Building a Local Community

Posted: April 29, 2016 in Community
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Greetings Fellow Dice Fans!

 

To start, I want to mention that TRP has made my day, yet again. Their recent Podcast was dedicated to discussing their website and how the community uses it. When I first started this blog, I was scared. I’ve been a judge for various other games and after a while, I didn’t feel welcomed in those communities. Most of the time, the alienation began after I became a judge or after I tried to establish my voice in a community. I was so scared about putting myself out to the Dice Masters community that I almost didn’t do it. I didn’t want anything to ruin this game for me. The communities in my previous gaming experiences had always ruined it for me. I still play some of the games, but I am not involved in the communities at all outside of my FLGS. So after I started my blog, I noticed that I received several followers and they would occasionally comment and like my articles. Some would point out errors or even dispute a rating, which I welcome all positive criticism and discussion.

I realized that I wasn’t going to have the same issue in this community as I had in the previous ones. I felt safer to put myself out there more. I began writing more articles, and even making several different social media pages. TRP had mentioned that they want to support the community and not stifle anyone. I have not seen that in any gaming community with a dominant source like TRP. The last time I tried to give input on a deck for a TCG on a dominant site, they didn’t just turn down my article, they trashed me in the response. That’s absolutely not the case here. TRP has a blog section that they allow folks to post articles or links to other blog sites (like I do) and even promote their other sites. I’m just giddy with happiness that we have such an amazing pillar in our Dice Masters community.

There are several other sites that are excellent places for information about Dice Masters. I want to highlight a few of those. Some of these are on my sticky post.

Dice Masters Database
Dice Masters Database is a really handy site for tracking your collection or building teams. I use this site often and I’ve been slowly using it to add my teams to as well.
Pro Dice Circuit
These folks are super cool. There are PDC State Championships and team lists on their site. You can see what the meta is in other parts of the country compared to where you live.
Dice Anon
This is another helpful site with a Podcast and articles. You can never have too much information!
TRP Blog Page
This is a link directly to the Blog section of The Reserve Pool. These are member blogs and not just official The Reserve Pool articles. You can find lots of different bloggers and topics here. I highly suggest you check this section out.

Now on to the reason for my article today!

I figured it was about time I did my own article about how to start and grow your own local Dice Masters community. There are tons of articles out there and none of them are wrong. They all have excellent ideas and strategies and every community is different. What works for one community may not work for another. The ideas that I want to bring to you today will require a little investment on your part, so if you don’t have the means to put some money into these ideas, this may not be the route for you. I also want to mention that this article is about building a local, physical community. There are online options if all else fails. This article is also for folks that are considering being in a leadership role in the community, but anyone could utilize the information here.

I’m going to break this down and go over different options and ideas in each section. The overall goal is to start or build your community and make sure everyone is having fun and learning all they can about Dice Masters!

Find and Contact a Venue

Before you can bust out playmats, cards, dice, and other accessories, you need to have somewhere to play. The best places to start are Google or the Yellow Pages and look for a local gaming store. Gaming stores are typically the best options because they can order OP Kits and are set up to handle a community of players.

If you are unable to locate to a gaming store within a reasonable distance, there are other options.

Community Centers
Recreation Centers
Restaurants
Coffee Shops
Hotels (sometimes will offer a conference room at a discount for community events)
Libraries (sometimes offer space for events)
Parks (sometimes have indoor space)

Always try to keep your Meetups in a public place. Public places allow for easier advertising and promotion. As folks come to the venue for other reasons, they may see games going and become curious.

If you locate a gaming store in your area, I would suggest a visit instead of calling them. Visiting a venue in person will give you a good idea of the play area and will allow you to determine if they venue can host a community. Some gaming stores are strictly just retail venues and don’t offer a space for gaming.

Always ask to speak to the manager or owner. No offense to any staff folks, but it’s typically best to speak to someone higher up if you’re wanting to convince them to host a game. When you get in contact with the person in charge of the gaming schedule, you’ll want to help set up events unless the venue says they’ll handle all of it.

Sell the Venue on Dice Masters

If you’re talking to a gaming store, there are lots of great selling points for Dice Masters.

The Community
One of the biggest selling points for Dice Masters is the community. It’s full of thoughtful and helpful folks from all over the world. There are lots of groups on Facebook that offer rules support and discussion and they’re super quick on responses. Folks are polite and they do everything they can to help provide information and help anyone that asks. There are a few major websites that offer forums, blogs, and Podcasts for players of all levels. Also mention the Pro Dice Circuit. Lots of stores enjoy having multiple tournament outlets, like Star City Games for Magic: The Gathering.

Cost of Product
Stores won’t have a huge overhead with any of the Dice Masters products. And not only that, the cost for consumers is low as well. It’s nothing to see someone grab a few packs when they get to the store and then buy a few more later in the day. The longer folks are around, the more packs they buy. It’s really easy and inexpensive for a player to get into the game as well. Buying the right starter and several packs from the corresponding set can easily set them up with a casual team. Each starter can support two players, giving them each four characters with two dice, eight Sidekick dice, Basic Action Dice, and a variety of Basic Action Cards to choose from.

Ease of Learning
Dice Masters is a game of strategy and luck, but the basic mechanics are easy enough for almost anyone to learn. Pitching the game as easy to learn is a selling point, but make sure to not make the game sound too simple. Explain that it can be as complex as you choose to make it.

OP Kit Support
The Organized Play Kits are not expensive for the venue to purchase. The kits will have Participation Prizes which will draw in players. Players that don’t win will still walk away with a free card. There are kits for Marvel, DC, and Dungeons and Dragons so there is something that will appeal to almost every Dice Masters player. Our FLGS charges an entry fee of $1.00 for our OP Events. The store offers players an optional way to pay their entry fee. If a player purchases two or more Dice Masters boosters of any set in stock, the store considers their entry fee paid. The store does this to help them move product and it also makes players feel like they’re not really paying an entry fee. This may not work well for every venue, but it’s worked amazingly well for our local community. We run most of our events as Constructed events, so that type of entry fee won’t work for Rainbow Drafts.

Decide on Event Types

Once the venue is sold on Dice Masters, decide what kind of events are best for your area. The difference between a Meetup and a Tournament is simple. Meetups are casual and Tournaments have entries and prizes and it’s usually best to do these on separate days. Meetups are great for introducing new players to the game, doing demos, test playing teams, discussing strategy, and connecting with all your local players. Tournaments are best when you have an established community where players can pay an entry fee to compete for prizes in a bracket-style competitive event. It’s best to know what kind of setting you want to have before contacting the venue. Typically, a venue will suggest a casual Meetup night to gauge interest in a game before they put time and money into hosting tournaments. If you already have a good sized community, you may be able to convince the venue to host both Meetups and Tournaments right from the start.

After you determine what kind of events are best for the venue, you should discuss who will run the events. Meetups run themselves and don’t need any special attention. Players show up during the allotted time and play any teams they want and against any players they want. Sometimes a venue will ask that someone step forward as a TO for a newer game or a game that’s new to their venue. You may be asked to do this if you go to a venue and ask them to host Dice Masters. If they want someone who isn’t an employee to be a TO, they will need to add them as a ‘Volunteer’ for the store on WIN or have an employee run the tournament bracket on WIN while the TO runs the event. Not all events have to be run through WIN. If you’re doing a locally sponsored event, you can use any bracket system that suits your needs (Challonge is one we use for non-WizKids events).

Once you and the venue have established the type of events and who will be in charge of them, you need to determine days and times for your events. If the venue is going to take charge over the events, your involvement may end here. Each venue is different and they each have their own rules for hosting events.

Days and Times and Fees

If the venue wants you to stay involved with the event managing, the next step is to determine the best days and times for each type of event. We have found that we get the best response for Meetups during the week. Folks are wanting a break from the week and want to have some fun. We have Dice Masters Monday and that seems to work well. Mondays are the start of the week, and nobody likes Mondays… until they realize that they get to go play Dice Masters after school or work. It helps them push through the drab Mondays. We used to host Dice Fun Fridays, but the Magic: the Gathering crowd was too big and we didn’t have any space to play, so we moved to Mondays. You want to schedule your Meetups on a day that there aren’t too many other things going on, but also on a day your players can be there.

If you don’t have a committed group of players yet, the best thing to do is offer to come up and demo Dice Masters on various nights. Once you start getting interested players, you can communicate with them to find the best days for your community and relay that to the venue. One way to keep in contact with players outside of the venue is to start a local Facebook group. I’ll discuss that more in depth later.

You should also discuss any potential fees associated with the gaming space. Some venues charge for players to use their gaming area. If this is the case, then that’s something that should be discussed with the players and have them contribute a small portion unless the venue charges each person individually. It all depends on the venue. You should also discuss limitations on players. It depends on the space a venue has as well as what other events may be going on at the same time as Dice Masters.

Product and OP Kits

Make sure the venue is planning on stocking at least some of the most recent products, like starters and booster packs. The store may have older product if they had tried Dice Masters before and it didn’t take off. This could make the store hesitant to order in any new product. If that’s the case, build your community and tell them that if they want newer stuff, the store needs to see that the community is serious about buying from them. Starters are key for the a growing community and having the most recent set’s starters is best for encouraging a community to grow.

If the store is unwilling to purchase OP Kits but is hosting tournaments, remind the store that the kits are not expensive and they can get their money back on entries. They can also move product by running the OP Events. The OP Kits have a suggested format, but if your players want to play with a different format, you can change it to suit the needs of your venue.

If you’re not using a gaming store as the venue for your events, you may not be able to get any product or OP Kits. That’s one of the major downsides to hosting events at a location other than a gaming store. Sometimes you don’t have a choice though and there are folks out there that are willing to help, if you ask.

Game Promotion

Games don’t grow and thrive without someone promoting them and showing them the love they deserve. There are several ways you (or the venue) can promote Dice Masters.

Host Demo Nights
Hand Out Pamphlets or Flyers

Give Out Samples (gather up your extras and hand some out to those that play a demo game)
Do a “Bring a Friend” Promo
Spread the Word on Social Media
Be Friendly!

Demos, pamphlets, and social media are probably the easiest and the best ways to promote Dice Masters. We host demos and I will give out left over participation prizes from past OP events or extras from our collection to participants. Folks like getting free stuff! A colorful pamphlet helps promote interest as well. Leaving a few pamphlets with the venue will help promote the game when you’re not there to demo. Sharing events on social media will also help promote your events to those outside your area. Always remember to be friendly! There are many times that we get curious onlookers during an OP Event. Keep in mind – it’s a game and it’s not that serious! You and your opponent should engage and let them ask questions. Remember, our community is one of our biggest selling point so you definitely want to reflect that. If there are players who are not playing at the moment, let them take the lead on answering the person’s questions.

Store Rules

If the venue gives you the reigns to manage the Meetups and Tournaments, make sure you understand the Store Rules and Policies. Make sure any player you have also knows and understands the rules. It’s best to follow all rules and not get any negative marks against yourself. Keeping with the rules and policies will help ensure a long and healthy relationship with your venue.

Keeping Your Group Going

Once you’ve got a community built up, you’ve got to keep it going. If the venue is in charge of the community, they will have their own ideas. But if they don’t, you can always make suggestions. Here are some different ideas to help keep your players challenged.

Offer different play formats. There are several formats available on WizKids site: Constructed, Rainbow Draft, and Doubles. You can even create your own formats by limiting the types of characters players can use. For example, a Halloween themed event would only include characters with dice of any of these colors (not including the design color – dice color only): Red, Black, Orange, Green, White, Clear, and Yellow. No Pink, Purple, Blue, etc. You could do a Mother’s Day event with only female characters or a Father’s Day event with only male characters. The possibilities are limited only by your imagination. Mixing it up helps stimulate players’ creative team building and keeps players from falling into the ‘playing what wins’ trap.

Bring goodies on occasion. I will sometimes bring cookies or cupcakes when I know someone’s birthday is coming up or when a holiday is around the corner. Some venues don’t allow their customers to bring in food, so be sure to check with your venue first. If you can’t do snacks, you could always give out D20s or notepads with colorful pens for Christmas. You could even take your extras and make a goodie bag with candy as a neat little gift. Bringing goodies is not something that’s required. This is something that I do for my players to show that I appreciate their attendance at our events.

Put up a suggestion box. Suggestion boxes are great. Folks may not want to address you or the store directly, so you can put up a suggestion box for folks to write in their concerns or ideas to help improve the community.

See if the venue will run specials. Any store worth its games will occasionally run sales or specials. See if you can coordinate with them to run the specials during peak times for the game. Dice Masters is already inexpensive, but our FLGS will sometimes run sales on booster packs, making them $0.79 instead of $0.99. There are other options for specials and sales though, like offering a discount on Starters if someone buys a Gravity Feed. Most of this will be up to the store as they know what they can offer and what they can’t. Dropping a suggestion for a special around the time of a new set release isn’t a bad idea though. For example, the store could offer a special when Civil War releases in May. Buy a Gravity Feed and Starter and get 10% off your next Dice Masters purchase of in-stock product. This helps the store move any product that may be sitting around and it gets new cards into the hands of your players.

Remind the store and your players that Dice Masters isn’t Magic or any other TCG. Too many times now, I’ve seen a store cancel Dice Masters all together because Dice Masters wasn’t getting the same number of players as Magic or Yu-Gi-Oh!. You can’t compare any other game in the world to those games because Magic has been around since 1993 and YGO has been around since 2000 or so. You also can’t compare a dice building game to a trading card game. Those games are also well established and Dice Masters is still young and growing. If the store raises concerns about the low number of players, tell them that six to ten players isn’t bad for a game like this. Our community is in a small town in west Tennessee and we average from six to ten players for our events. We get over ten on occasion and sometimes we only see four folks. It’s normal  for any game to fluctuate some so don’t get discouraged and try to remind folks that Dice Masters is in a league of it’s own and can’t be compared to other games. And always be nice about it. Don’t get defensive or angry.

Never give up on demos or promoting! I still do demos for Dice Masters and I’m constantly recruiting to help grow our community. Demos are probably my #1 recruiting method, but not everyone is able to demo on a regular basis. I’m a stay-home-mom that lives ten minutes from my FLGS. The owner calls me, I grab my demo bag and my child, then bustle on down to the shop. Not everyone is as fortunate as we are. There are plenty of other opportunities to get the word out without having to be at the venue. Most places have no issue with folks leaving promotional material for games. You can make pamphlets and leave them at the venue and ask that they give them to anyone that shows interest in the product. You can also leave flyers or pamphlets in other places, like community boards, to find players. I’ve even left flyers about the size of a postcard taped to trash cans. It may seem odd, but those are seen more often than a flyer on a board in a gas station or even a community board.

Foster a Fair and Positive Atmosphere

Always be fair and honest. Research the answer through WIN’s Rules Forum or Facebook groups like Dice Masters Unlimited or Dice Masters Discussions. You can even ask on my Facebook page – Dice Dice Kitty. The Reserve Pool has a Rules Discussion section in their forums as well. There are several places to look for answers.

Fair rulings are just part of it though. In a community, one thing folks love to do is trade. Monitoring trades is a stressful task to take on and I would not suggest doing it. You can inform your players of the different price checking methods. Encouraging trading is not a bad thing, just make it clear that trades are at the risk of those trading. You can always use eBay as a price checking source, but it’s not always the most reliable source. One particular source that I use to price check is CoolStuffInc.com. They update their prices even if the item is out of stock. Troll and Toad is another source, but I’ve found them to sometimes be overpriced and they don’t always update prices of out of stock items. Whatever source is used, both parties should use the same one. If you’re leading your community, make sure your players know to check the same site when trading and always encourage players to price check cards. If a card increases in price the day after a player trades it to someone, they should not be forced to reverse the trade. Price fluctuations happen and that’s why trading is at your own risk.

Keep the atmosphere positive by defusing situations that may arise. Sometimes players have disputes and disagreements. Don’t take sides in personal arguments and suggest that the players not fight or argue in the play area. Some stores have rules or policies about how to handle situations like that, so always check with the store first. If it’s a rules dispute, you should get the players to calm down by reminding them that it’s just a game and not to be too serious while you’re looking into the ruling. Start a discussion about something else to get folks to move on from the situation.

Social Media

Social Media is the best way to keep in touch with folks. It’s not as personal as a phone number, and it helps everyone stay connected and participate in the conversations. Facebook groups are easy to manage and monitor. You can also schedule events through Facebook and invite players or share the event so that everyone can see it. Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and other social media outlets are a great resource for spreading the word about events. Use colorful and inviting pictures on your event pages and make all the information about the event clear and easily visible. If you need to see examples of events, you can find several events on my Dice Dice Kitty Facebook page.

Change of Leadership

If the venue is in charge of the community, this isn’t something you need to be concerned about. If you’re the one leading the community and something happens that makes it to where you can no longer attend Meetups and Tournaments, you should have someone take over for you. The best thing to do is have something set up ahead of time, either with the venue or with a fellow player that’s willing to take on that role. Make sure that your potential replacement knows what they’re signing up for. It’s a lot of work to build and grow a community and it’s not to be taken lightly. Taking up the mantle is not for everyone so you should give someone time to think about it and not expect a response immediately. When you find your replacement, don’t let them do all the work you’ve already done. Give them links to resources, notes, information, or anything else that will help the transition to go smoothly. Once you hand over the reigns, don’t come back and try to micro-manage or take back over, unless that was something agreed upon previously. Leaving a community is hard, but sometimes there aren’t any other options or it’s something that needs to be done. It’s nothing to be ashamed of or embarrassed about. Have a plan in place ahead of time to make sure your community doesn’t deteriorate from lack of leadership.

Some communities run themselves but it depends on the community and the players. When a community runs itself, there isn’t a need for leadership. The only thing a community like this needs is someone to run the tournament brackets. Most of the time, the venue will run the tournaments for the community, but they don’t tend to monitor trades or Meetups.

Final Thoughts

Being a community leader for anything, not just games, is almost like a job. It takes time, dedication, and sometimes money. If you’re not up to being a leader for your gaming community for any reason, do not take on that role. You can talk to the venue and try to get them to lead the community instead. Exposing your FLGS to Dice Masters does not mean you need to run all the events and monitor the Meetups. If you want to lead the community, do your homework and go into it prepared. For those that like being in a leadership role, it’s a very rewarding endeavor. I love running events and hosting Meetups for my community. I can’t see myself doing anything else and my FLGS has expressed their gratitude more than just a few times. My FLGS doesn’t have any employees – the owner does all the work himself. I volunteer on Wednesdays to sort all the comic book orders and I also handle everything Dice Masters related. This takes a huge amount of stress off his shoulders. Stores that have employees may be able to handle the community on their own.

Remember that the goal is for everyone to have fun and learn all they can about Dice Masters!

Have an idea for helping communities?
Want to see an article about something?
Leave me a comment here or message me on Facebook at Dice Dice Kitty and thanks for reading!

Roll on, Dice Masters!

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Comments
  1. Brett Borders says:

    Great article! You are the closest pin on the TRP map to me, and I wish I had the time to make it down to your store. I have a local store willing to support the game and has actually been buying all the OP kits as they have been released.

    They haven’t been able to get a consistent group together on the same night, and my work schedule is hectic. Hopefully we will all get it together soon.

    Keep up the excellent writing!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. It’s awesome you already have a store that’s willing to support Dice Masters! That’s a big hurdle crossed. Even if you can’t make it up on a regular night, communicate with anyone that plays and get together anytime you can – even if it’s just once a month. Any play time is better than no play time.

    I’m glad to see I’m not the only local that uses to TRP Member Map!

    Glad you enjoyed the article and thanks for reading!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Kitty – another cracking article. You’ve got this totally nailed and I agree 100% with all your suggestions: my local FLGS has adopted much of the strategy you describe and, slowly but surely, our scene is growing as you describe.

    I heard the mention Shadowmeld gave you on the TRP Podcast and cracked a huuuuge smile as I was listening on the way to work. Totally echo your opening comments about the TRP its support. I hope it’s not too presumptuous to say, but as a fellow WordPress blogger on the subject of DiceMasters I very much feel we’re “in this together”, as it were, and I got a little proud buzz off the mention on your behalf. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • 😀
      That makes my day! I was honored by the mention and I love that these strategies are working, not only here in the US, but to our neighbors across the sea.

      Thanks for all the support and I’m very honored that folks like my blog.

      Happy Table Top Day too! May you have loads of fun!!!

      Liked by 1 person

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