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These notes, while designed as notes for Magic the Gathering clubs, are all equally useful for any other card game club, or indeed other type of club.
I have run several magic clubs over the years I have had as a player, and , like the kind soul I am, I have decided to group all the tips, advice and warnings I could think of here, to help new organisers to run better clubs, and generally be patronized/beaten up less.
The first and foremost thing I have to say, is don’t try to be to ambitious. This covers a number of things. For a start, and this is probably the most important thing not to do, DO NOT ADVERTISE! Unless you live in some mythical place where everyone is intelligent, you will almost certainly be gatecrashed every time you want to play, by some uncultured lout. If you need to advertise, such as if there are too many players for you to deliver messages to all of them individually, then don’t give out the location. Instead ask people to come and see you. This allows you a level of control over who comes, i.e. only people who actually play.
The second way in which you should not aim too high is in tournaments. DO NOT assume that everyone will want to enter. You will need to charge an entry fee of something low like 50p, which allows you to purchase prizes. Give people a good amount of time to play each match. Also, unless you have someone else to do it, you will need to act as judge, and not enter. This avoids disputes and allows you to answer any rules questions that come up. It is important that the judge not play to avoid complaints.
Try to run a good variety of events. Don’t be afraid to spring things on people with no warning. For instance, if you normally only have 6 or 7 people turn up, but one time you get 8, try running an emperor game. This helps to improve the playing atmosphere, and encourages decks not to be mad only for one-on-one.
If you have problems with cheating or other repeated offences, as judge, don’t be afraid to hand out strong punishments. Try to avoid banning people, and always give out warnings for the first few offences. However, you may want to consider banning from entering tournaments, or suspending them from the club. Although it may seem a little harsh, you should consider suspension for any offence, HOWEVER MINOR, if it is repeated multiple times over a week or two. ALWAYS explain the reason for punishments. Remember, if you don’t then the punishment will do nothing to dissuade people from doing the same thing again.
Make sure you give new players a chance. You may want to consider special options for new players, depending on your facilities. For example, at one club I have run we were able to have a separate set of competitions for players who didn’t feel ready to enter the major ones. We also offered teaching for those interested in getting involved. If you have a large collection, you may want to consider making a couple of decks which avoid using any of the more complicated rules, and using funds from tournaments to buy the most up-to-date starter pack, which can be used to help people learn. www.wizards.com offers more advice for teaching and starting clubs.
Finally, try to remember that you can be wrong, however experienced you may be. I remember an occasion of a certain DCI judge confusing trample and rampage, and nearly banning three people before someone gave him a copy of the rules…
If you have any questions concerning this article, or any ideas for future articles, please e-mail them to me.
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