[Sticky] Comrades in Arms' advice on how to plan a successful event.
Comrades in Arms' advice - "How To Run a WW2 Event"
This comes up rather regularly, so here's our "How To" guide to putting on an event.
1: Do not consider running an event on your own. Ideally, you need around 4-6 people to do it successfully. The demands on your time of trying to manage 40-60 players on the day is too much for one person. You will need organisers on both sides of the battle. Do not rely on site owners to help much, unless you are very lucky they are often too busy to get involved.
2: Find a willing site. Preferably one that you've all played at before.
3: Convince the site owner to let you run an event there. Agree on numbers, costs and a date. Some will want a guaranteed total amount as a fee, others will just want a guaranteed number of players at a set fee. Make sure your agreement includes the site's liability insurance, marshals (if you need them) and food etc.
4: Most players will have to travel, can they camp overnight on-site or nearby? Sometimes players can also group-book local Travelodge rooms.
5: Take a good look at the site. CiA normally do 2-3 site visits with at least two of us to get a feel for it. The terrain should give you an idea of what you can do, or as I often put it, 'See the game'. Some sites are really hard to see the game, for example, the site for Operation Husky - it was a superb site, large, with lots of exciting terrain, but working out just what would fit best took some effort. Some sites like the one we used for The Battle for Bryansk just screamed Eastern Front as soon as we entered the gate. It's obvious, but fitting the site to the scenario is a key consideration. Time of the year helps too, no point running Stalingrad in Summer.
6: Come up with a scenario. What period of the war, when, who's fighting whom and over what. This is the 'storyline' which is what gets everyone interested in coming to your event. This is the bit the players get to see. Scenarios can be fictitious, such as Operation Wotan, or based on real battles such as The Silencing of Merville. If you base it on a real battle then do some research. What were the key features of the battle? How can you work them into a game plan? At Husky we kept the two Allied forces independent, as happened in the real battle; Autumn Mist (Ardennes) was all about capturing bridges, fuel and ammo dumps. You're not necessarily looking to recreate the battle, but make it recognisable, as opposed to just a blat in the woods.
7: Write the game plan. What are the objectives? What will you need? (eg: people, props, maps, radios, pyrotechnics etc.) How do you expect the play on the day to go? You're not scripting the precise gameplay, but working out how you can ensure players will have a good day and not wander around aimlessly for 4 hours. Feel free to use CiA's standard rules for a lot of it, they work for most situations.
Writing a plan where one side is defending a fixed position all day will not be a good day out for that side. Both forces need the ability to win the day, both sides need to be kept on the go. You also need to have some contingency ideas for if it all goes differently to the plan (ie: one side has won all it's objectives in the first hour, or it rains all weekend). Also never forget KISS .....Keep It Simple Stupid.
The flavour of your game will come from this plan. Our game plans for a 24 hour event typically run to 10-15 pages, at any point in the event we all have a reference as to what should be going on. When everyone reads it anyway....
8: Never forget that people are paying their hard earned cash to attend a good event. Making sure your players enjoy themselves within the event you have planned is your only consideration. Always try to see how the event will play through the players' eyes, walking 1km to regen might seem a good idea for accuracy but would you want to do it twice?
9: Come and speak to the forum admin with the following:
Name of Event: "Operation Acme etc."
What the scenario is: Eg: British Commando raid set in 1942 against a German heavy water plant in Norway
Where it is: ABC Airsoft, Outer Hebrides - run by forum members Bob, Joe and Walt.
When it is: 1/2 April 2099
How much it costs: £45 - camping allowed etc.
The game plan is your baby, we may offer advice, if asked, but will not get involved in the event other than perhaps attending. We've been offered to help run events before. It's nice, but, to be honest, we prefer to do our own thing in our own time and would rather enjoy playing at other people's games.
10: If it doesn't clash with other's plans then you can have some forum space to promote the event and take bookings.
11: Be positive about what you are planning in your marketing. Tell people the scenario, but not the game plan blow-by-blow. Don't post "Are you interested?" but rather, "Book Now!". Lots of people will say they are interested, but often can't confirm a booking for a variety of reasons. Equally you are running the event, you write the game, don't try to get it written 'by committee' on the forum, it doesn't work that way..... ever. Don't assume that you can please all the people all the time either, what is intense and interesting for one person can be dull and boring for another, it comes with the turf of the organiser.
12: Pull off a really good event that everyone can be proud of, then do it again!
13: There is a place for SISKs (Skirmish In Silly Kit) but generally players here like something a bit more authentic. Whatever, please make clear the level of authenticity you are pitching the event at so you won't get disappointed players.
14. As organisers, you need to 100% sure your game is viable and expressed intentions to attend become reality. Cash is a good incentive. If at all possible ask for full game price upfront with a cut-off date for payments to be made. You will then know that you have enough funds for site rental and other costs, and the cut-off date will give you time to re-evaluate options for cancelling/re-marketing/moving venue etc. If you don't feel able to ask for the full price up front then consider a deposit. Make it a substantial one, otherwise, come the day, you will find players deciding not to come (if it is a slightly drizzly forecast and forfeit their £10. This not only leaves you short of £20/30/40 you need to pay the site owners, but it leaves you will diminished sides that can play havoc with your plans.
15: Finally, lots have people have put on games successfully in the WW2 genre using much the same guidelines as above. It's reasonably easy to host an event, but it's pretty difficult to pull off a good one. CiA have had duds as well as crackers in the past eight years.
16. Now the irony - you are organising a game YOU want to play but YOU can't play. Your responsibilities are to your paying guests, not your own enjoyment. Issues will crop up throughout the event - feeding, camping, injuries, booking in players, re-jigging the scenario on the fly, dealing with moaning players, dealing with broken/lost equipment. For this reason, it is the organisers that must 'command' the game, don't expect anyone else to do it - YOU know how the game should run, not anyone else.
17. Be prepared to be disappointed/annoyed/disillusioned. Despite the hours you put into preparing your event (CiA events take 100 man-hours or more to prepare) most players won't bother to say thank you. Some will say that the event was crap to your face, others will moan on the forum, others just moan to friends. Take it on the chin. Work out if anything DID go wrong and make sure it doesn't happen at the next event. Bear in mind there is no pleasing some people, others are born rude or ignorant, others are just moaners by nature. Ask yourself how many players really enjoyed the day out and whether you enjoyed organising the event and move forward and build on what you have achieved. Above all don't complain that you are being for taken for granted or that you aren't appreciated. You organised this event - no one asked you to!
Hals- und Beinbruch!
The CiA Team