Monday, May 23, 2011

Event Organizing 101 - Mike West

One of the main focuses of the Emperor’s Codex will always be to encourage our community in a positive manner. So any time I feel that the blog can is some way help out the local or online community in a positive manner I will most likely pursue that action. With that in mind I will be doing a series of articles on organizing events. I feel that the event organizers end up with what is sometimes a thankless job. Also that so little light or discussion is put into the behind the scenes aspects of running events. So to kick things off we will be doing some Event Organizing 101 and we will be kicking these off with some basic Q and A (not to be confused with basic T and A) with some fellow gamers from the community that take the time to put together events.
Last time we had Event Organizing 101 – Aaron Aleong from

This time we have some Event Organizing 101 - Mike West from

Mike is a pillar of our local community and can be found often times at my LGS in Kettering Krystal Keep. He is known online as Exitus Acta Probat and his ramblings of madness, Genius, and personal war with a cat can be found on his blog. Mike has been involved in the community in several ways over the years and like so many others around you in your own area's is a wealth of useful knowledge. Mike does several events locally that always run smooth and have a fantastic turn out time and time again. 

Please give a brief background on your gaming experience and organizing events background.
 Well, my background is both extensive AND (in the greater scheme of things) trivial.
I have been gaming since I was 14.  Sucked into it with the old Pink Box 1st ed D&D, and shortly thereafter Star Fleet Battles.  I pretty much played everything I could get my hands on (until I got a car, and girls became paramount).  I found I liked painting minis, and picked up some OLD eldar figs (Rogue Trader era) when I was 16…the rest was a downhill slide into plastic crack!
Event organization became part of my life when I became involved in the MTG competitive scene, and started running Tournaments at a store in Dayton (Cathartic Dreams) that I worked 1 day a week for.
Until I took over management of a store in Kissimmee Florida, at which point I began to run RTTs(if that was what they were called back then, the memory fails with age!).

What led you to start organizing events?
 Frankly (though also a love of the hobby) money.  I ran a store, and it was one (of many) tools to encourage/guide sales.  It grew to be much more, but that’s ultimately the catalyst.

If you recall what was the first organized event you ran and how did that go?
For 40k, A Rogue Trader (style, I don’t even remember if they were called that back then) Tourney at my store…around 1998(ish?)…at least as a formal tourney.  Depends on what you define as an ‘event’…but that seems to be more the focus here, so it’s where I started.
It was fairly smooth, and everyone had fun.  I had experience from the MTG coordination, and examples from a local club, to guide my hand…but the real assistance came from organizing and issuing weapons in an Arms Room in the military.  I just handled the paperwork and people in the same fashion.

 What did you take away from running your first event?
1)      No matter how many times you say it, someone won’t get the bottom line.
2)      PREPARE PREPARE PREPARE…and then PREPARE some more!
3)  Have FUN yourself!  If you are engaged and involved with the players, they will have more fun…and you will have fewer headaches.

Can you offer any tips or advice on working with the store/venue of an event location?
 Go to them with everything…over and over again…and early.  If you don’t work there, you need to make certain everyone is on the same page.  If you have a player cap, you have to make sure they are wholly aware and don’t violate it ‘for’ you…etc…coordination is key, and making certain they are included and feel involved.  You never want to make employees think you are stepping on their toes.
Also, tap them for every resource they will grant you.  DON’T try to do everything 100% yourself (unless you are getting paid)…it will be difficult, a little expensive and ultimately tedious.  This includes, if you are lucky enough to have contact with a GW rep, tapping them for interesting support.  If not, harangue your store to do the same.  (I managed to get four of the new ‘Space Marine’ terrain statues to make Trophies out of…free…just by asking, for my last RTT).
Finally, DON’T leave a mess.  If you can’t get the players you are facilitating to clean up after themselves, you have to make certain you clean up.  It may sound minor, but leaving a store owner/team frustrated with you will ultimately make your life more difficult if you intend to revisit the TO chair.

For you personally what is the hardest part of running an event?
 Fairness…always trying to be certain I achieve a sense of fairness. 
In terrain, scenarios and pairings…from transparency, to timing and all things in between.  I go to great lengths to insure that no player feels singled out (unless they bring it upon themselves with unsportsmanlike conduct) in any way.  Rulings and pairings must be 100% transparent, with consistent answers if questioned.  Terrain needs to be consistent and fair between tables.  Scenarios should not punish types of play/army builds.
I spend a GREAT deal of time (and energy), leading up to the event, developing systems to assure I cover all those bases.  I research other people’s methods (who are striving for the same), and incorporate ideas that compliment mine, or have proven successful. I have come up with my own tools/systems as well (my scoring Spreadsheet, some scenarios I utilize etc), but always look for ways to improve them. 
But first and foremost, ensuring all players feel they got a fair shake, and their fair share of any needed attention.

For you personally what is the most rewarding part of running an event?
 People having a good time…giving me feedback to tweak my own systems…both of which, ultimately, support the hobby I love.

If you had to give a single piece of advice to someone who was interested in organizing an event for the first time what would you pass on?
 Touch base with EVERY possible resource you can to generate ideas, find tools, get assistance, advice and tools.  Just because you’ve played in them before(if you have), or helped(if you have), there is always something new SOMEONE out there has discovered.  FIND those resources, you’d be surprised where you might!
I want to thank Mike like Aaron before him for taking some time out of his busy life to share a little information with us about his experiences and behind the scenes of running a event. Mike was one of the first guys I met locally here when arriving to the area and he went out of his way to make me feel welcome and point me in the right direction. His events like I said before always are run smoothly and a great time. If you are in driving distance of Kettering here in Ohio it would be well worth your time to try and make it to the Krystal Keep to make one of his events. Most  the locals read the forums there even if they don't post so if your looking to schedule a game drop a line and intro yourself. 

The goal is to put a little more of the behind the scenes info online for our online community to have access to and inspire discussion or encourage those considering making the jump from player to organizer that the task is doable even though it can seem overbearing. If you run events  large or small and are interested in doing a Q and A please contact me Drkmorals @ Remember you might encourage the person who could be running the events you enjoy going to in the future.


  1. Nice post!
    I think these are great for the community, keep it up!

  2. Thanks Edge I have a handful more of these to still post up. =) I really like them and hope the community is enjoying them. I need to get on the ball and start working on getting in contact with a few more people though to keep it going in the long run.

    Also I am going to throw them into a quick link this weekend so they are easier to find on the site.

  3. Interesting stuff, keep them coming!


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