The Journey of a Journeyman League, or Growing through Slow-Gro

By Mike Corkhill:

Well met fellow EO’s! This Article is tardy by a few weeks, but it is here nonetheless. The one event that you can run for a growing community that will generate a lot of excitement is a Journeyman League, aka Slow-Gro League, Escalation League, or what have you. Understand that you’ve actually signed up for Herding Cats 101. Hopefully, I can give you some tips and tricks to help you run a smooth League that everyone participates in and enjoys.

A fellow Party Foul writer Shawn Lazaros is working on a really nice breakdown for starting factions, and initial battleboxes here:

Before the League

I’ve said it before, but here it is: know your audience. Talk to them and figure out what kind of league they’d want to take part in. While the Journeyman format has things already laid out for you, you may find that you have more experienced players with established collections. Whichever is the case, you can tweak the JML format to match what you need.
Six weeks is the standard League season. So you can start off with that skeleton, starting at 0 Points, and increasing by 15 every week. The longer you make the season the more that League fatigue will set in. Eight weeks can still be managed, but nine weeks or more and the drop in players will be severe.
You will also need to determine if you are doing a painting prize other than the little patch as well as the Sportsmanship award. You need to figure out how they will be decided, what the criteria will be, and the deadlines for them.
In setting up a league, you already have a bunch of ideas, and maybe some other tweaks you want to put into the league. Follow the KISS principle. IF you cannot explain it to a non-player in under 5 minutes, you may be overcomplicating things. Keep It Stupid Simple.
As usual work with your Friendly Local Game Store to get the kit in so you have some swag, buy-ins, and scheduling is taken care of.

Now for the Cat Herding

Signing up for the league can be done several ways. You can have the FLGS Keep a sign-up sheet at the register, you can have the players sign up with you directly, or (my favorite) create a google form and take care of signups electronically. Whichever one you choose be consistent. Leagues are for getting people together to play, this is a perfect time to reward players for coming out to your normally scheduled game nights as well. As leagues are set up on points, you can offer an extra point for those who played league games at the FLGS during Game Night.
The next obstacle for these cats is getting match results. You can make a drop off box and match slips that you get every game night. You can have the players private message or email you results, or you can create a google form. The benefit I’ve found with the google form is that you can export it into a spreadsheet and can keep track automatically and bypass a lot of paperwork.
Another part of the cat herding is getting them to play games. This part should be the easiest but inevitably you’ll have a few dodgers that like to talk about the game but never show up. Don’t worry too much about them. The biggest thing you can do is to show up and be available for games. If your players know you’ll be there on game night and they can get games in they’ll show up.

After the League

So you’ve gone through your weeks of league play. That’s it its over…right..? It can be, but it won’t do anything to help your goal of retaining players, enticing new players, or promoting fun events that people want to be a part of.

Do an end of the league tournament. Nothing too competitive, but something that gets those juices flowing for the players. Something that gives them a chance to flex their newly found skills, and a little bragging rights. Humans are storytellers your job is to give your players an event to tell stories about. I’d suggest following the JML doc and going with the two scenarios, or a rumble depending on your group. Also use the event to be a time where you do the painting contest, award ceremony, and build it up to be a fun end of league cap. Your players will look back and remember the event where “Tim” got the painting for his Tron themed army, and “Bob” the nicest guy in the world got recognized for being a great sport who teared up a little bit, or “Stacy” and “Jim” who have been competing head to head all season long for the Destroyer patch end up at the final table.

Lastly, keep a Journal. Keep track of what worked, what didn’t, suggestions from your players, or useful bits on information to make your other events run smoother. Being an EO is an organic thing. You are a community organizer, and the best learn, adapt, and grow.

You got this! Sally forth, and get you some!