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Subject: How successful have you been hosting boardgame nights with non-boardgame-enthusiasts? rss

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karl paulsen

Chicago
Illinois
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I'm curious to hear the experiences of those who have tried to bring their non-boardgamer friends into the realm of better boardgames.
-What worked?
-What didn't?
-General advice...

Last weekend my wife and I hosted our first boardgame night in a long time. We had about 16 attendees, of which 2 were boardgame enthusiasts, 2 or 3 had played a eurogame at some point and the rest were pretty much new to the genre. It worked out pretty well. We only had one guy who was a bit of a Debbie Downer and everyone else seemed to have a good or great time.
The games we started with were Ticket to Ride (USA and Europe) and Star Trek: Five Year mission and by the end of the evening a few folks also ended up playing Battle Sheep and Caribbean.

My issue now is where to go from here? We're going to have another game night next month and it seems likely that it will be even better attended since it won't be on a major holiday weekend. I'm thinking of putting out Ticket to Ride again and Carcassonne. Would teaching a deckbuilder like LotR Deck Building be a good idea?
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Alexandre P.
France
Strasbourg
France
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eilif wrote:
-General advice...


Don't do that !
You can suggest them to try but inviting non-enthousiasts and making them play a boardgame can be very painful for every one:
- them because they are not on this hobby and they're bored,
- you because you see your friends being "rude" towards your hobby and having a hard time.

I have "movie friends", "chatting friends", "cooking friends" ... they all know that I'm deeply on boardgaming and the day they show interest I will make them try something but I don't try to bring them in.
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Christian K
United States
Albany
New York
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It's pretty obvious but "light" games usually go over well. People will keep coming back for games like Codenames, CAH or whatever but I have had no real success getting people to enjoy anything beyond that. It might just be people I know but most people don't really seem to want to put in any effort when gaming.

I don't know how well teaching a deck builder will go. People I have played with often cannot wrap their heads around a discard pile that you later shuffle and continue to use. People that played Magic(and there are a ton of these)often can get deck builders pretty easily.
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G.Daddy.Slim
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Alexandria
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Most of my close friends seem open to it or even interested in playing when we've done it as in impromptu or non-announced optional activity during a gathering...

The times we've tried to do a "board game night" with my wife's ssiter and cousins, in addition to our gaming friends didn't work out as well.. some that showed up weren't really interested and they ate and talked. I sensed some anxiousness on my gaming friends part, so after a bit of socializing we politely asked the non-gamers if they wanted play, and if they declined, my wife, my gaming friends and I played anyway. The others were free to stay and chat or leave as they saw fit...

While some might consider it rude to show up at a board game night, and not play.. I don't consider that big of a deal, as eating and socializing is usually the biggest part of most of our family events, so in some ways its understandable that they might've shown up with the expectation that board games were secondary. As long as they weren't rude or upset that we started playing, I wasn't going to get upset if they declined to play...
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Will Haynes
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I've had success with the following games...

Lords of Waterdeep
Sentinels of the Multiverse
Zombicide
Dead of Winter.

Now, I had some young kids around 13 for Lords and Sentinels, but both took off really well. Zombicide is pretty straight forward.

Dead of Winter worked well... Most of the people that played are more computer gamers, then board gamers, but it worked out, even with someone that really doesn't care for gaming.
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Joaquin Lowe
United States
Seattle
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I've done this before though not with as many attendees. Party games go over really well. Last time I hosted a game night with very few enthusiasts I brought out Bring Your Own Book and everyone had a great time. Lots of laughs and everyone enjoyed sharing their book with the rest of the party. Also, I've found Karuba to be nearly universally loved by my gamer and non-gamer friends. And in the same vein as Karuba, Augustus might be another option to consider.

Hope this helps!
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Scott M.
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Winter Springs
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as the prior user said..

DONT DO THIS!...

Dont mix freinds. WHen you start mixing freinds the first time its great every one is polite, were all happy ect ect..

Do this a few more times and eventualy you will be known as the guy who only plays board games to your non Board game freinds who will eventualy . not be your freinds.

Social freinds are social freinds.. board game freinds are board game friends. Expectations are completely different. When you want both in the same group you either have nirvana or a cluster fuck.
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G.Daddy.Slim
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atraangelis wrote:
as the prior user said..

DONT DO THIS!...

Social freinds are social freinds.. board game freinds are board game friends. Expectations are completely different. When you want both in the same group you either have nirvana or a cluster fuck.


or your friends can be mature adults that treat each other with mutual respect despite their differing interests.. whistle
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Alexandre P.
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glouie wrote:
atraangelis wrote:
as the prior user said..

DONT DO THIS!...

Social freinds are social freinds.. board game freinds are board game friends. Expectations are completely different. When you want both in the same group you either have nirvana or a cluster fuck.


or your friends can be mature adults that treat each other with mutual respect despite their differing interests.. whistle


I have seen once a "casual night" with boardgames included and non-boardgamers wanted to grab to eat/drink during rules explanations, wanted to chat during rules explanations, didn't want to play simultaneously while drafting ...

It was the only time I spoilt a game (of Sushi Go! !) because the non-game it has become was painful.
 
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G.Daddy.Slim
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Xahendir wrote:
glouie wrote:
atraangelis wrote:
as the prior user said..

DONT DO THIS!...

Social freinds are social freinds.. board game freinds are board game friends. Expectations are completely different. When you want both in the same group you either have nirvana or a cluster fuck.


or your friends can be mature adults that treat each other with mutual respect despite their differing interests.. whistle


I have seen once a "casual night" with boardgames included and non-boardgamers wanted to grab to eat/drink during rules explanations, wanted to chat during rules explanations, didn't want to play simultaneously while drafting ...

It was the only time I spoilt a game (of Sushi Go! !) because the non-game it has become was painful.


Mutually respect involves not talking or chatting or being disruptive to other peoples interest, or at least excusing yourselves to another area of the house where your not disrupting the game that others want to play...
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Andrew J.
United States
Missouri
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We actually do this -- non-gamers get their own table. Last time they played some dominos and then some golf (the card game with playing cards). Just give them space to eat and chat, and if they do play a game it's invariably one that they know and one that gives a lot of downtime for talking.

The worst thing, in my experience, has been trying to shoehorn folks into having fun with MY type of games -- I want the people who want to be there just to have fun to also have fun, and if I can enable that by being hospitable, great!

As far as basic games, I've had great success with easy fillers, or even co-op games as there's as much involvement there as people want. I've even found that some previous non-gamers have started asking questions about the more complicated games that I have!

A

glouie wrote:
Mutually respect involves not talking or chatting or being disruptive to other peoples interest, or at least excusing yourselves to another area of the house where your not disrupting the game that others want to play...
Xahendir wrote:
glouie wrote:
atraangelis wrote:
as the prior user said..

DONT DO THIS!...

Social freinds are social freinds.. board game freinds are board game friends. Expectations are completely different. When you want both in the same group you either have nirvana or a cluster fuck.


or your friends can be mature adults that treat each other with mutual respect despite their differing interests.. whistle


I have seen once a "casual night" with boardgames included and non-boardgamers wanted to grab to eat/drink during rules explanations, wanted to chat during rules explanations, didn't want to play simultaneously while drafting ...

It was the only time I spoilt a game (of Sushi Go! !) because the non-game it has become was painful.

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Pete
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I learned a long time ago not to invite my track team to my board games or my board gamers to the track.

Pete (had two groups of people ready to kill him)
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Steve Friedly
United States
Rifle
Colorado
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My wife and I are teachers and have had success each time we've hosted game days/nights. Most of the time it has been with young people elementary grades through high school. We've done a summer program the last two years and have worked with the Upward Bound program several times. First, my approach starts with the idea that there is really no such thing as a "non-gamer". I say this because we've had students who really like Phase 10 and if you ask them they would consider themselves a 'gamer'; someone who likes games. And every person we've worked with has played games at some point. Maybe not often so their experience level is low. That and, to me, the term is a bit of a put down. Whatever. We know most all students we work with and we know our games well enough that we pay attention to their likes and dislikes to get an idea of what games they like to try. For example; if they like Sushi Go! then we introduce more card drafting as it is likely they like that part of the game. Some like dice games so we could bring Las Vegas.

Bottom line is we listen and pay attention to those we host and work to introduce games they find fun. It's about their likes not ours. Because we have fun playing pretty much any game with others.
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Dave Lartigue
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Springfield
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why on earth would I do this
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G.Daddy.Slim
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Board Game Bear wrote:
My wife and I are teachers and have had success each time we've hosted game days/nights. Most of the time it has been with young people elementary grades through high school. We've done a summer program the last years and have worked with the Upward Bound program several times. First, my approach starts with the idea that there is really no such thing as a "non-gamer". I say this because we've had students who really like Phase 10 and if you ask them they would consider themselves a 'gamer'; someone who likes games. And every person we've worked with has played games at some point. Maybe not often so their experience level is low. That and, to me, the term is a bit of a put down. Whatever. We know most all students we work with and we know our games well enough that we pay attention to their likes and dislikes to get an idea of what games they like to try. For example; if they like Sushi Go! then we introduce more card drafting as it is likely they like that part of the game. Some like dice games so we could bring Las Vegas.

Bottom line is we listen and pay attention to those we host and work to introduce games they find fun. It's about their likes not ours. Because we have fun playing pretty much any game with others.


In general I think younger people are more willing and open to try playing boardgames.. whereas adults have pre-conceived notions of what board games are and that they are for kids (I certainly did, prior to starting to play board games a few years ago). And some adults have already tried games or know from similar activities or experiences that they won't enjoy playing games.. and you know what, that's perfectly fine with me.

But, that doesn't mean its okay to disrupt other adults from trying to learn or play a game. If you come to a board game night and don't want to play, that's fine with me, but don't expect me (or others) to entertain you or have to socialize with you. You're free participate, watch, hangout or leave. and you're expected to NOT be disruptive, rude or a constant distraction to those that have come to play...

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Geoffrey Burrell
United States
Cedar Rapids
Iowa
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I have been successful as long as board game night comes between campaigns of Shadowrun or Pathfinder as fillers.
 
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Matt Brown
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eilif wrote:
-General advice...


If you are inviting non-gamers, keep it light until you can establish who is going to be showing up on a regular basis. Once the group is set, you can start to figure out how further some people want to go.
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15 Keys
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Every social event doesn't have to be about board games. Just hang out with your friends!
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Stephen Hall
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I think it's all about what games you play and how they are taught/introduced. A while ago, I made a list of tips for teaching games to newbies. I encourage you to check it out. Our group constantly has non-gamers coming, and we have an incredibly high success rate with them.
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Eric Pullen

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My wife and I converted a couple in to "board game enthusiasts". Well, we converted the wife anyway, the husband will play whatever we put in front of him (as long as there's not much in the way of down time)bu someone has to explain the rules to him every turn. The wife has become a board game fiend.

Our other efforts at introducing our non-board gamer friends has met with mixed results.

For some, playing board games means heavy drinking. I don't care how light the game is, you're not going to have a chance of grokking Pandemic or Ticket to Ride (or having a clue what's going on) if you're pounding hard liquor. Not to say I don't enjoy looking for the bottom of a bottle of a bourbon or rum now and then (non-existent thus far since gaining my first level in fatherhood), but not while gaming.

With non-gamers who want to get hammered and "play" something, Cards Against Humanity is the only viable option I've found. For board game enthusiasts that want to tie one on while playing something, Bohnanza and Condottiere have been a hit with our group.

Non-gamers nearly always want to bite off more than they can chew and are insulted when you attempt to dissuade them from heavier games. I've had paused games of Through the Ages, Eclipse, or Mage Knight set up on the pool table upstairs. Friends come over, want to play a game, and immediately want to play whatever I have set up. I understand, it's set up, it's pretty, the pieces look cool. But if the extent of your exposure to board games is Cranium, we probably need to start out with some Forbidden Island first.

My best luck with introducing non-board gamers to the hobby has been Pandemic, Ticket to Ride, and Forbidden Island.


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Dave H
United Kingdom
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eilif wrote:
-General advice...


Be aware to pick games carefully if anyone you are inviting is dyslexic
 
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Rob Hart
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One problem I've seen is that, with non-gamers, no one wants to split up. Regardless of whether there are 8 or 10 or 12 people there, splitting into groups is seen as anathema. This severely limits what games make it to the table. Does anyone have a solution to this?
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Mark Geusebroek
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plezercruz wrote:
I learned a long time ago not to invite my track team to my board games or my board gamers to the track.

Pete (had two groups of people ready to kill him)


and one probably ran faster than the other
 
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Paul Evans
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I've done this. Successfully too, I might add.

I think the key is to focus more on individuals and less on "a group". A large group, particularly of non-gamers, will be more inclined to be self-conscious, try to be clever, and make jokes about geeks. You as host will be spread thinly. You have less time to engage with individuals, and less time to gauge interest.

Consider your non-board-gaming friends. Which ones are likely to enjoy games? Which ones enjoy solving problems? Which ones enjoy a story or narrative? Etc? Once you have an idea on who is likely start inviting them to play a game. Have 2 or 3 friends round for a game.

Now the advice others have given comes into play:
- Choose the game in advance. Some form of gateway usually.
- Do send out a link to a video tutorial. If nothing else learn who is really interested.
- Try your best to get good at rules explanations. Try to keep them concise.
- Definitely avoid any AP on your part, "A quick game is a good game!"
- Be willing to underplay. I usually experiment with an unusual strategy, or accept some starting handicap.
- Loop round later and check how they enjoyed things.

Once you have identified a few non-gaming friends who are enjoying game with you then invite them to a bigger group evening. Of course by this stage you are no longer inviting non-gamers!

And finally - just accept that boardgames are not for everyone; and there is nothing wrong with that. Do other things with those friends.

edit to add Don't try to rush this!
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karl paulsen

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Wow, Thanks for all the advice! A few responses..

-I'm a bit concerned with the amount of "don't do this" suggestions, but that die has already been cast and we're on the monthly boardgaming night track for a while now.

-We definitely socialize with our friends in other settings, but we did view this as a way to have a sort of monthly open house where friends we might not see as often can pop in. I assume that there will be folks who come to the boardgaming night and don't come back and that's ok. I think our guest list was around 50+ and 17 showed up on Labor day weekend so I think it's likely that future nights will be equally or better attended.

-I appreciate the advice about keeping it simple. We've only brought down "easier" games from our game closet. I think I might put Ticket to Ride and Star Trek back on the starting tables again since the reaction to those two games was almost universally positive.

-A "Regular" game option is probably a good idea too. Perhaps a table with Sequence would be a good idea? I didn't mention that one group of folks ended the evening playing a game with 2 decks of "normal" playing cards whose name escapes me.

-It does sound like maybe it's worth waiting a couple months to introduce a deckbuilder and maybe then only if there are folks who are obviously interesed in learning new kinds of games.

-As for mixing people groups, it was actually one of our deliberate points. Very few of our invitees have any designer board game experience and they come from a variety of places. We had church friends, work friends, old friends and a couple gamer friends.

Thanks again for all the advice and keep it coming!

I'll be looking over it all carefully and visiting the links supplied as we plan our next boardgame night.

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