Middle-earth PBM Convention Survey Results

[NOTE: This is a re-post of an email I sent to the survey respondents for a possible Middle-earth PBM event to take place in the United States. I am adding it to the forums should any additional players be interested.]

Hi everyone,

Thank you for participating in the survey concerning a possible MEPBM Meetup (or “Convention”) in the United States sometime in the near future (ideally by the end of 2019). The survey was posted two months ago, and this felt like the right amount of time to leave the survey open before summarizing the results.

38 people replied to the survey. That tells me that there’s enough interest out there to keep this project moving forward. As one of the the primary goals of this gathering is to play an in-person fast game of MEPBM, there is going to need to be no less than 12 people who can commit to attending (not just due to a double-nation game with 12, but also there needs to be enough attendees to help cover costs, anything less than 12 is just not conceivable from a cost perspective). Ideally, we’d get 24 or 25 players (or more), which would mean one player per nation and a larger attendee base to help cover expenses.

Before I get into the results, let me indicate that I don’t have a commitment from M.E. Games Ltd. to attend or support the event…yet. The main purpose of the survey was to get the word out and determine is there was enough interest to warrant moving this to the next step. We’re there now. Ideally, we’d get attendees to pitch in to cover not only the costs of the event venue and related expenses itself, but also any travel costs and other fees for M.E Games Ltd. to run an in-person game.

I helped Peter Olotka organize a similar gathering a few years ago for the board game, Cosmic Encounter. We ended up holding the event at Fantasy Flight Games’ headquarters in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Attendance was good, considering that most people flew in, and we ran a multi-game elimination tournament and crowned someone as the World Champion Cosmic Encounter player. Peter and co-designer Bill (Eberle) gave a talk on the history of their game design experience, covering Cosmic Encounter, Dune, Borderlands, and the other great games they designed over the years. It was a blast, and I would love to have that opportunity with the MEPBM community.

Opposed to creating a large-group email thread, I am going to invite anyone who is interested in helping to plan this event (or just keep tabs on it) to join the the MEPBM Meetup group on Groups.io here:

You can choose to receive posts via individual emails, a daily digest, or disable email altogether and just visit the group site via your web browser. Feel free to share this link with anyone interested in the event.

Ok, on to the survey results:

  • Of the 38 people who responded, 36 wanted the event to be held in the USA, and 2 wanting it to be held in Europe. These results are not surprising, as the survey clearly indicated the intent was for the event to be in the USA, so respondents were self-selecting. My recommendation to the two in Europe would be to move forward with organizing a separate event (or fly over and join us in the USA for this event!). I suspect there are many people in Europe who would be interested in gathering for an MEPBM event, but my focus being in the USA was for a gathering in my own country.

  • In terms of where people live…

USA: 32
UK: 2
Canada: 1
Brazil: 1
Spain: 1
Sweden: 1

On the map image below, you can see where the distribution of the 33 (USA + Canada) respondents are based. Texas, California, Ohio, and Washington are the most represented states.

I think the results are further reinforcing my belief that it’s best to hold the event in the Central USA, likely Texas, where no one will have to travel cross-country to attend. Austin, Texas, has the biggest cluster within Texas, but as much as I love Austin as a destination (I am a former resident), Dallas and Houston have much larger airports and direct flights are more likely into those cities. It’s something we should keep discussing, but my current thought is Dallas, Houston, or Austin, Texas are the best choices, unless we hold the event before, during, or after a gaming convention, such as Origins (Columbus, OH), GenCon (Indianapolis, IN) or DragonCon (Atlanta, GA). That may be a larger draw for some of you who can do two events on one trip, especially considering that the MEPBM gathering is probably only two days long. That should provide enough time for each turn to be 45-60 minutes.

I asked about the possibility of holding the event in Houston, Texas, on November 3-5, this year, but there’s not enough time to plan an event only a month away. I had floated it as a possibility as I was going to be in Houston to speak at a conference, and I knew other MEPBM players within driving distance of Houston.

  • 80% of you would be willing to help with event expenses. NOTE: This may be a requirement to participate. Not only are we talking about the possibility of having to pay for a venue, we all need to pay for M.E. Games Ltd. to participate in some form or fashion yet to be determined. It’s also nice at events like these to arrange for catering so that people can stay on-site and not break for meals. If we are trying to get an in-person fast game of MEPBM completed, we’ll want to be efficient.

  • In terms of the amount to help contribute for event expenses, the largest percentage was $50-75, followed by a tie between $75-100 and $25-50. Having run events of various types for the past decade, we are likely talking about $75-$150…or more per attendee (if we get 25, if only 12 attendees, double that), as airfare from the UK for M.E. Games is going to be at least $1,200 (likely a bit more), not counting hotel, and any fees to run the game. Plus, there’s venue costs and possibly catering. Plus, all of your individual travel expenses to attend. The more people who can commit to attending, the lower we can get these expenses per person reduced. I’ve run events in past where there was no cost to attend, but those were events that had larger commercial sponsors paying the bills. This is a fan-based not-for-profit event, no such commercial sponsors exist. What we may try to do is get the minimum cost per player down by some individual donations. This approach allows us to accommodate different tiers of income.

  • 90% of respondents are interested in playing an in-person fast game of MEPBM. The other 10% answered “maybe”, so let’s treat that as universal interest. : )

  • All but one respondent said they could bring a laptop with them to manage submitting turns for the in-person fast game. The one person who answered no, I replied and told them they could borrow an extra laptop from me for the event.

  • A third of you wanted help coordinating roommates to help save on costs for a hotel or AirBNB, and another third answered “maybe”. We will definitely be coordinating some hotel or AirBNB sharing options for event planning.

  • In addition to the in-person fast game of MEPBM, other activities that received 50% or more interest included:

  • A presentation by M.E. Games Ltd.
  • JOverseer Training
  • Q&A Session with M.E. Games Ltd.

Slightly below 50% included an “Ask the Experts Panel” and “Lightning Talks”. I would love for these to take place, as well. The Lightning Talks would be a great way for players with specialized expertise (Artifact Hunting, Buyouts, Dragon Recruitment, Naval Strategy, etc.) to give short 5-10 minute presentations on topics they’ve learned and are willing to share with fellow players.

Thank you participating in the survey.

If you’d like to help with planning the event, or just want to keep tabs on the event planning details, please join us at our online group here:

You can choose to receive posts via individual emails, a daily digest, or disable email altogether and just visit the group site via your web browser. Feel free to share this link with anyone interested in the event.

Thank you for your interest. Let’s make this happen!!!