Some of this is more “the hobby” focussed and is both aspirational and the right thing to do (in my opinion of course).

As I said in my 2015 Look Ahead post some of this may be close to the bone and I know there will be people who will nod along for about 90% of this but shake their heads at the 10%.  A lot of this may also include something akin to a “Don’t ask what the hobby can do for you. Ask what you can do for the hobby!” type of things.

  1. Community Engagement – This is about engaging with the general public and presenting the social experience of gaming to them in a way that is accessible and transparent.  Will touch on engaging with Libraries, Schools and community groups in general.
  2. Value of “Full Retail” – This is about understanding and realising the benefit of paying a premium to buy games in physical brick & mortar stores.  Not just why you should do it but what happens when you do.
  3. Games aren’t just for kids, but should be for them too – It’s really just a post on trying to tackle one of the “stigmas” attached to playing games but at the same time also trying to avoid the hobby being badged with the stereotype.  Games are for everyone is really at its core but what can be done to improve on this?  Sort of a companion piece to Community Engagement.
  4. Where to start. – This one is about helping people get on the tabletop gaming ladder but also about highlighting what goes into organising a games club like East Neuk Tabletop.  It’ll incorporate an element of a “How can I help?” type post as I’m always happy to help people get started on the path to fun gaming.
  5. The Hobby - Utopia – In an ideal world, this is what the hobby would look like to me.
  6. A Better Tabletop Hobby - So with all these things above, how do they change my approach to the hobby and indeed my hobby?  This post will explore that and build some targets for me to achieve.

Some of these are quite meaty (or soya-y for those vegetarians amongst you) topics and I will at times be tailoring my language to avoid slipping into full on rant / preachy mode.

What I will say though is that if you have a counter view to anything I say I’m all ears and I’m always happy to be advised on other perspectives of things, particularly in relation to the hobby at large.

Any questions or suggestions before I start?