“The first rule of ambassador club is, never hard sell, the second rule of ambassador club is never hard sell.”
– Advice to an Ambassador –
So you have become a Spoils ambassador, you have taken up the mantel of the Micromajig revolution, succumbed to the world of Luridia and joined small but motivated band of rebels dedicated to bringing down the evil Galactic Empire… no wait, the last bit may be a little bit wrong… ahem. Joined an ever growing number of enthusiasts who love this game and want others to love it too.
Well this is my guide on how to go about ambassadoring (with out the swanky diplomatic functions). Before we begin I must stress that this is just some thoughts and views that I have developed personally, therefore to quote Barbosa this is ‘not so much rules, as guidelines’. Some of it may work for you, none of it may work for you, hell it may be a revelation from on high to some (although I am not going to be changing my name to Brian). As you may have worked our from the quirky asides I hail from the once mighty Britannia (okay okay, the United Kingdom to you lot..or Britain for our American cousins) which does mean this will heavily be influenced by our rather reserved and some would say backward culture. So with that caveat in place, lets begin.
ONE – Be inclusive
The first thing that goes without saying is that the reason we are all here is that we love ‘The Spoils’, but here is the thing, there are many different reasons why this may be the case. For some it is the art work, others the way the mechanics work, the flavor text, the way the trades function, the fact that it makes them laugh, that it is designed around combos, that there is no ‘must have (insert rarity type)’ cards, that the person with the most money doesn’t automatically win, or all of the above! So what is my point… As an ambassador it is your task to facilitate others into the game, therefore you have to accept that what draws a person may be different from what draws you.
This can seriously affect how you ‘pitch’ the game to others, by being open to the various reasons that people can be drawn to the game, and by being able to enthuse about all these elements (even if you are faking it) you create an atmosphere of inclusivity, and trust me most people want to feel included. So the lesson here is a simple one, make people feel welcome by empathizing with their ‘likes’.
TWO – Tribalism
Okay, okay it is time to face a rather ugly truth about those of us that are CCG fans, hell any fans full stop, we do rather like our gangs! We like to belong and we like to proclaim our belonging in all manner of ways! One of the drawbacks of this is the development of my group is better than your group syndrome. So why do I mention this in a guide to ambassadoring, well there are two reasons each with their unique pitfalls.
- Our gang… one of the things that can be said about the spoils community is that it is a welcoming and rather friendly bunch of people (well except for the odd one… I am looking at you Ken..okay okay I am joking!). We pride ourselves on being helpful and willing to give advice on the game so forth and so on. Well what is the problem with that I hear you cry… that is great, it is what we want! All of which is true, however from the outside looking in.. we are a bunch of a scary, in the know, talking our own jargon ‘them’. So whilst not a major issue if you are starting out in a store, once a group is established the Ambassadors role becomes one of being a bridge, to help ease the prospective new player in what will become a supportive group. This can be done by a number of tricks, but mainly it is a case of positive re-enforcement, a willingness to explain and creating an atmosphere were new players are not afraid to try things or ask questions.
- Not our gang… Let’s be honest, whilst ‘The Spoils’ is awesome, amazing, beautiful.. etc etc it is rather new(ish) to the CCG market, as such there are some much older (20 is sooo ollld!!) and very well established games out there. With there very dedicated and established players who have invested time, money and effort into their chosen addiction. Which makes them very protective of ‘their’ brand!! So here is the lesson… do not, ever ever ever insult their allegiance! When approaching these players never make the mistake of saying our game is better, it gets their backs up and it all becomes an uphill struggle. Instead say it is different, that it offers some interesting twists. You also have to sell them a tiny little lie, ‘that we are not trying to replace you love of (insert correct card game here), but give you something else to enjoy’, yes this a little white lie, yes it can be forgiven but it will help you get over the biggest barrier we face which is getting people to give it a go!
Three- Play the game.
Okay, this may seem like a very obvious thing to say, however I do have a specific meaning. When I first started I got out Demo decks and tried to cajole (read; plead, beg and bribe) people to give it a go. This was not the most successful of tactics and if you are not brimming with confidence not the easiest thing to do. So, I instigated my second tactic, which admittedly did require another person. I took all my cards and went down to casual game nights, and I played the game. We laughed.. a lot, we made groans of defeat and whoops of glory, and slowly but surely the curious edged over. People are a curious bunch and you can’t help but chuckle when playing the game, it attracts them like (insert suitable metaphor here), and that is your way in!I let them look through the cards, answered questions and then.. ‘would you like a go?’ Then once you have them playing you can extol the advantages of the game, rave about the art work and talk about the ease at which you can join in (here the Basic Box of Awesomeness is your friend, one of the best starter kits I have seen for any CCG).