This older article series from Fauxintel remains a valuable resource for players new and old looking to build or reinvigorate their local playgroup.
If you’re anything like me OCTGN is not enough.
When I play online, even with friends, it never quite feels like “Thrones.” The problem, of course, is that in order to play out in “the real world” you need folks in your local community who are actually ready and willing to play the game. This is particularly true if you want to play A Game of Thrones: The Card Game at the highest level. Mastering the game on OCTGN, in the comfort of your pajamas, is one thing. Being able to play seven (or more) Swiss rounds of Thrones face to face with strangers is another. To take your play to the next level you need that fabled and elusive group: “a meta.”
Everyone loves new players. With the game rebooted just months ago the “new player experience” is on the lips (or fingertips) of most of the community. What decks are new player friendly? What are the common mistakes new players make? Should a new player buy two core sets or three?
Seldom, however, is the social experience of new players discussed. Showing up at a weekly meet-up filled with strangers is often not an easy experience. This is especially true for metas have a long history with the game. Established playgroups can have social dynamics that can feel exclusionary to newer players. Seldom do folks try to exclusionary but natural habits can often create such environments, which choke off the flow of newer players into the game. Often, for example, the weekly meet up is the only time people can see certain friends and thus they only want to play with them. Others only want to play with folks they consider to experienced or “upper tier” players since face to face gaming time is scarce so why spend it playing with lesser skilled players?
Reaching out to stores in order to find a place to play or host tournaments is a lot like online dating.
When we (in New York City) began to prepare for the relaunch of A Game of Thrones, the part that I was most nervous about was reaching out to stores in the metro area with which we did not have a pre-existing, or strong, relationship. Now, at the beginning of the store championship season, I believe I have a bit of advice for others trying to navigate these somewhat treacherous waters.
One of the typical questions I get from people working to build up their local meta is: If I am playing only with new players how I am going to get better on a highly competitive level?
With Store Championship season now in full swing (and Regionals right around the corner) many players are ready to move from “building” mode to “winning some swag” mode. The good news is that these are not mutually exclusive goals. You can get yourself ready for the next tournament and help new players in your meta get better at the game.
To some, my title might seem like an obvious statement of fact, a cliched axiom of common sense, but I’ve found over my years of organizing events (both personal and professional), being a jerk to people really doesn’t get you very far. Being a jerk is flashy, sometimes fun, occasionally cathartic, but at the end of the day, being a jerk doesn’t do much for you. I’ve had much more success by making people feel welcome – even if I think they’re jerks, even if I disagree with them – which leads to more people coming back the next time I host a party, run a seminar, or hold a tournament.
One of the things I’ve come to love over the course of my time as a player of this game is the maturity of the Thrones community.
Recently I’ve been thinking a lot about prize support – partially because we just held a Store Championship here a week or two ago and I am running another in New York City soon but also because I’ve been traveling a good deal over the last few weeks to different events and each has had its own level of additional swag. The question I’ve had is: Should it be custom for metas to offer additional prize support at Regional and Store Championships?
The nature of competitive play has been one of the hottest topics in the Thrones community as of late. With the controversy over intentional draws, accusations of cheating and unfair scouting, and the “competitive post of the day” by our very own Greg Atkinson, the nature of what it means to be a “competitive” or “serious” Thrones player has stoked the internet fires. Acrimony abounds with words like “jerks,” “casuals,” and worse being thrown around by all sides of the argument. With regional season in full swing and nationals season (along with GenCon) right around the corner, there is clearly a key set of questions for our community – so important that lead designer Nate French chimed in on The White Book a few episodes back.