Interview with Duane Fleck of Recruits

Duane Fleck was kind enough to answer some questions I had about the Recruits Fall Convention in Lee’s Summit, MO, September 9th-11th.

Chuck Platt: How many Recruits conventions have been held?

Duane Fleck: I believe we are working on Recruits 18. Started in the Spring of 2003 as a GamesDay but since that name is taken and our mission is to introduce this hobby to new folks, Recruits was a good name for the show, and no one else was using it as far as I know. lol

CP: What are the most noteworthy events scheduled for the Fall Recruits?

DF: Ambush Alley and Osprey Publishing selected Recruits for the release of their new near future rulebook called Tomorrow’s War. Although the date was pushed back to early October, Ambush Alley will be offering a limited number of copies of these new rules at Fall Recruits as a pre-release. With this pre-release there will be several Sci-Fi miniature companies who will now be attending. A group from Northern Arkansas will also be running a large 20+’ foot long Pirate miniature game in full costumes.

CP: The primary aim of Recruits seems to be attracting new people to the hobby. What activities are used to teach new gamers?

DF: Well this is a great question. First and foremost, the purpose of Recruits is to provide new gamers of all ages a place to learn about the hobby. We try to encourage participation by making admission Free for students of all ages. In addition, our game masters are encouraged to put on their ‘A’ game, and they all realize that many of the players will not have played a miniature game before. But let me take a step back. You see Recruits is just a small part of what we offer.

Recruits is part of a school club called the Organization of Strategic Gamers (OSG). We meet weekly after school for gaming. Then once a month we offer a Saturday game night to get in those games that take longer to both set-up and play. These Saturday Night games are open to the public. Besides being a very successful gaming convention, Recruits is also the club fund raiser for the school club. Money raised at Recruits goes to build up the club wargames closet with games and miniatures for student use. We also try to help out with the costs for travelling to other shows.

The end result is an opportunity that goes beyond twice a year. Heck, students in our club can even earn a “Letter” to put on a jacket.

CP: What games have been the most popular at previous Recruits?

DF: That is hard to say, since over the years there have been so many different types of games. We try to offer as much variety as possible to show all of the potential this hobby has to offer. Flames of War and Warmachine has always done well. There is also several tables filled with Euro style board game and of course there is Ambush Alley as well as the Two Hour Wargames collection. But I think the real gem of any convention is not what is played all the time, but all of those other great games that are available but not as well-known such as War Rocket from Hydra Miniatures or a whole host of Pulp Fiction games.

CP: What advice would you give someone going to their first gaming convention?

DF: Ask lots of questions of game masters and vendors. Vendors will love to talk your ear off with a product they really like. Game masters also love the game they are running, the figures they are using and are very proud of all the work they have done putting it all together. In addition, try as many different games that you can to get a feel for what all is there, from board games, to CCGs, to RPGs and miniature games. If you meet someone you really click with, find out where they like to game and what they like to do. Usually there are several game stores that operate additional rooms for open gaming; give them a shot!

CP: For out of town visitors, myself included, what are the food options in the area for convention goers?

DF: Well of course there are all your favorite Fast Food joints within a few miles of the convention. However, for some local flavor, I would suggest Filling Station BBQ Restaurant and Summit Hickory Pit BBQ are both within walking distance from the high school. But for more local flavor, downtown Lee’s Summit has one of the best rejuvenated shopping districts with some fantastic restaurant as well. For home town cooking, look for Neighbor’s Cafe and for a nice local bar & grill try Jerry’s Bait Shop or The Peanut. For local pizza, you can’t go wrong with Waldo Pizza. Though not local establishments you can’t go wrong with any of the following Five Guys Burgers and Fries, On The Border, and one of my favorites 54th Street Grill & Bar.

CP: How has the Recruits convention changed in the last 8 years?

DF: I think the greatest change I’ve seen since we started is how much more organized we have had to become. Recruits would not be possible at all without the support of so many, especially our staff and the folks that help with both set up and clean up. The sheer size of Recruits continues to amaze me, and my greatest pleasure with Recruits is watching from the balcony and seeing everyone having a great time. And when I ask myself how much more do I have in me, all it takes is the folks, both young and old, who go out of their way to say thank you. This truly is a labor of love.

CP: How can one register for Fall Recruits and how much is admission?

DF: One of the luxuries of Recruits is its really low admission fee. Students of all ages are Free, even if your a 100 as long as you’re a student. For everyone else, including vendors, we only charge a $5.00 admission for the whole weekend. Not bad. At this point we do not accept early registration. Our admission fee is low and pre-registering for events has not worked for us. Most game masters are more than willing to take on extra players.

CP: Since the focus is on new and younger gamers, what attractions are there for veteran gamers?

DF: I like to think of Recruits more as an atmosphere as opposed to a focus. We try to make Recruits look and feel like any other convention but with an acknowledgement that we were all new gamers at one time. A place where the only dumb questions are the ones not asked, were taking a chance, or trying something new is the norm.

Around 20% of the gamers who attend Recruits are students, that is to say “they are still in school – many at the college level.” This doesn’t mean they are newbies either. Considering veteran gamers outnumber the ‘student’ gamer around 5 to 1, the games at Recruits are just as exciting, challenging and visually outstanding as any other show. Not that there isn’t a place for the traditional game (Axis and Allies or a good solid Historical miniature game) but our staff also works hard at encouraging GMs to put on something new or to find those new games everyone wants to try.

CP: Finally, this is a chance for you to sell those on the fence about attending on why they should go to Recruits this go-round.

DF: Recruits is a great place to find talented gamers and intriguing games for gamers of all ages. In this age of high gas prices and the “stay-cation”, come see all the fun you have been missing – there’s a game waiting for you at Recruits!

Recruits Fall will be September 9th-11th and admission is $5, free for students.

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