Lessons Learnt from the 6d6 Shootouts League

About ten weeks ago, I thought 6d6 Shootouts was a complete and well proven game that was ready for launch. Now, after an eight week league, I don’t think so. Actually that’s wrong. I still think 6d6 Shootouts is a great, well proven game but it is not the game for my target market of teenagers who play (or might play) Magic: The Gathering.

The Set-Up

The league took place at Chimera (Beeston). In the weeks running up to the start of the league I had introduced various teenagers (almost all Magic players) to the game and it had been well received. During this period of casual games it had been free to play but for the actual league, players had to pay £3 to the shop per session.

Players could either use one of the standard pre-gen characters or buy decks of cards to created their own characters. Each deck costs £3.59 (the same as a pack of Magic cards) and players realistically need three decks to make a truly competitive character.

What I’ve Learnt

1. Teenagers are Fickle and Unreliable

This may seem obvious but as someone who hasn’t hung around with teenagers since I was a teenager 20+ years ago, this was a wake-up call. Even the reliable ones are often dependent on parents and other forces outside their control.

This has a real impact on the league. With 6d6 Shootouts at it’s best with four or more players plus needing everyone to be organised and on-time to fit three games in one evening, the unreliable nature of teenagers meant the league struggled at times. In the end, the league came down to the two players who were most consistent about their attendance with everyone else some way behind.

2. The Board and Accruements Prevent Spontaneous Play

Unlike a game such as Magic: The Gathering, 6d6 Shootouts has a board plus figures and other bits & pieces needed for play. Without these, it is impossible to play so those players who had brought cards could not play except in the scheduled games.

The major problem with this is that it stops the game spreading. A player cannot introduce someone else to the game unless they can also come during league nights.

3. £3.00 + £3.59 Can Be A Lot of Money

Teenagers have a highly variable amount of money. Some are students with loans or part-time jobs and thus can easily afford to buy the cards and pay to play in the league. Others are on limited pocket-money and even £3 can be a major purchase.

This is not a major problem as long as you can make the product more desirable than what the players are currently spending their money on. However with the other issues in the game this did form a barrier to getting some people involved.

4. £60 is Too Much

A set of 6d6 Shooutouts is priced at £60. This is a fair price given the cost of making the game and the need for the shop to make at least 30% on a sale. It is also about the price of many boardgames.

However most boardgames are brought by people in their 20’s to 40’s with steady jobs. £60 is far too high for the teenage market. Given the quality of the products we can make at the moment, it is also too high for the boardgame market where £60 will get you a game with full color boards with tons of plastic bits.

5. Hour Long Games Are the Maximum

Getting any players to sit quietly whilst others take their turns is hard in any group of players. With teenagers it is almost impossible. Games for this audience need to be shorter and more dynamic. Ideally the game should be playable in a shorter length of time than the current one hour.

6. Teenagers are Dicks

Whilst there are a big difference amongst players, most teenagers will behave like a complete dick at some point. Partly it is lack of awareness about what is and what isn’t appropriate behaviour. Partly it is ranging hormones and the process of becoming adults. This is compounded by the wide range of maturity you will see in players between 13 and 19 that is often nothing to do with their physical age.

The impact of this ‘dickness’ is that a player will attack someone in the game, not because it helps them win, but because of things that happened outside the game. This irrational (from a game point of view) behaviour is not conducive to a fair, sportsmanly like, league.

What Now?

Points 2 and 4 are probably the most critical to solve. Converting 6d6 Shootouts into a cheaper game that you can carry in you back pocket and play casually is vital. A major factor in both these points is the map tiles that form the playing area. They add around £20 onto the price and make it hard to play casually.

I have an idea about how to fix this. In many ways it is a small change, in others it is massive. We will start play testing it next week and if it works, 6d6 Shootouts with undergo a major re-invention.