|'The Four Evangelists' - Peter Paul Rubens, 1614.|
Right, I'm rolling my sleeves up as I type this out. Yes, it is that serious!!! It may have come to your attention recently that I have been dangling some lovely gaming goodness in front of you all these past few weeks. I've also spoken at length about the fact that we're living in Golden Age of Gaming and how we should make sure that we don't let it pass us by. However, primarily in my series of articles entitled 'Games That Intrigue Me' I've started to highlight as much of the gaming goodness as I can to you guys. Damn good reads they are too, if I say so myself. Any way I've had a fair few comments sent my way about people saying they can't find opponents to play these damn fine games. This is something I have a modicum of sympathy with and to be brutally honest plenty of experience with. I too used to live in a sea of Games Workshop clones... but then I grew a pair, manned up and decided I'd have to force people to try these new games out. I mean, I started trying to convince people to play other games during the hey day of Warhammer Fantasy Battle, which was 6th edition, in my opinion arguably the best edition there has been of that particular venerable beast.
Did I give up? No... well maybe slightly... but if I did it was only for about 7 months. Despite what Games Workshops half year financial result say, I'd humbly suggest that there are more disgruntled Games Workshop gamers out there right now than there has ever been. Trust me they are more than willing test subjects, they're positively desperate to play something good. There are a vast sea of people ready to convert to a New Religion. In fact I've been so overwhelmed with the responses I've had convincing others to play Dystopin Wars, Infinity, Mlifaux, Warmachine, Anima Tactics and many, many, many more games besides, I've been totally rushed off of my feet doing intro games. However, I now get to bask in the glory of my hard labours. All those years out in the wilderness when my fellow gamers mocked my Warmachine miniatures, made fun of my Infinity and positively derided my Rackham collection... OK so on the last one they were right! Look I never said I was perfect!!! Now they're promoting these games themselves, and the community is growing.
You see round by me now I think I'd find it easier where I currently go to game to get games in of none Games Workshop product than I would Games Workshop product. Yes I really mean that. I know, and yes I am just as shocked as you are, but there it is. All the area needed was a few pioneers, brave souls willing to evangelise about these games. If you build it they will come! If you don't have anyone to play at these games and you would like to play them, then guess what? Get off of your arse and do something about it. You have it in your hands to improve your situation. Seriously are you geeks or are trendy hipster wannabe geeks? On second thoughts don't answer that question. I'm not going to pretend it's not hard work. I'm not going to lie to you, you'll be up against a multimillion pound behemoth (Games Workshop) that has quite frankly made every gamer I know lazier than Jabba the Hut on the Sabbath!
It is going to take some work, and by some I mean lots:
- You're going to have to research your game of choice all by yourself. However, the Internet is there to help. Blogs, forums etc. have made this easier than ever before! Use them, ask questions and get advise.
- You are going to have to buy starter sets for two factions. Yep, I know major imposition isn't it? NOT!!! Especially when most companies are producing sexy miniatures nowadays. Look at it as getting dibs on the best two factions if you like! Because the rest of the gamers in your area are schmucks!!!
- You're going to have to be friendly and nice about it. You can't be a grade A jackass and hope to win people round to playing your game of choice. Think about it, who wants to play a game with a douche bag? Yep you're going to have to be nice, smile a lot, and just be an all round affable fellow.
- You are going to have to persuade people to give it a bash. Yep you're going to have to nag people, cajole people and possibly even use threats of physical violence... or you could just show them the sexy miniatures and rulebooks. Us geeks like a good rulebook and sexy lumps of metal.
- Pick your victi... erm... exclusive inner circle wisely. Go for the guy who is always complaining about Grey Knights. Or the poor chap who is sick to death of having his Wood Elves constantly ignored by Games Workshop. Simply pick on those individuals whose will is weak, you'll be able to corrupt them easier. Or you could target those gamers who already play different gaming systems.
- You'd better know your stuff though. There is nothing worse than running an intro game and not knowing the rules, it can make games look more complex than they really are. This is worse than not getting people to play the game, a botched intro will reinforce Games Workshops drones intransigence.
- Linked to the above, you'll need to be able to answer peoples questions on the back story and various factions, as well as the miniatures and rules. People will want to know stuff. Your knowledge won't have to be encyclopedic and in many cases you can get away with just being able to signpost people. Just be prepared for their questions.
- Rinse and repeat. Eventually, I promise you that you will gradually start making headway, slowly at first. Maybe one or two anarchist types, or rage quitters will join your cause... and then... before you know you'll have reached a critical mass and things will take care of themselves. Unfortunately everyone will be kicking your ass at your game of choice and you will wish they'd all just feck off back to 40k!!!
It will happen I promise you. If you are willing to put the effort in, remain positive and up beat it'll become infectious. Your positive attitude will rub off, or everyone will think you're mad. So people will either play the game because they think it must be good if you're still pushing it... or they'll play it for fear that you'll slit their throats with a spoon as they sleep if they don't. The end result is the same though. There's a reason Privateer Press have their Press Gangers, Wyrd have their Henchmen and Cool Mini or Not are launching their 'Legion' program to get people like you and me signed up to promoting the hobby. It works! Even Games Workshop had their Outriders program, and that too was actually highly successful, possibly too successful because it killed itself off. Have I ever felt like becoming a Press Gangers or Henchmen myself? Nope, I've not once been tempted because I don't really like the idea of being told how I should run my intro games, and where and when I should do them. I'm freelance baby and I'll pimp out any game I want to! I do though have huge amounts of respect for those gamers who do devote themselves to these programs, they're unsung heroes the lot of them in my eyes.
|The Mission - A great film if you haven't already seen it.|
What I'm describing isn't easy for sure, but it is immensely rewarding when it starts paying off. It's a different mindset to be sure. It's not quite like rocking up to your local Games Workshop on a Thursday night. Playing the same game of 40k, on the same cramped and bland 4' by 4' realm of battle board. With the same plastic scenery you've used for 3 years and the same opponent. Wishing your life to end... it's actually invigorating and exciting. You'll be learning new games, testing your mind and the playing field will be even as you'll all be starting from scratch. Creating a thriving 'alternative' gaming community isn't the easiest thing in the world to do and you will receive knock backs and disappointments. But, pick yourself up and dust yourself off, and just carry on going. Because when you walk into a gaming club and see two people playing a game you introduced them to, and having fun you'll get a warm glow inside. Honestly it feels good to give fellow gamers their mojo back, and it's what some Games Workshop gamers need to do. Some of them need to just move on and let those still enjoying 40k and Fantasy get on with their hobby without dragging the rest of them down. Peace out!