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 Post subject: Local unit or national unit?
PostPosted: Tue May 21, 2013 11:26 pm 
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Hey all, I'm looking for experienced opinions on this situation. I am stuck between forming a local unit with people I know or staying unitless and looking around at national units. So far I know that if I were to create a local unit, we would get decent numbers but very few would make it to out of state events like Chaos Wars. However, I would have a team to practice with often. Whereas a national unit, I would probably not have the means to practice with them yet they would be at out of state events. Does anyone have a similar story or have any advice that they would like to share? Thank you in advanced :)


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 Post subject: Re: Local unit or national unit?
PostPosted: Wed May 22, 2013 4:10 am 
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Location: Sunrise, FL
Started Fighting: 22 Mar 2008
Realm: Dragon Coast
Favorite Fighting Styles: sword (with stabbing tip) & shield
Why not form a local branch of a national unit?

YIS,
Rufus of Dragon Coast


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 Post subject: Re: Local unit or national unit?
PostPosted: Wed May 22, 2013 9:39 am 
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Joined: Sun Sep 25, 2005 3:27 pm
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Location: Irvine, CA
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Realm: Marshal of Anduril
Unit: Wardens
Favorite Fighting Styles: Sword & Board, Extreme Taunting
Most of the fighting you are going to do is going to be local. In our area, nearly 1 event per month. Your national events that are well traveled including our own and Chaos Wars (2 per year). Most units are a group of friends as well as fighters.

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 Post subject: Re: Local unit or national unit?
PostPosted: Mon May 27, 2013 6:41 am 
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Location: NW Arkansas
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I am in the same situation as the OP. I've decided to start a realm and local unit, even though there are no events nearby. I figure the practice will do me good for when I go to Dur-Demarion events twice a year (9 hours away!). Hopefully over time my unit will grow and we'll have people to go with me to represent our unit.

-Willie

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 Post subject: Re: Local unit or national unit?
PostPosted: Tue May 28, 2013 12:37 pm 
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Location: Florida
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I guess to put it as practical as possible... all of the above.

It's a natural flow for a growing group.

I started out 8 hours from the closest event (which was the old Winter War at Rood Creek back in 05). Back in the day the only foam-fighting in Florida was 2 Amtgard parks and this is back when I had the black or white mentality in foam-combat (cross-gaming just wasn't in my plans; it should be noted, however, that cross-gaming is the reason FL battles push 3-figure attendance on a monthly basis now).

So when I first started out I tried to make a realm and a unit at the same time. It turned out to be confusing for most people, because like all new fighters, you want to compensate for your newness by fielding some devastating numbers. So the line between unit and realm tends to become hazy for upstarts. Eventually it will hurt the growth of both entities though. Realm/unit hybrids (or simply location-based units) essentially press-gang new fighters into service; this presents a "join us or don't fight" image, whether you want to or not. You'll find people that don't want to adhere to your theme or simply don't want to fight with you tend to not show up. This hurts the growth of the national organization. At the same time, if the national organization's growth is hurt, it's going to draw less people for your unit to recruit.

Over time, we separated the two after trial and error and losing some people (yes, I learned from a lot of my own mistakes).

I started a local expansion of a national unit as Sir Rufus suggested you do. There's nothing wrong with this. However, a lot of units are wary of recruiting people they don't know well (or at all). I've had fighters from CA and IL request to join Atlantis (my unit) within the past year, and in all honesty, we're not sure how to handle it. (How is this person representing us? Who can we trust to keep an eye on them? etc)

I joined the Cu Sith as FL's local officer in 2008. But the problem was, FL was just picking up (monthly day battles of ~50-80 at the time). And it was just myself and two other unit members who fought in the state at the time. So, the field tended to feel a little lonely when you're watching other units do their trials/ceremonies/warcries. Then there's the problem of autonomy, because we only saw our unit leaders 1-2 times a year at national events. We had to wait that long to recruit members. I had 4 or 5 people in recruitment purgatory who had to wait to meet the council. I don't blame them for wanting to meet the potential members - reasons stated in the paragraph above - but it made for slow growth.

So, with the state's only units being expansions of national units, we started FL's first local unit, Atlantis. Now, I'm going to get a little blabby about the unit, but I'm trying to put our growth in context. I'm not sitting here patting my back or fishing for compliments. I'm just trying to tell you how it was for us. I'm not trying to be arrogant, just honest.

We carried ourselves well, fought hard, communicated well and as a result we won quite frequently. We built a monstrous local reputation... a bandwagon started. We got big. We had 77 people request to join the unit in our first year, we only took 30 of them. You don't want to grow too fast, you'll crumble just as fast. When your unit is full of people you hardly know, it loses that tight-knit feeling and members feel alienated.

We ended up putting a few obstacles in our recruitment process as a result. A brutal summer "bootcamp" for all new members (designed by former Marines and Soldiers), 6-8 months of service where one is required to make the minimum of one event a month (there's 2-4 events a month in FL), 3 skill assessments that show the current citizens (our membership) that the individual is improving, then a voting process where they're required an 80% supermajority vote to get into the unit... We don't go with a simple majority; if only half of the unit likes someone, there's going to be drama... and drama is poisonous to a unit (or any social group really). Now, I'm not saying throw this all in right away (or at all) we did it out of necessity, not self-importance. It filtered our recruiting process quite well and showed us who really wanted to be in the unit. But you need a reputation to be able to do something like that - we currently have 14 people entering the Agoge (our "bootcamp") next month to undergo this process.

So at this point, with July's recruiting cycle complete... we'll have the existing North and Central Florida regions with their own officers and this new cycle is bringing in several South Florida recruits. So, Atlantis will be looking to become a national unit. As a self-represented democratic unit where everyone has an equal vote (the Emperor only having power of veto) this has proven difficult. We are planning to expand into GA and AL because the state's recruitment pool is drying up.

It's drying up because the vets are drying up. And we don't take new fighters. It's not fair to yank them up before they experience the culture and sample the platter so they can make an informed decision about who they want to fight with. It's also not good for the unit to have someone without proper hit calibration or someone who does not quite grasp the rules (and Atlantis fights in 3 organizations) represent the unit.

With the filters of our joining process in place, we have to expand out of state to maintain our current growth rate without watering down the quality of our membership (quality as in "character," we don't care too much about skill... that can be trained). Don't get me wrong, we're not actively trying to expand... but we're open to members in NEIGHBORING states and still in debate as to whether we want to expand to the opposite side of the country.

So as long as your realm is growing, your unit will grow. As long as your local unit grows and you DON'T want to just keep it a small handful of buddies, you'll probably want to expand nationally at some point.

Start small, build slow and steady... I hope that wall of text helps. Your mileage may vary, just don't give up. Also note, the Uruk Hai have been pretty successful as a two-region national unit. It might help to talk to Forkbeard or Sir Cairbre (aka Madog).

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Last edited by Teej on Tue May 28, 2013 12:57 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Local unit or national unit?
PostPosted: Tue May 28, 2013 12:51 pm 
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Joined: Sun Sep 25, 2005 3:27 pm
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Location: Irvine, CA
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Favorite Fighting Styles: Sword & Board, Extreme Taunting
Thanks for that post. I really think that was great advice and also informative on how things transition.

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 Post subject: Re: Local unit or national unit?
PostPosted: Tue May 28, 2013 5:41 pm 
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Thank you for your response Teej, it was well thought out and helped me.


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 Post subject: Re: Local unit or national unit?
PostPosted: Tue May 28, 2013 8:12 pm 
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Teej wrote:
With the filters of our joining process in place, we have to expand out of state to maintain our current growth rate without watering down the quality of our membership (quality as in "character," we don't care too much about skill... that can be trained). Don't get me wrong, we're not actively trying to expand... but we're open to members in NEIGHBORING states and still in debate as to whether we want to expand to the opposite side of the country.

So as long as your realm is growing, your unit will grow. As long as your local unit grows and you DON'T want to just keep it a small handful of buddies, you'll probably want to expand nationally at some point.

Start small, build slow and steady... I hope that wall of text helps. Your mileage may vary, just don't give up. Also note, the Uruk Hai have been pretty successful as a two-region national unit. It might help to talk to Forkbeard or Sir Cairbre (aka Madog).

Very interesting read, Teej, but out of curiousity; whats your plan for fighters who move? Have you run into yet?

Theoretical i.e. You get a high school kid that starts foamfighting. Joins the unit in college after a few years on the scene. Fights with Atlantis through that, but then is moving to say Big10 country for grad school. Does s/he drop unit? Encouraged to just find a (temporary) one outside Florida? Even if they were one of your officers who was seemingly "settled", but got transferred for work?

I don't know the individual dynamics of your group, but it seems like a unit may become a national group faster than sometimes anticipated.

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 Post subject: Re: Local unit or national unit?
PostPosted: Tue May 28, 2013 8:44 pm 
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Joined: Sat Dec 31, 2005 9:55 am
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Location: Florida
Started Fighting: 31 Dec 2005
Unit: Rogues of Gorewood
Favorite Fighting Styles: Spear
We actually have one who is moving and we wouldn't disenfranchise that one member because they had to move. We're very big on "you earned it, it's yours." That individual would be allowed to form a unit in the area, but they still have to go through the proper channels to become an officer.

The difficulty lies in getting their potential recruits to the Agoge, which is required of new joins now. In creating the filter, we kinda backed ourselves into that corner as well. That tabard means a lot to the people who went through the Agoge, I don't feel right putting it on someone who didn't have to do the Agoge because of distance... and we only do it once a year because it runs the unit ~$550.00 every time.

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