Sunday, April 26, 2009

Woo! Progess!

You learn, after a while, not to get too excited about apparent progress.  But it is remarkable to see York Garrison now.  With fifteen members on our books and a handful of new attenders who haven't yet qualified for "member" status, we're making enough money regularly to be a month ahead on our rent (unheard of!).

We've had an AGM (a proper one, with elections and motions and minutes and everything...) and even (drumroll, please) a website.  Yes, you can now find us, officially, on the Internet at  And if you go along there, you'll also find the details of our first major event: Ten4Ten.

Now, we've done one Ten4Ten already, which was a great success.  The idea is that we offer ten hours of wargaming for ten pounds: that's a big chunk of wargaming.  Easily time for two big games, or three smaller ones, plus lunch.  It's also a great opportunity for a really elaborate campaign of some sort and, this time, we're doing Inquisitor.

Now, those of you who know me will know that I'm a huge Inquisitor fan (in fact, see my other blog, charting progress of the development of the new Inquisitor 2.0 rules), so the New Secrets/Old Lies campaign is dear to my heart and I hope it'll be a roaring success.  We'll see.

However, having said all that, there are still things about YGWC that worry me somewhat.  For a start, so many of our members come as part of a pair.  We've got a pair of twin brothers; a pair of friends who might as well be brothers, and a father and son.  These "dependent members" are great in one way: when one comes, the other comes - two for the price of one, as it were.  But it also means that if just one person's away, another person is also away more often than not.  So in these dependent members we can find the potential for great income loss should they fall away.

The key, therefore, is to seek a healthy mix of dependent and independent members.  And I have to admit that we're also doing pretty well on this side, too.

There are two other populations that offer great benefits and great drawbacks that must be balanced: university students and members of the Armed Forces.  Both groups tend to be excellent and regular attenders... but only for a limited period of time.  Because the end of a course or the next posting can come all-too-quickly and a good friend disappears to the other side of the world.  I'm happy to have one of each type actually on my committee at the moment (in fact, one of them has just taken over as Leader, allowing me to focus on the money side as Treasurer), but I have to keep the imminence of departure uppermost in my mind with one eye on stocking a back-up.

There are two other advantages to this type of member, though: first, they are easy to reach.  Noticeboards and newsletters are widespread in both universities and garrisons and bases.  If you can get your details into the news, you'll reliably reach a lot of people.  The other advantage is connected with their departure: they carry news of your existence far and wide and they often encounter fellow wargamers heading in your direction and push them your way... if you're a good club!  And if you can recruit enough over time, you'll enjoy the benefits of having an extended family of former members around the world, spreading the good news and expanding your numbers.

Whether York Garrison has reached the end of its journey is far from clear, and I suspect that this blog is far from over.  But for now, this is me, signing off...

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Survival of the priciest?

Well, the YGWC seems, so far, to be thriving nicely in its new home. There are some challenges still dogging my efforts, though, so I thought I share some of the problems I've faced along the way and how I have or hope to deal with them.

Committee.  It's obviously a truism to say so, but recruting volunteers for the committee will always be a pain in the backside.  Often, the volunteers are the last people you actually want to have controlling the purse strings.  And more often than not, you just can't get the volunteers to start with.  I've been lucky to have had one excellent volunteer and I don't mind saying that having just one other committee member has made the world of difference.  I intend to hassle other members to volunteer for the other jobs at the next AGM.

2.  Time.  We began in the new venue running from 6pm to 9pm.  But it quickly became apparent that this wasn't quite right.  For students and workers, making it for 6pm was just too much of a stretch and, even for homeworkers like me, getting the working partner into the house, feeding the horde and getting out of the door in time to set up for 6 was a nightmare.  We settled on 6.30pm to 9.30pm with much gratitude to the staff of Burton Stone Community Centre who arranged their shifts for our convenience.  They're great people.

3.  Money.  This was a tricky one.  I wanted the weekly cost to be low enough not to discourage potential members, but high enough to cover the expenses with enough surplus to get ourselves some insurance.  But, preferring to err on the side of cheapness, I allowed the club to grow increasingly in debt to myself, hoping that membership would pick up enough to cover the costs.  At the most recent EGM, though, the members themselves proposed an increase in fees to comfortably cover expenses, pay me back and accrue sufficient surplus to purchase insurance.  I agreed to a motion to raise fees by £1 per head until the AGM in April.  So fees are now £4 for non-members, £3 for members and £2 for committee members.

In other news, my determined new Secretary has also started something big.  After I challenged him to put his money where his mouth is, he brougth in the materials to build a Space Hulk board and we're now working out some proper rules for what I'm tentatively calling HulkHammer: a version of Warhammer 40,000 with a Space Hulk twist.

Watch this space for more!