Author Topic: Running a drama-free, casual 40k group  (Read 432 times)

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Offline Alfalpharius

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Running a drama-free, casual 40k group
« on: September 14, 2016, 12:01:11 AM »
So, a while back I got into 40k again.  It'd been a while since I played, and to put it into perspective- back then Necrons didn't have personalities, you could still get metal minis, and Sisters had a proper Codex.  So, needless to say it'd been a while.  I did my research, listened to Fritz and a few others on Youtube, read some write-ups on various sites, and decided to get back into it. 

No sooner had I started putting together my Black Templars did my best friend walk up and realize that 40k models were awesome, and he immediately launched a payload of his disposable income into this hobby.  And then another mutual friend came along, same thing.  Soon, we were out there in the wild at the FLGS and GW stores, and we discovered something...

Our local gaming scene was practically dead.  A few guys would pop up here and there to play a game, but they all knew each other quite well- they were the only dudes playing at the store, and even then- they'd admitted it was more a 'routine' than a requirement for them to play- they all had gaming tables at home.  They all knew other people that played 40k, but in the words of the beardliest one:  "The most they do with their models is blow them off with a can of air once a month". 

Now, the reasons for their exodus from the three gaming stores varied- but they were all experiences I understood and had experienced.  So, I went and sat down with my friends at a favorite bar & grill, pulled out a notebook, and we put our heads together- we were gonna make a gaming group. 

We started simple:  "What do we want?"  Then we got into the more difficult things:  "What do we NOT want?"  And there was a bit of discussion.  So we came up with quite a few ideas that turned into the 'Protocol'.  Since our rules and requirements aren't 'Commandments', and can be questioned/altered/improved upon- I'm encouraging you guys, with your many years of experience, to tell me what you think!

Statement of Purpose:  The Gaming Club is an organization, not an establishment.  The purpose of it is to give Warhammer 40k gamers in the area a place to play in a safe, casual, fun environment
(Note:  The reason we highlight 'organization' is because people have confused 'club' with a location, and assume that requires me- the guy with the garage we play in- to play 'host' and provide everything.  It's an equal contribution for all members, and the only reason it's at my place is because everyone else lacks space or other reasons).

Must be 21 or over. The major reason for this is because, well... we drink a bit.  Quite a bit, actually.  I have a liquor cabinet and kegerator in the area near the table.  While it's easy to just say, "Keep an eye on it", I've had an experience in the past where someone underage snagged a bottle of something and made some bad decisions, and it almost came back on me.  That all being said, the unspoken rule is that no one drinks and drives- you either call a cab, or sleep it off.  Another reason for this rule is because the FLGS nearby doubles as a toy and comic shop, and for some reason many parents bring their children there and let them run wild.  If it's not the little ones trying to grab everything that looks like a toy... it's the juveniles that seem to enjoy pestering players and provoking them.

Must provide some piece of terrain for the table. I'm not picky, I even say 'a pile of rocks' counts.  I bought the table (converted an old ping-pong table), and some of the GW scenery for it.  All I ask is that folks bring some things to change the game up, it doesn't have to be fancy or anything.  Some guys have gotten pretty creative, bringing stuff over and turning the day into 'let me make this junk into something cool'.  I've got an entire set of paints (cheap ones) for this specific purpose.

Must 'reach out' to 'the wild' once a month.  By this, I mean ever member is to go out for a little while and visit the FLGS and GW stores.  You're encouraged to play a game, but that's not easy to find.  Other things like talking to other players, helping new players out, sitting in on a painting class and asking to help, things like that are great.  The idea is that we are establishing ourselves in the gaming community, and giving back.  We even have a 'Bitz box' that we take along with us, just in case a player is desperately in need of something small.

Provide your own, or contribute to food and drink.  I go and refill the keg once a month, and I buy those boxes of chip bags for everyone to help themselves to.  I encourage players to bring something to share, or throw in if they want to order pizza or wings.  Many times, we just end up making an obscene pot luck with more meat products than one would consider healthy.  And my hamburger dip is something I'm proud of (Stupid easy to make, too).  Mainly, I just don't want 'that guy' to come and devour everyone else's food and contribute nothing.

You are 100% responsible for the behavior of your guests. I know, it sounds draconian- right?  The idea is... well, we all know 'that guy' that's fun to have a beer with, or fun to talk to at another activity, hell- he may be the best dude to go to the baseball game with, ever... but he's not someone you bring around your gaming table.  This makes people think long and hard about who they invite to come over.  It being my house, I make it clear that I give a warning to bad guests before I ask them to leave.  If asking someone to leave doesn't work, I put my tax dollars to work and the let police handle it. 

Be an adult.  I realize it's vague- but there's a purpose to it.  I don't think it's reasonable to police conversation topics, language, etc. at the table when we're all grown.  I completely understand that grown men and women are fully capable of having taboo conversations without being stupid.  I can completely let people have political conversations, disagree, and as long as they're civil- I'm fine with it.  All I asked is that people understand that there's not a rule for every little thing, so 'no drama, no stupid, no childishness'.  One of the main reasons these guys left local gaming scenes was because people couldn't stop being children and expecting others to police the language, or being unable to police their own.

These are just some of the highlights from what we established.  Obviously, there are house rules (like, rules specifically about the house) and gaming house rules but I left that off.  What started with 5 guys has grown to 9, with more potential members inbound once we sit with them.  We're hoping the group grows, and we can eventually host tournaments for a charity or have a nice event out at a campground near the lake.  So far, the only 'drama' we've had was one guy having wife problems and asking to stay on my couch for the night- which I declined... I have a very nice, comfortable padded cot and a folding hammock that are more suited for someone staying at my place.

Things I want to know:

-Where to go from here?
-How to 'beef up' the local gaming circuit?
-What to avoid?
-What to try?

Offline Dirty Harry

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Re: Running a drama-free, casual 40k group
« Reply #1 on: September 14, 2016, 08:41:40 AM »
Where to go from here?

Simple. Play games. Grow your motley crew from the inside out first. Much like a good 40k army, the strength of your force starts with its core. Build your relationships with your gaming buddies in and outside of gaming. If you guys are already tight, then congrats! You're half way there. The positive energy you guys put out when you're interacting 'in the wild' will naturally attract the players that you want. The players that don't don't feel your vibe will probably avoid you or won't stick around long. Sad really.

How to beef up the local gaming circuit?

Consider what you want to bring to the local gaming circuit. Which scene do you wanna support? Narrative? Competitive? Hobby heavy? Indie games? Definitely keep this in mind with your group, it'll help give your organisation a clear mission statement that doesn't confuse potential recruits. When you decide which of these you want to bolster, commit your gang's gaming time and energy into those.

what to avoid?
That's purely up to you. Are you more put off by the number crunching neckbeards with hygiene issues or the flakes that can't be bothered to even spray a coat of primer on their models, and always have an excuse as to why they can't or won't paint their projects? Drama is a good thing to avoid all around. Avoid the drama llamas at all costs. This means the 'he said she said'-ers, the disingenuous, the gossip queens, etc. I also recommend squashing any instances of people that are proactively thin skinned on someone else's behalf. "You shouldn't say that, this person might take offense," no. Just no. If there's a sensitive topic someone might not feel comfortable with, or if someone is using a model or scenic piece that don't jive well with another member, direct communication is a must.

What to try?

Anything and everything. Embrace home brew ideas your participants want to try out. be open to games of kill team, combat patrol, fight club (pretty much character models fighting it out one on one), standard sized games, apocalypse games, yada dadah. Let dice rolls decide everything. If two players can't agree on a rules interpretation, roll for it. If a player can't decide on which opponent to play, roll for it. If a player can't decide what pair of clean underwear they want to wear that day, roll for it.

Those are pretty much my musings for now.
Don't try making a unit unkillable. its a waste of time and the dice gods laugh at you for wasting your time. Dedicate a unit to a job and make sure it does it til it's either dead or running.

Offline Alfalpharius

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Re: Running a drama-free, casual 40k group
« Reply #2 on: September 14, 2016, 03:50:38 PM »
Right now, we've got a good mix of casuals and competitive players, and they're all exchanging ideas.  There's not a whole lot that puts me off, but the thin-skinned drama bombs are a no-go at the table.