22 March 2016

X-Wing League Play - A friendly tutorial or a few observations from the bartender.

Greetings and salutations fellow nerds!

Nic here.

A few friends of the bar asked me to write about X-Wing league and league play. As such, I am a slave to the people. So lets jump on into it shall we?

First and foremost with any miniatures league (and any group project from college or high school or middle school), the Tournament Organizations (TO) must be willing to do all of the work. Isn't this why teachers and professors always assign a group leader? Come on people, we all know who we are dealing with: nerds, closet nerds, high functioning nerds (you know, those who have big boy jobs or pretend to have jobs - eheemmmm Jeb), and the occasional magic player (oh 'lawd have mercy). We honestly cannot count on anyone else doing any portion of the work. Period. As most of you TO's can identify with this, we must be willing to deal with store owners, players, and the occasional game shop kid who wants to put his grubby hands all over your fresh out of the box bright and shiny Ghost. Hands off slimy mynock, mines!!!! But seriously as a TO you are ultimately responsible for the enjoyment of others and organizing these things. You are the leader. So have good bedside manners and be willing to commit to doing a large share of the work, it not all of it.

Anyways...rant over.

We have run some very successful leagues at our local store here in the 'boro, Galactic Comics and Games.

First, a small tale. I arrived in this town almost two years ago. Went to the game shop for the first time and got a game of X-Wing on day one. It was pure heaven. But then darkness came and I went without a game for well over six months. Slowly but surely I dragged out our current players from the woods and seedy back alleys. Literally, I found Mr. Thomas Fox (one of our local players) creeping in a back alley behind the store. Slowly we all collated together and formed our group (by the powers combined, we are Captain Planet - wait - hmmmm). This took an incredible amount of patience and long lonely nights at the game shop playing games like warhammer or warmachine or dreadball and hopefully trying to convince others that this super sweet game called X-Wing was worth it. One night I remember pulling out my fleet of ships and setting them up to show people how cool they were and the only person who showed any interest was 8 year old kid who was playing pokemon. I remember him vividly saying "Hey! Those are cool! Isn't that the Star Ship Enterprise? I love Star Trek". So I slowly hung my head completely ashamed of the newest generation and packed up my stuff and shuffled over the bar across the street to drown my sorrows away and dream of brighter X-Wing days.

Wow...slightly off topic. Again. As usual. Now back to your regularly scheduled program.

We held our first league after playing the occasional game or two on Thursday nights.

We had 8 people interested in playing, and we would meet at 8pm on Thursday nights. It was a simple 100 points pre-determined lists for three weeks with two matches each Thursday.

Now this went ok, but it was not stellar. Each week we had around 5-6 players, and it always seemed like one or two guys couldn't make it for one reason or another. But no matter we just assigned them byes, and continued playing. Towards the end of consistent play, we had 4 new players join us as walk ins, and by the last night we had almost 12 players total. Honestly not sure how that happened, except word of mouth and a bit of advertisement on the good 'ol BookFace.

Lessons learned:
Be consistent
TO does the work
Need to offer prizes
Word of mouth is one of the best ways to get everyone involved

At the end of the league we held a Saturday tournament, and had a nice turnout of well over 14 players (most local and a few from about 40 minutes away).

Now for the second league:

We did a modified escalation league -

  • 100 points (two matches of 75 minutes per week on Thursdays)
  • 125 points (two matches of 75 minutes per week on Thursdays)
  • 150 points (a single match of 90 minutes one week, and then a single non timed final match a week later)
You could not take away from your list but could only upgrade pilots and upgrades. This was a blast! You can see our last match on our YouTube Channel (this video will not be show because we are bad at video), where I flew a nasty Vader Black Squadron on Crack squad versus a nasty Han, Dash, and Y-Wings with TLTs (Nic, please remove this bad word --Jeb) . This time around we offered prizes! A winter kit and everyone paid $10. We had a consistent 12 players almost every week.

Lessons learned:
Paying to play helps to keep guys around
If the games are different and not kept at 100 points, more people get less bored
Kits are amazing and draw many people who collect X-Wing swag
150 point matches that are not timed last unbearably long - do not do it!

Now our third league is about to start this Thursday!

Rules are:
  • You have 200 points to pull whatever pilots and upgrades you want
  • You know your opponent up a few days in advance and can view their 200 points
  • One game per week for four weeks
  • Spring kit up for grabs
  • $15 tournament fee that goes to pay for the kit and top 3 players get store credit
Sounds fun eh? Once we have the pairings and grab bags set, we will post them weekly for those of you who would like to follow along. In addition, we will record a feature match each week and post it online!

Overall, I have heard of many leagues being extremely successful when you play outside or have opponents during the week not on a set night. For example, you would play two games per week, record scores and give them to the TO when you all meet up to play again on your set gaming night. 

Nothing wrong with this, but it doesn't really work for those of us who work odd hours and are unable to play throughout the week at random times due to family or other commitments. This style would not work with our players! So here is a list of things I have learned (may or may not be helpful but you are going to get them anyways, so sit down and listen):

  1. TO does the work
  2. Must have a solid group of 8-10 players
  3. Must have a consistent gaming night or day that works for all players
  4. Keep the games interesting - switch the point schemes up a bit
  5. Play for some swag - kits or store credit or special promos (or these.  Just look at those dice)
  6. TO needs to communicate and be willing to adjust the league per the players suggestions (now this one might sound silly, but this is incredibly important - if your players scatter because you are unwilling to listen to suggestions then you is a bad TO)
  7. Be flexible - know when to reschedule if not enough players show up or are sick or whatever
  8. Do not be afraid to include players who have never played before and overall be inclusive
  9. Know your players (if someone is always late, start a bit later or make adjustments)
  10. Have fun and don't get pissed when your perfect list gets blasted out of the sky by the noob who just joined last week (this happened to me and I almost started flipping tables because I got tabled)
Well I hope this helps y'all out.

Coming up soon! New podcast (wasn't our last one epic???????? hahahahahhaha it was so bad and I am willing to admit it) and squad building!


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