Misty Mountain Games in Madison, WI is constantly mentioned by its players as a premier D&D Encounters location. The WPN talked to Encounters DM Joe Alfano to figure out their secret!
WPN: Tell us a little bit about your store.
Joe Alfano: Misty Mountain Games is a full service game store offering 3000 square feet of game space in addition to a wide selection of card games, board games and RPGs. You can find anything from miniatures, paints, to even comic books in the retail section. In addition to the weekly events, the play space in the store hosts a number of premiere events including Magic: the Gathering tournaments and prereleases, to in-store special events like the Fight for Orcus event we ran when the Orcus figure released. Honestly, it was more a fight with Orcus.
WPN: How do you run D&D Encounters at your store?
Joe Alfano: We run two timeframes, to allow for events in multiple time slots. This gives opportunity for those that work later to get in for the second time slot, as opposed to our 6:30 event. In the store, we seem to get a staple of 4 players per table that show up every week. In either timeslot, new players are always welcomed into the group, though. All of the staple groups carry well-balanced parties, so new members joining in have open options, as there’s nothing “the party needs” in a new hero.
WPN: How do you publicize D&D Encounters for your store?
Joe Alfano: Publicity at first was through word of mouth and the posters at the store. Since getting a solid group of Encounters members, we have included social media. Postings through Facebook and Twitter to discuss upcoming seasons draw the interest of other gamer friends of the group.
WPN: What do you do to attract new players?
Joe Alfano: We have blogged about the events to advertise the seasons. There have been some special events for D&D in general, such as the Orcus event mentioned above. We also talk to people who are in the store playing their campaigns. Letting them know about the events and their usefulness as a way of testing out new game mechanics and content. That’s how I originally got started in Encounters the first season.
WPN: What do you add to the program to make it more attractive to players?
Joe Alfano: From time to time I have indulged another hobby and brought in cupcakes for the players. It was something I was doing for my home campaign, so it made sense to do. Additionally, the store has given away door prizes to players who continually come, and also made extra products and content available to us. A number of our store-specific events have been run from the extra support of the store.
WPN: How do you get new players to come back and become customers?
Joe Alfano: Store discounts and giveaways draw the players in. Targeted specific discounts (such as a percentage off Dark Sun books during a Dark Sun event) or discounts on boosters for a Gamma World event have helped drive the interest here. Further special events off the normal Encounters schedule also keep interest levels up.
WPN: What’s the most valuable thing your store does to improve Encounters?
Joe Alfano: Solid DMs and players are key. If the enthusiasm is there, it can be contagious. It’s like the Patient Zero of RPGs. Between that and the number of fun open play events, the Encounters has been a solid program.
WPN: What is the most valuable thing your store gets from Encounters?
Joe Alfano: Buzz for the current products coming out. Short of a player trolling the product website every few weeks, the Encounters program is a spotlight for the upcoming and current release products. It also gives players a chance to try out the new content and game mechanics. My introduction to the Encounters program was as a DM looking to play the psionic classes from Players Handbook 3 to see if I wanted to make that content available for my home game.
What does your store do to make Encounters the best it can be? Tell us in our WPN Forums and we might feature your store in a future article.
March of the Phantom Brigade launched February 9th, but you can join in any week of the entire D&D Encounters season. Interested in playing? Find out more about D&D Encounters on our events page, including the adventure’s backstory, its downloadable characters—and where to find a game near you!