Today, we’re going to discuss how to get started with another game system that’s not GW, and more importantly, how to get the people in your gaming group playing. The methods we’re going to look at here aren't by any means exhaustive, but should give you a good starting point. So let’s dive in.
Most, if not all, of you reading this will have started out their wargaming journey with a system from Games Worksop, be it Warhammer, 40k, LotR or one of the specialist games or board games. Most of our origin stories start the same; “I saw white dwarf in a shop”, “My dad/brother/uncle/teacher introduced me to Warhammer miniatures”, “I just really like lord of the rings”.
And when we start our adventure, things are good! We discover all the forces in our chosen system, soon learn GW make *other* games! We discover gaming clubs, GW stores, the on-line community and everything that goes along with our wonderful hobby.
This serves us fine for a time. Indeed, there will be some readers who are long time GW players, and will never move to other systems. And that’s OK. But for, I’d be willing to say the majority, of us, at some point we will want to try something new. For whatever reason, we will feel the need to branch out from Games Workshop and explore something new and exciting.
But how do you do it? I'm not talking about what game(s) do you choose (This is something I’ll be discussing in a future article). How do you go about picking up a new system and introducing it into your playing group?
First we’ll talk very briefly on how to choose your new game.
It’s widely accepted that there are two categories of wargamer; those that play for “the game” (the rules, the desire to crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentations of their women!) and those that play for “the hobby” (the minis, the painting, the conversion etc)
While some wargamers may fall into both categories in equal measure, most will favour one over the other.
For the player that enjoys “the game”. You want to pick the rules system that suits your style of play the most. Most games worth their salt have free rules available on-line these days so finding games to try isn’t hard. So you can grab some proxy minis and test out as many games as you like until you find the one that’s right for you.
For the more hobby orientated gamer out there. Go with the game which has the models you like the most. Obviously if you absolutely cannot stand the rules for that system, choose another. But make sure you choose a game with minis that you’ll enjoy even if you’re not gaming.
So once you've settled on a game, how do you get people playing? You may be lucky and be part of a community that already plays the game. In which case, why are you reading this and not out there rolling some dice? No, we’re going to assume you’re here because you want to get your group playing a new system.
The most important thing to bear in mind here is not to force it. If you keep trying to ram a system that people don’t want to play down their throats, soon they won’t want to play anything with you.
With that in mind, here are some tips:
1. TimeOne of the most difficult things about introducing your group to a new game is that fact that playing a new game takes time that they could be spending playing their preferred system. Many people will have work and families that take up most of their time, so they’ll be reluctant to devote 2-3 hours on the one night a week they can game, playing a new game.
The way around this is to start off small. If it’s a skirmish game, start with only a handful of minis each side. If it’s a mass battle game, start with only 5 or 6 units on each side, to give them a feel for the game, without bogging them down with moving hundreds of troops.
It’s also useful to set a time limit to the game. If you say “we’ll play for an hour, and if you’re not enjoying it we can play a game of 40k” is much more likely to yield a result that saying “come on, the game should only take 2 hours.”
2. Relate the Game to Their InterestsYou should have a pretty good idea of what the people in your gaming group like, use that to sell them on the game they want to play. For example, if one of your friends likes anime, suggest a game of Infinity to them. If you’ve got a friend who is a big WWII buff, suggest a small game of Bolt Action. Doing this helps them identify with the game before they start playing, making it more likely they’ll enjoy themselves.
3. Know the RulesThis is a really important point. You need to know the rules to your chosen game. There’s nothing worse than someone running a demo and not knowing how far a unit can shoot and then spending ten minutes looking through the rulebook. You don’t need to be an expert in every single special rule in the book, but if someone asks what weapon a unit is carrying and what its stats are, you better know!
4. Have Two ForcesOne of the main reasons people are reluctant to abandon the good ship GW is cost. People spend a lot of money on their minis and don’t want to have to buy a new force for a new game, and then not like the game. Of course, you can play the new game by proxying the units. But if you want to get people into the new system, they’ll need to see the minis.
Rather than trying to convince people to spend money on the minis, it’s easier if you have two small demo forces yourself. Most games have a box set that includes the rulebook and two starting factions/armies. These are a great way to introduce others to the game, and has the benefit of letting potential players see the minis in person before they commit.
Of course, this means more cost for you, but it’s worth it in the long run. Most people end up playing multiple factions in each game, so you’ll probably get some use out of them anyway. And if not, well hopefully they’ll be someone in your newly converted gaming group that wants to play the faction you don’t want. If they get a started box for themselves, you can swap!
5. Make it Fun!This sounds obvious, but you need to make the intro game as fun as possible. Most core rulebooks come with a variety of scenarios, which are fun on their own. But if you want to really hook someone into a new game, you’ll need to go a little above and beyond.
One of the best ways to do this is add a little narrative to the game. A narrative game will help the new player invest in the “story” of the game. They’ll care about their objectives and units as the game goes on.
Now, you don’t have to go all out here. In fact, having a convoluted game with many fluff based objectives can be a little off putting. What you’re looking to do is sprinkle some extra flavour on top of the game.
If you’re playing an objective game, make the objective more than just a marker.
An example could be a damaged T.A.G in Infinity. The suit has been damaged and the pilot cannot get out. The pilot has some vital information that both sides want. This is just a little touch that will make it more likely that the new player will care about completing their objective.
So there you have it, some simple steps to help you on your way to picking up a new game and converting your gaming group to it as well.
Have you managed to convince your gaming group to pick up a new, non GW, game? Let us know what it was and how you did it in the comments!