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a fortnightly coclcg event


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#1 COCLCG

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Posted 07 June 2012 - 05:04 AM

just after some advice. i'm not a rich man, but i've had the idea to try and increase the game's popularity by putting aside $7-$10 a week and holding fortnightly mini tournaments where the prize is a new asylum pack of their choice. if the winner already has them all then it goes to the next best opponent. i think the major hurdle to the game is its price for new-comers, so it MIGHT be a way of someone buying the starter pack and a couple of AP's and slowly building up their collection just by playing and perhaps encourage them to buy more. any comments or ideas about something like this would be appreciated.

another 'variant' might be to give it to the person who plays with the least amount of pack types in their deck. i dunno.

i could also possibly have a small $3-$4 entry fee (per fortnight and the # of people would determine price) and increase the prize pool to 1 asylum packs to 2 different 'categories' (whoopee!!) - haha. i guess this way too there could be an 'auto win' category where if you haven't won one after x amount of paid entries, you're gauranteed one and your 'money invested'.

thoughts??
 



#2 Yipe

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Posted 07 June 2012 - 12:19 PM

My reply is long and long-winded, so I'm breaking it up into a few parts.  Here goes nothing…

I've been down this road recently so I can offer some suggestions. As always, free advice is free for a reason. Take what you like or what applies to your situation and disregard the rest.

My best advice is to:

1) Have a Goal

2) Have a Hook

3) Stay Persistent

4) Play the Host

TOURNAMENTS vs DEMOS
If you're just starting out and want to attract new players, tournaments aren't necessarily the answer. I've found that LCGs attract a more relaxed gamer, often someone who's been through the CCG grind. They want to play games and enjoy deck-building, but it's not all about crushing your foes and seeing them driving before you, especially if they're only testing the waters.

Part of the LCG appeal is the (perceived) lower cost and less "the kid with the most cards, wins" factor. Keep that in mind when developing your hook. In my experience, a freebie is better than a "winnable" product for an entry fee, such as Asylum Packs or the like. Save that for later.

Rather than a series of mini-tournaments, I've found it's better to focus on practice sessions and demos at the beginning. If you have a tournament off in the distance, this can be a good long-term incentive for veterans to show up and participate, but treating it like a demo has the benefit of encouraging new players to sit down and give the game a try.



#3 Yipe

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Posted 07 June 2012 - 12:26 PM

1. HAVE A GOAL
Before starting out, know your end-game. Is it simply to have more people to play CoC against, or one regular opponent you can always count on for a game? Is it to start a monthly league night, or perhaps to hold a big tournament? It's fine to have a combination of goals, but approach them in a step-by-step process, tackling them one at a time.

My goal was to gather as many CoC players in one place as possible. Why? I wanted to collect their contact info (namely email addresses) and then start a monthly league night. This way, I could have people to play against on a regular basis. My next step was to grow the local CoC community through highly visible league play in order to facilitate a larger and more competitive regional championship next season (2013).

To achieve my first goal, I asked my local games store to host a CoC regional championship. I also asked them to lower their standard entry fee from $20 to $10 because I wanted to attract as many players as possible, not just the hardcore veterans. I put the tournament date as far in the future as allowed by FFG, thus giving me more time to spread the word.

Note that my goal was not to win the tournament, or set up a league night ahead of the event. I wanted to use the regional championship to draw players out of their homes so I could build a roster of local players. It's easy to get side-tracked, but try to stay on target. As my goal doesn't include winning, I haven't put any energy into my own deck-building or practicing - though I've done plenty for our new players to ensure they have a good time at the regional championship. I'll discuss more about this "you first, me last" attitude in Step 4: Play the Host.



#4 Yipe

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Posted 07 June 2012 - 12:37 PM

2.  HAVE A HOOK
You need something unique to draw people out of their homes - where they're perfectly comfortable playing CoC - and get them to the location of your choice. What that "something special" is depends a lot on your resources, venue and culture. I used a two-part combo - the social hook and the freebie.

What is a social hook?

A social hook isn't directly related to the game. It has more to do with the setting and the people involved. For me, the answer was easy. Portland is a big beer town. Everyone likes to drink it and everyone likes to talk about it, meaning it's something most Portlanders have in common. Guardian Games has a bar in the back. Beer? Bar? Cards? Presto!

Focusing on beer had an added benefit - it downplayed the anxiety of gaming with strangers, as well as the geek-factor of playing at a hobby shop and the immaturity/social stigma that is often associated with those locales (I know they can make me feel uncomfortable). In turn, it emphasized the fun, lighthearted nature of our group. Plus it gave everyone a non-nerdy excuse to show up - drinkin' beer! Trust me, it's not for nothing that I'm calling my league nights "Mythos and Microbrews".

For your own social hook, you may consider playing in a venue that other Lovecraft fans will find attractive. Or catering to people who like beer, wine, a type of food, music, etc… You can also package CoC with another game that Mythos fans like to play - namely Arkham Horror - to create a Lovecraft-focused night/day at your game store.  Another interesting idea is to hold a "Cthulhu Movie Night" paired with demos of the Call of Cthulhu LCG.

What is a freebie?

Another good hook is the giveaway. When it doesn't cost anything to play and you're giving away something a player wants, that becomes a strong enticement for people to show up. I don't have a big budget for games, so I needed something cheap. I found an online site blowing out old CCG-era starter sets at firesale prices. I then used the duplicate cards - notably the domains and story cards - as my giveaways.

For your own freebie, you could do the same with this:

www.artscow.com/share/Black-Bordered-Domain-Cards-3-sets-double-sided-dc85y12ae4bs

Artscow is constantly running coupons with either free shipping, 20% off, or free shipping + 20% off. I've picked up a few of these packs for $9.99 or less, shipped. With 18 sets of unique domain cards, they make a great giveaway for such a small investment.

 



#5 Yipe

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Posted 07 June 2012 - 12:40 PM

3. STAY PERSISTENT
This is the hard part.

You've got to get the word out and encourage people to participate in your demos without coming off as either irritating or a raving fanboy. There's a fine line between chatting people up about your favorite pastime and pestering.  I've found the best approach is to be positive yet restrained, and make sure to hang around places that have potential players.  If social interaction isn't your strong suit, let well-placed fliers and message boards do some of the work for you.

Then, when you're at your demo, have everything in place to take advantage of any passers-by. This usually means several deck choices, extra tokens, domains and story cards, a printed FAQ, and a rulebook.

I went so far as to chop off the spine of my rulebook and sleeve it in a 3-ring binder so it can lay flat, and I can take out the sleeved pages so multiple people can read different parts of the rulebook at the same time.

I also printed off and laminated turn sequence cheat sheets from this document (page 4):

files.boardgamegeek.com/file/download/6wrspxm661/CallofCthulhuLCG_v1.2.pdf

Running a demo isn't easy. In fact, it's a lot of work and can be quite draining. Having all the material you'll need prepped in advance can save you some big headaches down the road.

When I run a demo, I sit at the "learning table" and invite anyone interested to join me for a game.  Otherwise I don't usually play so I can be ready to give a demo whenever someone shows up.  During the first game I always play with my cards face up, and I walk through the various rules. After that, I ask if the player would like another game and if so, would they prefer face-up cards or cards hidden?  If there are multiple people interested in demoing a game, I have them play each other with their hands face-up as I teach them the rules.

While this is going on I keep an eye out for people who already play CoC that may be attending the event. For players who already know the rules, I act as matchmaker and set up games. I also play the role of judge to answer questions people may have as the day goes on. It can get pretty busy!



#6 Yipe

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Posted 07 June 2012 - 01:00 PM

4.  PLAY THE HOST
What does that mean exactly?  Growing a community means the focus isn't on you.  It's the new players who are the stars, and they should receive all your attention. Your job is the play the host - you introduce people, you do the mingling, you make sure everyone is having a good time and doesn't have to worry about anything else.  Furthermore, you take care of all the communication (via email, text, etc…), scheduling, advertising, and interacting with the venue's owner.  Basically, if there's a job to be done, you're the one to do it.

Even if a big tournament is coming up, the emphasis should be on teaching, encouraging and directing others - not on your own success.  As the host, you should also set the tone for your group so when the newer members start playing games against everyone else, they're treated fairly and respectfully.  This will make sure all of your hard work doesn't go to waste.

What are some ways you can serve?  For example, when you hold a demo to attract new players, play a low-powered, straightforward deck that doesn't use any strange combos to win. Preferably, you want to play a deck that illustrates how the different story struggles work and how cards can interact with each other in exciting ways. Conversely, give an easy-to-play yet powerful deck to those who are demoing the game. Continue doing this for several weeks.  Maybe more.  Why? It's simple. People feel better when they win, and it's no fun being treated as someone's sparring partner when you're just starting out.

In the end, managing people is tough. Everyone has a different schedule, different needs, and different expectations. Trying to coalesce all those differences into a viable event can be daunting, but don't give up.  In Portland, we've gone from a non-existent CoC scene to a community of 15+ players in just two months, so it can be done.

Hopefully you found some of this helpful.  I do have additional tips, but I'll share those later on.



#7 Yipe

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Posted 07 June 2012 - 02:45 PM

A few other random tips:

1) Start with a core group.

Family, neighbors or friends are ideal.  I started with close family, and then introduced my in-laws, and then my next-door neighbor.  From this core group I'm guaranteed a few people will show up to every event.  You don't need many people - perhaps two other dedicated players.

2) Make your group visible.

Going out and playing Call of Cthulhu is a great way to advertise and grow your community.  Don't always play the game at the same venue, and be prepared to demo a match no matter where you end up playing.  When I play at a game store, I stand a full-color, laminated flier on the table describing what I'm doing (e.g. Call of Cthulhu LCG Demo - free cards to anyone who plays).

3) Search far and wide for players.

Not all the people I play CoC against live in the same city.  In fact, out of my core group of 6, only half live in Portland.  I know Australia is a big place, but you may contact other game stores/clubs in nearby cities to see if there's a local group that plays CoC.  Advertising your contact info at those places might be helpful if you plan on running a bigger event once-per-month.

4) It takes time.

Don't get discouraged if you aren't successful right off the bat.  It can take several months or even a year to develop a group. However, it often only takes adding one new player to your group to open the door for more.  When a new player joins, after they've settled in and become a regular member ask them to invite a few friends or family to a future demo.

5) Be an ambassador.

This is key.  If you're playing CoC out in public (or hosting a demo) with the intention of getting more people to play, then act and look the part of an ambassador.  You want people to feel comfortable approaching you, so dress in a way that doesn't scream weirdo or super-geek, practice good hygiene, and talk to people in a friendly, courteous manner.



#8 COCLCG

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Posted 07 June 2012 - 07:33 PM

and my reply will be short and non-winded……  bloody fantastic. champion effort with some excellent advice. exactly (and a whole lot more) of what i needed to hear. will start planning today!!! viva la CoC. thanks a multi-million mr. yipe.



#9 COCLCG

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Posted 07 June 2012 - 09:19 PM

and i had to laugh. australia IS a big place. i live in melbourne and the nearest city is 7hrs away!! haha.

interesting to note though, i was talking to an older gamer and he told me that 'back in the day', melbourne was one of 'the' epicentres of cthulhu (the rpg), with a lot of the core material / adventures etc, being written by melbournians, and you couldn't enter a group without tripping over it. don't know if this is true or not, but i'd certainly like to revamp and reignite the past if it was!!

he also told me about some old crazy boardgame / miniatures game where one player was the whateley's, running around their farm with old shotguns and elephant guns trying to blow away the intruding investigators (kinda reminded me of rampaging rabbits). be keen to hear more about this if anyone knows (without taking the focus off the card game of course).



#10 COCLCG

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Posted 07 June 2012 - 10:02 PM

as for dressing appropriately, i guess what you're saying is that i should put away my grey suit with matching hat and red leather gloves



#11 Yipe

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Posted 08 June 2012 - 03:24 AM

COCLCG said:

as for dressing appropriately, i guess what you're saying is that i should put away my grey suit with matching hat and red leather gloves

What?  Are you kidding!  That sounds perfect to me.  After the demo you can tell everyone "I was never here…"



#12 Yipe

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Posted 08 June 2012 - 05:24 AM

COCLCG said:

and i had to laugh. australia IS a big place. i live in melbourne and the nearest city is 7hrs away!! haha.

Yes, 7 hours is a bit of a stretch. However, for our regional championship there are 2 players (from different cities) who are driving 6+ hours to play and another driving up from the Oregon coast (2 hours). On the whole, though, most everyone attending the tournament is within 30 minutes driving time.

What about the suburbs of Melbourne? It is a big city after all. Are there multiple places where people like to play board games or CCGs? Here in Portland it rains on occasion, so board games are popular 6-8 months out of the year. We have a few different groups that rotate their venue (sometimes at a game store, other times at a bar or cafe). Do you have anything similar there?

I've never been to Australia - the closest is Fiji/Tonga - but those Australians I've met in the South Pacific all liked their beer. What about playing in a bar for a "Hastur Happy Hour"? I can just imagine sitting in some open air restaurant along the waterfront in Southbank, a big steak, an ice-cold brew and some Call of Cthulhu.

Man, I need a vacation…



#13 COCLCG

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Posted 08 June 2012 - 06:04 AM

haha. nice idea. shub 'n' steak.

i've begun frequenting the local game meets and have 1 other person who's deadly keen and has a good start in the cards department. i met a couple more at the tournament and sent out my number but no replies so far from them.

i'll just have to persevere and keep at it. it'll happen eventually and i just need to be patient. like you said, i can't be hounding people too aggressively.

i'm off for the weekend to bordercon which is a boardgames convention along the vic/nsw border so hope to meet some more people there.

cheers for the encouragement.



#14 piszcadz

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Posted 08 June 2012 - 07:14 AM

that was a pretty epic response, yipe. nice work!

 



#15 Yipe

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Posted 08 June 2012 - 09:37 AM

Thanks guys.  I hope it didn't come off as too preachy.  Definitely verbose.

COCLCG touched on a topic that I don't think gets enough attention - building a community of CoC gamers - and I wanted to help out as I've been struggling to do the same.  Does anyone else have some suggestions on how to rope people in?  If so, please share them.

I know we discuss the rules, deck lists, the meta and just about every other aspect of this game in-depth, but I feel the real issue affecting Call of Cthulhu is a lack of players.  I'm struck by how many people I've met who bought the Core set only to have it sit on their shelf for months because they didn't have anyone to play against.

@COCLCG

Good luck at Bordercon!



#16 Yipe

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Posted 08 June 2012 - 12:10 PM

COCLCG,

Have you seen this thread over at BGG?  Parts of it are a little old, but just last month people were talking about playing the Call of Cthulhu LCG.

www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/795126/the-cthulhu-club/page/1



#17 COCLCG

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Posted 10 June 2012 - 09:52 PM

hahaha. cheers yipe.

that's me!!

as usual, plenty of initial hands up but only 1 player of CCG from old who ive been testing my LCG deck against on occasion. a good way to test your deck for sure taking on the powerful old school version. helped me refine my tournament deck.

as stated, i just need to keep it up and if i get 1 or 2 per such forum then hopefully the ball will get rolling. bordercon rocked. played arkham horror and MoM. no cthulhu decks though but might have drummed up some interest. time will tell.

and yes, not a topic spoken often enough about and is the real issue of the game i feel too. need more players!!



#18 Yvain

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Posted 11 June 2012 - 03:30 PM

COCLCG

Did you flush out any contacts in Adelaide which is where I,m from.



#19 COCLCG

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Posted 11 June 2012 - 03:54 PM

adelaide did represent, but no CoC players unfortunately.

good news is i might be attending a boardgames convention in the barossa valley in september and would be super keen to see you there!!



#20 grant_babb

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Posted 11 June 2012 - 04:04 PM

One more thing to pile on …

If you are lucky enough to get someone like Yipe to go to that much trouble for you to have fun … frickin' SHOW UP and SUPPORT. 

We all have lives (at least the ones that play CoC, a *little* different from some other games ;) )

If you see someone making the effort, friend them and try to be there.  The best part of the Portland thing is this:

I have never played a tourney before, wasn't ashamed of tthat for sure, but … if I  want people to play with, and I need a lot so that beat-downs aren't so discouraging, then I signed up as soon as I could.  Even after the first demo, people continued to show up and support - now we have the biggest regional in the world I *think*.  It takes everybody.

It will still end in tears on June 23, but I have a whole set of friends/acquaintances that I share a common interest with that I didn't have before.  AND I know that Australians play CoC, so I can plan my next vacation around that (only sort of kidding, how sad is that?).






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