Saturday, July 02, 2011

The Road to WPN (Part 10)

[This is part 10 in a series, and assumes that you've already read Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, and Part 9]

June 24, 2011: Stopped by Beyond Comics today to meet with the manager, John. He had told me that the store had received some WPN materials, and I wanted to make sure my netbook and smart phone were connected up to the store's wifi network for our event on July 2.

The hook-up to the network went reasonably well (once John was able to locate the correct WEP key for the network), but the WPN materials were a bit disappointing. I was expecting there to be the foil cards from the Gateway support kit, and the banners & posters from the Store Support kit. But instead, all that awaited my perusal was the Duels of the Planeswalkers 2012 promo foils and decks (which, granted, are nice - and I wasn't sure they'd be able to get the decks since we had applied after the May 25 deadline, so - yay, there). John told me that these were all the materials with my name on it he knew about (although he had been away the entire week prior).

So I went home and found some emails from my WPN rep who had, apparently, been out recovering from surgery (thus explaining his lack of email responses of late). Since he seemed to be in, I quickly shot off an email asking about the Gateway support kit and Store support kit I had ordered for Beyond Comics. He replied fairly quickly and said he's get the tracking info. A few minutes later I got another email letting me know the items had been shipped, delivered, and signed for. I sent this info to John, who did a little digging and discovered that the items had arrived, but a helpful employee had cleaned up and stashed them in the back room, where John never even saw them.

Also in this email batch from Brian at WPN I was assured that yes, indeed, the casual event I ran at Novel Places (when our first event didn't produce the needed 8 participants to be sanctioned) would count as our first event. So, that's a small load off my mind.

JUNE 28, 2011: Today I stopped by Beyond Comics' Frederick, MD location to pick up some additional flyers for the July 2 event, for posting at some local community centers (I was going to be in Frederick, anyway, so it was not a problem to swing by and pick them up). My younger son and I drove to several community centers and posted flyers on their community events boards.

A Twitter follower recommended I may want to post an ad on Craig's List as well, which I thought was an excellent suggestion (thanks, @studweaver!). So, now, there is a Craig's List ad for the event.

For all future events I think I will use both of these methods to further advertise and hopefully bring more folks in. Every little bit helps, I think!

My final task for the day WPN-wise was to try and tackle the netbook/printer problem. After over an hour (during which I thought I had licked the problem more than once) I have given up. Either I need a newer printer that definitely has a Windows 7 driver, or I need to upgrade my netbook from Windows 7 Starter to Windows 7 Home Edition (I have no trouble printing from my desktop computer which is running the latter). Before I resort to either of those, however, I plan to go to Beyond Comics tomorrow and see if I can print from my netbook to their printer via their network. If so, then that will be one less thing I have to drag with me to events there, at least. I can also go through the other WPN materials this way, and maybe get that vinyl banner hung up at the store.

JUNE 29, 2011: Did make it to Beyond Comics, and was able to successfully print from their printer via their network, so there's that minor crisis solved. Also, I picked up the WPN promos (30x each of the Maul Splicer and Vault Skirge foil promos, as well as 20x more Drench the Soil in Their Blood). I think we are ready for Saturday!

JULY 1, 2011: I decided that instead of lugging my two very large and heavy boxes full of "scratch & dent" cards, I would instead bring several of my "grab bags" - 100 scratch & dent cards in a box for $3. So I spent some time today making up 20 more of those (each one contains 10 basic lands, 75 commons, 10 uncommons & 5 rares/mythics/foils). I also spent a fair amount of time getting everything packed up for tomorrow (WPN promos, card sleeves, grab bags, DCI cards, table number signs, etc, etc, etc).

JULY 2, 2011: Night and Day. That's all I can think of to describe the difference between today's event and my first event two weeks ago.

I think that this event had several things going for it that helped things out:
  • Beyond Comics has already established themselves as a source for Magic product. At least two of today's attendees found out about the event simply by stopping by the store to buy some booster packs.
  • They are located in a more central, busy location. Novel Places, while an incredibly lovely historic building, is somewhat "in the middle of nowhere" (which I'm sure the folks in Clarksburg would not appreciate me saying).
  • There was more advertising done for this one (a lesson I learned from the last one).
  • We weren't competing against Launch Parties for a popular product (as we were two weeks ago when Commander was released).
All of this lead to a very well attended event, with 10 participants (without the need for any of my own family to join in!). Four of the 10 were new to WPN events, and needed to get their DCI numbers (good news for us towards moving up to Core Level), and the remaining 6 were very nice, laid-back (dare I say "casual") players, who were very welcoming of the new folks, making for an overall very positive vibe to the event.

The event was again a Scars of Mirrodin block sealed event. I believe it was the first time that the 4 new DCI members had played a sealed event, so we made sure to cover how things worked (and some of the veterans even gave the newcomers some deck-building advice, which was great!). We ran 4 rounds of Swiss, had an overall 4-0-0 champion (12 match points), two 2nd-place winners (3-1-0 records; 9 match points) and 4 3rd-place winners (2-2-0 records; 6 match points).

I pulled 20 booster packs to be the prize pool (2 per customer), and had the WPN foil promos to use as well (each participant got a foil Vault Skirge just for signing up). The two people who had preregistered I gave an additional promo to (there's got to be SOME incentive for signing up in advance!). Folks with the following records got these prizes:
  • 4-0-0: 6 booster packs & 2 promos
  • 3-1-0: 4 booster packs & 2 promos
  • 2-2-0: 1 booster pack & 1 promo
In a move that I think surprised most of the recipients, I let the winners choose which set (Scars of Mirrodin, Mirrodin Besieged, or New Phyrexia) their booster packs were from, and also which of the 3 WPN promo cards they wanted to receive.

Those of you quick with the math have figured out that I've only accounted for 18 of the 20 prize packs. For the participants who didn't place in the 2-2-0 bracket or higher (3 of them in this case), I randomly chose two to each received a booster pack as an additional prize (and the remaining player I let pick another promo for himself).

I think, overall, I couldn't have asked for the event to go much better at all. Several people said they'd definitely be attending more of these events in the future (some even assured me they'd try to come up to Novel Places in Clarksburg for the M12 Launch Party). I overheard a few say they'd rather come to an event here than at some other store I won't mention because the atmosphere is much more friendly, and not as competitive (which is something I really appreciate - I hope we can maintain that open welcoming atmosphere to our events). One gentlemen is part of an entire playgroup and assured me he would be spreading the word about our events. John, the manager was very pleasantly surprised at the turnout (and with the monetary inflow that comes with it as well), so I think it is safe to say that no-one involved was disappointed at the end.

In short, it was AWESOME!

As will become my habit, I am sure, I will give you the scorecard for how this location is doing at meeting the hoops we need to jump through in order to reach the Core Level where we can run prereleases and FNMs:
  • Report a minimum of 4 events [this counts as our first of the 4]
  • Have a minimum of 30 unique people playing in your reported events [we have 10 so far - only 20 more to go!]
  • Run and report a single event with 12 players or more [so close! Hopefully our next one will hit 12!]
  • Maintain a delinquency rate of less than 20% [no problem - event is already reported]
  • Introduce 6 new players to WPN events [4 new players already!]
Our next event at this site will be in 3 weeks - a Magic 2012 sealed-deck event on July 23 at 1 p.m.

My next event will be in 2 weeks, however, at Novel Places - the Magic 2012 Launch Party. I have high hopes for this event being MUCH bigger than the first event at this location.

Things I learned from this event (for any out there who may be considering going down this Road themselves):
  • The WER has a built-in timer that you can display full-screen on your computer. While this may not be large enough to see at a big event, it worked fine for this one today.
  • I think a 1 p.m. start time worked VERY well. If we hadn't already advertised the M12 Launch Party as starting at 4, I would consider moving it (and may see if Patrick is willing to start earlier in the future).
  • Be generous with the WPN promos. Attendees love getting the bonus, and WPN gives so many (I got, between the 2 sites, 60 copies each of the Vault Skirge and Maul Splicer promos!).
  • I wish I had collected people's emails, or had a sign-up sheet for a newsletter of future WPN events. I need to generate this - the newsletter works well for my regular store, so why the heck not run one for the WPN events?
All in all, this was a very pleasant stretch of the Road to WPN.



CrazyMike said...

You might also consider creating a Facebook group and use it for your events. People can post feedback and you can send out group invites for events. We use one and have had great success with it.

Anonymous said...

Second on the Facebook group. Just call it "your area magic the gathering" or something.

I found the place I go to by googleing for magic in my area and the facebook page came up #1. People will "like" the group and you can send out reminders about the events as they approach.