What to do once you’ve grown a local scene.
Welcome to the next part of my series dedicated to local Warhammer Underworlds scenes. Last time I gave pointers as to how such a thing can be setup but now I’ll go into how you maintain the growth as well as health of your local scene. It’s also my 100th article (woohoo!) so what better way to celebrate than dedicate it to a community post. Just like a plant, it needs care, attention and plenty of crits.
The Golden Rules
So you’ve now got a regular group of players meeting up often to play games of Warhammer Underworlds. That’s great! But energy can soon fizzle out and wane resulting in a possible drop when it comes to attendance as well as interaction. There are ways around this covered in the Support section of the previous article but I’ll expand further into detail here with the golden rules we use in our local London scene to great success.
1) Don’t be a dick
The main mantra of my gaming club HATE is something we’ve adopted for the London Underworlds group. The game comes with a social contract and making sure people feel welcome is extremely important.
Don’t turn people away just because of what they play or because they’re new etc. Be kind, have a laugh, maybe have a pint or 7 but don’t try to be elitist. Even when playing games don’t get upset over losing and try to focus on having a good time. Wins and loses always happen but regular gamers are a precious commodity, don’t lose focus of what’s important over personal needs.
2) Be able to demo the game
A few of us in the London scene always bring at least 2 warbands so we have something new players can learn against as well as bringing the main warband we want to play that day. Having a main warband is great but it can be an impossible mountain for players new to the game or scene.
This also allows you to be able to teach on the fly without needing to plan. Often you’ll get new players asking for intro games but you should definitely regularly post in your scene’s chosen social media platform about if people are looking to learn the game. A lot of the time people can be too afraid to ask so this helps bridge the gap.
3) Give new players space to learn the game
No matter the scene you’ll have people of varying skill levels all with varied goals in-mind when it comes to Underworlds. There will be players looking to hone their tournament skills whereas you’ll have those who just want a laugh and everything in-between. I’m not saying players should be segregated into groups but it’s helpful to always bring at least 2 decks or warbands.
This overlaps with demoing the game but it expands into regular gaming nights. New players won’t have fun or learn much from being constantly crushed by tournament-honed decks. It also challenges yourself by trying something new or a different playstyle and seeing how you manage. For myself I regularly use Sepulchral Guard and Eyes of the Nine for such a purpose.
4) Assess the needs of the community
It takes quite some work but go over what the community wants as a whole which can be done via asking players individually or even having group polls. Find out the common interest of the group. Are players more interested in just having somewhere to play relaxed games regularly or do they want the focus being on honing their skills to become tournament winners?
There are many possibilities but you need to find the common goal and worm towards it then encourage the growth. Maybe people want to play more games so look at weekly or bi-weekly gaming dates. If players want a more structured format then consider a group league. For players that want to win tournaments consider looking for local tournaments that the group can attend or hold your own.
Another example I have is of club tournaments. The London Underworlds group contains a number of players from multiple clubs. Later in March we’ll have HATE vs First Founding. A club vs club tournament all in the name fun and growth!
5) Give constructive advice
When playing against new opponents as well as those trying to improve, be constructive with your feedback instead of saying “you’re doing everything wrong” or “you need these cards”. Instead help them analyse the strengths and weaknesses of their decks and gameplay. Are they committing key fighters too early? Running objectives they’re unlikely to score? Not using fighter abilities? It all stacks up. Even referring them to content like my own, other bloggers and even youtube battle reports are all great resources to learn from.
Another awesome tip is to simply swap decks and warbands after a game or best of 3. The best way to beat a warband is to learn how to use it. You can also try to show your opponent how they’re approaching their warband from the wrong viewpoint. Also it’s a lot of fun!
6) Not everyone plays for the same reason
Realise that some people want to get as many games out as possible to sharpen their skills for tournaments whereas others simply want to play for fun socially and even slay glass-mad Gargants. Ensure there’s a good mix of players going. Once again it helps bringing more than 1 warband but if I’m only bringing my tournament warband then I’ll pass against someone there casually so they can matchup against someone looking for a similar game goal.
7) Ignore negativity and don’t get upset by setbacks
Criticism should always be taken on-board but don’t pay attention to needless negativity. For example the London group experienced early on in its lifetime a player who would bombard comment threads with his local gaming venue repeatedly without it being relevant to topics and not really engaging with growing the community. His was warned and then banned and as a result tried to smear the group. In situations like that, all you can do is just carry on as normal and focus on the group instead of one guy trying to bring you down.
Another point is you’ll have weeks or even months at worst where attendance will be poor. Just accept it and keep on with the work. Summer can be a notoriously bad period of time for weekly gaming nights due to the mysterious sun and people going on holiday. Or sometimes everyone is just busy. Don’t let these factors get you down as they’re out of your control, unless you can control the sun (one day…).
8) Time commitment is ongoing
You’ll need to accept that your time for the group will never really realistically end. You’ll probably be the bedrock of the group that supports everyone. The binding glue. That ever trusty crit. It’s a big ask but the rewards are worth it. However don’t get too disheartened, looking for help is never bad.
In the London Underworlds group we have our main founder and then a few other of us who help when we can from booking tables to simple things like promoting club nights with photos and getting convos going in the group. I do such things to help when I can but my schedule is unreliable which is why there are about 4 of us to help the founder when we can. We can’t run the group like he can but instead we provide support as necessary to keep the community going and to take a bit of the burden.
So there are my rules for how to maintain your scene. There are quite a bit and it highlights just how much work it takes to grow and keep your local community alive. It’s hard work but it’s always worth it. Keep at it even when everything seems against you as there’s always light at the end of the tunnel. Keep your mind focused and your priorities strong, then you won’t even need crits at all 😁