Hey there, Rulers! We have just started a brand new year for Force of Will, and with that comes resolutions! While some of those resolutions might be related to personal health, or traveling more, or even finding that special someone, I challenge you to add building a thriving Force of Will community at your locals to the list!
While this might seem like a daunting task, I assure you it can be done and the payoff is amazing! Having a place you can go every week to play the game with friends, meet new players, and improve your skill is a wonderful treat that you will be able to enjoy for years to come! My hope through this article is to give you some tips and tricks that I myself utilized to build up my locals so that you can implement them in your area and help the game flourish!
Before we go any further, it is important to understand that in order to have the best possible chance of building locals, you must put the community itself above yourself. If your goal is to make yourself seem important, that will definitely put a damper on how effective these techniques can be, and will make the road to success much longer and rougher.
I am going to be breaking down this article into 3 main sections: laying the foundation, bringing in players, and important player mentalities.
Part 1: Laying the Foundation
Before anything can be built, it is important to have a stable foundation to build off of, and it is no different for a local Force of Will community. Having a strong, stable, and encouraging environment can make all the difference for card gamers. For this reason, I definitely recommend finding a game shop and start getting to know the employees. Make yourself known to them, help them understand your passion for the game and desires to grow the community, and be sure to learn as much as you can about the store, its mission, the management style, and all of the employees. If you make it obvious that you care about the shop, then it won’t take long for the shop to start caring about you at a deeper level than just a regular customer.
Once that relationship is built, the next step is to begin planning the construction of the Force of Will community in their stone. See if they have any of the advertising posters sent out by Force of Will to put up in the store and build interest. Talk with the owners and staff about the game, what kinds of events they want to try running, what products to keep stocked for newer players, and what the store ultimately wants the community to look like. Having a similar vision means that you won’t be acting in counterproductive ways and thus will maximize your effectiveness.
Some suggestions you could give to the store could be: have a starter deck tournament day where the store offers structure decks for a slightly lower cost and the people who buy them get to play in an event for prizing, have a player on staff who knows how to play the game and can give demos with the Peter Pan/Captain Hook demo decks to anyone who is interested, or host “learn to play days,” where product is available for a slightly discounted cost/door prizes are available for those who come in to try out the game (with all of the promotional materials that Force of Will sends out, it is not difficult to build a small stockpile of product and enticing prizes that can be used for this kind of event).
Part 2: Bringing in Players
Even though you may have been able to build a partnership with a local store, the real work has just begun. You need to have players who are willing to come on a regular basis in order to keep a local alive and growing. For this purpose, you need to shift gears to show off the game to the players in the community as a launching point to have them reach out to the store for product/information. In my opinion, work done at this stage is the most important and most time consuming, but is where the payoff really starts to become apparent.
The first step is committing to spending more time in your local shop than you may have in the past. Hanging around and doing deck testing or practice games with players when other people are walking through the shop can make them curious as to what is being played, and as such gives you an opportunity to talk about the game. Another good time to go in and play is when you know an event for another game is happening. In between rounds, those players will probably wander a little bit and if they see you playing they might ask about it or even ask for a demo. From there you can let them know when your events are going on and see what happens. Another good idea to create an online facebook group for your community so that you have an easy way to help players network with one another and begin forming relationships after they learn about the game (It can also be a great place to announce when you will be at the store and find playtest partners to help attract newer players).
The biggest initial hurdle for players to jump into a game is the initial investment. Luckily this is another place where you can help soften the blow/eliminate the hesitation. Do you have a lot of spare bulk? Consider working with your local store to create a “free box” where you and other players can donate their bulk cards so that newer players can look through and maybe put together a quick deck/add cards to a recently purchased structure deck. If a player can make a minimal initial investment and immediately sink their teeth in to basic deck building for the game, it is more than likely they will take the chance, which will in turn increase the likelihood that they continue to explore the game and invest at a higher level increases. At that point, the transition from newer player to frequent attender becomes almost a guarantee.
The last trick you can use to help build a player’s interest in the game is introducing them to content producers they can watch outside of the store on their own time. Youtube and Twitch are both excellent mediums to show to potential players. I have compiled for you a small list of places to start, and what kind of content they produce, so that you can share it with new players based on their interests.
Official FOW Youtube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCtwx1OTVawyBv6OHQMoXBHA
Official FOW Twitch Channel: https://www.twitch.tv/fowtcgjapan
Weekly Q&A Livestreams
Set Trailers and Spoilers
DM073 : https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCLwVjrvSJWz58ASKd3WjAag
Feature Matches Weekly with commentary
1-2 Deck Profiles a week
Coverage of new sets/opinions on spoilers
In depth Deck profiles
Stone of Void: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCWSrcfIqgXxlhLWS-tsa5eg
Weekly Force of Will Podcasts
The Outer World: https://www.twitch.tv/theouterworld
Weekly deck testing videos
Team Brew House: https://www.twitch.tv/teambrewhouse
Weekly deck testing videos
While there are many other content producers out there, this list is a good place to get started. Encourage your newer players to check them out and then start exploring what is out there that matches their style and interests!
Part 3: Important Player Mentalities
So if things have gone well, at this point you have been able to start your locals on an upward trend in terms of attendance and might think everything is all set for you to shift back your focus to your own personal game related goals. While it may seem like that is ok, making that shift too quickly or without keeping these points in mind can actually undo most of your work.
One of the major goals that I have heard from players in my experience is to attend and succeed at the higher competitive levels such as AGPS, State level events, or the ultimate goal of Worlds. In order to reach this goal, players practice with the best decks they can think of to try and master them, and might think the best place to do this is at locals. However, when newer players to the game make the effort to bring their fun deck to try out a tournament for the first time, and then get crushed by an experienced player piloting a much more refined deck, they might get disheartened. The effect can be compounding if this happens to them week after week, eventually resulting in a probable exit from the game simply due to a lack of fun. When this happens, a chain reaction can occasionally occur through players talking to one another which can drastically cut into the growth of your community.
While I am not saying that you should abandon trying to improve your game or play at a high competitive level, I think it is important to recognize the impact your actions as a player can have on the community. For that reason, I offer the following suggestions/ideas about how to carry yourself as a player at locals in order to encourage continued commitment from newer players. Being a positive example in your community encourages other players to follow suit, which in turn enhances the environment and makes it more positive and inviting to newer players.
Make the choice to bring a couple of different decks to locals each week. If you are prepared with a competitive deck you have been working on, and a more casual deck built for fun, then the only thing you need to worry about is what kind of players you see at the tournament that week. Are most of the players newer? Then play your more casual deck and have a fun time. Are the players that week all prepping for an upcoming tournament or fellow experienced players? Then play your competitive list and get your practice in. Either way, reading the atmosphere of the event and picking the right deck to suit it is a strong way to build a positive tournament environment that encourages players to come back.
Try your best to talk with your opponent, and make the game more about having fun than winning. This is not to say that you should just throw the game, but find opportunities in the game to praise your opponents plays, make a silly play yourself just for fun, or let them take back a mistake every once and awhile. If your opponent sees that you are just having fun, then they are more likely to have fun themselves and walk away with a positive memory/experience. Building a history of positive experiences encourages return appearances, and in fact can encourage that player to talk about the game with their friends/invite them to events as well!
Put together a bounty box! If you have been playing the game for a while and have a stockpile of spare promos, or your store has a lot of older monthly promos they can spare, shuffle them all together and put them in a box you bring with you to locals. Whenever you finish a match with an opponent, pull out the bounty box and have them pick a card at random as a way of telling them thank you for the game! You would be surprised how much people love this kind of thing, especially new players. The smile on their face as they realize they are getting a bonus promo just for playing with you, regardless of how they do, is very rewarding I guarantee is an experience that will stick with them. If you are known in your locals for being a stronger player, put a spin on the box and provide 2 promos to people who manage to beat you! This kind of enticement might not seem like much, but people will legitimately work harder to try and claim those two promos as a symbol of growth and success!
This last tip actually has nothing to do with playing the game, but involves the other most important aspect of trading card games, trading. Many people see trading as one of the most fun parts of trading card games, and work as hard as possible to get good deals or “make value,” on their trades (Making value meaning insuring that everything is worth the same or they are getting cards worth more than what they are trading away). While it might not seem like this is an area where you can have an influence, it in fact is one of the places where you can have the influence. New players often don’t have access to lots of high end cards or sought after trades, but might be looking for one or two specific cards in order to make a new deck that they have been brewing. When you are looking through their trades, consider taking an opposite mindset and try to make it so that the person you trade with walks away with more than they gave. Again, as previously mentioned, this is not saying you just abandon trying to get good trades, I am just saying that not worrying about making your value on a trade every single time can go a long way to encouraging deck building and healthy trading in your environment.
Building successful and consistent locals is a very involved and confusing process that can take a lot of work and requires some sacrifice, but my hope is that this guide gives you the tools to get started. Through utilization of these tips and ideas, you can give yourself and your local community the best chance possible to take off and grow into something amazing!
2017 is going to be an excellent year for Force of Will and I look forward to bringing you more content and articles here moving forward. Do you have a topic or type of article you want me to write about? Feel free to send me suggestions at firstname.lastname@example.org. I want to write about what you want to read about, and so the easiest way to make that happen is to just shoot me an email!
Until next time Rulers,
Jeremy Franklin AKA DM073