Making A Scene

Organising Play logo.

To get a local scene started for your favourite wargame, you just have to find at least one other player to start playing against you at your local club or store. You’ll become the founders, the centre of a snowball that will hopefully become bigger and bigger. Other people will see you playing, and might come over to ask what you’re playing.

If the game has been around for a while, you might also get people coming up to you and saying they have models but had no idea that anyone played at your club/store (that seems to happen a lot with Firestorm Armada!).

But how do you get a group started as the foundation of a healthy local player base?

Ghost Town

Something that I see all too often is people posting messages on forums and mostly Facebook offering their models for sale because of a lack of players. The first thought that always comes to mind is “Did you try to find them?”.

There are three basic scenarios that happen when someone buys into a new wargame:

  1. They buy in although they don’t know anyone else who plays.
  2. They buy in knowing at least one other person who did the same, although there isn’t a local group yet.
  3. They buy in because the game is popular in their local area.

Scenarios 2 and 3 are ideal because once you’ve prepared your models and your army or fleet list, you’ll have an opponent (or opponents) to play against. But what if you jumped in solo, as in scenario 1?

Methods To Start The Madness

Given that the world is supposed to be so connected these days, why not use some of that connectivity to find players? On just the internet, you could:

  • Find the Facebook group (if there is one) for your club/store and post there, and find out if there’s a general Facebook group for your game, too.
  • Post on forums such as the official Spartan Games forums, DakkaDakka and BoardGameGeek. Find the right place to post, and don’t spam!
  • Post a tweet on Twitter, making sure to write your location and the game’s name as hashtags to make your tweet more searchable.

Another option is to make flyers and ask your local games store if you can leave them on the counter. A simple and attractive design with some contact details (email, Twitter handle etc.) printed at A5 or A6 size is ideal.

Speaking of stores, you could ask your local if you can run a demo day or two there. A frequently-cited reason for why someone didn’t get into a game is because they haven’t had the chance to play it, so give them that chance! If the store agrees to the demo day, then make sure you have at least two factions painted to a decent tabletop standard — the kind of paintwork that would entice you to jump in — and get to know the game’s rules. It also can’t hurt to have the aforementioned flyers there, too.

We, The Builders

If you’re the only person you know in your area who plays the game you bought into, you’re going to have to build the local scene — there’s no getting away from it. Players aren’t going to magically appear, as nice as that would be!

Building a local group can be tough, and it will test how much you really want to play your chosen game. It can be easy to give up and just play whatever the locally popular game is, but it can be even more rewarding to play your chosen game because you built the scene from the ground up.

Besides, the reason why that other game is being played by those other players is because one of those people decided they didn’t want to play alone, so they started looking for players and they built their group.

Cats With Spaceships

Building a local scene for your favourite game will probably feel as frustrating as trying to herd cats. People will drop out of scheduled meetups an hour before you’re due to play, and they’ll say they’ll be there but won’t show up. Some weeks, nobody will be available to play. There will always be that one guy who says “Hey, let’s play!” then disappears from the earth, only to show up a few weeks later with another “Hey, let’s play!”.

But if you take away only one thing from this article, it should be that events like those mentioned above should never faze you. Those things will happen because life is crazy, but just plow straight ahead. Be stubborn. Try to arrange next week’s meetup. You need to be the stable foundation on which the group is built.

I got back into Firestorm Armada in late 2013 not knowing anyone who played, and decided that I didn’t want to play alone. Our London group now meets almost every week. It’s true that London is a big city with greater odds of finding players, but it’s not the only place where a new gaming group could form.

Good luck!