It feels like it is proving to be a tremendous year in the UK for Dice Masters.
Watching online chatter over Facebook and seeing the increase in the number of posted events I was curious about how these scenes have been growing and what key members of the community thought was contributing to the wonderful growth we’ve been seeing here in old Blighty – so I reached out to them and asked for a few thoughts around what they felt had been going on.
We also want to grow the community even more, and it’s my hope that one of our reflections or suggestions may help someone get started or provide some ideas around how to get some lift off in your local area.
Here’s what they said:
We’re all communicating more…
Online interaction over Facebook has been a big contributing factor to the growing scene on a local & national scale. The level of dialogue on the UK Dice Masters Players page has seen a marked increase in the last 12 months and there are more events from WIN being shared for all to see than ever before.
The page is proving to be very open & accepting when new players arrive & post. There has been advice, trading & general discussion posts going on to help the newer players out (and some of the older players too!). The circle of regular posters are quick to respond and give a ‘like’ or comment for the newer player.
T.J. , regular player from Settlers in Hamilton, said on the subject…
“Online has been important in growing the UK Dice Masters community. For me the first port of call is Facebook, initially to Dice Masters Unlimited and then to UK Dice Masters Players. It has been good making contact with players you’ve seen on the leader boards and who some of our play group met when they journeyed down to the UK Nationals in June. The Reserve Pool and Double Burst podcasts have also been good listens and I have to agree with them that the Dice Masters community as a whole is remarkably positive and respectful to each other online. Settlers have also set up a Hamilton Dice Masters FB group and keep their store page updated regularly with events. Recently I’ve been dabbling with Google Hangouts as a way to play games and the FB group Dice Masters Online has been a good way to set up games and is currently organising weekly tournament match ups.”
Online interaction is also helping out the budding entrepreneurs & tournament organisers in our community. Adam Etheridge, owner of the Riddler Games Webstore and frequent event volunteer in the South Coast of the UK shared his thoughts:
“Facebook is a key media for helping me spread the word of upcoming products (using groups and my own Shop page) and arranging events.
Since I have started pushing my company (at the time of War of Light), I have made many sales and had repeat business, which is encouraging me to stay open as a web based shop, as well as knowing that there are a lot of players who take this game seriously and want to get together to play.
Being a part of both the ‘UK Dice Masters Players’ and also ‘Dice Masters Unlimited’ on Facebook, I often check there for rulings and see how helpful people are when it comes to ruling explanation. I have to say the community as a whole seem to be welcoming to every new player offering them advice and support without any hassle.”
So -good online interaction is a must and it seems that Facebook is the way to go: it keeps us well informed on events & generates stronger attendance, it’s an inviting place to go for advice, it helps you access conversation & ideas from a wider community outside of your own FLGS, and its helping stores & retail entrepreneurs reach out to the player base.
There’s good times to be had at the FLGS…
There’s definitely evidence of a great sense of “community” at the Friendly Local Gaming Stores that heavily support the game. The more long standing players of the game are proving to be exceptional ambassadors who promote Dice Masters in a warm & welcoming way. These stores are driving more interest and responding positively to the needs of their players.
To begin with, let’s look at the store’s themselves.
Jake Scott, Dice Master Volunteer at Patriot Games in Sheffield had this to say:
“I think it’s because of the atmosphere that brings people back. You come in to a nice, quaint shop with lovely people greeting you. A lot of the guys who play at Patriot went to the Nationals and hit top 16. But it’s the willingness of the other players, helping newer players learn and build and test and just have fun in a pleasant environment. I’ve seen people come in, not have a clue about the game and when they learn, they get excited. And I love seeing that, the excitement that a game has changed due to the Dice roll, where someone new comes in against a regular player and bests them. Because everyone learns something, whether it’s technique, tactics or to be humble. There’s always more to learn.”
I asked Ben Said Scott, UK National Champion 2016, for some of his thoughts and he echoed these reasons…
“Getting store support is the vital next step in growing the scene. It is one area that I really feel the UK needs to improve on, but its getting better. Getting store support gives you access to the Wizkids Info Network which is a really great tool for finding stores and events, as well as giving you access to all those fancy promo cards and registration for the Organized Play events. This makes your group that much more visible, and gives you something to attract new players. Those stores will have their own Facebook groups and website with which you can promote your meet up. Again the important thing with this is to make sure you keep going. Keep supporting the store and the store will keep supporting the game.”
Ben also made a great point about the Tournament Organisers at one of his favourite FLGS and how they contribute to his Dice Masters experience…
“The place I’ve been going to the longest and have had the best experience at is in Cambridge, Inner Sanctum Games. Even though it takes us over an hour to get to I love driving up to the store and getting involved. Inner Sanctum has been an incredibly successful store for Dice Masters and that is down to a passionate Tournament Organiser. The hardest thing in getting any event up and running is organizing. For DiceMasters to become even more successful in the UK we need more people in more stores being interested enough in the game to be willing to get players into seats. The game is good enough to attract players we just need more events and more publicity.”
It can be challenging, as Adam Etheridge pointed out to me in his correspondence:
“I currently support stores in the Brighton and Eastbourne area, setting up tournaments and running events. As well as other games, which are already established, I push Dice Masters and recently ran my first Rainbow draft. It wasn’t a big turnout, but it’s still fairly new in Eastbourne and it led to people coming over and asking what we were playing, and a lot of general interest while the games were happening. Some of the people said it was ‘Very much like Quarriors’ which, I then explained, is the child of that game. The store I was helping on the day made quite a few sales of starter decks after seeing how it worked. So interest was definitely there on the day.
Speaking to a few players at a session I was running, I can see why maybe its not a game for everyone. I did have a few comments saying it was a great game, but very messy. This may be why the uptake hasn’t been met as well as other games, it also seems a lot of people are scared of change.”
We can therefore conclude that all the great efforts by the TO’s and Store Managers at our FLGS’, as well as the dedicated support & hard work from our passionate volunteers, are immeasurably helping grow our UK base, and, with a little patience & tenacity through the low event numbers now and again, will continue to grow it more.
We’ve also got to take a moment to talk about the aforementioned regular, more long-standing player base at the stores too, who, as mentioned earlier, are serving as great ambassadors for the game. Broadly, everyone has nothing but positive things to say about the more ‘time-served’ members of the community.
From my own observations: there is a guy down at Element Games called Simon who is a big part of making the game so attractive to newer players and has directly contributed to growing the game there. His joy of playing the game is so infectious and he takes the time to talk to curious passers-by about the game and why he enjoys it so much. He gives great advice about the starter sets and regularly passes along his excess commons & dice to give newer players a leg up as they get going. He runs demos and lends out teams for people to get a feel for the game. He is a credit to the community at Element Games.
Giving people a good start with the game has been important to growing the UK Dice Masters scene. Jake shared some interesting thoughts on this subject with me…
“In the early day I became the negative play experience. I brought ridiculous teams that were winning consistently with the odd loss to bad rolls.
But then we had the first Draft Weekend and this is kind of what set off our player Base. We went from having 4 people to having 10 people in a room, drafting away, 3 supers were pulled and one of them being a full art Black Lantern Batman, we all had fun, we all got promos and we all had a good time. After that, people came back, month after month, ready to play some fun games. I realised I didn’t need to play derp teams, I could have fun and play with other mechanics and characters and so could everyone else. There were no serious/Derp teams in sight. We were all bringing whatever we had, wanted or were working on and having great fun while we were at it. We went from 4 people consistent, to having 6-8 and even pushing double digits.
So now, I’ve relaxed and let sets pass, picking up the odd gem , and started bringing silly teams rather than building & playing the high tier tournament winning teams. I build teams on the day of play and try not to build the those nasty teams. I build things that just mess around as much as possible. It went from me, Justin, Kieran and Sarah Briggs to 6-12 of us every month. And our popularity keeps increasing.”
Jake’s point has often been talked about in the wider community: that it’s important not to scare new players away by making the team’s you play too intimidating.
When Ben shared his thoughts he talked about getting out there on the scene for the very first time and he mentioned something to think about:
“Don’t just go once and give up because it wasn’t too your liking. Say to the people there what you don’t like about the group. If it’s too serious suggest a casual format, all commons, or just themes, there are lots of options. Be pro-active.”
The scene has grown & will continue to grow if we keep doing what we are doing. Our player base is awesome, and it can only keep the high rate of growth going in the UK as it has done over the last 12 months.
Variety is the spice of life…
Speaking of Casual Formats: many FLGS’ and Player Groups have recognised the opportunity for variety and set up interesting “House Rules” for certain events or incentivise interesting team builds to keep things engaging for long term players and to make it accessible for new players.
T.J. told me a bit about the diverse event types they play at Settlers, which he says has been “…fundamental to maintaining the Dice Masters player base in the West of Scotland
Shazz, who runs Settlers, believes that variety is key and so each month sees a rotation of events. With two drafts, interspersed with a “bring your best” night, a different monthly theme night and when it’s a longer month “Fractured Universe”. This is a format the Sven came up with where a gem is drawn from a bag for each of the three rounds. The gem’s colour determines what special rules are in play. My favourite is “System Malfunction” where you have discard one dice immediately after drawing your four dice and all super rare cards are considered blank.”
I have experienced this too. A number of local stores I have played in have held an assortment of casual events such as “Marvel vs DC” , “Little Cup”/”Middle Cup”, Single Affiliation, and, of course, the Rainbow Draft.
Running events of this nature has proven especially attractive for new players in my most local FLGS, Element Games. Rainbow Drafting has particularly contributed to the growth of the player base there – it mitigates the early challenges of not owning premium cards, helps build your collection, and helps you develop your team building skills.
The National Competitive Scene is Getting Better Support…
The 15/16 Nationals, held at the UK Games Expo, and the press release from Esdevium around Christmas time announcing a 16/17 competitive season lined up with the rest of the world, were two watershed moments for the UK scene, with an awesome culmination widely anticipated by the community at the 16/17 Nationals.
In the first instance: an event diary more in line with the Worldwide schedule has created a better sense of connection to a wider community. To this day the highest rated and most read posts on this very blog are the articles reporting on the UK Nationals event. The international conversation is stronger and more interest has been taken in our scene – for example, Ben’s UK Nationals winning “Big Ben Bard” team has become one of the meta cornerstones of the worldwide competitive circuit.
In the second instance: there’s more info out there for a casual player looking to become more competitive, or at least join the bigger Nationwide conversation, to find. For example: for the first time (to my knowledge) the UK Regionals locations are featured on the Wizkids Event System information, and this year we’ve been included in the Rainbow Draft Weekend 2 events.
Alec Thorne, the Organised Play Co-Ordinator at Esdevium Games, expressed to me their commitment to ensuring their support of Organised Competitive Play continues to grow as the community grows:
“Esdevium and WizKids are very keen to support Dice Masters from Store, to Regional, to National level and beyond! Organised Play is becoming more and more a focus within Esdevium as we love seeing players invested in a game and in the community it spawns. Dice Masters has got a really fantastic and ever growing community behind it and we’re keen to support them in whichever way we can. Although I only got a brief look in on the proceedings at Nationals, I’ve heard nothing but great feedback from the event and I’m very excited to see what the 16/17 season has in store…”
What does this mean? Well – it simply helps build the momentum for the growing scene, as success breeds more success, and is especially powerful when recruiting new players into local scenes who are interested in such things as OP Promo cards & prizes, or prefer a more “serious” level of play standard larger events would offer.
I hope anyone out there building a scene finds our little blog post useful. If you’ve not done so already – get on Facebook and fire a post out for elaboration: you’ll find a wealth of people ready to offer advice and help out.
A big shout out to the following stores who’s players have contributed to this post:
- Element Games , Stockport
- Fanboy 3 , Manchester
- GTG Hobbies , Stoke-on-Trent
- Patriot Games , Sheffield
- Inner Sanctum Games , Cambridge
- Fantasy & Comic Emporium , Eastbourne
- KD Games , Shoreham-on-Sea
- Riddler Games , Brighton
- Settlers Games , Hamilton
Go and visit them if you’re nearby and make some enquiries about their Dice Masters scene.
Keep rolling – see you at the WKOs. 🙂