Inside the World's Most Successful FNM
Four rounds of Swiss, one pack per match win.
Friday night at Madness Games looks pretty much like any other game store.
Except 250 people show up for it each week.
Their prize pool isn't overwhelming, their prices don't undercut the competition. What accounts for their success?
"I can't really explain why our numbers are the way they are," said owner Chris Mettler.
He then explained, with perfect clarity, exactly why their numbers are the way they are.
[We] created an atmosphere where people could play kitchen-table Magic in a store.
The world's biggest FNM wasn't always that. In 2010, Madness returned from a long event hiatus with Rise of the Eldrazi Prerelease, which drew 30 players.
At that time, the North Texas Magic scene was focused on tournament-style play, with rewards focused at the top of the standings. But despite some resistance from players, Chris made an effort to appeal to players looking for a less formal environment—including a more flat prize pool.
It was a smart move: only 6% of Magic is played in organized tournaments. Chris simply created an option that would appeal to the other 94%.
94% of Magic is played at home.
Things escalated gradually over the next five years.
"It just kept inching up. Sixty, then eighty, then ninety," he says. "[Now] it's 220 to 260."
Consistent, Positive Experiences
Our [FNM] is consistent. You know what to expect.
Keeping it relaxed helped build Madness's unequaled success. How do they maintain it?
"It doesn't make sense to us," says Chris.
"It's clean and simple," says Chris.
What "Effortless" FNM Looks Like at Madness:
Start on time: "That's the simplest, first thing."
Make routine announcements: "Do an actual player meeting."
Minimize time between rounds: "When the end of the round comes, you should already have 99% of the results processed."
Enforce your conduct policy: "I've got million-dollar-a-year CEOs driving Lamborghinis and I've got guys that ride their bikes two miles to get here. They all want the same thing. They want to be treated with respect."
Can your market support a community the size of Chris's? Most can't.
Does your store have the capacity for 250? Most don't.
But even if the scale is unique, the tactics are universal: relaxed play and consistency are powerful tools.
Put them to work in your store!