|STAR FLEET BATTLES||
ART OF THE DEMO
THE ART OF THE DEMO
This document was revised on 5 June 2001.
This date is important because we are still compiling a lot of the good ideas out there, and writing down the hundred or so good tips which veteran players who have taught many how to play SFB, F&E, or other games have used for years. It is a good bet that this document will be revised and reposted several times over the next few weeks, and then further revised a few more times.
The top reason for doing a demonstration of our products is to find yourself new opponents. You can, of course:
But the #1 reason remains to find new opponents. Remember that. You want these people to be your friends. You want them riding in your car to a convention. You want them to hang around with you at Origins while waiting for your next round of the Fleet Captain's Tournament. Treat potential recruits with respect, kindness, politeness, and friendship. You can never tell which one of them is going to become your best buddy. At least one player we know actually met the lady he married while conducting a demo.
To register as a Star Fleet Ranger, you simply fill out of the Application to become a Ranger and wait to be approved. Once you are registered, you are expected to find your own places to run demos, but you may also be invited (through ADB Inc.) to hold demos in nearby stores or other venues.
Note: Some people who do demos for Star Fleet Universe products also run demos for the products of other companies. There is nothing wrong with this, but you cannot claim credit for Ranger Rewards if you ran demos for our products and the products of another company at the same time (as you could not give either product your full attention). Note that Rangers are absolutely prohibited from running demos for unauthorized "for use with SFB" products and that doing so will automatically remove you from "good standing" and will cancel all of your past, present, and future rewards and may involve other penalties as well.
WHERE TO DEMO?
You have to look for places to run demos. To earn points and rewards, you need to get the demo approved in advance and we aren't likely to approve a site which isn't going to have any gamers show up. (Hint: You can run a demo in your own kitchen for your dog and your kids, but we won't give you points for it. Similarly, there is no point in, or reward for, running a demo for a group of people who already play the game you are demonstrating, although you might do this for practice. Similarly, you could demo Star Fleet Battle Force, F&E, or Prime Directive 2nd Edition to a group of SFB players.) We do want you to run demos, however, and we expect to approve most of the requests for authorization.
The most obvious place is in a store which either has a regular gaming area or will set up a table for you in an out-of-the-way corner. If a store doesn't have a gaming area, explain the advantages of hosting a demo to the manager and suggest a place you could set up a table. The obvious target is the store where you buy your SFB materials, but you may want to offer a demo to a store that doesn't stock our products. (If enough people try to special order it, the store will stock it.)
Game conventions are a good place as well. Most have a designated open gaming or demo area; some will even announce demos in the program. You might talk to the convention officials and if they don't have a formal demo schedule, encourage them to create one for the next convention.
Game clubs are fairly rare things in 2001 (and most of them meet in stores). In the old days, there were game clubs with two or three dozen people in most towns and they met at various meeting rooms (we held sessions in the meeting rooms of the local utility companies) where many different games were played. If you know of such a club and get permission from their leadership, we will authorize a demo there.
It's not worth running a demo at some location that has never had gamers. However, some people in the past have made it work, although it takes a long time. You go into an area where people are (a lounge of a college union building) with a friend and start playing the game. You do this several times, and if people start stopping by and looking a the stuff and asking questions, you invite them to sit down and play a few minutes. If they don't have time, tell them a couple of specific times you plan to be back in the same place and perhaps they will stop by. If you do this in a non-gaming area three or four times and actually get potential recruits, you could apply to ADB Inc. to formally schedule a demo.
SUCCESS IN DEMOS
You can do a lot of things that will enhance the demo, and a few things that can make it a disaster.
Read the Ranger Rewards document and be sure you do what you need to do to collect your rewards.
To make it better, be sure you have a current Basic Set rulebook. If you have or can borrow some nicely painted miniatures, see if the store will put them into a display case for a week before the demo. Get one or two of your buddies who already play the game to show up. That way, if no one is there at the starting time, you can run through the demo with your friends; this will keep the game in public view and attract anyone else who comes by (whether or not that person planned to attend the demo or just happened to see it). Arrive early and be ready to start at the scheduled time.
To make it a disaster, use an out-of-date rulebook and shuffle through pages of downloaded errata, rulings, and try to explain the concept of "case law" and "competing judge rulings" to the recruits. Other options for Disastrous Demos include such favorites as poor personal hygiene, sloppy clothing, arguing with the manager, insulting the recruits, trying to eat while doing the demo (bonus points if eating something really messy like a burrito or a cheeseburger), forgetting to bring (or prepare) your materials, arriving late, leaving early, browbeating recruits into playing the game the way YOU want it played, and picking the same day as the regional Pokemon tournament for your demo.
Selecting a date is not just a matter of "three weeks from Saturday". You need to ask the store (or other venue) manager what else is going on. Avoid dates that clash with major national events (Superbowl Sunday is a really awful time to pick for a demo, the day the next big blockbuster movie premiers isn't a good choice either) or even significant local events (the homecoming game for the local high school, right in the middle of final exams, the day of the prom).
If doing the demo at a store, ask the manager to be sure he has a couple of copies of whichever game you are demonstrating available for sale. You do not want to bewilder recruits with too much stuff at once. Tell them what game you are going to demo, and mention that it is part of the Star Fleet Universe which includes several other games based on the same background. If anyone asks, quickly describe these other games and if someone shows an interest schedule another demo later or ask them to stay after the formal session. In the case of SFB with its huge array of expansions, avoid mentioning these right away but once you see their eyes light up mention that there will always be another expansion they can buy if they get tired of the same ships, opponents, and scenarios. The expansions should be presented as an opportunity they can consider later, not an obligation they must commit to on their first exposure to the game.
Some people who do demos like to bring a bag of munchies and two six-packs of sodas (one diet, one regular). You don't have to (it costs you money) but it does improve attendance. Don't bring drinks and munchies if the store (or other venue) policy doesn't allow it. (Some sell such things on site and don't want you giving away free stuff and hurting their sales.)
It is better to do a demo with a buddy, not just because you can pretend to be demonstrating to him if no one else shows up. Find a working partner and take turns. One demo you are the teacher (and get the points) and the next time he can teach while you assist. Your buddy can do many useful things:
Be absolutely sure to get the name of everyone who shows up for the demo, and if possible their phone numbers so you can call them later and invite them to come play a game with you in the future.
One last thing. After our demo is over, clean up your mess and check with the store (or venue) manager. Make sure he is totally happy with the way you leave things. If he has any suggestions on how to do a better job, jot them down in your notebook.
PROMOTING YOUR DEMO
To host a successful demo, you need people to show up, and the best (if not only) way to do this is to promote your demo. There are numerous ways you can do this, and you should do ALL of them as soon as it is approved.
HOW TO RUN A DEMO
There are numerous ways to run a demo for SFB, F&E, PD2, or Battle Force, but whichever way you pick, find a quiet hour and a willing friend and PRACTICE your demo. Go over your spiel so that you aren't fumbling for things to say.
You need to keep it short since visitors may not have allocated time to sit through a three-hour battle, but have a full battle available if they want to stay. One good compromise is to set up a "canned" two-turn scenario with minimal decision making by the players, then (if they want to stay) set them up at the next table to play a complete game (with the limited rules) while you start the short-course over again with new victims. (This is one advantage of bringing a buddy or two with you; they can take over the "graduates" while you start new players.)
Running a Demo of SFB is hard simply because a veteran player will have to remember what to leave out. Generally speaking, limit their first exposure to the game to a couple of ships and a couple of direct-fire weapons. You can add seeking weapons and overloads in the second game, tractors and transporters in the third, T-bombs and wild weasels a few games later, and can start to work in electronic warfare in the second session. It's almost a running joke to say "never let them see the rulebook". At least, not your personal four-inch binder with all 29 expansion modules. Stick with the Cadet Training Handbook or a Basic Set rulebook. When they ask "wow, what else can I do with this starship?" THEN you can show them the rulebook! You cannot expect to bring a recruit up to tournament level in three quick games over a four-hour period. The demo should be focused on getting them interested and to agree to buy the game and return on another date for an advanced training session.
Those who have been running unofficial SFB demos for 20 years have various methods. Some use cadet ships, some use Klingon E4s vs. Fed FFs, some use Federation CAs against Klingon D7s. You will find downloadable SSDs for these ships on the web site in the Demo Ranger section. On the web site is a file called LET'S PLAY SFB which is a handy one-page summary of the basic game mechanics. Some use this as a teaching script. Others simply use the Cadet Training Handbook as a script for their demos. One of our friends has placed handy cadet SSDs on his web site at http://reocities.com/Area51/starship/7040/cadet.html for your use.
To demo Battle Force, you need a copy of the game and can get a canned short-course on the web site. (This short-course will be available after the game actually ships in early July.)
For F&E, you will find a special short-course scenario on the web site. (This won't be available for a couple of weeks.)
We hope to be shipping Prime Directive 2nd Edition this fall and will have a demo script for it then.
Whatever game you are demonstrating, and whatever type of demo you decide to run, be prepared. Work up a hand-out for each player (some of these are on the web site) with the minimum he will need to play a couple of turns of the game. (The classic example is a Cadet SSD with an Energy Form, weapons tables, sequence of play summary, and damage chart.
It is almost a cliché to say "Let the new guy win so he will come back" but this is more complex than that. The new guy (or gal) must feel that a good time was had, something was learned, a challenge was met, and some degree of success was achieved. If you blow up his ship with great glee and do a victory dance around the gaming table, you are likely to never see this recruit again. On the other hand, if you blatantly throw the game to let him win, the recruit is likely to resent being patronized. There are a couple of ways around this. One is to have two recruits play each other, although the problem here is that one of them will probably lose. Another way to do it is to have two or three recruits, each flying his own starship, work together to destroy a monster. (We are preparing a special training scenario for this purpose.) If your recruits show a true warrior spirit, have them command the three Klingon ships while you fly the Mighty Hood (SHxxx). In that scenario, be sure to spread your fire around so you don't blow up any one of their ships.
|Copyright © 2001, Amarillo Design Bureau Inc., All Rights Reserved||
Updated 14 June 2001