Starting back in June Ben and I hosted a small, weekly Bolt Action escalation league at Tyton Games in Villa Park (final results are available).  The league started strong with nine players signed up and seven of them playing games the first week. Unfortunately, we could not keep that momentum going and the league ended with only two players completing a game the final week.

So, what happened? Why did we lose steam and have only a few diehards commit to the full 10 weeks? This analysis will focus on four factors: time frame, points and hype.

Time frame – In hindsight, ten weeks was too long. The standard problem with campaigns and leagues is there is often no end-date and they simply fade away. With that in mind I wanted to ensure everyone involved knew how long the league would last and could plan accordingly. Sadly, the full ten weeks turned out to be too big a commitment for many players. Possible fix – Shorten the overall length of the league and pack more games into each session.

Points -This is a tricky one. I wanted to have an incentive to play games because that is what I need. I need a driver to motivate me to play, even something as silly as points that do not matter. There was nothing tangible on the line, no prizes, no money and I thought the points would be a fun way to keep track of games. Turns out, not everyone feels the same way. I think adding the weight of points to each game was a turn-off for some players. Even though we were not ‘playing for stakes’ that little number at the end of the spreadsheet was too must of a pressure point. Possible fix – Touch base with the play group before deciding what the stakes are.

Hype – Or rather, lack thereof. I relied too much on the Chicago Dice and Tyton Games Facebook pages to get the word out. Once the league started we did not promote the event enough. There are other channels we could have leveraged to get more people interested and showing up for games. Because we did not continuously hype the league nights it became a bit of a closed group and made it difficult for new players to join. We were always thrilled when new players wanted to join but that was not communicated. Possible fix – Continuous communication each week once the league has started with the full details.

Now let me be clear, I had a great time and overall, the league was a success. With this experience under my belt I look forward to the next event. Tyton games was, and continues to be, an incredible host and hope we were able to pay that kindness back.

So what’s next? Ben and I are discussing a number of possibilities including a tank war campaign, a Road to Victory league, a full on turn-based map campaign, mini-tournament, a thematic ‘big battle’, the list goes on. What we for sure is that Bolt Action is not going anywhere!