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Tvboy

How to Revive a Dead Community?

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I help TO the IA tournaments in my area at the request of the local stores. I got into skirmish pretty late, right after they dropped the errata and made skirmish fun to play competitively, so I don't know what our local scene was like then, but I know we had several players play in Nationals who no longer play, so there must have been something going on. Anyway, nobody ever shows up for the scheduled open play nights at the game stores, and I can't seem to get more than 2 people at a time to show up for any given tournament. 

 

BTW, I live in large US city known for its nerd and gaming culture, our X-Wing store champs regularly cap out at 30+ people, so this is not small town syndrome. It's basically an Imperial Assault desert out here, and I guess I'm either looking for a hidden oasis or a less dismal forecast. At this point, I'm only still helping out because if by some miracle a bunch of players do suddenly start to appear, I want there to be something there for them to latch onto so they don't just give up and leave because there's nobody else to play.

 

Here's what we're already doing.

 

  • Game stores are supporting the game with game night kits, which happen about once every few months. The last one we had this Saturday had 3 people, including the TO. 5 or 6 people had listed as maybes but then most cancelled the week before the event. I try to have them on Saturdays and always post the details a month in advance.
  • Two of the game stores also have a dedicated night for Imperial Assault open play on their calendar, that nobody ever shows up for, at least when I've gone. I certainly don't have time to be there every night, twiddling my thumbs and hoping someone shows up, but that's why...
  • There's a FB group setup with ~50 members from before I joined. I always post the details for any tournament I'm running up here a month in advance so people can plan for it.People respond when new content gets put up, but nobody ever responds to requests to meet up at the regular skirmish nights. 
  • I run a campaign group that meets semi-regularly that is slowly growing, but none of my members play skirmish, although some of them used to but have moved on to more rewarding competitive games. 

I currently have nobody else around me that is committed to the game, so I'm feeling a bit alone and depressed about continuing to support it when I could be focusing on other things instead. Is anyone else having the same experience as me? Anyone have any stories like mine where it gets better at the end? Or does a dead community at this point in the game's life span mean that community is doomed? 

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I go to my local game store once a week where everybody plays xwing and one guy plays skirmish with me.

For tournaments, we usually get 4-8, depending on the location.

 

Other than that, I've resorted to playing online on Vassal, or Tabletop Simulator.  TTS you can't just wait around for a game which is annoying because random people come in that don't know how to play. There's a facebook group though.  And Vassal, hardly anybody is ever on.

I try to have the Vassal client open most weeknights, just in case somebody wanders by.  There are about 2-3 regulars aside from me that I get games with evenings PST.

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Vassal just doesn't do it for me without having the minis, cards and tiles on the table where I can take it all in, I also like being able to meet and see my opponent's face to face. And it's hard for me with just a single laptop screen to keep track of all the cards in play and what's going on on the board. It's picky of me I know, but it also doesn't grow my local community for me to be playing online, whereas I could spend the same amount of time getting a few figures painted up for my friends in campaign (or studying, I suppose). 

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It really depends on what you want.

I just want to play the game, and I don't have the motivation to try to drum up local support or run a league or anything like that.

So I at least go to the game store on the game night as a minimal effort, and I go to all the tournaments.

Then I get in my additional gaming online.

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Try beer, it will bring in more players, and will make them easier to beat. ;)

 

There's definitely some merit to this, although I wouldn't recommend beer.  Free junk food!  Are you willing to put some money down in hopes to draw some people in?

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I believe it is the expense. Because you have to have the tiles to make the maps. Even the official maps they are selling can help but you still need the other figures and boxed expansions for the command cards. Even getting them on ebay will be expensive. In the Pittsburgh area the x-wing and armada are bigger because the game is ready to go. You don't even need a playmat for it. So it's about money at least in my area.

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I'd recommend direct outreach to those folks that are on the FB group, but not actively participating. See what you can do to get them, as individuals, to the table -- maybe it will shed some light on the actual issue, or show them that there is actual, active interest.

 

I know going to an under-attended night would put me off. Or walking into a store and seeing no one really there... Yeah, I'd probably not stick around, even if I intended to show up.

 

So one of the ways to circumvent that is to force a group to be actively present, in case someone walks by/in. One way is to harass your non-gaming friends to show up with you once or twice. Or your non IA friends to try something new, specifically on those nights. 

 

It's almost a, "If you build it, they will come," kind of thing.

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One thing you could try is asking your facebook group why they don't come out. Just put it all out there, say Hey look guys, I'm putting a lot of time into trying to grow this community and haven't gotten the response I am after, can you provide any feedback as to why you don't show to these events? Is it getting to expensive to support multiple games? What if we made it so you didn't need map tiles and multiple people can build lists out of the same persons stash? Time? What time of day or day of the week works best?

 

Even if just a few people respond it could help you to re engage them in the game.

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Tvboy it sounds like you're doing the right things. I play games for the face-to-face time too so I understand your aversion to just playing online.

It's hard to grow a community; it's kind of like making new friends. As FrogTrigger suggested, reaching out to individuals might be good. Maybe see if you can at least get 1 friend who will just go and play a game or two with you at the LGS at the scheduled time or when there's lots of X-Wing folks around. That way you don't feel like you're wasting your time twiddling thumbs and other people will hopefully see you two enjoying a great game and get interested.

Also, you should mention where you are here so if there's other forum members in the area you can meet up!

Edited by nickv2002

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My local game store that hosts IA tourneys and skirmish nights is about a half hour away from me. They do a great job and I found them when store championships were announced for this past January - I would have never known they did IA stuff any other way.

 

Our group is about 10-12 (I might be wrong) but they have a light tourney every month and an event kit tournament every three months or so. And a skirmish night on Monday's regularly. I know I can't make the skirmish night very much at all so I think it usually gets 1-2 people to come and the occasional group. And the tourney's can really fluctuate. I usually bring a group of 2-3 students with me to play out of my stash and then there's almost always another 2-4 guys who can make it from the local area there. So the tournament is usually at least 6-12. But as far as I know we haven't been able to break that barrier, which is fine, but it does make me interested in how to get more people into the game.

 

I know for me personally, I invite my students to my occasional campaign days and I'm working on getting my middle schoolers into the game since my high schoolers will be graduating in the next year or two and I want people who will still play. So I hook them with coming to watch the campaign and then we do some half sized skirmish games to give them an idea of what skirmish looks like. It seems to work but it takes a lot of time and it's a very direct ask to get them to come and check the game times out. And then I work with each student who's interested in going to the tourney's to try and put together a decent team/deck.

 

All that to say, I think asking your group specifically what would make them more interested in coming, who actually owns Imperial Assault, and going from there would help. And my guess is if you could drum up some support, either from the store or a couple bucks from a couple people, buying 3-4 copies of the tournament legal maps from pixartprinting.com for the store to keep would help a ton (and maybe even taking orders so people could buy some too for cost) to overcome that hurdle.

 

Hope your efforts can get a bigger group to grow :)

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Also, you should mention where you are here so if there's other forum members in the area you can meet up!

 

This is key, there was a poster on this forum from my city and I never even knew it. We spent time complaining about how there was no one to play with and then I just randomly came across him saying he was from Saskatoon and it clicked from there. Without him I wouldn't get to do any skirmish outside of my circle of friends who don't own the game but just play out of my box. These forums are a great resource to meet people in the community who might be in the same situation as you.

Edited by FrogTrigger

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Wait for pixartprinting to have a sale and print out some maps, it'll lower the cost of entry for anyone who wants to start playing and they make great tournament prizes.

Knowing that they only have to transport a squad of minis, and not tiles, will increase the chances of players turning up ready to play IA (on the off chance they'll get a game).

A couple of painted squads on display in the store will get new people interested and allow them to try out the game.

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I think leveraging personal interactions is the best route. I like the suggestion given earlier to query the Facebook group and see if you can connect with people personally to encourage them to come out. I'm currently trying to get a tournament scene started in my small city in northwest Arkansas and it's tough. I've been harassing a few acquaintances for a while now and finally have them mostly convinced to dive in. In the meantime, though, I drive two hours to Tulsa to go to Covenant's monthly store tournaments, at least I try to every month.

I agree it's tough to generate enough interest to sustain a consistent community, which is a shame for such a fun game. Although the game is really hitting its stride right now, the entry cost is steadily climbing and I do think that's a big deterrent.

Best of luck!

-ryanjamal

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There is a half off sale right now at pixartprinting. If you want to get them done it is now.

For future reference it runs though Aug 28th. You can find the files and info you need on the links below:

https://community.fantasyflightgames.com/topic/186906-pre-assembled-skirmish-maps/page-16#entry2328652

https://community.fantasyflightgames.com/topic/186906-pre-assembled-skirmish-maps/page-17#entry2366364

Edited by nickv2002

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Sounds like you're doing all the right things.  Keep in mind its summer, people aren't usually liable to stay in and game if its nicer outside.  I'd expect things to pick up soonish as fall hits.  

 

IA also seems to be getting at a higher barrier to entry.  Starter + all the guys you want to run is a minimum, so its $100+ buy in locally.  Have you tried maybe doing campaign nights?  You can do one off things like a certain mission, with so much XP and $ to spend per player on any upgrade they want.  When we get our campaign groups together we never split up and play skirmish.  It could just be the "feel" of imperial assault.  You could easily make "skirmish" missions out of campaign missions.  Each "team" whether imperial or rebel gets $ and XP to spend, etc.  

 

Another thing that helped both x-wing and Imperial assault is a basic painting night.  We showed the basics of how to paint up these models, did a demo on the fly, helped people out.  Also had some ideas to make your IA game look really neat for super cheap (bronze/aluminum/glossblack spraypaint actually looks pretty good!)

 

Ultimately, as with x-wing, having a regular weekly night and regular monthly tournaments (offer up a painted new figure if you don't have a kit!) will attract more people with consistency.  You just have to survive those first few months of hardly anyone showing up, and still keep having it.  Hope that helps!

Edited by jonnyd

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I'm no expert, but , as stated, IA costs a lot. Especially the core game.Maybe the problem isn't only a lack of people showing up but also a lack of players in general.

Now I'm going to explain in detail how to get more people to play this game:

1) Don't bother trying to get normal mortals to like this game when you advertise for it. Try to focus on board game and/or Star Wars fans.

2) As mentioned, IA is expensive. Try to sell it for the regular price sa core game+extra figure. Or make all figures and expansions players buy immediatley together with the core game half price.

3) IA's rules aren't that complex, but it might seem so when people see 4 rulebooks or the huge box. Offer to make one of those "try it out in the gamestore" events so people can be familiar with the game before thev risk 100 dollars on something they're not certain they'll like it.

4) People who know FFG like FFG because of the high quality of the products. Try to sell it to people who play X-Wing and especially Armada (hey, they've spent 100 dollars on this core box, why shouldn't they on IA's). Make special offers for IA on X-Wing and Armada play nights. Make shure there's someone playing skirmish IA on those nights so people see it and get interested. Also,

5) people who play X-Wing and Armada competitiveley in stores have a greater chance of playing IA competiteveley in stores.

6) Even if someone has the core set, he might not have the money to buy all the expansions to make him competitive right away. When skirmish is then played in stores, make shure you have 3 or 4 free open expansions standing around, which players are free to use while they're playing. Don't let players use more than one of those store figures per match. This way they'll have something to be a little competitive, still want to buy the expansions because one store figure used in a match is clearly not enough for them to rely soly on store figures to play store skirmish. Make shure they don't take them home accidentaly by marking store figures and cards. Also, this store figures tactic makes peple enjoy the figure they used, increasing the chance of them sctually.buying them when hey got money. As store figures I reccomend wave one classics such as IG-88 and the Red Guard Champion, because thats what players are going to buy first anyway everybody knows those and they simply look awesome.

Hope it helped,

YariSamurai

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#1 PM people on message board:

a) ask if they want a local (competitive/semi-competitive) scene

b) what's best time for them

c) do they own the game already

#2 Do a "Learn to Play Imperial Assault Skirmish" date. Post flyers at the game shop rather than just on the FB page.

#3 It's summer time, so might start to pick back up in the next month or so when schools all start back up and the days get shorter

~D

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One other thought is that you could publicize a night where there'd be prebuilt lists for people to test. I think some people are overwhelmed by all the options. You may have to partner with someone else to manage enough lists for people to try, but there's enough variety now that you probably have the needed cards and figures for several solid lists.

-ryanjamal

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Part of the problem is that there are so many "communities" of players for these games, and a lot of them can have cross-talk, which means players' budgets can start to be strained.

 

Remember, the more games you play, assuming your other life commitments to work, family, etc, stay the same, the less time you have to devote to any one in game in particular, unless you cast aside other games completely.

 

This is a barrier that often isn't discussed and worth noting.

 

On that topic, your local store has the same issue, in that they would love nothing more than to have all the games have a bunch of players, as it increases sales and exposure to the shop.  Again though the problem is having the owner get the time to invest in becoming well-versed in all these titles while still running their business and working in the store.

 

If you want to be the leader and get your local IA community going, it might take some up-front investment on your end.  Organize some kind of demo day on a Saturday afternoon and advertise it in the store with a flyer and maybe even little cards for the staff to hand out at the register when customers buy their products.

 

Make it so that everyone who comes out to play in the demo gets some kind of novel free thing and potentially raffle off a Core Set to a participant.

 

It's hard to say how far you should go, as the return on investment, financially, will be realized by the store rather than yourself, but it could jumpstart the community a little.

 

As well, if you want to start a league, you're going to want to offer up some kind of prize support, which will require the shop to score you a tournament kit, and/or some other goodies you can source out.  Charge a nominal fee of $5 if you're going to charge anything at all.

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Part of the problem is that there are so many "communities" of players for these games, and a lot of them can have cross-talk, which means players' budgets can start to be strained.

 

Remember, the more games you play, assuming your other life commitments to work, family, etc, stay the same, the less time you have to devote to any one in game in particular, unless you cast aside other games completely.

 

This is a barrier that often isn't discussed and worth noting.

 

That's why I quit X-Wing - not because X-Wing is bad, but because I heard IA was coming and it would let me get more of my students involved in playing, figured it'd be a lot easier to teach since they don't have to worry about messing up maneuvers (IA is grid based), and the campaign would let me get more people involved at once. I just knew I couldn't keep up financially with X-Wing if I got into IA and I know for sure I wouldn't have enough time to get them both to the table. It's hard enough to carve out time to have students get together to play on another day when there isn't a tournament scheduled at our LGS. With my own family and then juggling all the things going on in the student's lives.

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I don't have every expansion pack, but I have most. The game is expensive and coupled with a not very vibrant Skirmish scene here in the Inland Empire, I'm doubting if I will continue to support the game. I'm hoping my wife will play the campaign when the app is released next year (hopefully) but we will see.

I really enjoy the skirmish aspect but never seem to play it.

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I'm running a couple of demo's at the club this evening, I've convinced two of the guys from work to come along so there are 3 new players coming down and we probably have 10-12 in the community atm playing regularly.

 

I think once you hit 4-5 players it picks up as people are more willing to invest if they see other people playing regularly. It'll take some work to get to that but it's worth it.

 

Hoping to film one of the intro games this evening for my channel so hopefully that'll give you some ideas. I'm running 20pt lists with 10 card command decks for quick games.

 

Luke, eSabs + Gideon vs Inquisitor, rStorms + Officer - Weighted towards Rebels technically as I'll then try and get the new guy to play that side.

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