Insider 03-01-2016

Does this scenario sound familiar?

A new gamer comes into his friendly local game store, excited to play with his brand-new army. This army looks awesome, the gamer thinks. Suddenly a couple of old salts approach the table. Before he’s even been properly introduced to the veterans in the group, the new player is bombarded with “helpful advice.”

“Don’t take that model; this one is better.” “Yeah, we tried that before, and sorry, but this way is the right way.” “Do this instead.” “Play this list.” “You are new. Our way is right—it’s proven and tested.”

Comments like this are not helpful to the new gamer. Nothing can sap a new player’s enthusiasm for the game like comments about how his or her army is “wrong” before the paint has even dried. No one wants to be molded right out the gate to fit into the perfect little cylinder of existing tactics and strategies that are considered “good” by popular opinion. Part of picking up a new game is exploration, finding out what works and what’s enjoyable for you, not being told by others how to enjoy the game.

New players are the lifeblood of any gaming community, and WARMACHINE and HORDES are no different. While a local gaming group will always have its stable of regulars and old salts, without the introduction of new players, a community runs the risk of burnout and boredom. Variety is the spice of life, and there’s no better way to introduce variety to a local meta than by bringing a fresh face into the fold.

New players bring new ideas, new tactics, and new ways of looking at the game that the old salts may have never considered before. It is vital when introducing a gamer to the fold that his new ideas are not crushed under the weight of the “old ways.” Allowing the new player to discover the intricacies of the game is a vital part of learning how to play.

There is a flip side to all of this, however. WARMACHINE and HORDES are incredibly deep games with a wealth of army-construction options—so, constructive advice that supports a player’s initial model choices is one of the best things an old salt can do to help integrate that player into the community. It’s the difference between dictating how someone “should” play the game versus giving a new player a range of good options to choose from. One breeds contempt; the other cultivates community.

In the end, it’s about how the message is communicated. We all want to feel welcome when we first join a group of strangers. We’re tabletop gamers, so by definition we want to meet new players face-to-face and hopefully make some new friends.

So, to all of you old salts out there: next time you see a fresh face in your local store or club, and their eyes happen to wander over to a model that you personally don’t like, just remember: it’s their choice and their experience. Help them have the most fun with it. You’ll be thankful in the end when you have a new opponent to face week after week, one growing better with every game.

Just one more thing: Stay tuned for an upcoming article by our Quartermaster James Arbuthnot on how you can make WARMACHINE and HORDES playgroups welcoming to new players!