Tuesday, March 29, 2016

If You Build It

I want to talk about Richmond, Virginia.

I want to talk about a city that has six stores running PPTQs every season.

I want to talk about a city where every LGS works together and treats their players as one community instead of six.

The Meeting of the Families

We do it every sanctioning window. Each store sends one or two representatives, I attend along with another L2 in our city, James Kerr.  We sit down over dinner, drinks, and then get down to business. James will hand out some calendars he has prepared with the full sanctioning windows, complete with blackout dates - SCG Opens, Grand Prixs, Regionals, anything that may cause a conflict with our players. We make our way around the table and stores start penciling in dates. They choose their date, their format, their start time, their entry fee, and talk about anything special they may have lined up.  The result of that looks something like this:

Shout out to Rick Ralsten at The Time Capsule for going the extra mile with these flyers every season.

And just like that, two hours later our city is scheduled with zero overlap. Our city is scheduled where every store won't schedule other events on top of a PPTQ. Our city is scheduled and each store encourages their players to attend every event. But how did we get here? 

The Social Network

Richmond is fortunate that it has a history of stores being civil. It was a community that after Wizards ended Champs decided that we were going to do it anyway:

Majestic, isn't it?

But this was only a small step. It really got going with a Facebook group.  A small group that was created specifically for all of us to work with one another. Store owners and managers were invited, along with some members of the judge community.  I truly wish that every community would do this. It took very little effort and opened up a line of direct communication to everyone else.  This has helped us coordinate events on special release product, communicate about potential cheaters in our events, and even help us crack down on a thief or two.  But most importantly for us it's the heart of the machine that makes our PPTQ system work. 

When a new sanctioning window opens, usually the first one to open WER is the one that puts out the call. It's usually along the lines of "New window is up, lets do the thing. Who's turn is it to pick the restaurant?"  And within a few days were sharing beers, stories, and crushing out a schedule.  

Since their inception Richmond has not skipped a PPTQ nor cancelled a PPTQ (except for that blizzard).  

One City, One Community

So how do you get your LGS to buy in? In Richmond the concept is simple:

More stores means more players.

If six stores work together as one community, your players have six places in your city to play Magic. They have six places to buy and sell cards. They have six places to teach new people the game.  Additionally, when we work together and don't schedule on top of one another these players will travel to each store to play Magic. This extends beyond PPTQs, here's how a week in Richmond may look:

Monday: Modern at Battlegrounds
Tuesday: Standard at Battlegrounds
Wednesday: Standard at The Time Capsule
Thursday: Modern at One Eyed Jacques
Friday: FNM at every store.

We have players that play at every single one of these. 

When you have multiple stores sharing a Magic community you can work around each other during the week to maximize Magic for your customers without denying business. This schedule lets me focus on other game systems on other nights very effectively and has also allowed those communities to grow. (Namely My Little Pony and Game of Thrones 2E)  

That's the sell. Rather than dividing the pie 6 ways over and over, we're getting the whole pie on any given night and devoting time on other nights to different dessert analogies.
It's like this, except with people and Magic cards instead of sugar.

But They Don't Like Pie...

So what do we do when someone really doesn't appreciate my dessert analogies want to play ball and work together. In my opinion? You let them. There are some communities in Virginia who are experiencing this problem -- either a store thinks they're the "old dog" and don't want to work with the new guys, or a store just wants to try to do it bigger and better than everyone else and gets pushy. I don't think there is any sense in fighting with them, but you also don't want to ostracize them.  If they are communicating with their judges and scheduling their events reasonably I think we still work with them -- to a point.  You can refuse to work for a store that is intentionally scheduling against other local events.  We're ambassadors to the game and we want to do what we can to help stores succeed and communities grow, but we aren't obligated to any store or tournament organizer, especially ones who may not have the community's best interest at heart.

If a store really decides they don't want to share the pie, they're going to end up on the outside looking in while the people they see as competitors instead of colleagues chow down. Hopefully after awhile they want to get in on it, too.

It's Already Happening

Check out this glorious thing -- Matt Braddock "Channeling his inner EDB"

Pictured above you see what L2 Matt Braddock posted on Facebook for his area.

Michigan judges keep an active spreadsheet with PPTQ dates, formats, and Head Judges -- for their entire state.  Northeast L2s are using a set of Google forms to compile a master list for their whole region. The Mid-Atlantic is starting to implement a similar strategy via our Slack channel.

As I write this more and more judges are sounding off telling me about their advanced spreadsheet technology -- my hype levels are real.

More Guidelines Than Rules

Judges are like pirates -- right?

I want to close by saying I know these concepts aren't going to work for everyone. For some areas it is just not logistically possible for a number of reasons, and different things will work in different regions. But I encourage people to try. Start small. Social media is free and is often the most effective first step. If you can get stores and judges communicating as a group and even avoiding overlap for just their premier events then I would consider that a huge success and a step in the right direction.

I also want to encourage people to reach out and tell me about what they are doing in their areas, I want to know what's working, what isn't working. I am always happy to lend an ear and discuss new ideas or strategies. I want to start gathering stories, thoughts, and ideas to keep sharing and keep the ripple effect going.

1 comment:

  1. Excellent article, my thoughts on Richmond exactly! *grouphug*