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My venue, Dragon's Lair in Austin, TX, is the premier location to play Heroclix in Central Texas. We average a solid 14-18 people every week with 24+ people coming out for our Sealed events. It wasn't always like this though.
Prior to me becoming judge at the venue, we were down to myself and the judge showing up for Thursday night games. The judge wasn't interested in playing (he'd rather read comics or use his laptop), so I would most nights show up, sit around for 30 minutes, and go home with an LE. This went on for more than 6 months. As the last of the other venues in town to run Heroclix events shut down, I decided to try and start up a new scene. I began running events on Friday nights and started to send out regular emails to a large group of people announcing that Heroclix was back at Dragon's Lair. This was during the off-year for WizKids when the fate of Heroclix was in doubt.
My first week of events resulted in a no show by anyone. Yes I was frustrated by this and overreacted but soon came around to understand that it takes perserverance more than anything else to grow a venue. Slowly we brought players back to the game, built up support and the goodwill of the store, and by the time Heroclix returned we were off to the races. Attendance has been solid since then with new and old players phasing in and out of the game as it ebbs and flows. We're a good bunch with the right attitude about a game. Still it can be a challenge to be patient with players (new and old) and I continually work on that.
I think that the biggest single way that I've grown my venue is by creating an atmosphere that welcomes new players and keeps things interesting for our experienced guys. I do that by actively discouraging overly competitive (cheese) play. I do this through creating scenarios, actively listening to my players for suggestions, judging the temperature of each tournament, and flat out giving people a hard time if they are playing cheese. My good players are going to win regardless of what they play. I've had out-of-towners come in bringing the cheese, I very specifically shield my new players from them and let my experienced guys (who have all been playing from the beginning) school them. Of course, I try and tell the out-of-towners that we don't play in a hardcore competitive environment and let them adjust their style of play first but if I see a top 8 Worlds team in their build, their game schedule is set for the night.
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