I want to start this article talking about some of the pitfalls with bigger player count games. It’s one thing that party style games generally do pretty well, but can be issues with other games. The big pitfall is some of these games have too […]
I grew up playing board games, and I’ve always enjoyed playing games. And I’ve also enjoyed finding new games, though it was always hard to find enough time or people to play some of them. So over a year ago, my wife and I decided to start a monthly board game night. Here are some tips and tricks for having a fun game night, as we’ve learned it.
Start Simple and Fast
This is pretty straightforward — find games that are easy for people to pick up and play through quickly, and start off the night with them. It is very rare that everyone shows up to game night at the same time, so don’t plan on it. Know some ten-minute games that you are going to be able to play while people show up. Games like Fluxx, We Didn’t Playtest This At All, Tsuro, and Zombie Dice are all fast and easy games that people can pick up quickly, and ones that don’t take too long so that people who show up later aren’t just sitting around waiting for others to finish their game.
Know the Rules
It’s pretty obvious that you are probably going to want to try some new games during your game nights. But it’s smart to test-play them, or at least go through the rules and pieces, so you know what you are doing before you try to teach someone else. I have a couple of games that I want to play, Five Tribes and Ghostbusters, but without having played them before, they aren’t good game night options. Instead, with the games that work with two players, my wife and I will play them first, and with those that aren’t, we’ll have a smaller group of friends over to play them. But the better you can know the rules beforehand, the easier it is for other people to jump into a game with you.
Be Ready to Explain the Rules
This comes down with the previous rule. It is important to be able to explain the rules. Last game night, we played Seven Wonders. I’d played the game before, but I’m less familiar with it than the person who brought it. I could have explained the rules, but he was going to be better at explaining them.. And with some games, you can go through and explain the rules and people still won’t completely follow. So what do you do in that situation? If people aren’t getting the rules, pass on the game until you are more confident. Or if there are a few people who are sitting in a row who are familiar with the game, have one of them start, so that those who haven’t played will get a few chances to see how it’s done. For some people, hearing the rules is harder to follow than just watching a few turns. And be willing to play slowly and explain as you go if you need to.
To go along with this, tell the story of the game as you start. For example, Pandemic is a game where you are CDC members who are trying to stop the spread of diseases across the world. Forbidden Island is a game in which you are a group of adventurers, like Indian Jones, who are trying to track down lost treasures before the island sinks. As you can see, that pulls people in quickly, and makes it easier to explain the rules when it’s done within the framework of a story.
Don’t Have Surprise Rules
Especially in competitive games, if there are funky or tricky rules, go through and explain them. People might not remember them perfectly, but if it isn’t explained and you suddenly pull out the rule and use it your advantage, that isn’t going to give you a fun game night. A good example of this would be if there are some reasons why a player couldn’t do something. It’s annoying to find out that there is a certain situation where your brilliant plan can’t work.
The most important rule is that you’ve got to have fun. Even if you are a competitive player, don’t let that ruin your fun or other people’s fun. Board games should always be about hanging out with your friends rather than just about beating them in a competition. If you have some friends who are more competitive, pull out those more cutthroat games when playing with them, but for a lot of board game nights, you won’t have that type of group. You need to find the balance and play cooperative, fun, or more Euro-style games. Keep it simpler, and when you really want to play those more competitive games, invite over people whom you know can handle it.
So what would a good board game night look like?
We Didn’t Playtest This At All – start with this fast game that people can be added into easily. It’s a draw-a-card-play-a-card game.
Smallworld – After you have a few people, find a game that is goofy and good fun. Smallworld doesn’t take too long and is easy to pick up. And because of the style of game it is, even though there is a competitive aspect to it, people don’t get mad about it.
If you have some time and enough people, split into a couple of groups and play more serious games. For those who like cooperative games, something like the Lord of the Rings Board Game or Pandemic would be a good choice. Those who want to play a more complex or difficult board game could choose something like Dead of Winter or Legendary.
Zombie Dice or Tsuro – Finish up with another game during which people can leave anytime. The easier games are great to wrap up on, and then people can still leave when they are having fun.
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So with the Christmas season coming up and Thanksgiving just having happened, it is a good time to introduce your family, friends, and relatives to many different nerdy things. Whether it is playing board games with family or marathoning Lord of the Rings, there are […]