Building a Community : Part 1
Hello everyone! I wanted to start a sub-series focused on building a community around Miniature War Gaming (particularly Age of Sigmar) by sharing my experiences. My hope is to speak with other community members during this series, and share ideas to use with local gaming groups. Part one of this series will focus on developing your local scene. I will explore connecting a personal gaming group to a larger scene in future articles.
Before I dive in I want to preface the article a bit. I had written an article about building the community, but after some friendly and honest critique, I saw how generic and boring the article was to read. Instead, I am bringing you a fresher and much more personal experience, my experience to be exact, of the challenges in developing a local scene. Please enjoy.
At the end of Warhammer Fantasy 8th edition, my local scene was falling apart. My friend that was leading it all at the time was out of steam. The dropping of Age of Sigmar took what little wind he had in his sails away. I can't blame him either, as he had been playing for over 20 years in the Old World. Within a few years, the scene went from tournaments of 24 attendants and up to just him and myself showing up. Thankfully he has returned to the scene and is playing games somewhat more regularly, but he is no longer leading the group.
I decided to take up the reins and try to regrow the scene shortly after. I debated with myself “why I had chosen to lead the local scene?” I found my answer after a bit of thinking. I truly love this hobby and this game, and I didn't want to see it die in my local area. So I began taking steps to rebuild. I began showing up to play and teach Age of Sigmar to anyone who would try, but it was weeks until I managed to get anyone to throw dice with me in a game of Age of Sigmar. I won't lie in the fact that it was very rough and heartbreaking at times. My best advice is to never give up and keep showing up to play. You may not get a game in every night, but eventually, you will be playing consistently with a small group.
Over time I had a few small groups of people playing regular games and it felt rewarding, but I faced a new challenge. These small groups played only 15 minutes apart from one another, but no matter what I did they simply would not communicate and to this day they still are separate entities with the only connecting being myself as the consistent Age of Sigmar player who leads the scenes. This has been immensely frustrating, to be honest. I have tried to set one-day tournaments with prize support, narrative events, and even simple open games days to get everyone together. Nothing so far has worked, but I have not given up on it happening yet. I hope to ultimately bring these groups together and get them playing with my consistent group (a scene I happily play with but have no part in leading) of game buddies that are a bit farther away. I do not know if this will ever happen, but I continue trying.
There have been very exciting times within the groups that made then take leaps and bounds in a positive direction. The first was the release of the Generals Handbook. Many players who were on the fence were finally convinced, as they now had an easier way to set up a game with other players. Those players who held off for so long found themselves with points and small local groups within reach to begin playing with and we welcomed them with open arms. Shortly afterward, we had The Season of War, which we all had something to play for in capturing our perspective cities in order to change the future of the narrative. It was a fun and exciting time. As scenes grow, more and more types of players will join in. Occasionally, however, you will attract people who can be harmful to a local scene. This is a topic I am going to save that for the next installment of my "Building a Community" series.
I hope my honesty won't keep anyone from stepping up to lead their local scene. It is a very tough and can be thankless work, but if you are doing it for the right reasons (love of the game and hobby), then the happiness you will experience as positive growth happens will outweigh any of the drawbacks.
Feel free to follow me on Twitter and until Next Time Happy Hobbying!
Edited by @Grudgegamer on Twitter