With the Energon Invitational serving as the capstone to the 2019 Transformers TCG competitive season and with a new wave releasing in April, now seems like an excellent time to refocus on building local communities for TFTCG. As of the publishing of this article, your local stores have a 3-week window between now (February 3rd) and February 23rd where they can order the Launch Party kit for Wave 5, so make sure to remind your store!
A mysterious figure approached me a few weeks ago, seeking to nudge the larger scale TFTCG community to focus once again on growing a local scene.
My response was to reach out to a handful of folks who have had success in doing just that. Today’s article is going to offer you tips on how you can welcome new players to an already established scene.
This is the second of three articles releasing this week featuring advice and tips from a number of channels, websites, and collectives of players. You can find links to their respective websites and channels at the bottom of the article. If you’d like to contribute to future articles like this, please reach out to me by sending me a message on Facebook.
Welcoming New Players
- Try to have a few extra copies of Common cards on hand, especially well-known characters like Optimus Prime, Starscream, Bumblebee, or Megatron (this is a great use for that stack of Wave 1 Common cards from opening your Energon Edition). If someone approaches you while playing, seems interested, but the conditions aren’t right for a demo at that moment, giving them a copy of a character card functions a lot like giving someone a business card. Most importantly, it gives them a physical reminder to look more into the game once they’re home, whereas they might completely forget otherwise. (Wreck ‘n Rule)
- Once new players start joining your events, try not to lose them because you’re not giving them enough time to build their collection. Sealed and draft formats can be great options. But your locals won’t always be in favor of that. They require an investment, and don’t involve deck-building in between meetings, often a very enjoyable aspect of the game. It’s still possible to combine the competitive spirit with a heterogeneous level of commitment and resources. If you can, try to find ways to limit the amount of difficult-to-acquire cards. If your locals like the idea of having theme tournaments, try to organize them regularly. Constraints favor creativity, and an experience that better showcases the core mechanics of the game to new players, as opposed to strategies optimized at shortening/prolonging the game. When seeing an influx of new players, don’t be afraid to propose to the more experienced ones in your group to be patient, and to hold their strongest decks back for later. An easy win one weekend might be a bye the next one. (Computron’s Lab)
- During the first year of the game… Product was super limited, and the biggest issue we faced was dealing with the local gaming stores. We had to order almost everything from online shops or stores. Eventually when the product arrived in local game stores and some department stores, most of the core players had already received all their cards from ordering online. So there were tons of boxes left on the shelves not being bought. So how do we move all this product and grow the game? More free stuff! Talking to the owners of the LGS was hard, as we had to advising them about having launch events where we would open 6 packs to build a team and deck, or a turboing a box, or just drafting. As the groups would pull their money together to get boxes, and eventually give most of what they opened away to new players. It was a hard thing to sell, but it worked. (Matafer)
- Consider making weekly events open play. One of the biggest hurdles to new players in getting over the intimidation of coming out to play for the first time. Many of our new players are also new to TCGs in general. Tournaments require players to commit to a deck for the night and players are unable to adjust their decks to the competition across from them. It’s very important to have someone’s first experience at your store to be a positive one in which they feel like they belong. Being destroyed over and over in a tournament that is full of optimized decks can be a huge turn-off to return the next week. At the same time, you can’t ask experienced players to only play lower tier decks just in case new players show up. Open play solves these problems, experienced players can bring fun decks along with whatever new pet project they are working on. They can test their builds against each other and then easily switch to low level fun deck when the new player sits down. We’ve found great success with this model, and still have monthly tournaments for that style of play. (Brian Blair)
- One thing that happens a lot is that someone walks by and sees you having fun or a huge combiner on your side of the table and goes “Woah! What’s this?”. This is a perfect way to introduce yourself and show them a little about the game. Once someone sits down and plays this game, they have fun. There’s something about the rock’em sock’em style this game brings to the table that just hooks you. Inform that new person about when you meet up to play and give them access to different things online they can read and watch. Sometimes the learning curve can be tough for people. If they have access to communicate with others, watch and/or read it may help them find a starting point and grow from there. (Powered by Primus)
- If you can spare them, have extra cards around to give people to help improve their decks, or try something new out. This will help engagement and help morale. Having happy players will result in a happy community, which will result in player growth and more fun! Fun should always remain the focus as that’s why we play this game for fun and love of the transformers! (Powered by Primus)
We’ll be back later this week with advice on how to keep your local scene going once you’ve gotten some traction. Thank you for reading and thank you to our contributing channels, sites, and collectives for their advice. Check out their sites below!
Blues on Attack is dedicated to bringing you Transformers TCG gameplay videos, including meta decks and jank decks, and they’ve recently branched into videos featuring general discussion about the game.
Computron’s Lab features a number of excellent resources, including card galleries, content creator databases, and articles that delve deeply into specific areas of the game.
Flip Flip Bang Bang is one of the premiere sources out there for TFTCG articles, including artist interviews, local event recaps, and his Building… series, which does a deep dive into lesser used characters and explores how to make decks with them.
Matafer’s The Jankyard features gameplay and deck profiles for commonly used and rarely used character line-ups.