"The Only Way to Sustain the Community Long-Term"
When Jay Kirkman took over Moonlite Comics in 2013, the store's Magic business was lagging. The previous owner only ran one Friday Night Magic event a week and Prereleases. Turnout was light: about 8 to 16 players.
One year later, the business has turned 180 degrees. Jay runs Magic events virtually every day the store is open. Attendance for FNM averages about 30 people. Players feel the game genuinely matters.
He got to that point by not only creating spectacular events, but by building a community that welcomed new players.
We asked Jay to share his tips for reaching out to new players. Try them out this weekend at your Magic 2015 Core Set Prerelease events!
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1. Run Events Just for New Players
Our "flagship" event is our Casual Planeswalker Society. This is a three-round non–format event on Sundays, and it's the first point of entry we recommend for new players wanting to get into playing Magic here at the shop.
2. Introduce Your New Players
Ask all players at the start of an event to identify themselves when their names are called out for pairings.
Often new players will be the only ones in the room that don't know anyone else. So we want to break down that isolation as quickly as possible to help them bond with the community.
3. Look After New Players' Experiences
The more attention you give a player, the more likely it is that they'll return. Ask how they're doing, if they're having a good time, and offer help or encouragement if they seem to be struggling are vital.
More than once in between rounds I've had a new player ask me to look at their deck. If I'm too busy, I'll grab one of our regulars who I know is good at the archetype the new player is playing and introduce them.
I read from Mark Rosewater once that the average Magic player exits the game after 18-24 months. So when I look out at the sea of gamers here for our events I'm acutely aware that we have to provide an easy access point to the game for new players, as it's the only way to sustain the community long–term.