Warlord Games have announced a new player initiative, the Gate Builders. These are to be a group of experienced players who aim to promote Antares, not only in their geographical area but across the hobby as a whole. I was lucky to be the first of the Gate Builders, and I was asked to post my replies to a few questions about what it means to be a Gate Builder (article is also up on Warlord Site).

timbancroft_gatebuilder_720x360What are Gate Builders about?

The Gate Builder initiative is all about introducing people to Antares in such a way that they realise how much fun it is. That’s partly showing off the figures, which is easy as they tend to catch people’s eye – especially the Ghar – but it’s also about presenting the game in a way that shows how much fun it is. What helps is that the core game play is easy to pick up and keeps everyone involved at every draw of the dice.

Gate Building is also about promoting and supporting the game and other players – but proactively. What’s key, though, is that it’s about doing that in your own way. I’m a games-lover, writer and analyst, so have a rules and fiction blog and write articles and fiction for Warlord but my dystonia and chronic pain means my painting is not the best standard and long-distance travel is a real issue. So rather than drive up to Nottingham all the time, outside games I do what I can with terrain and writing – my strengths.

What makes a good builder?

Whilst enthusiasm for, and experience with, the game is important, the really key factor is a willingness to support other gamers. In many ways it’s a mentoring role in that you introduce new gamers, show them the ropes, then stand back and help from time to time in the areas you can.  That’s partly why I wrote the Antares Insights blog and the Warlord articles – they explain bits of the rules that are easily misinterpreted and help players run on their own.

Another key aspect, I think, is that Builders are people who actively promote Antares. Whilst I launched the first Antares podcast (the ‘Freeborn Shard’), and there are now others, there was a specific focus to it: a quality podcast which addressed the core of what players might want to know about playing the game.

That’s why one of the key facets is ‘going out’ and opening gates – a Builder should be willing to take an active part in the community, using their own strengths. This will certainly mean taking a participation game to another club or a show and making sure gamers have a good evening, but it’s also about adding what else you can contribute.

It sounds like it’s the encouragement that’s really key?

Absolutely. Whilst running events is wonderful, I think a Gate Builder needs to do something more, something a bit different. I think we sometimes forget that anything which smacks of being a tournament is really intimidating to new players and they need a different approach – hence the Boot Camp idea and the non-competitive days up at Warlord.

For my participation game, I created a subset of the rules much like Kar’A Nine and ran that as a really fun, multi-player game with eye-grabbing terrain. Another example is Seth Hall’s Christmas in Antares event in Fort Worth – a set of scenarios on the Christmas theme just for beginners.

Making sure things are fun and attractive is a great way to bring people in. It’s about being deliberately new-player friendly; it’s all about making sure new gamers have fun.

It also helps to have an encouraging presence on the boards and forums, too: liking and making encouraging comments really help, for example. I tend to give written praise for good quality painting, for example – some of it is awesome – and I answer a fair few rules questions to take the load off Rick, Nick and Andy. I put the more commonly asked questions into ‘The Other FAQ’ on the Warlord forums and these are later pulled into the official FAQ. Now, though, it’s great to see more and more of the questions being answered by the community and it would be good to see more Builders doing the same.

What else is involved?

Whatever you can: play to your strengths. Posting up battle reports is good as others can see your play, comments and thoughts, but these have to have photos: my problem is that taking photos with a shake is a real issue so I have to rely on others! Nonetheless, I do what I can, such as showing off the conversions I do (Fartok, Ghar Rebel support weapons and command troopers, Dando-ising Freeborn Ferals, etc).

Picking a theme for an active blog and running with it is also a great idea – with active being the key word. I’ve focused on rules and advanced tips with the Antares Insights and Warlord articles, as well as collecting Freeborn houses and also write the occasional review. There are other approaches, though: Aston Howes, for example, has recently tried to provide a beginners introduction to everything, and I’m sure we’ll see other good blogs.

There’s also room for more podcasts and Youtube videos: the Freeborn Shard tries to offer a consistent quality on gameplay with great guests, but there’s other approaches – look at the Antares Initiative’s great Noise Sector videos and podcasts, for example.

It’s all about encouraging with your strengths, really.

What sort of support do you get?

I already had a bunch of armies when I started really doing more for the game, and I’ve expanded that to include Freeborn figures (rather than proxies) and adapted it into Rebels with the rewards for writing Antares articles. Builders get demo figures and models to show off at their games and Builders also get sprues or special discounts or prize models to hand out, too. All you have to do is let Andy know what you’re doing and when.

The intention is that Andy will get in touch with clubs who have contacted him and circulate information on the availability of Builders. Then we can go out (terrain, figures and all) and show off what is, really, a great game to demo.

The intention is also to build a ‘Gate Builders’ Pack’ with rules, hints on running participation games, and unit cards for those games, as well as good introductory scenarios – again, it would be great to see new Gate Builders expanding on this.

What do you get in return?

You get a lot of new opponents, for a start! Being a Gate Builder has meant meeting a bunch of great new players who have been a wonder to play Antares with. Sure, you get personal gifts and figures and the official, ‘Gate Builder’ polo-shirt and a nice, warm Antares hoodie. What I like most, though, is being involved with the growth of a really good game and seeing players I’ve introduced to the hobby get bitten by a system that really inspires and grows – and to see those players go on and contribute to the system themselves!

It’s that mentoring attitude that’s key. And, of course, having a lot of fun.

If you’re interested in becoming a Gate Builder, drop a line to Andy Hobday at Warlord via email at antares@warlordgames.com saying who you are, your experience with gaming and Antares, what you’ve done to promote the Antares game, roughly where you game/live and why you’d make a great Gate Builder. Deadline is 15th January 2017.