A guest editorial by OverwatchCNC.
Starting a new edition of a game is tough. There can be multiple hurdles to the game being successfully launched in your gaming group our flgs. Using a league designed around learning the new rules and rewarding knowledge of the new rules set rather than just rewarding those who curb stomped their opponents the best will be a key part in assuring the success of a new ruleset, especially a GW ruleset!
I know I am one of the main proponents of the idea that the point of a game is to win and therefore winning a game is always the primary goal of each player whether they admit it or not. So then how can I make these claims about switching from 5th Ed to 6th Ed? Simple, if you don’t know the rules you can claim neither victory nor suffer a defeat in a game because you haven’t actually played the game. You played some version of the game where you or your opponent cheated, or didn’t use a rule or phase etc correctly and therefore the game was not THE game at all but a bastardized version of it. What good does that do you? None, so you need to learn the rules in a setting where the purpose is to learn the rules. So you make the goal, and prizes, subject to knowledge of the rules not win/loss records. I will post my full rules and guidelines for my 40k 6th edition learning league on Capture and Control but I am also going to list the fundamental aspects here. Feel free to borrow, steal, or adapt anything here for your own purposes.
First and foremost you have to establish that the league is about learning the rules, so title it accordingly. Some examples: “6th Edition Learning League” or “the Learning League”. It establishes very easily what the focus of the league will be, learning.
The second thing you’ll have to do is to support the idea that the leagues’ ultimate goal is to learn the rules of the new edition. Create prizes and awards for the league based upon being a “rules master” rather than a “war master”. Again this can be done simply by creating new inventive prizes and ideas. Create a rules quiz, and administer it on your game clubs game night, then encourage the players to discuss the quiz results and implement anything they learned from the quiz in that evenings games.
The third most important, but the most important from a gameplay perspective, is the “USE THE RULE BOOK STUPID!” rule. This rule has been implemented on and off at our flgs in a non official manner for years now. Every now and then our TO and LO (league organizer) finds that people will sit around and either 1. Argue incessantly about a rule or 2. Just come to him immediately when something comes up. You know what they never did in those cases? OPENED THE RULE BOOK! Encouraging players to open the rule book (FAQs also of course) and figure it out for themselves is going to be essential in learning a new rule set and getting it to thrive.
Coupled with the above is the fourth most important aspect of a learning league. A rules guru. Yes, I did just say they need to figure things out for themselves but the rules guru has a place. Someone with years of gaming experience and gravitas among the community is needed. Because while you want the rule books open and used, you will also need someone to help mediate the arguments and insure cooler heads prevail lest the rule set be deemed a lost cause before it ever gets a chance to get off the ground. And with all the competition out there for GW these days the temptation to wander off to another gaming system is proving too great for many old GW mainstays. Even the GW fan boy inside me has had doubts lately, luckily they have been squashed by 6th but I nearly jumped ship with my moderately large Khador army and interest in Dystopian Wars.
That’s exactly why I developed this learning league for 40k 6th edition. I am liking the rule set so far and I want to do my best to make sure the ship doesn’t sink at my flgs, I love my flgs and it would quite nearly, in a literal sense, kill me to have to travel down to San Diego or to Riverside to play 40k with a well-supported and enthusiastic 40k crew. Especially when I live within 4 blocks of Game Empire Pasadena!
For more specifics on how I have designed this league take a look at the official league documents embedded in my article on this topic on Capture and Control. Enjoy!