Learning From Exposure
Experiences in the Envoy Program
Just in case you all didn’t know I work with a company called Double Exposure, in their Envoy Program. Envoy’s mission statement is as follows:
As an industry, gaming struggles to succeed at a business level – great games are being produced but only reaching a small percentage of potential customers. Convention support is tricky; requests come from all sides and it takes time, energy and savvy to sort out which conventions to support and how. Conventions are so busy with the business of producing their shows that finding competent game masters is hit or miss. The same is true for game stores, many of which devote most of their time to running the business, leaving very little to schedule desperately needed promotional events.
Our goal is nothing short of unification of the fractured pieces of the national gaming industry, to everyone’s benefit.
This is a very brief intro to what they do but they way I like to look at it is game publishers allowing gamers to get their games and play them in order to promote them. Many publishers work with the Envoy program including Stronghold Games, Bezier Games, R&R Games, and many more. I have been with them for almost a year now and I have met a lot of great people in the program. Recently, I choose to demo Rome: City of Marble, a game where players control some of the most powerful families in Rome leading the people to construct numerous large city structures and prestige while doing so. It was a great game but it also allowed me to meet someone in particular that I want to talk about today.
First a bit of background on how the Envoy process works. Usually, I will request a game from Envoy and they will send it to me. Once I receive the game I am obligated to do a certain amount of appearances of the game to fulfill the requirements of getting the game for free. Recently, Envoy introduced a new kind do opportunity for obtaining new games. They offer you the game and you have to do a pre-scheduled 5 hour demo of the game. These are called Store Splash Events. The reason being that they have 50+ stores all over the US doing these events at the same time. It is a unique opportunity to get a game for less appearances. it is a little hard sometimes since everything has to happen in a very specific sequence and everyone needs to be certified by a Envoy Certifier to show they can know the game and can answer questions bout it.
Rome: City of Marble was similar however they also wanted us to certify with the Dan DiLorenzo, a sales manager at R&R games. Dan wanted the demo done a very specific way and it was a bit startling at first as a company rep had never wanted to do this before. However in the end the reason why Dan wanted the Splash done a very specific way made a lot of sense.
For one thing he wanted to make sure R&R was getting their money’s worth. It takes a lot of money for game production companies to put on an event the size of a Store Splash. Our job as Heralds is not only to teach people the games but also to help these company’s products get face time with the people. Each time someone walks into a store or an event area we need to be making sure they know about the game. So making sure we are educated on the game, not just its rules but also it’s selling points, is very important to those companies.
Another thing Dan wanted us to understand was the significance of the history used in the game. The game is very historically accurate. Using starting hill tiles named after some of the most powerful families in Rome, utilizing water sources and aqueducts to gain more victory when played correctly because water was a rare resource in Rome, reflecting the bustling political scene around Rome by using magistrates and influence to determine who controls buildings, and using writs of imperium to get extra actions and end game victory. It felt very thematic and made the game a lot more interesting as it was not just another tile laying Carcassonne clone.
Lastly, part of me believes he wanted to share his knowledge. I actually learned a lot about demoing games from my 25 min interaction with Dan. It was an experience that I will always look back on as being very helpful and developing my skills as a teacher of games and in life. I am happy to say a lot of his tips were very useful for that demo. One such tip was, do not explain a mechanic half way then say you will come back to it later. There is a reason you felt you needed to explain it now so don’t give people a future event to wait for to distracted them from learning then game. Let them focus on you, not confusing future rules.
Every time I demo a game for Envoy I feel like I learn a little more about myself as a gamer as well as learning about the community as a whole. It is a great experience coming together to learn a new game and seeing peoples reaction to the events that transpire. I am proud to have been able to talk to Dan and learn from him. If you are interested in having some great board gaming experiences, I highly suggest you check out the Envoy program and apply to be a Herald. I’ll see you next time, have fun!