Friday, July 20, 2012

Growing the Gaming Club

What gaming clubs can do to continue to 

grow the youngbloods, support the veterans, and 

draw new people into the hobby

There has been a ton of hate for Games Workshop over the past year. 2 prices increases, new rule sets that utilize most of the products that saw prizes jump the most, and under utilize previous builds so its very rare that you can use the same army.. (aka, you gotta buy new stuff) they have also canceled the ‘ard boyz tournaments or the new codex/army book that comes out is the best, enticing you to buy new… this leaves many many people feelings like GW just does not care about their customers and simply are all about the bottom line.

Having said that, it is clear that the support of the hobby will come from local gaming clubs.. NOTICE, I did not mention store. Stores, are in the market to make money, not grow a club. It is very rare that you have both and if you do have one of these in your local area, you need to consider yourself lucky.  Plus, there are plenty of areas where no game store exists, period. Our gaming club is a prime example of such a location. Yet here we are.

Here are some of the things that Lancashire Wargaming has done to try to support the hobby in general. We are committed to our young bloods, the new people to the hobby. Not necessarily age wise. We are also committed to our veteran players, people who have come out of the wood work when we started this club, that were from the local area, but we never knew about. These people have very different needs and desires from a club than the young bloods and both need to be considered and supported.

Finally, we also understand the importance of bringing in even more new people into the wargaming community. Notice, I have specifically left it open and general. We are not trying to create a GW fan club. Simply trying to follow the trends of a community as a whole and provide for those people, based on their needs. Flames of War, Warmahordes, Maulifaux, Dust, Infinity, Magic the Gathering, LOTR and bloodbow(yes its gw but not very plentiful) you name it, if you want to play the game, we try to give you ample times, and resources to do just that.

Alright, enough introductions here, lets move onto what our club is doing for our local community of gamers.

  1. Proxies: We allow the club patrons to use proxy models so they can try before they buy or even use other gaming systems to represent others. This allows for maximum flexibility and maximum coverage for all gaming.
  2. Stand-ins: note this is very similar to proxies except.. this takes it even a step further. We allow people to use paper cut outs and make shift models before they can afford to purchase the real deal. Now.. this needs to be verified with each of your opponents before hand. Many people may not want to play with said paper cut outs, but honestly its how I learned how to play the game and I do not want to deter anyone else from learning this way as well. I can’t tell you have many months I used old irish spring boxes painted black to represent rhinos. Its surprising how similar in shape they really are.
  3. Club Codex Library:  This is even making more waves now that allies are part of the 6th edition rules. We have club codex library started. Now its not complete as of yet, but its growing steadily. It is important to know all your opponent’s tricks and nuances, but it is also a great way for players to try out allies before they purchase them on their own.
  4. Free place to play: we are a completely free place to play. We are a donation club. So whatever each person can donate to help fund keeping the lights on and the dice rolling is greatly appreciated, but we don’t charge a monthly fee to come and game. We also have very flexible time schedules. We have a large gathering each month from Noon to 9pm. And we are also open Thursday nights from about 5:30-9:30pm. Now I know this doesn’t work for everyone’s schedules, but there are plenty of opportunities to get a game in. Have an opening on some other day of the week? we have a facebook group where you can post on there. See who might be able to stop by for a challenge.
  5. Free book exchange: we have grown a little collection of black library and other fantasy type books for everyone’s use. Just borrow and bring it back when you are finished. Its important to have some fluff behind our nerd gaming.
  6. connections with local stores: Now this is a little contested because we really don’t have a ‘local store’ as it were. However, we have made connections with the closest stores nearby and we are in the process of developing a keychain which will give you discounts at these stores. The Adventurer’ guild, the comic store East/West, hobby lobby, etc. We also offer an in-house independent retailer who can get some deep discounts on some of the models and products our members want.
  7. Raffle: every monthly meeting we offer a free 10$ raffle to the previously mentioned independent retailer just for showing up. How cool is that?

Again, I know every club/store is doing many of the same things we are to support the hobby. I just wanted to highlight some of the things we are doing.

Do you any suggestions for us? How could we be reaching out more? Are we stretching too thin? Have we overlooked something?

Please leave us your feedback below.


  1. The lancashire club is a grea example that I hope a lot of places could maybe base their structure off of. The only suggestion that I have for the club is to make some sort of print out for the members to post up everywhere they go. Facebook is great, and so is word of mouth, but I think it would be great to have some more advertising...not that dont have a ton and obviously what you have happening is great, but if you made some professional posters and we had them all over the malls and at hobby stores and around it would definitely catch peoples eyes.

  2. As a veteran gamer of over 10 years, I have been to many stores, have been a ember of other clubs and have even run my own club for a time. It was only by chance that I ran into Lancashire and I consider it among the great things that have happened to me in this hobby. Being able to network with such a friendly yet formidable group of gamers has always been a pleasurable way to spend every evening, and though I live rather far from their home base, I consider it no great matter to travel over an hour to club day whenever possible.

    As far as suggestions for improvement, for me what the club does is exactly what I am looking for. I would suggest volunteer programs where one or more members who are well-versed in a particular aspect of the hobby engage those who wish to participate in small workshops; for instance (and pardon the Black Templar dialect), one of our Initiates could take a Neophyte and school him in painting, sculpting, or even ally with him with the new ally rules in order to teach him game mechanics and tactics. Whether these were conducted in one-on-ones or groups would have to be decided based on interest, but having some sort of expertise matrix might help further skill levels as well as form sub-networks of individuals who may not otherwise connect (I know that I am bad at moving outside of my 4 or 5 club buddies!!!).

    To all of my Lancashire brethren, a heartfelt thanks for the past year or so of great gaming!

  3. Thanks my only regret is I do.not live closer. This book exchange intrigues me i have a ton of black library books let me know what u need. Also appreciate comroderie and look fwd to bigger events .

  4. thank you all for your kind words and comments.

    @ sigis. that is a fantastic idea, and something I am definitely interested in. I know there are some current hot bed areas too. basic panting is up there. just how the process works.. base, wash, highlight. very simple, but gets you tons and tons of mileage.

    I personally want to start taking each member and really sit down and play a game or two with them and work out some of the finer points as well. since i am a very competitive player at heart, this will probably be my area of focus. how to build a list that equips you with the tools you will need for battle.

  5. @ Brother C: Painting and sculpting are probably the two most-needed areas of expertise needed. Terrain-building would be another area, and of course general conversion work is another. With regards to gaming, we seem to be a fairly competitive club, and I think a lot of us would be suited to mentor some of the young-bloods or other new players, whether those areas are list-building, field tactics, a mega-battle game expert, or even a librarian (somebody who can compare the current army's or edition's iteration with past incarnations like I am always doing).

    The only downside to this is that it would be harder to implement with the club's...'relaxed' structure; nonetheless, it can be done.