February 21, 2024

The 2024 ACDC After Action Review

Armchair Dragoons PAO, 21 January 2024

This was our 5th ACDC and 6th overall digital wargame convention.

As usual, our virtual conventions include plenty of game sessions, plus talk shows with designers & other luminaries, happy hours with our team, and seminars & panels with historians and creators.  We will always adjust the game offerings some, and they remain the focus.

ACDC Jan 2024 Banner 728x90


ORIGINAL OPORD ~ REGISTRATION ~  LIVESTREAM ARCHIVE ~ AAR


Events & Comparisons to other ACDCs

Our total event count across all of our virtual cons went 28 – 55 – 53 – 63 – 41 – 40.  We went down again, but negligibly.  We’ve clearly got some work to do for rebuilding the event count for The ACDC, but it may be that after 4-1/2 years of virtual gaming, some fatigue is setting in here.
The split this time was 28 game sessions and 12 talk shows / seminars.

Our total badge count has tracked from 62 – 108 – 92 – 123 – 89 – 73.  Again, this was another drop in attendees, but we did have a lot of new faces this time around.

One very real factor in the prep for this year’s ACDC was that Brant was tied up with some other projects in the weeks leading up to the holidays, and then was quite sick most of the holiday break, which cut into his time to recruit and promote for more involvement.  We also lost 2 of our talk show regulars to competing family plans, and that also cost us one of our stalwart GMs.

Two things are going to be imperative going forward:

  1. Starting the prep work on this much earlier, including creating the ‘shell’ for the convention in Tabletop.events in October, so we can start getting events on the schedule much earlier.  This will also include reaching out to more publishers directly to see if they’ve got folks they want to steer our way.
  2. Expanding the planning and execution team beyond “Brant”.  We need some more help.  We need at least 2 other people to pitch in and help with some pretty specific tasks: publisher outreach, and event coordination & scheduling.  We’d love to have some help with promotions, but the other 2 are a higher priority based on current needs.

Your Turn to Sound Off

We always ask our participants to fill out a short survey with feedback on the convention and we use several of the questions to able to identify trends, and benchmark against our previous performance.

“Did you have a good time?” 
This one has trended “Hell yes” from 59% – 63% – 53% – 47% – 59% – 53.6%. We’re down a little, but no “nope” votes this time, and we’ve still never had a “hell meh” vote.

acdc 2024.001

 

“What did you think of the event selections?”
The top option has trended 36% – 42% – 50% – 53% – 47% – 50%.  We’re up a bit, and overall about 93% positive, so really only 2 negative votes.  We’d love to have some greater selections, but having lost 3 long-time GMs, and having 2 others limited on the time available, curtailed our options a bit.
This time around, we did have a bunch of events that we’ve never offered before.  The  Code: ATLAS guys are still developing their game, and the Nations & Cannons RPG was a new one for us, too.
We also had a handful of events – the Kriegsspiel, both Napoleonic minis games, Take That Street, and the Robotech Reconstruction tournament – that all got whacked for not having any participants.  Maybe we need better event descriptions?  Maybe we need to scale the event times better?  But either way, there were plenty of events to choose from, and someone’s gotta take the plunge and join the games.

acdc 2024.002

 

Tabletop.events is becoming more and more of an industry standard.  There are some folks – mostly the RPG crowd – that are in love with Warhorn, but TTE is the one we’re sticking with as its Discord integration is fantastic.

As we were ready to open registration, we still had a very light event schedule, so we cut the price down to $3.50 from the usual $5.  We ended up with a much fuller event schedule than before, so in the future, we’re going to stick to our guns and leave it at $5.

 

We did ask a new question this year, wondering when folks registered.  Obviously, we need to open things up earlier for people to register as well as submitting events, but it’s interesting that we did have some people registering during the convention when it really only lasts 2-1/2 days.

acdc 2024.004


What are some specific quotes from the audience?

As always, we asked “If there’s one thing we need to make sure we sustain for next time, what is it?”

A bunch of people mentioned the seminars – almost to the point that we’re wondering if an entire weekend of seminars & talk shows would pull in the same audience! (just kidding1)

Everything was great and appreciate the work involved to coordinate such an event. I thought signup was easy, the events were great, and I had an awesome time.

Participation of developers giving talks and demos of their games.

Event announcements channel….keeping a central channel for all the events is important to know what is going on.

Keep the seminars coming. And keep them separate from each other. It was lovely not to have to worry about clashes and having to decide between two really good things.

The breadth of content. From seminars, to miniatures games, to hex-and-chit games, to RPGs. There was a really great diversity of activities on offer and I loved that aspect of it.

Teach & Plays–whether having people play or just watching the instruction–these are GOLD and what keeps me coming back. Learning rules/systems is my weakness in the hobby and these help address it. Special shout-out to Karl Kreder and Patrick’s Tactics & Tutorials!

 

We also asked “If there’s one thing we need to improve for next time, what is it?”

Maybe advertise more in advance to drum up support.

More advertising and more offerings. Don’t mind paying a bit more for your advertising.

I would suggest you have predetermined players for some of the game (maybe playtesters) & have them do playthroughs.

More social media posts, pictures for the events in tabletop.events (if possible) and on the website, so that folks can share those, attract players and people might get an idea of what to expect. Add a sort of Game Jam which starts with a seminar and runs on the side throughout the weekend, potentially with some experienced designers and graphic artists chiming in every now and then, offering feedback and advice.

I had a good experience overall. I think creating a channel like “#looking-for-players” might be helpful both for scheduled GMs as well as for people looking to create pickup games on, say, Rally-The-Troops (which I had open the whole con). Some of the events were quite long and overlap made choosing between some events hard (though this is often my problem at conventions).

Get more attendees. I know very difficult but it was sad to see such great content only being attended by 6, 7, or 8 people 12 at most for the things I watched.

 

Something that did come up in multiple comments was the idea that “I wasn’t sure how to do something

For some of the non-Discord events, it seemed like there was no clear sense of “where” to be until just a minute or two before start time. Even if there’s no link available in advance, it might help to just have a general pointer such as “this will be hosted on Ardwulf’s YouTube channel [link], the URL will be posted at the start of the event.”

Make access to youtube links easier to find.

Easier to access the discord, but I was also very last minute

asdf

All of the allude to the need for a better “user guide” to a digital convention

  • How to register, and what exactly am I registering for
  • How to get around the Discord server
  • How to move between Discord and the events I’m playing in (in/out of TTS or VASSAL or other platforms)
  • How to find & watch the seminar streams
  • How to find & watch a game stream
  • (there’s probably more we’re not thinking of right now)

Sadly, this is also something we identified as a need last year, but still managed to not accomplish it this year.  This needs to go to the top of the stack for the next ACDC.

And speaking of . . .

The 2025 ACDC will be help 17-19 January.

See you there?

 


ORIGINAL OPORD ~ REGISTRATION ~  LIVESTREAM ARCHIVE ~ AAR


Thank you for visiting The Armchair Dragoons and mounting up with the Regiment of Strategy Gaming.
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There once were Dragoons in their chairs,
Wargaming expertise beyond compares.
With passion they’d play,
Strategizing all day,
The Armchair champions, nobody dares.
In the hobby, they stand proud and tall,
Wargaming prowess, they enthrall.
In each tabletop fight,
They prove their might,
Armchair Dragoons, the best of them all!

Footnotes

  1. maybe?

Brant G

Editor-in-chief at Armchair Dragoons

View all posts by Brant G →

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