Thinking Out Loud About Game Club 2014-2015

I met with my buddy and colleague Ben yesterday.  Ben helps me out as co-sponsor of Game Club at my school.  We met today to not only hang out and so I could see his new house, but also to chat a bit about what we want to do for Game Club next year.

Here are our top goals for emphasizing games, purchases, and how to maintain our sanity at Club:

1) One of the big things we’ve noticed over the last few years is the “dead” time that tends to happen at the end of Game Club.  The “normal” time for Game Club is 3:30 to 7.  By 7 PM most kids have cleared out and only the truly (and very few) die hard fans remain.  This also usually means that Ben and I are there watching over just a couple of kids.  This year, our new plan is to end Club at 6 PM to really maximize the quality time of Club.  This may be disappointing to some of the die hards, but there is no point in extending Club for only a couple people when Ben and I have homes that we need to get to as well.

2) The theme of last year for Club support was Xbox 360.  We purchased a used and a brand new Xbox 360 and controllers.  We feel pretty set on Club support of video games for this year and don’t have any plans to do anything financially for this part other than continuing to support tournaments.

3) We are also pretty well set on Magic: The Gathering support for the coming year. We will continue to support tournaments.  The big announcement that I am excited to share with school students is that, this summer, a former Game Club member donated a huge chunk of his Magic collection to Club.  This will be a great opportunity to remove the financial barrier of a collectible game and encourage players to build decks from our new Club stash of cards.

4) Both Role-playing and Battletech ended the Club year with huge interest from over a dozen individuals.  That means that we will focus on supporting these two games financially next year.  Role-playing is easy: I will be purchasing a copy of DND 5E when it releases in August and building characters with anyone who is interested.  We will run a DND 5E game throughout the year.  For Battletech, I will probably purchase the newest reprint of the 25th anniversary edition box set.  I will paint and use the newer high quality miniatures for games in Club and use the older miniatures from Club’s prior box set as prize support for games.

5) Ben is not “as big” of a gamer as I am so one of my long term goals has always been to encourage him to find a game to have some ownership over with himself and the kids.  Last year it was Betrayal at House on the Hill, and the tentative plan is to continue to encourage students to write new scenarios for this great game.

Ben had a blast playing Heroscape with a group of kids two years ago and he inquired about the possibility of getting some Heroscape stuff or an equivalent game.  Heroscape is now out of print, but he suggested that we find another game at about the same difficulty level as Heroscape that he could do with the kids.  We don’t want it to be too collectible, as that means higher cost.  Warhammer is too advanced for what we are looking for.  Battletech, while not as advanced as Warhammer, is still too advanced.  I thought about Battletech: Alpha Strike, but then that would have two Battletech games at club and we want variety.  We are staying away from collectible miniatures games like Heroclix or the X-wing Miniatures Game, largely due to cost.

I started my research in seeing how easy it would be to simply obtain a copy of the Heroscape Master Sets.  That is cost prohibitive.  However, then I stumbled upon Battlelore, 2nd Edition by Fantasy Flight Games.  This intrigued me and in continuing my research I noted that Battlelore is an update of BattleMasters, which I owned as a kid.  You have simple constructible armies from a limited set, scenarios that can be built, and each unit has special abilities that can be triggered.  It is very similar to Heroscape.

Battlelore has a base game which is self contained (yay) and will probably release expansions.  This means we can effectively try it out and then think about possible expansions.  The board is hex based and has a lot of tiles so it could easily be used as DND terrain or even Battletech terrain as well, in weeks in which we weren’t actually using the game pieces for Battlelore games.  I can imagine kids designing expansions in a design “contest” of a sort.

Gen Con 2013 Battlelore Game Demo

So, I feel like we have Ben’s big “project” for the next year or two nailed down!  We’ll continue to think about Game Club as the school year approaches and go from there.  I hope you enjoyed this glimpse into the inner workings of encouraging students to play games in a school setting!

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