Alan and myself are wont to discuss the idea of developing Schild & Vriend into a real gaming club. For those of you that thought we were a club, have a look at our about page for a glimpse of our somewhat convoluted history. To sum things up, these days we are more of a diasporan collective of gamers that play at each other’s homes. We (and that’s back to Alan and me) want to change this.
The immediate reason for this post is the email I got from a lady from Leuven, whose 12 year old son is looking for a place to play Warhammer at. She had found our website and came knocking for information. I explained our current situation to her and pointed her in the direction of Gaming Lords Leuven, but I fear that she might not find a good place for her son to game at. And that is not good.
It seems that Leuven, and generally the bit of Vlaams-Brabant between Mechelen, Brussel and Leuven is lacking a focus for miniature wargaming, or gaming in general. There’s De Witte Ridder in Limburg, TSA in Antwerp, The Brassman (icky IP only URL) in Oostende and I’m probably forgetting a club or two in East Flanders. However, in Vlaams Brabant, there’s just a big post apocalyptic void, with individual groups doing their own thing, but no big (or small) club to provide gamers with a regular meeting place and schedule (unless I’m mistaken, of course, in which case you are free to correct me ).
Let’s try and change this. If only because we cannot afford to lose young players for such a silly reason as there not being a place for them to game at. The problem, of course, is getting enough of a momentum going to actually start a club. As Phil is right to say, you need an added value to convince players to come out of the woodwork (there’s that rustling in the bushes again) and play at a club, and finding that added value is not easy. Setting aside this issue and concentrating on numbers alone, I’d say that financially, you need about ten people to break even on a forthnightly or monthly rent of a small hall somewhere, and you need a lot more people than that to be a healthy club.
Any ideas from the peanut gallery out there on how to achieve this? One I have is to not limit ourselves to miniature wargamers, but extend to boardgamers and role players as well (although that last genre is less suited for a club, being eminently suitable for the play at players’ houses format). Any others?
Well, Bart, we’ve had this conversation many times :(
I look forward to your house being built and then we can have a regular game, say once a month to start with, which we can advertise. I don’t mind looking after the secretarial side of things.
We have plenty of good ideas, and even the toys and scenery to implement it.
Maybe we should try and persuade the Werchter crowd to join us (or host) an S&V game in the New Year. I have the ideal scenario in mind, no figures but maps and decisions to make. It should be fun.
I like the idea of mixing the different games, doing board games every now and again.
Once we have a venue and a programme then we can think about advertising the fact.
Actually, we should start at Crisis, so let’s put together a little flyer again. I’ll do something.
I’ve been thinking about this over this past year as well. I’d love to have some kind of semi-permanent place to organize games (or allow several games to go on at once). I’d been tempted to hire out a school hall near my house for a Saturday or Sunday of BattleCry and Memoir44 gaming tourney, strictly for fun!(if there was enough interest). I also want to maybe put on a game from the Battle of the Bulge for my son’s 4th grade class, but I don’t think my French is really good enough. Also, there are still people on the Int. Brigade list that I have not met or have only met once/twice. Of course, that could just be because people don’t like me!!!
Yes, we’ve been discussing this issue many times. Although currently I’m not in a good position to comment on how games are to be organized, since I’ve been out of the loop during the past 3 years for various reasons, here are some thoughts, partly based on personal experience:
What’s the mission of your club? It could be sharing costs for scenery or bigger projects, but that would work better with a small gaming group of friends, since you tend to think alike and personally like each other (this last one is more important than most people think). Or, it could be converting others to the hobby. Then you need a good plan to achieve this. Also, you need some idealism. I’ve done this in the past for roleplaying (when we had our own little company The Wise Tree), and even boardgames when I ran boardgames in TLM when it was still in Leuven. But at some point you are eager to go back to a small group of gaming friends.
You need a room. You cannot host clubnights from your personal wargaming room. Otherwise it would just be friends who call themselves a club. When I w as in the US, a local club charged 5us$ per person who showed up to pay for the rent. Are people willing o pay this?
I think it could be useful to visit TSA in Antwerp for a couple of weeks. They have a pretty succesful club, and just hanging out there a couple of friday nights might give a feeling about what the atmosphere is in a bigger club, the age-groups, etc.
But to start, we should get a regular agenda going on the website, for the moment hosting games at everyone houses. If the pressure is high enough, I can even get out of psychic limbo and organise a game myself. I have plenty of ideas lying around, just waiting till the stars are right ;-)
Have you talked about this with Fons and Marcel (from the not-strictly-a-club Stipsciz Hussars)? Tienen isn’t that far from Leuven ;)
Nice bit of discussion going there, with wargamers from the High North participating (hi Koen :) ). All good ideas, a few of which we can immediately implement. However, I think that Phil hit the problem on the head when he said that a prerequisite for a successful club is having a mission (I referred to this in the original post as added value).
We need to have a mission, a reason to put the effort in the club. It could be as simple as being assured of a regular game or as far going as promoting the hobby, but it needs to be stated beforehand and kept in mind during the development of the club idea.
Another option, of course, is to become a special branch of the Gaming Lords, since it seems they already have a whole system going of booking rooms etc.
The Dice Pool (the follow-up store of the Mountain in leuven) also has quite some room with gaming tables. If there’s interest, I can ask Chris under what conditions we can run games there. This also means, of course, that out of courtesy you’ll have to buy some stuff there now and then (paints, brushes, the occasional Warhammer fig ;-)) The advantage would be that if we run a game there on a semi-regular basis, it can be announced in the shop, and will heighten our visibility.
Mission - hmm, I hate such businesslike talk, but I think the common purpose (s) could centre around one project, eg a WAB campaign, building a big set of colonial stuff. Then we all have our individual pet projects, mine is building WW2 in 15mm and a 28mm WW1 project.
Or we could have an annual big game event as a purpose. Not so much a typical S&V convention game, but an interesting scenario, lots of nice figs and terrain and plenty of players.
I like Phil’s idea of tacking on to the Leuven crowd and I’d happily commit to buying paints and such.