2HG Is Our Secret Weapon

January 5, 2016 | 3 min to read

We're encouraging stores to run at least one Two-Headed Giant event for their Oath of the Gatewatch Prerelease and Launch Weekend events. Here are some tips from D20 Games owner Ben Calica, who has run more 2HG events in his store than any other retailer in the WPN.

Two-Headed Giant is our secret weapon.

It not only brings in new people to our events, but it can transform a skeptical loved one into a fan.

Who Is 2HG Good For?

The Two-Headed Giant format is like tandem sky-diving. As long as one player knows what is going on, the other can come along for the ride.

It's great for three groups: buddies, couples, and parent/kid combos. For regular players, it’s the best way to turn someone they care about on to Magic, and for retailers it can both bring in new people, and turn a regular player’s skeptics into customers.

Take the case of the mom who reluctantly came in for a 2HG event with her then 11-year-old son. She was thrilled with the one-on-one time with him. He had gotten to the "Aw, Mom" stage, but because she was sharing his beloved Magic, he was willing to hang out with her for the night.

Before long, this mom was a regular with her son, even bringing in her younger daughter. One night, to our (and her) surprise, she bravely came, sans kids, for FNM. She (finally) pulled in her husband. They became regulars at Prereleases, and purchase a weekly booster for each member of their pack.

Because of experiences like this, we've been running 2HG almost every Saturday for over three years. Here's what we've learned to make it work well:

Keep It New-Player Friendly

  • Sealed is better than constructed for a wide audience with new players so they have a chance.
  • Food/snack access is important. New players can get very turned off if they get hungry.

Establish Your Ground Rules

  • Set a tone of good language and courtesy. Spouses and parents are particularly sensitive to the tone in the store. They often have negative preconceived notions and it doesn't take much to set those in stone.
  • Keep an eye on kids who are getting too goofy. They can make it frustrating for older players.

Encourage Collaboration in Deck-Building

  • Have volunteers on hand to assist with deck construction. I often place very experienced teams next to newbies to help them out.
  • Remind people (particularly the kids) that the best decks are made by combining their pools, not just "mine and yours." We usually suggest that the players sit side-by-side when deck-building, not across from each other to help with this. (Have them take pictures of the cards they want back at the end of the night if they are splitting the cards up afterwards.)
  • Suggest that the winning team help the other team make their deck better for the next round. Improving a losing team's deck often leads to them coming back another night, rather than feeling embarrassed and out of their league.

Encourage Good Communication

Gently remind experienced players not to use their partner as a living card stand. Instead have them ask their partners each time what they would guess the right play is. New players should feel they are figuring out how to play and get to feel good about what they are learning without pressure.

Games can bog down because of lack of player-to-player communication. Remind players to ask each other if they are done with each phase and then tell the other team.

Customize Your Prize Pool

  • Have just enough prize support to keep it interesting, but not so much to let the rule sharks into the water.
  • Give a "good job for trying in your first event" set of packs for new players who go 0–3.

Remember the key to success with a new player is removing that sense of pressure to "get it right."

Frequently, the new player didn't come to play Magic. They came to share time with a person they care about, doing something the other person loves.

Get that person on board, and it will lead to more business and more loyalty from the customers you already have, not to mention the potential of new ones.

Cliché as this sound, if we run Two-Headed Giant with care, this is a version of the game where even the store owner gets to win.

By Ben Calica, owner of D20 Games in Alameda, CA.

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