So I am brand new to competitive IA, played my first regional in March (Raleigh regional) and finished 6th in Swiss, losing in the round of 8. Loved it. Love the fancy dice. Great experience and very welcoming community, even for a newbie. Signed up for nationals at NOVA and am looking forward to the challenge.
Rather than start another “state of the meta” thread, I want to hear others’ thoughts on the state of the game for bringing new players in to the competitive arena. I think the long term health of the game depends on retaining current players and bringing in new ones, and this is such a good game I want to ensure that happens.
I started playing campaign a year and a half ago with several buddies. Then we fiddled with skirmish a year ago and we all got hooked, leading us to build the best lists with the pieces we had. Most of those lists stunk even against one another, which led us as a group to buy every expansion and every A&V pack, sometimes in multiples. Then one of our group of four said “hey, there is a regional in town, let’s sign up, train some and play in it.” So we did, all 4 of us. We trained against each other on the tourney maps refining our lists, played some on Vassal, and all that. Then we realized that sharing a single master set of game pieces wasn’t sustainable and we each had to collect our own smattering of map tiles, official FFG maps, tokens, command cards, figures, terminals, doors, etc. to fill out our lists (which ended up fairly complementary but still required two or three of every big box expansion).
The four of us showed up at the tournament expecting to find others like us, who were just starting out, lived in the area, probably wouldn’t all have painted figures (two of us are painters so all of ours were painted), etc. We had low expectations for how well we would do, but hoped one of us would win some dice for the group. Then the other 12 players rolled in, and everybody seemed to know each other. Not from living in the area, but from playing each other at Nationals and Worlds. And multiple other regionals. Everyone else had previously played regionals and most had played nationals. Everyone seemingly had fancy prize dice, painted figures, prize tokens, alt-art cards, prize score counters. I even had someone use a laser device to prove the stair-side long sniper shot on Jabba’s Palace (shout out to Joey). The 4 of us were the ONLY people from Raleigh, there were two others from NC, and the other 10 were from out of state. Like Georgia, New Jersey, Philly, Maryland, and elsewhere up and down the east coast.
Talk about intimidation. And that was before I discovered in the past week how good of a national /world reputation some of those players have, and how many regionals some of them had already won. The state of competition was way higher than I expected, but thankfully everyone was cool. As a lawyer, I am our group’s resident rules and FAQ nerd, but I got helpfully corrected on a command card interpretation or two (urgency does not help palp pop out and then pop back to hide; hard to win when you burn the card, learn you can’t move him back and strand him to get fried by IG to start round 2).
Thankfully I got lucky enough to lead off the tourney in a less intimidating fashion against one of my 4 friends, Josh, who I had taught the game to, and the “manatee” could not beat the “mento.” I then got some nice breaks against another of my friends, averagejo3gamer, won 3 of 4 games total and pulled out top 8 before being squashed by Ryan J’s unshakeable Vader list.
So after that long intro, my “state of the game for new competitors” questions are:
1. Are regionals normally so stacked with experienced players, and are newbies really as rare as it seemed to me? Is 16 people really the right size for a regional, or shouldn’t this game be gathering twice that many? Last time I checked, a few people like Star Wars. How can things be improved to get more people “hooked” on the game? Do store championships reach a broader crowd? A few ideas:
- special prize pack for newbies, and top newbie gets the cool dice, even if they aren’t top 8 (shout out to the local guy who couldn’t play the tournament but dropped by at the beginning and gave us newbies a bunch of free alt art cards he had gotten from prior tourneys—that was awesome)
- “bring a newbie” reward/incentive of some sort to existing regional experienced players
2. How do we get people into a game where the price of entry (acquiring nearly every set and expansion) is so high?
-Have FFG games ever done starter sets or something like that to make a skirmish game like this more price accessible for newbies? If I could shell out $125 to outfit myself with a tournament ready set of rebel/Merc/imp figures, cards and maps, that would be way easier than what we ended up having to do. Then once hooked I shell out to buy everything. I pity the player who doesn’t have 4 buddies to split/share costs, components and painting efforts.
- Should those of us with experience collaborate to offer components on loan to newer people ahead of tournaments?
3. Rules. Are. Complicated. And. In. Seventeen. Million. Different. Places. Can a new fulsome set of rules be released or compiled by someone in a useful way for players to process and absorb? My day job pays me to write and understand 50 page legal agreements, so I don’t mind the challenge, but these rules are hard to parse and absorb. I am sure I am not the only one, and that can be a huge turnoff for some.
4. Any ideas on how to lessen the intimidation factor?
Thanks for reading and look forward to some responses.