"I'm totally double-dipping here. This is an editorial I wrote up for the blog Santa Cruz Warhammer, and it focuses on community building through the Barter Bucket. I thought it was important enough of a concept to post it here on my own blog as well. If you haven't checked out the Bucket, head over there and do so, it's a pretty nifty idea." -Mik
Have you ever played the game Dominion? I have, it's a lot of fun, but when I first saw the components and started reading the rules I just shook my head. I thought there'd be no way I'd get the hang of it. Surprisingly you not only get the hang of it by turn two of your very first game, it keeps building momentum and gets better and better every time you play it.
I think of our Barter Bucket in the same way. You may see it and think, "Sheesh, mailing bits, asking for bits, sending whole figs, it all sounds pretty involved." Once you do it though, the beauty of it starts to unveil, and every time after that it keeps building momentum and keeps getting better and better.
Personally I'm building a Deathwatch squad to use for an RPG. Those little DW shoulder pads are hard to come by, if I buy them on eBay, I'm looking at $5 bucks a pop after shipping. Popular bits selling places put them at $3 bucks each. That's $30 bucks, minimum, to outfit ten troops with just shoulder pads! Through my dealings with Bucket however, many individuals have sent me their extras; DW shoulder pads they weren't using or didn't need. One person sent me just a single pad, it was the only one they had and postage was less than forty cents. It all adds up and it all helps, no matter how small.
I don't know these people other than that they're fellow gamers who share the same hobby that I do. If we lived in the same zip code I'm sure we'd be rolling dice together at the game table. As it is, we're still building a larger gaming network. Someone sent me a bunch of Bolter scopes and a slew of Space Wolf heads, I didn't have anything they were looking for at the time, but I'll be watching their needs in the future closely and see how I can help.
And that's where the door swings both ways. The Bucket is not about just sitting back and getting free stuff for nothing. You get out of it what you put into it and I've sent pieces all over the place, including overseas. A pair of IG autocannons I had laying around went to the UK, I didn't need them, and someone else is now getting good use out of them. Same thing with some Terminator thunder hammers that I sent off to the west coast, my Terminator Assault squad was already built, what did I need the extras for? Now someone is building a squad with their son for the first time and putting them to use. Someone posted they needed Goblin Fanatics. I don't really do WHFB, so I didn't think much of it at the time, but one day I was digging in a bits box for Apothecary parts and what did I find? An old, battered Blood Bowl Fanatic, half painted and lying forgotten at the bottom of a parts pile. I can guarantee he would never see the light of day in my possession, but now that's going to change and all I had to do was take five minutes out of my day and drop it in the mail.
Like the game Dominion, what looks complicated at first shows itself to be anything but. As you progress along, using the Barter Bucket becomes more than just mailing off bits, you realize you're networking with other gamers and in helping one another out, you're building that community. Who knows, maybe you'll see someone you've traded with at a big convention down the road, sit down for a chat and a cold beverage, they won't be strangers.