Saturday, November 19, 2011

WPN Boy (Part 1)

As I said at the end of The Road to WPN Part 27, I feel like that series had served its purpose. I set out to document the process and struggles involved in getting a store set up as a Wizards Play Network site, and bringing that store up to Core Level so that it could run Friday Night Magic, Prereleases and other such events.

A lot of oddities happened along the way (not the least of which was picking up a second store to run events at), and the series was overall very well received and developed a rather large following. Still, however, I felt that it had run its course (especially given that its name, which implied a trip to a destination which I feel has already been reached).

So, that brings us to this: the inaugural "issue" if you will of a new series. "WPN Boy" (pronounced "whippin' boy"*) will chronicle my further adventures in TO'ing for Novel Places and Beyond Comics. My intention for this series is to act as two functions:
  1. A simple diary of events after they occur (which will mostly consist of date, type of event, attendance, and then anything noteworthy that happened);
  2. A vehicle to answer questions from you, the audience, sent in either as comments to these posts, or via Twitter (I'm @TheSundry over there) or email (TheSundry at gmail dot com). So PLEASE feel free to ask away - it will give me something to write about!
*For those who are unaware, a whipping boy was a boy who would be punished instead of a prince when the prince had done something wrong. In this analogy, I will be taking the beating for you as I stumble through the always tricky process of being a TO, so that hopefully you can learn from my mistakes. I guess that makes you the prince - so make of that what you will :)

I will publish these basically as they fill up and seem a reasonable size for release out into the wild, so there will likely be no regular schedule to them. I hope that these posts continue to amuse and entertain, as well as (hopefully) shed some light on what happens behind the scenes at events you attend (for you non-TOs out there) and even offer advice and assistance for those of you who are TOs (or wish to be some day).

Q&A Session

The first question I want to answer came from Behrooz 'Bezman' Shahriari in the comments to the last Road to WPN entry:
I suppose one interesting point that you haven't really gone into would be what kind of advertising you do. Do you leave flyers at BC or NP? Have they had much success? Do you use FB to advertise events? How do folk tend to find out about it?
We do have flyers that each store uses, most of which are put together by my rather talented friend, Craig. Here's a sample, for the Innistrad Draft that I'll be running at Novel Places on November 26:
I thought the celebratory art fit with the fact that this event will be the weekend after Thanksgiving.
Craig usually makes full page flyers as well as smaller ones that cam be printed out 2x2 on a sheet and cut down to size. The stores post the larger ones on their door or in prominent locations in-store, then have the smaller ones out by the cash register as take-aways. For FNMs I make up a simple monthly list as a 2x2 for Beyond Comics to have sitting out by the cash register. It looks like this:
Not pretty, but functional. The Comic Sans can be forgiven - it's a comic store!

I used to get a pile of the event flyers (large & takeaways) and post them up at local community centers. I found, however, that when I asked folks how they learned about the event, not once did they say "I saw a flyer at the community center." so I stopped. I also used to post ads in Craig's List (different Craig), but found the same to be true.

I have found that the biggest source of new players (besides word-of-mouth, "come with me to this event run by this guy called Don" type referral) actually is the Wizards of the Coast Store & Event Locator. For those of you who don't know about this amazing resource, any officially sanctioned and scheduled event is in a large searchable database, complete with map, location info, etc. (you can see it for yourself here). You can search for specific types of events, like a prerelease or FNM. It's really quite something. I've lost track of the number of people who told me they found our events using this system, so I'm VERY grateful that it exists!


November 11, 2011: Not a very auspicious FNM on 11/11/11, I'm afraid. The format was Innistrad Draft, and only 3 players showed up. I joined in to make it 4. P1P1 for me was Bloodline Keeper, and I managed to get some good support. Lost Round 1 horribly, tightened up the deck, and won rounds 2 & 3 to take 2nd place in the event (this guy took first).

November 12, 2011: Standard constructed event at Novel Places. Two regular players brought friends (3 between the two of them) and a few other regulars showed up (plus someone who had been meaning to make it to an event for a while now). When the dust settled, we had 8 (without needing me) - so we could actually run it as a sanctioned event. Hooray! This was my first event with a "super promo prize pack" for the 1st place player (who was regular-attender and big supporter of our events, Roger). He took home, in addition to his prize booster packs, all of the following promo cards from my ever-growing collection:

  1. WPN Promo Maul Splicer;
  2. WPN Promo Vault Skirge;
  3. WPN Promo Auramancer;
  4. WPN Promo Tormented Soul;
  5. WPN Promo Bloodcrazed Neonate;
  6. WPN Promo Curse of the Bloody Tome;
  7. Innistrad Prerelease Promo Mayor of Avabruck;
  8. Innistrad Prerelease Promo Wolf Token;
  9. Innistrad Launch Party Promo Ludevic's Test Subject;
  10. Innistrad Game Day Promo Diregraf Ghoul
I plan to offer the same prize pack for the next three Saturday events at Novel Places (Nov 26, Dec 10, Dec 24). I figure I need some sort of extra draw, especially if I want people to come out the Saturday after Thanksgiving and (even worse), on Christmas Eve (that wasn't on purpose, I swear! It just happens to be the 4th Saturday in December this year!).

November 18, 2011: FNM at Beyond Comics. Format: Standard Constructed. 10 players made it (sanctioned!). One of them was new to DCI, and two others had never played here before. The former was invited by a friend, and is unlikely to make it regularly as he lives a good deal away. But they latter 2 (brothers) seemed to really enjoy themselves and I think will come back for events here as well as at Novel Places. We played 4 rounds, since it was a Constructed event and that would have us end about the same time as 3 rounds of Limited (once you factor in draft/build time), and we were still done around 9:30.



Justin D-Z said...

Curious if you'd have any interest on collaborating on a prize-supported Modern tournament or something like that early next year? For example, you host, run and sanction, I'll put up the prize pool and we have some kind of fair split on entry fees.

I've been interested in doing something like that for a while. Doing things like buying a dual land, inviting my friends over for a mini-invitational, everyone chipping in enough registration to cover the cost and having a prize tournament.

Don said...

Certainly open to the idea - the only problem is that I'm not the one charging the entry fee. You'd need to discuss with John at Beyond Comics or Patrick at Novel Places, as the stores are the ones who get the $ for these events.

Behrooz 'Bezman' Shahriari said...

Thanks for answering that!

I started a monthly boardgames night so advertising tips are something easily-transferable. We had a drop at the november night (11, when the 2 previous months had had 20 folk) and I'm not sure if it was the date or a decline in interest.

Unfortunately, I don't have the Wizards store tracker but I think some flyers might be in order...

Behrooz 'Bezman' Shahriari said...

Some Qs I would be very interested to hear the answers to:

- What's the most rewarding part of being a WPN event-organiser?
- What's the most difficult part?
- Do you enjoy magic more or less? How has your relationship with the game changed since a year ago?