Building a community is not an easy thing, especially with a miniatures game. The buy-in is high (or at least, it is perceived as high when compared to other games like board games), and the complexity of the rules creates a learning curve that can make the game difficult to enjoy when one is still learning to play. This means that growing a community will require commitment to get new players past these initial hurdles.
As the Henchman, you will need to show that you are committed to the game in order to encourage others to make that same commitment. This is why we require Henchmen to have painted crews: if you are playing with painted models, you are showing that you are committed to the game, and that will encourage others to give the game a try.
You will also have to show up to your store or gaming club to play on a regular basis, even if you don’t know whether or not any opponents will be there. If your players show up to find an opponent waiting for them (i.e., you), then they will be able to play more often and will be more likely to return for future games.
If you have the opportunity, it’s also valuable to set up a table when you arrive. Not only does this allow you to run a game or demo more quickly, but it also helps others see what the game will look like while it is being played. Malifaux is a very visually appealing game, so play to that strength.
Following these steps will get people interested in the game, but a community is one that lasts. There are a few ways you can help turn random players into a close-knit community.
The primary thing you can do is run regular events. Whether these events are just regular meeting days for people to gather and play games, structured tournaments, or long-running leagues or campaigns doesn’t matter. The important thing is that your players know that something is happening with the game and that players are gathering at regular intervals to play. This incentivizes them to come in, play some games, and join the community.
Whether you are running events or just talking with people about Malifaux, try to be friendly and welcoming. When someone comes in that plays our games, take a moment to say hello. If you are playing a game and there isn’t an opponent for them, invite them to watch your game. This lets people know that you’re happy they are there, which goes a long way to keep them coming back.
An offshoot to this is that you shouldn’t complain about games (whether our own or those of our competitors). It’s okay to be critical and voice that opinion, but when those comments degrade into complaining, you’re more likely to push people away. Most people play games to have fun, so keeping discussions relatively positive is important.
If you do these things, it is very likely that you will build a community over time. Even if it doesn’t succeed at first, stick with it! A large part of any community is the commitment to make it one, and signing up as a Henchman was your first step along that path.
Following the steps above will make you a successful Henchman, but there’s one more aspect that will help you attract new players to the game: knowing how to run a good demo.
The most important thing to keep in mind when demoing is that you do not need to teach a player everything about the game. You want to focus on how the game plays in terms of feel, but there’s no need to go over every option or interaction.
The other thing to keep in mind is that demos should be fairly fast. Within fifteen minutes or so, the person you are demoing with should be familiar enough with the game that you could walk away and they could continue playing (albeit asking you some questions as they do so). Games that demo fast are less intimidating for new players to pick up.
Note: If a new player is completely unfamiliar with wargames, the demo will take a little longer and you’ll need to explain how the board, measuring, and miniatures work for a game of this type before progressing further.
In order to keep your demos short and sweet, here is a general guideline:
Give the player a high level overview of the game, such as “Malifaux is a character driven skirmish game, meaning that each player will have 7 to 10 interesting and flavorful models, which activate in an alternating fashion. It is a game of strategies and schemes, and a game will generally last an hour and a half to two hours. Conflict occurs regularly in the course of a game, but it is rarely how you win. You can pick your Crew after you know your objectives, and you even have some choice over your objectives for the game.”
With that high level framework established, go into some specifics. You should be driving towards flipping cards, so give them the information necessary to do so. An example might be “Malifaux games use cards instead of dice. Most situations in the game are handled by flipping a card and adding the relevant stat of the model. Generally, your goal is to exceed your opponent’s total. You’ll know what you need by looking at a model’s stat card…”
Once a player understands the cards and stats, run through a few opposed duels. Make sure they understand that basic concept before touching on how flips can vary such as by cheating or +- modifiers. The player should now be ready to do guided play. Set up a couple of models for each player (one of whom might be yourself), give each a Fate Deck, and run through a few activations. This should be enough to get the player a good feel for the game.
When you’re done with a few activations, see if the player has any questions and if they want to continue through more activations. While you haven’t covered all the rules, you’ve given them enough of a starting point to feel out the game. Encourage players to read through the rules and come back another time to go through a full game in more detail.
Now that you’re a Henchman, you’re expected to know things about our games. While you don’t need to know all of our games or all the intricacies of a complex game like Malifaux, you do need to be at least decently familiar with our products.
This means that you should visit our website and forum at least once a month to see if any news has been posted that might be relevant to your community. You should sign up for our newsletter and make sure that the e-mail associated with your Henchman account is one that you check regularly.
Doing this will make sure you are at least somewhat familiar with our release schedule, special promotions, and any events we have running. Making sure that less-engaged players are aware of these things will keep them involved in the game and build excitement for the future, which is important when it comes to keeping a community alive.
Additionally, knowing the rules of the games you play is important. We all make mistakes, and that’s okay, but you should be able to answer most questions about game rules that come up, either by looking up the information on a FAQ or from memory. If you don’t know the answer to a rules question, though, don’t be afraid to tell people! Bring the question to our rules forum on our website, get an answer, and then take it back to your players the next time you gather to play.
As a Henchman, you will be seen as a representative of our company, even though you are not actually a Wyrd employee or representative. This means that you should always behave respectfully toward individuals at your store, whether or not you’re running events. This is part of the Code of Conduct that all Henchmen agree to when they join the program.
Wyrd and its players work together to encourage positive values within our community. If you walk around a large Malifaux tournament, you’ll see good sportsmanship and people enjoying their games on the high and low tables alike. This is the environment we want to encourage in our players. While Malifaux is a highly competitive game, it is the characterful and fun interactions with other players that make the game enjoyable.
Make sure that you reflect these positive values as you are playing games. Help show others that, as a company and within our communities, Wyrd is emphasizing fun and inclusiveness. Defeating new players in 10-0 blowouts is not in the spirit of the game, but neither do you have to deliberately throw games – maybe you can try out a new crew or try to achieve harder Schemes that you normally wouldn’t choose in that matchup.
Malifaux has many combinations that can keep the game fresh and interesting for years; take advantage of that!