From the computer to the tabletop, this is all about games. Updated each week-end.
Whether it is for card games, board games, or miniatures games, a league can be an effective way to getting players to gather, meet one another, and play lots of games. A league doesn’t need to be based around a single game – although most are.
I have run a number of leagues over the years, the longest for 8 years (this year is the ninth) and have made a few observations over what makes some leagues successful and others not.
1. Decide what kind of league you want
This is going to determine your other decisions. Is you league going to appeal to casual players, or is it for competitive players to hone their tournament skills? Is it primarily social with some games on the side, or are games expected to be the sole activity at a league meeting? These decisions give you an idea of your audience, and where yo might find them. It will also affect your choice of venue.
2. Establish a schedule – and stick to it
People are creatures of habit. Make it easy for people to come back to your league by giving them a date to remember. Whether this is every Tuesday evening, the third Sunday of the month, or whatever, make your date easy to remember. This will ensure people know when to come. People are more likely to turn up when they are confident others will be there. Changing dates or running to a chaotic schedule is a great way to cause confusion and turn players away.
3. Tell the players what to expect
Every league has a structure, and a season. Let your players know your structure and expectations ahead of time, so they know what they are getting into. If a season runs for six weeks, or 10 meetings, tell them. If there is a separate event to determine a season winner, tell them. This clarity of structure and process allows the players to relax and play. There will be no surprises. Also publish your league results and/or rankings promptly after each meeting.
4. Encourage participation
The best league structure is nothing without players. People play games for different reasons, and a good league structure will cater to many different tastes. That said, don’t be afraid to tailor your league to a specific set of players. That’s okay. Just make sure you communicate clearly what you league is for.
People can play for a sense of community, to compete and win, or simply to relax and pass the time, or any combination of the above. A league that appeals to more types of gamers will find it easier to attract players and grow.
What? Commercialism? There are several ways to get the word out about your leagues. Facebook groups, Meetup posts, Board Game Geek, or simply a card on the noticeboard at your local gaming store, all of these can help let people know your league exists.
Your message should be something simple: board games players wanted, first Sunday, all welcome. Or, X-Wing enthusiasts, fight against the best, every Tuesday.
Keep your message short and simple, and put it where the right people will see it.
There are more than just five considerations when starting a tabletop games league, but the above I have found are crucial. If I had to add a sixth, it would be venue selection. The right place can make or break a gaming group.
What ever you decide, good luck, and have fun!