Community Building 101
This is a lot to take in and most certainly a lot to read, so if you just want a quick recap of what all of this is about, then here is a quick summary:
- You need to love the game. The more you are into it, the more likely it is you will be willing to put time into doing more for it, so make sure you got that down before starting with anything.
- Make sure you are well informed on how an event should be ran. Organize it in advance, well enough for people to be able to enjoy it and make sure you are prepared on the day of it.
- Try taking the initiative to lead the community with your enthusiasm.
- Make sure you find out how you will be getting prizes for various events, be it official or unofficial ones.
- Make sure the store you play at is happy with what you are doing and that they are actually making somewhat a profit out of all of this so that they have good reasons to keep supporting the community efforts.
- Separate prize pools in half or even in three parts in order to be able to use prizes in future events as well. That helps promote both casual and competitive and it also allows the store to make the money back for kits.
- Always be as social as you can during events. Make sure everyone is involved in your events. Do so in a respectful manner though.
- Make and maintain contacts with various key people, such as store owners, fan artists, other area organizers and other regular players.
- Try your best in keeping things active in your community by posting updates, pictures, stories and all other sorts of things that will keep players’ interest in the game and the community.
- Explore various different event formats that you can run, such as Cube Draft, Cache Refresh, Deck Swapping and others.
How Kelf Runs an Event
I figured that I would save this for the last part of the article, since it can serve as a nice example for how I go planning things before I run an event. I will through everything step by step and try to explain a few things here and there too.
- Decide what sort of event I want to run. Official FFG tournament or unofficial.
- If it’s an official FFG tournament, look up all other similar events in the nearby areas/countries that may be running one.
- Decide what dates are available in the coming 4 to 6 weeks, making sure I note down the ones that do not have an event of the same kind or other event that may hinder the running of a Netrunner event on the day. Take note that even other busy LCG games can cripple attendance when some players play more than one game. It is kind of annoying to have to take this into account, but it could be important in the long run.
- Contact store that I want to run the event at. I usually try to change this up now and then so that various areas in the Netherlands have events and not just one place ends up having everything. This is nice for players that are in different areas, so someone in Amsterdam for example would travel less for one tournament and more for another whereas someone that lives in the Hague will have to do the opposite thus making it fair for both.
- Get final confirmation from store owner on the date, time and entry fee.
- Start setting up the event on Facebook by organizing it through the community group. Organizing it through the community group, allows me to automatically invite all community members to it, thus drawing their attention to it.
- As soon as the Facebook event is set up, I do not publish yet. I double check the information, look up a Netrunner art image, put it up on Pixlr Express (quick photoshop website), slam a black line on top of the art, write up the basic information of the event which goes like “Event Format | Place | Date”. Put the image on the Facebook event. Publish Facebook event.
- Then I copy the URL of the Facebook event, go to the pinned post that I have on the community group for all upcoming events and put it down there with the date and the place. This allows people who visit the community group to immediately be able to see all upcoming event dates and places.
- Go to AlwaysBeRunning.net and make an event there by importing the Facebook event link. Thanks to the amazing Necro, importing an event has never been easier. Running an event on abr.net as well is extremely important since it allows people to keep a history of the events they have participated in and it also makes them feel like they are part of something bigger. It really is an awesome feeling to be “claiming” a spot on a finished event.
- Once this is all done, I might make a separate post on Facebook about the event. I mostly do that if it is something very special such as our latest Blitz Community event that had a lot of prices and it was very welcoming for new players. It helps assure newer players that even though an event might have a weird name (like Blitz), it is still a perfect event for beginners and newcomers.
- Then, fast forward to the day of the event, I prepare all of my Netrunner playing things separately from my organizing things. This is important as it can sometimes be problematic to think of both playing and organizing things together. It is very easy to forget when you have so much stuff you need to remember.
- I first start charging both my phone and my gopro spare batteries. Then in the end of the night (the day before the event), I pack my gopro, my tripod, extra promos (can be very important, since you might want to have certain special things with you) set an alarm and send a message to a couple people to make sure who I might be seeing there the next day in case I need help with something.
- I then pack my Netrunner decks, tokens and playmat.
- Arrive at the venue at least 15 minutes in advance. Sometimes I actually save 30 minutes extra just in case I am feeling very hungry and I want to go by a supermarket before the event and get something to have to eat later on in the day. Considering how I am always changing gopro batteries or running around to do tournament administration, I rarely ever have time to actually go buy something to eat. The lovely people of our community though usually bring me something if I forget.
- Make sure that the tournament software on my phone or the one that the store has on the store laptop is set up and ready to go.
- Set up gopro camera for the first table recordings.
- Go by the sign-ups one by one, reminding everyone that as soon as they sign up they need to go by the store counter and pay for the entry fee. This solves a lot of issues, since handling the money yourself can be weird sometimes. It is much better if you just let the store handle the money in this case. If a portion of the money is going to the community, you can calculate that after the tournament with the store owner himself/herself. No need to hassle about money during registrations.
The last community event I organized for the Dutch Netrunner community, the annual Birthday Blitz that we ran the weekend before or after my birthday!
- Make sure I do my classic start-of-tournament speech in order to make everyone feel welcome. This is extremely important, since depending on the competitive level of the tournament, it can set the tone for what is to come. If it is Store Champs or lower, then you generally explain that some rulings are important but you also remind everyone that it is a casual environment so it would be nice if everyone keeps track of the board state at all times.
- After a small thing is said about the rules as mentioned, I explain how many rounds will be going on for the event, when the break is (usually after the 2nd round is the best from my experience) and explain what will follow afterwards (a top cut or prize ceremony). Sometimes, explaining how the prizes will be given is also very important. Especially in community events, it is nice to hype people by telling them what everyone will be getting.
- Event starts. I make sure I always sit at one spot so that I do not have to move much, thus saving me time in order to do other things such as prepare the camera, change batteries, go put in results, start timer on big screen and other things that might take me off my seat.
- A small note needs to be left here on the fact that I am at the point where I know the game well enough to be able to play extremely fast. My track record is generally never going to time if it is up to me, so this usually helps me a lot with handling things during a round, considering the fact that I am done before time is called. So if you are feeling a bit uneasy about how fast you play and how you will be able to handle all other things, I would say try to have one or two other people help you with things as well. This is a community effort, so having other people help is not a shame, it is a blessing.
- I try to remember to call time at the 45, 30, 15, 5 and 1 minute marks. I will be completely honest with you and say that I get carried away and actually forget at least half of those. This is what big screen timers are for though.
- End of each round, I make sure I double check with people what their results were. A lot of mistakes can happen but as far as I can recall, I have only ever made a mistake like that once during an event and it was thankfully a casual event. You need to be very meticulous with things like that.
- Try to remind myself to take some action pictures of the event while others are playing.
- Remind people what time they need to be back for the 3rd round after the break. Do NOT tell them how much time they have but what time they need to be back. It is easier to remember.
- End of the tournament, make sure you say everyone’s name one by one. Even if you have 30 people, it is a nice thing to have people hear their name and get some cheering from the rest.
- Award the prizes right, make a final speech and then tell everyone to gather up for some pictures. Make sure you always take a serious picture and a silly one. You are playing a card game, might as well have a little bit of fun. This also makes for the best kind of pictures to be putting up on your report post on the community group afterwards.
- When you are home and you have time, make a post about how the event went and put up a couple pictures with it. When you find time again, put in the results on the abr.net event so that everyone can see it and participants can also go claim their spot. Last but not least, prepare the videos recorded on the day. Some people do the last one after quite a while, since it can be quite time consuming.
Few extra details here and there, but that is more or less how I go about running an event.
If it is a bigger tournament, I make sure I am keeping notes in between about people with weird behaviors, I back-up my data on my tournament software and I make sure I am always 5 to 10 minutes ahead of schedule. There are a LOT of other things that you need to take into account when running something bigger like a nationals event, but that is a whole other story that will require a whole new article in order to explain things right.
One of my favorite things is actually running a community pre-party every year for our Nationals event and thus far it has been a huge success. But again, that is a whole other story for another time. Fun games like a Netrunner quiz, Netrunner charades or quick custom Identity games that are set up and ready for players on-site are just a few things that you can find in our pre-parties. Oh and, a heck ton of prizes of course.
I hope you found this article informative enough to get you started on your journey to running events and building up or generally helping out your own Netrunner community in your area and as always…
~Just not on my Mushined Gene Splicer…I need that…
-Konstantinos “Kelfecil” Christakis