Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Game Clubs

Game Clubs…how cool are they? I read an interesting article on BoLS ( the author is Strictly Average) that got me thinking about game clubs and what it takes for them to be successful. You could carry on that statement by defining what is successful. Since getting back into the hobby I have had a chance to get acquainted with many gaming clubs and some of the philosophies behind them. Now the Blade ‘n’ Bolter Boyz will feature heavily here just cause it is the one I am a member of. The purpose here is to spark conversation and look at your own groups for the purposes of bettering your game club. The BnB may even see some things that can be improved on.

What is a gaming club?
Game clubs to me are guys and gals who all have a similar interest in a particular game. Could be chess, Dungeons and Dragons, Warhammer 40k etc, etc. It does not have to be just one game, it could be a multitude of games or just a particular genre. Whatever it is, this group of people comes together on fairly regular basis to play the game they love. For the BnB it is a multitude of various games but 40k is the predominate one. It stands above all others. Thursday nights at the Game Keep might as well be BnB 40k night.

Are you a fun club, serious club or both?
Fun clubs are just that…fun. They get together for a good time of hanging out throwing dice playing with their new and cool unit whether it works, is cost effective or spammed out. These are the guys that build the “fluff armies” and could care less about tournaments. They may have T-Shirts for going to conventions but all in all they are there to play and have fun. They will create whacky scenarios or recreate famous battles they read in the codex. Good fun for certain.

The serious clubs are the tournament heavy players. These guys build the min-maxed internet insanity. Hell they are probably the ones posting the internet insanity. They have read all of the theoryhammer and mathhammer and can probably quote it to you whether you ask or not. They have the games shirts, the banners, the club dice (sound like anyone). They may have their own website or blog; some may even run their own tournament. Some may even go so far as to have a governing body or leadership of some type.

And then there is the muddy middle ground that a lot of clubs seem to fit into. They play for fun and for tournaments. They have all cool stuff like the shirts and the dice. They have players that are perfectly happy recreating the battle for Macragge as they are testing their latest tournament list. I think many clubs probably fall into the “both” category.

So what makes your club successful?
Here is where the rubber meets the road. How do you get a club to last and be productive in the gaming community? What is success and how your club defines it will contribute to everyone’s enjoyment. For some clubs, success is defined by winnings. How often their members win tournaments, how many members place in the top ten of a tournament. For some it could be growth. How often they bring in new members. How successful their very own tournament is. It could even be how popular their website or blog is. All of these things can contribute to the success or failure of a game club.

For me, the defining thing within a club that will make it last forever is nothing more than friendship. Without this your club will last only so long as your definition for success will allow for it too. Many do not realize this but the Blade n Bolter Boyz have been around for almost 20 years. The original core group of friends that started the BnB are still together. We now have about 20 or so members. We have everything in our game club. Guys who love to build terrain, hardcore tournament players, fluff and fun players, master painters (even a golden demon winner) guys who can talk rules like Supreme Court justices. We have contacts in the game that span the globe and yet we can all get together and throw some dice at any given time. But what makes us work is friendship. We can blast the crap out of each other and argue till we are blue in the face but come Thursday it is time to play. Some of the best times at the Keep have not been playing 40k (though killing Angarath was close)but standing in the parking lot till 2 in the morning talking about everything imagineable, the whole time bemoaning that we have to be up early that morning.

What kills the game club?
Game clubs come and they go. We are just now getting several strong clubs in the Tennessee that are really into the game and into growing it. We have a couple of shops in the state that are huge for promoting 40k growing the scene here. The future looks bright. All it takes though is a one or a combination of things and the club is toast.

Things like a bad LGS. If the store sucks and no one plays there where are you gonna play? How are you gonna get your fix for your addiction of choice. A place to buy and a place to play are critical. In Cookeville, the locals had had enough with their cheesy game store so one guy built a building in his back yard for the purpose of providing a place to play to all the local gamers.

Direction and compromise. If you have tourney players and fluff players and neither is willing compromise on what gaming is going on then the fist fight should ensue immediately. A good club should be able to do both…together. We have many that can throw down some stuff for whatever suits us at the time. We have a few that cannot turn off the tourney portion of their psyche and we forgive them for it. It is all about playing the game. One is not better than other. There are days I want to play my tourney list and there are days I just want to play.

Personalities. Let’s face it we are all nerds to one degree or another. We have strong personalities and sometimes our nerdness can be too much to handle. All it takes is for one douchebag to be allowed to run rampant and your club is done. Clubs have to police themselves. The guys were talking recently about a team from North Carolina who consisted of 4 really nice guys and 1 complete jackass. If you are being a jackass and you represent my game club then yeah there will be a talk. I feel bad for those 4 guys because that is a part of how they will be remembered by everyone who played them.

So there is my take on gaming clubs. I am sure there is stuff that I did not touch on and I am sure that there are plenty of clubs that do not fit what I have discussed. Look at this and then look at your club. What do you like, what do you dislike, what would you change? All valid questions that need answers. Just remember to keep things in perspective. This is a game and we all enjoy playing it. Game clubs are great and are a lot of fun but if taken too seriously they can kill all the fun in the game. Nobody wants that.

Blade ‘n’ Bolter Forever!!


Aldonis said...

Nice article - we definately run the complete circle when it comes to personality types in our group!

Willie said...

Great article!

I am new to the "game club" scene. In Chattanooga we never had a clearly defined club in all the years that I played games. And about 3 years ago some Lee University dudes started playing regularly and getting people interested and called themselves a club. This led to a somewhat natural migration into a club scene for everyone. Tragedy struck when Shane and Mel had to shut down the Chattanooga Dicehead location. And our club has fizzled since.

Having taken the helm, I'm trying to get the old crew back together for a club. But it is tough, some guys don't want to drive to Cleveland, some guys have moved on, some guys didn't like how the club used to work. We are trying to forge back together though, and have essentially joined an "alliance" with the TN wargamers group to promote that forum for all of our discussion.

I think clubs and club camaraderie is a great thing! I love playing in events with you BnB maggots! It makes me want to beat you guys so I can rub it in on your boards and blogs! And at the same time I hate losing to any of you, not that it happens very often ;).

Aldonis said...

Sigh....the heat from the ATC has fried Willie's brain....it seems he's blotted out all his losses to the BNB....

Maybe electro shock thereapy.....

Or an image of two sweaty fat guys.......

Anonymous said...

Props for an excellent article.

Wildeyedjester said...

Well done and well thought out.