With Wizkids cutting prize support for MechWarrior, the game will be entering a new period of its life. While a debate can rage if the guiding hand of Wizkids hurt or helped the game, the reality is that things will only get more difficult from here.
For one, the community will become more fractured. Without a central authority to give direction to the game, smaller groups will step up to move the game forward in their local region. This action in itself is not a bad thing. The difficulty which will be faced is getting the groups to move in unison. Throughout the life of MechWarrior(and any game for that matter) numerous house rules have been suggested. Since Wizkids will no longer be directing the evolution of MechWarrior's rules, these house rules will move more to the fore front of gaming. Over the next year as venues continue to run events, some of them will drift away from the Wizkids' rule set and implement varying degrees of house rules. The problem this causes is that it prevents players from moving from one group to another. What is is needed is to increase the transparency of this process. If the house rules were easily accessible to all players then the movement of players from one group to another would be easier. No one wants to go to a tournament only to find themselves getting screwed over because they didn't know about some obscure house rule. In response to this, The Army Showcase will be creating the MechWarrior house rules database. Over the next weeks, I will be working to gather house rules of all sorts and work with the authors of those house rules to get the rules accessible to all players.
Another issue facing MechWarrior is recruiting new players. To be fair Wizkids was never too exceptional at this. While they did hold a few events directed at recruiting new players, Wizkids provided little promotional material for Battlemasters. Unfortunately, without Wizkids, recruiting players is only going to increase in difficulty. That is why I'm proposing the MechWarrior community borrows a page from Games Workshop. Every GW store in the country has several small scenarios of their games which are always ready to play. When a new player enters a GW store, an employee will offer to play the small scenario with the new person. Each scenario will last at most 10 minutes and give the player a simple introduction to one of the games. It should be the goal of the MechWarrior community to create a small collection of these type of scenarios. While an event is being run at a store, someone should be designated to run these small scenarios in case other customers wish to try out MechWarrior. The Army Showcase will also be working to create some of these scenarios.
The biggest problem we will face is the lack of merchandise. When a new player asks where they can purchase pieces, how are we supposed to respond? Look on Ebay or try the clearance bin over there? Most venues are game shops looking to make money by selling product. If they cannot sell product because it does not exist, the play space for MechWarrior could easily be given over to a game they can sell. I don't have a real answer for this. Some people will make their own custom pieces, but to mass produce new pieces without Wizkids support is impractical and/or illegal.
This is a difficult time to be a MechWarrior player. While I don't think the game is dead, it sure is sick and life signs are fading. The MechWarrior community has to step up and take action to save this game. Sitting back and pretending nothing is wrong and that everything is going to continue as it has in the past is about as effective as trying to win a Mech battle by pressing the self-destruct button......