Wow. Over a year without touching this. Time to blow off the dust and get in the habit of posts.
I recently traveled to a store that wanted to get things rolling on running AL games. This trip was both enjoyable and frustrating at the same time.
First, the good – The players that came (ended up with six) all seemed to really enjoy themselves and were a creative group to DM for. I found myself having to think on my feet a bit more than my usual group has me doing because I had two players that had been playing since 1st/2nd edition and know what to ask and where to look for things. After playing, they were all excited to play again and seemed a little disappointed that I was only there to get things started, not to be their actual DM (It’s an hour drive. Sorry, not going to happen on a weekly basis – That’s a gas cost I can’t just add in). The players all interacted with each other well and, while they did get a bit goofy at times, generally stayed on track and moved the story along well.
The not so good – The players all came unprepared, including the guy that will be their regular DM. Like, no dice, no pencils, no idea what AL was, even though I had passed along all of the information ahead of time. For two of them, it’s completely forgivable. They had come to play Magic (there was an EDH group going at the same time) and then jumped over to our table when they saw what we were playing. The store owner was also not so prepared. I understand that store owners have a lot to take care of, but if they are truly interested in trying to get AL games going, I would hope that the store organizer and/or the DM would take the time to familiarize themselves with the materials available so that they can ask more specific questions, rather than only asking me things that they could have very easily found out on their own from the documentation.
The bad – I left the store feeling hopeful for their group, but I have a feeling that AL isn’t going to work for them. One player was asking about using homebrew classes/races, which I had to explain was not something that would be AL legal. Another player spoke right over the designated DM saying that he would run the games, but that they would be 3.5e and not as “detailed” as what I was running for them. The store owner e-mailed me the next day asking my opinion on how things went, and I explained to him what the next steps would need to be. I’m hopeful that he is able to get the information organized with the DM and get things running in the right direction, but it also wouldn’t surprise me if they end up going a completely casual route. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it does make my trip over a bit of a wasted effort.
This will certainly be an experience that I can learn from as an LC, pushing me to be sure that the stores are more aware of the expectations that I will have before I make a trip over. Trusting that the store will take a look at the information ahead of time was clearly not the best move in this case, so that will be something I will be sure to verify with them ahead of time.