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.