Things that Game Stores do that I find are just wrong.
No Direct Support
I’ll start with this point because it is blatantly obvious when you arrive at a game store that you would like to frequent. More often than not the display cases are littered with CCG (Magic 145% of the time) and the crowd is in on some usual Wargaming GW style – as some stores even have a shrine dedicated to the Wargods that originally ruined my wargaming career in the form of a huge display case showing off Warhammer armies or my personal favorite, an entire side room dedicated to a huge selection of GW product.
Why would I chose to wargame here when I will be looked at like an outcast who doesn’t play Warhammer 40,000 (40K from here on out)? My favorite thing is when a store patron will ask me how close to 40K Bolt Action is. To this question I can draw no comparison. It is a 28mm Wargame, yes. Bolt Action is based on historical events and the units and “factions” are direct pulls from the history of WW2, albeit not entirely accurate but close representations, their stats and equipment are closely in line as well. 40K in my opinion is a mess of different Sci – Fi ideas ripped from various other sources and sold as 2nd line stolen ideas for the highest price possible. This blog isn’t designed to rip on 40K but at the same time 40K is part of the ever growing problem that exists in this divide.
Let a game store tell me that they don’t want to invest in “another wargame” or “we don’t carry random games”…I’ve got news for you, the buy in on Bolt Action would cost you half of your Age of Sigmar space. You don’t have to carry everything, just some starter armies and some plastic vehicles…for starters. I feel like with the amount of crap that litters a game store shelves it takes a conscious decision not to carry Warlord products at this point in the game. It’s been around for a while and has a proven player base.
Not the “In Crowd”
Oh man, not in the in crowd. Heaven forbid you game at a given store a whole ton or just aren’t liked due to your being a veteran in the hobby. Some game stores don’t take kindly to your presence, some will even view you as a threat to their “way of life”. How do you become part of the in crowd as an outsider?(Generally you don’t because you weren’t born there. Or at least your armies weren’t). You’ve been around the block and now their “newbies” in crowd favorites have taken to Facebook for the first time to try and boost their numbers. To their dismay, people actually responded and showed up whom might have had more experience in Bolt Action than the poor souls running it. Now this isn’t always the case and this is not a direct lack of showmanship from the game store, however, the conduct of such persons is a direct reflection of the game store (as most groups tend to claim a single game store as their turf). Pissing off said ring leader by making educated motions within a group like ,”Hey team games are a bad idea for new players”, or “Rules call – back there was wrong” will make waves. It will be followed with statements like, “This is how we do it”, and “The group has decided to do it this way”. Cool, also know this, anyone that decides to show up is part of “your group”. Out of towners should never be made to feel as such, this is just wrong. Just because I drove 2 hours to play in your group doesn’t mean that a) I will never be back , or b) I could care less about the games I am playing. I always strive to play the game correctly and in a manner that shows respect to those around me. 90% of gamedays I’ve driven to I have planned to return to within 2 months time.
When I show up to a game day, league, open play, or whatever,I don’t intent on running anything,but I do intend to be fully included in your operations and should have input welcomed, not dismantled based on simply not being part of the group. My intentions for showing up to “your” group’s game day was to play games and enrich the community by establishing solid games with players people don’t normally play against.
Not Enough Space
Run out of space on me or simply don’t allocate any space to Bolt Action and you will become my newest entry on the blacklist. Huge, huge, huge peeve is tournaments. There is no way in hell you are going to host a tournament and then say “Oh shit, we don’t have enough tables / terrain”. Umm, okay fix it. Don’t run other events that day firstly, literally have had to play flanking a 40K tournament which was horrible, or worst to boot is a magic event where a hoard of card gamers show up and start moving your wargaming bags. Terrain, okay I get that. Maybe you don’t have a ton of it. I will always offer to help any TO or store by bringing terrain to help out. If you simply didn’t plan on using the correct amount of space by misallocating it to other games, that is where the problem lies. If your store is small, okay, you can’t help that, if you chose to play small and not maximize your space, then we need to fix this. Also on game days, don’t intentionally limit tables (say we can only have 3 tables) when there is clearly room for a fourth or even fifth with some effort put in. Players not being able to participate and just sitting around is beyond a waste of resources. Squander these and you’ll lose your players.
Please FTOG run a damn sale. It does’t have to be as obvious as 10% retail all the time (however that would be nice) but at least run some sort of sale on a tournament day. If the store is well established and you’ve had solid stock in Warlord product, run an occasional one off sale, or better yet, at least follow suit with what Warlord is running sale wise. It is hard to buy stuff at retail when the online market is kicking your ass. I am way more highly motivated to buy stuff in store when the this article doesn’t apply to your game store. Most stores simply leave me with a bad taste in my mouth upon leaving. I will say this though, I make a hardened effort to buy product in every single game store that I play in, just to show that store that I do appreciate them selling Warlord products. Even if it is just retail pricing.
Bad Customer Service
This leads into another point as stated above; no sales and my wanting to purchase something at every store I play at. I do this as well to gauge that store’s level of customer care. So many times I get stuck waiting for employees to get done with their 20 minute conversations or even better, it doesn’t appear anyone is working at all…
You want me to buy stuff from you just because you exist? It doesn’t work this way and thanks to a free economy I have choices as to where I can purchase my products and will continue to do so. Show me it is hard to purchase stuff in your store and I will show you how easy it is to buy elsewhere.
This one kills me every time when going to a newer store who has hosted their first Bolt Action tournament. I completely understand that we all have to start somewhere however please start it out on the right foot. Reading the rulebook and knowing the Errata / FAQ will be a huge help. Also be very clear on list restrictions and make yourself available on social media outlets that you have posted to for players that may have questions. Make the tournament fresh and keep the atmosphere alive. Please don’t be late running your own event. Please greet players once they arrive. Please make educated rules calls. Please don’t be a 40K nutjob who part times as a Bolt Action player because you have some strange WW2 fantasies that get fulfilled rolling dice next to Swastikas (or having dice with Swastikas on them…even better). Please don’t tell me about your 40K career or your obsession with Bolt Action list creation that involves your ideas of “broken” units that fall right in line with all other units in the game that do the same exact thing.
Store policy freaking kills me. Obviously every store is different but some stores just have a horrible way of dealing with new customers by coming up with policies that are down right abrasive for business. Some key examples that make my personal list would be the inability to start a tab. If I don’t game there very often and you are going to nickle and dime me to death for drinks, I don’t want to wait in line or at your counter for five minutes just to buy a damn soda every time. Please allow me to hand you my ID and grab what I need when I freaking need it. Pair this with insane drink prices or shitty choices and you’ve got me fucked up. I’ve been to some game stores that are literally charging $1 USD for a can of soda…umm hell no.
Back everything I just said up with stores that post a “No outside food or drink” sign up and we are about to have a problem. Sure I get it if you are a restaurant or cafe as well (we’ve played at one of these) then sure, I can see why a gas station pizza could pose a problem for your overpriced sandwiches. Still though, I always bring my own drinks and have a cooler with me. This is in case you don’t have what I like or I simply don’t want to be micro-transactioned to death.
Debit and credit card minimums being set to high, I understand a $5.00 limit (which is hard to fathom with no tabs and food) but I have been to some stores that have set this number as high as $15.00, I mean holy shit! The most reasonable I have seen for the debit/credit limit is anything under $10.00 incurs a fee of .35 cents. I can live with this no problem.
Rude store owners falls into this category as well, I don’t need to define what being rude is or the experiences that I have had, needless to say I have had some store owners that I wonder about. Enough said.
The Money Grab
This mainly has to do with tournaments again. The money grab is when players show up to a tournament, play their entry fee, place high in the tournament only to win meager prizes. For instance a tournament that me and a friend went to we paid $15 USD each to play, he won and I placed 2nd. His prize was a mere $36 and mine was $23 out of some 6 to 8 players that played. This of course was store credit for shit that I didn’t need. Another perfect example was paying $50.00 for a tournament and getting no prizes for placing top half, this is insane! I call this a money grab because a store is using this to make money off of players (which isn’t fully wrong) but often times being offered nothing up in return by the store, a store that often did nothing to promote or run its own tournament. Which leads me into the next point…
I Don’t Work For Free
This one more upsets me from Wargaming organizer standpoint. Any given game store that I attempt to help out with Bolt Action events, gamedays, or anything else of the likes, places sole responsibility on me with no regard to my time and experience. Often times game stores will add their much unwanted and unwarranted input on how to run an event or not dedicate any resources to a Bolt Action event or game day. They expect me to do all of the work with no compensation to offer up whatsoever. Some game companies get it right and offer the T.O. some form of prize support but game stores have not a care in the world. They literally think they have earned themselves a free employee for the day. I generally have to bring terrain, answer emails, build scenarios, and deal with the player base to organize an event. All the game store wants to do is collect the money and offer up sub-par prize support and by sub-par I mean I have walked away from a Bolt Action tournament with some deck boxes…
Needless to say show your T.O.s some love. I don’t work for free. I guess if I was one of the game store fan boys that hung out there every day I would do anything for free but I am not one of those guys, not by the least. I have no ties to any game store and a game store has yet to show me they support the Bolt Action hobby to boot.
My last and most draining peeve. I know what Al Gore said about global warming but that doesn’t mean it has to be 105 degrees in your store (either F or C -we’d be dead). I am talking about it being hot as hell while you are trying to play. I have literally seen store owners turn off the air and for what reason still escapes me. Players end up drenched in their own sweat and it becomes hard to concentrate. Same can be said about the cold, not as common though. I have played in a store where I could see my own breath, to me this is a tad ridiculous. Please either fix your shit or at least turn it on.