Starting a Local A&A Group and Organizing Tournaments
If you’re in a part of the world where there are very few Axis & Allies events, then you might want to consider starting your own. To help you get started, I’ve asked a few members of the Axis & Allies community to help out. Each of these folks have either started a meet up group, run tournaments locally (or nationally), or they do both.
I’ve posed these two questions:
How did you start your A&A group or tournament(s)?
What tips do you have for starting an A&A group or tournament in your area?
Here is my response to the questions, as David requested.
When I started playing A&A perhaps 4 years ago I immediately fell in love with the game. Almost as immediately I discovered that no-one else I knew had ever played it. Therefore it was clear that I either had to introduce family and friends to it, or make new friends with other lovers of the game.
I have been pretty successful in persuading family and friends to play, having taught upwards of 20 people how to play 1941. More then half of these continue to play. However, that success did not extend to them necessarily following me on to more complex variants.
Fortunately a rule question had lead me to this forum where I discovered a fellow Brit, wittmann, who was very warm and welcoming. But it was soon clear to me that there were few active UK members of the forum and no UK events.
If I wanted to play more complex variants regularly I needed to change things. I shared the idea of starting an event with wittmann, and with his encouragement held the first of our quarterly Battle of Britain events perhaps 3 years ago. I trawled this forum for UK members and messaged all of them. Some were no longer active members, others live too far away. In the end I got perhaps 3 forum members and 3 friends, plus myself to the first event.
Numbers are showing some signs of increasing, despite 2 of those friends having dropped out. We now have 5 forum members regularly attending, plus me. One of the original friends continues , with another now having joined us. So that is 8 regular participants. As I am keen to grow the event, the search for additional players continues. We currently have a new player committed to join us at the next event and four others expressing interest in doing do. Many of these were found via Board Game Geek.
I am hoping that the Battle of Britain will provide a foundation for growing an active UK A&A community.
All of which I hope explains why and how I started the Battle of Britain. Which just leaves me to draw out some tips:
- Be clear as to what you want to do and why. Seek feedback from your target audience as whether this is what they want to do too.
- Use the resources available on this forum - the member list and locations and the messaging facility. Also use other game websites where you can access information as to members that love A&A and their locations, such as Board Game Geek. Plus your own network of friends and family outside the forum. Don’t keep this wonderful game to yourself!
- Be patient. It can be frustrating when attendees change their plans at the last moment, but they (and you) have other priorities in their lives, no matter how much they love A&A!
- Lastly, be determined. It is your energy that drives the event.
I look forward to reading other’s responses, which will no doubt remind me of all the things I should have said!
I started playing Axis & Allies Classic in the mid nineties in high school. After high school it was always difficult to find people to play. I played off and on when I could recruit my brothers or friends to play with me. In 2010 I discovered that Axis & Allies Europe 1940 and Axis & Allies Pacific 1940 were to be released and playable as a single game. I knew that I had to own them. It was always difficult convincing friends to play the A&A Global. The size of the game intimidated most of them. A year later in 2011 I started posting on this forum in the Master Find Players section in search of new players. Unfortunately I had little luck finding anyone local. In 2012 I expanded my search online and discovered Greg Smorey’s (@smo63 ) group of Axis & Allies players that meet annually in Cincinnati, OH at their Spring Gathering. I drove up to play in April of 2012 and met players from Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Kentucky, and a few from Tennessee as well. One of the players, @ImperialDefence, and I agreed to partner in the new Global Tournament at GenCon. After attending two Axis & Allies conventions I was determined to expand the community and replicate in Tennessee what Greg Smorey had accomplished in Ohio & Indiana.
I considered building a website for the new Tennessee Group, but settled on Meetup.com after discovering Atlanta Axis & Allies Meetup group. Meetup.com had all of the tools I needed to start and manage a group of players. They also help direct people with similar interests to the group. While there were long term costs, Meetup offered a 6 month discounted trial period. In January 2014 I founded the Nashville Axis & Allies Meetup. I invited old Axis and Allies friends and I reached out to everyone I had met over the last two years from 2 Spring Gathering and 2 GenCon trips. I also scoured the Axisandallies.org forum player pages in addition to other websites, like boardgamegeek.com, looking for anyone I could find from Tennessee or an adjacent state.
Our first meetup was a 3 day event at Lakeside Resort in Smithville, TN. We had 18 attendees. Most of the attendees came from all over Tennessee, but we also had guys that drove in from Kentucky, Indiana, and Michigan. Many of the guys that came to this first gathering formed the core of the new Tennessee Group that still meets now. In 2015 we moved our venue to a clubhouse in Franklin, TN (20 min south of Nashville). The membership on Meetup has grown to 136 members. I host 3-4 events per year in Nashville with an average attendance of 12-15 guys. Our events are typically 2-3 day long retreats, since many attendees drive 3-5 hours to visit. Our location is ideal because the clubhouse is relatively inexpensive to rent and there are numerous hotels and restaurants nearby. I typically charge $10-20 per attendee to recoup costs for renting the clubhouse and maintaining the Meetup.com site.
In summary, if you’re interested in starting your own Axis & Allies Group:
- Scour websites and recruit a core membership base. They will help you grow it!
- Maintain an internet presence, where people can find you. Meetup.com is a powerful tool that I highly recommend. There are other Axis & Allies groups on there as well.
- Location, location, location: Find a location that works for your group. If people are comfortable they will keep coming back.
- Never stop looking for new recruits.
- Find other groups and attend their events, if possible. Networking with other groups is a great way to build your own. I continue to attend Greg Smorey’s (@smo63 ) events as well. Like David Jensen, Greg has worked hard to build up the A&A community over the years. We owe them a great debt. Also, by attending other events, you will find good competition, if that is what you’re seeking.
The Nashville Axis & Allies Meetup group is one of the most rewarding group of guys that I’ve ever been apart of. I’ve made close friends that I otherwise would never have met. I always look forward to our next event, when we get together, throw dice, and move little plastic men around a board. I hope you will join us sometime.
ThePalatineGuard last edited by
@siparo This is a great rundown. Many thanks to @siparo and Greg Smorey for their efforts. One thing to add. Due to @siparo’s efforts, we now have a small group that regularly coordinates informal games and regularly and board game discussions. This makes GenCon, Spring Gathering, Battle of TN and other events more fruitful.
There are certain cities and areas that have a more organized following than others. Finding live players can be difficult; training and retaining them can be a challenge if they haven’t played in a while. Bob Roby and I play in some of the national tournaments, and over time we’ve grown to have about 10 local regular members, that play twice a month.
I don’t use a social internet resource, just this website, an old-school email reply to all list, flyers, and word of mouth. Bob plays at both nationals and 4-5 local cons and highschools, churches, so hes a huge booster too. I also try to socialize with the guys that play; if AxA is a passion for you, you will find like-minded people at GENCON (and here). That is where we congregate, and where these relationships get started. GENCON has many details and mysteries that you can only learn from someone who has been–parking, food, scheduling and accommodations all require some planning. But that is my first suggestion; if you want to build local support (and personal excitement about our hobby), go national also. You’re just going to find the most enthusiastic and sportsmanlike players that way and may satisfy your own desire to play. I found 4 players at GENCON who are from the KC area, that I’d never met before. Then, they found me here, then at our local shop.
I play fairly often now, so if a game gets canceled or missed, I’m not disappointed. I also dont attend every game, just when I can.
Meet people on the Forums
Post locally–find your following
Probably one of the most difficult considerations isn’t who to play with or how to find them–its how to AVOID players who will deep-six your game. People who play wargames are nerdy, some of us have issues–still gossiping, inappropriate humor, distractions, racism, cheating, slopping, talking incessantly until its your turn, arguing about the rules, long whispering asides, 2 hour smoke break powwows…these will demoralize your club. Invite people who are genial and cooperative, be that sportsman–people who undermine these principles can’t have a long-term place in your group, or you wont have one.
Thanks again DJ and crew, for all the work here. Go AxA!