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Subject: Hosting a gaming night rss

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Gary Sonnenberg
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I'm looking for a few (or a lot) of last-minute suggestions for hosting a gaming night. I've got one planned for Friday.

We've got a room that can hold up to 30 people or so. At least a dozen will likely attend at one time or another. Starting at 4:00 P.M. We can stay as long as we like. Most will not be gamers as we know them here at BGG - at least not when they arrive.

I'm planning on bringing a variety of games, and they have been encouraged to bring their favorites too.

Carcassonne
Settlers of Catan
Lost Cities
Amazing Labyrinth
Set
Bazaar
Pick-It
Fossil
Kings Cribbage
Quiddler
Razzle
Sequence
Shuttles
Stratego
Trumpet
Trivial Pursuit: Music cards
Scrabble
Boggle

Are there any musts for success?

Are there any musn'ts to avoid failure?

If I missed a thread on this topic, just point me there. Thanks.
 
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Lucio Rodriguez
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Yep, more words here.
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Look for "Haggle" on this site. Also, "Werewolf" or "Are you a Werewolf". Both are great games that can include a large number of people.
 
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Gary Sonnenberg
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I'm not looking so much for more games as for do's and don'ts for the night in general. There's not going to be much chance of adding to the list of games already given above. (Thanks for the ideas though.)
 
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Bill Herbst
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The games that the previous poster mentioned were all games that can be played with by the entire group at one time even if you do come close to your maximum at 30.
 
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Runs with scissors
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Hopefully you'll be having other people besides yourself who know how to play the games. Having 12 games, but only one person who can teach does not work, you can only spread yourself around so much.

With so many people name tags might not be a bad idea. On the other hand I don't know if all these people know each other.

Plan on moving tables and chairs around if at all possible. You might get one group of 2-3 playing one game, and another group of 8 that wants to play another game and requires rearranging the furniture. Also make sure to spread the tables out rather than keeping them together so people are not bumping each other and to keep the noise from other tables from being to distracting. At my game night, we actual play in several rooms in a house, and this breaks the large group into several smaller groups very naturally.

If food is allowed, encourage people to bring snacks and drinks. Of course then you have to deal with the possibility of tables being hit and drinks knocked over. If you are starting at 4 let them know whether you will be bringing food in, or if they should arrive having already eaten.

Keep in mind some people may be happy just watching, not everyone has to play to have a good time. For me part of the fun of doing something like this is just about finding out about new games.

We usually start with light quick games while waiting for people to arrive, games that last 15-20 minutes, so you can do something while you are waiting other than twiddling your thumbs. Looks like you've got a lot of games that will fill that niche. Different people will like different types of games, and you have a good variety. The actual games involved are relatively minor. The night won't be a success because you brought one game, or a failure because you don't have another.

If you plan on doing this on a repeat basis, it makes sense to have it on a specific repeating date, like the second Friday of every month, so people can plan for it, and put it on their calendar. This makes it easier to keep the attendance up, rather than jumping around on the calendar.

If you're going to lure them over to the dark side, keep in mind the location of any local game stores where they can browse through later, that you can casually drop in conversation. Also be prepared to talk about what your favorite games are and why.

You can always bring a cat and have the cat pose resting inside box covers, and peering quizically at games. Apparently large numbers of people seem to find this irresistable.

Best of luck!
 
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Scotty Dickey
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Brandon
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Carcassonne and Catan have always worked well for me. Also, it is hard to beat Diamant for a quick, light game that a fairly large number of people can play in a short period of time. You could have a smaller group playing Ticket to Ride in no time. Another game that I've often used successfully with large groups is Citadels. I usually try to get 5 or 6 players in each game and try to teach two or three different groups to play at the same time. Of course, this requires you to have two or three copies of the game. One warning with this one: Force the players to move quickly in the first few rounds. Perhaps suggest that the first few rounds be played as practice with the understanding that the game will restart after a set number of practice rounds. I usually have the players draw their character cards randomly for the first few rounds to simply learn what the different special powers are. I've seen this game really work great many times. However, I've seen it crash and burn whenever new players take too long to select character cards. If you prevent that, this game is usually a winner.
 
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Brad Fuller
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Werewolf is a great way to start or end the night and you can print out a set of cards from here in 5 minutes, or just use a regular deck of cards.

in addition where is this room at? Is it a house? What are you dinner/snack plans? Is everyone bringing their own drinks etc.
Just some thoughts, as long as everyone is picks up after themselves and uses basic manners it should flow just fine.
 
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Scotty Dickey
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glsonn wrote:
I'm not looking so much for more games as for do's and don'ts for the night in general. There's not going to be much chance of adding to the list of games already given above. (Thanks for the ideas though.)


Doh! I missed this as I was writing my response. I see that others have given great suggestions as far as running the game night. I would add three others.

1. Have the games that you know you will be playing set up and ready to go before anyone arrives. People will get interested just by walking by and seeing the games set up. Also, you can jump right into playing.

2. Come up with some silly prizes to award to the winners. I'm not talking about anything expensive. You could even use candy. People love to get some prize at the end of a game.

3. This one has worked well for me. However, it might not work for every group. You'll have to make the call. Whenever I have a bunch of folks who aren't familiar with the games that will be available, I assign them to a game. I usually know who will be playing what before anyone arrives. If people have never heard of the games, it is really difficult for them to decide on which game to play. If you assign them to a game, you can get things rolling quickly and then they can always move on to a different game after that.

Hope these help.
 
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Runs with scissors
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The one other thing that we've found in our gaming group is that we very seldom end up playing 2 player games during the evening. When we are showing up for the evening there seems to be a very natural tendency to gravitate towards the game that play 3-6, for the social aspects.

With this many people that haven't played games much before, you might have a few very competitive people there who may not take losing as well as others. For me the focus on these gaming nights is much more about socializing and having a good time than winning. Doesn't hurt for people to keep that in mind.
 
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David G.
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I'd recommend some more 'raucaus' games. Pit is a good one. Time's Up is another. Wits and Wagers is good.

I think it's important that one if every four people can at least lead a couple of the games. You may want to choose some leaders and meet with them earlier to familiarize them with the games. You could also look on BGG to see if you can enlist some other BGGers to help out.
 
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Michael Sosa
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Only explain the basic rules to a game, let them learn the finer points while playing or on the next one. If they are not gamers, then the experience is more important than correct play or winning. Probably good idea to only play a couple of games, or have the same people play a game more than once, so as to not overwhelm them.
 
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JP LaChance
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Where is this being held?
Is this a community activity or a game club?
Public or private?
What types of players are you expecting?


If it is almost all new gamers I would add

Ticket to Ride - prefer USA for non-gamers
Blokus

If you have gamers or are expecting more players who have played lots of games I would add something heavier to the list,

Power Grid
Caylus
PR

As one of the others has mentioned do you have enough "teachers" to ensure things go smooth?

PS email me if you need some additional help I plan on being in Brookfield on Friday for work and might be available to help you out.

JP
 
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Dwayne Hendrickson
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We almost always finish up with a game of Poorman's Trivia (aka Ed's Dad's Trivia Game). You can find the rules here on the geek, easy to play and almost anyone can win.
 
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Chris Maier
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Time's Up is excellent for large numbers and has never failed to get people riled up in my experience. I have used Alhambra on several occasions to hook newbies with good success.

A word of caution. I love it and all, but Trivial Pursuit is a party killer. I mentioned this at a recent party when a group in a different part of the house was looking for dice. 20 minutes later the party was dead.
 
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Antonio Chavez
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The really crucial bit:

Have enough, FRIENDLY AND PATIENT gamers in hand, so that any new player has someone to play with.

Also, to break the ice, it wouldn't hurt to have near the door a couple of attractive dexterity games (Carabande or Villa Paletti comes to mind).
 
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Christopher KrackerJack
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glsonn wrote:
I'm not looking so much for more games as for do's and don'ts for the night in general. There's not going to be much chance of adding to the list of games already given above. (Thanks for the ideas though.)


Assumption: These are casual acquaintances who may not know each other. If this is a tight group of friends who all know each other, than you can ignore my post.

1. Don't plan on playing many games. You can expect to spend the bulk of your time getting everyone settled and engaged with each other, especially early in the night. Once new people have stopped showing up, and the different game tables are self-sufficient, you can probably find time to play. Just remember that your game is secondary to the event itself.

2. Personally greet everyone when they show up. You want to welcome them and give them a synopsis of what's going on (Jack, Judy, John, and Jill are about halfway into Carcassonne but Rob and Ruth are getting ready to start a game, maybe you would like to join them) or something. The one time I was invited to a game group, I was not welcomed (I had to introduce myself since no one spoke to me) and I had no idea how things were being run. The gamers themselves were friendly, but the lack of structure was disappointing. You want people to feel engaged and you want them to want to stay.

3. As the host, you need to run the event. Be the "go to guy" for rules questions and clarifications. Let the guests know that they can ask you questions. Suggest/ recommend games to your guests. Don't just point to a pile and tell them to pick one. Take the time to explain themes and basic mechanics so they know what they are getting into.

4. Manage the games as they wrap up. If one game ends, try to get a feel for home much time is left for the other games. You want to make sure the various groups have a chance to switch up players. You need to actively manage the schedules.

5. Make sure everyone knows the food/ drink policy if applicable. You got good advice on this a few posts up.

6. Remember: It is more important for your guests to have fun than for you to have fun. If you don't play a single game but all of your guests had fun and want to come back, then the night was a success. You can have fun next time. You have to make an effort to engage everyone and provide structure to the event.

Good luck and let us know how it turns out!
 
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Charles Donnell
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Making sure people have a clear (at least as clear as you can make it for them...) expectation ahead of time. Communciating before hand to let everyone know the five Ws is essential to it being a success. I run a game night twice a month and the only time there's ever been an issue was when I forgot to let people know about a change in the start time... Having game-friendly snacks on hand always seems to be a winner as well.

Best of luck,

chaz
 
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KB
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6. Remember: It is more important for your guests to have fun than for you to have fun. If you don't play a single game but all of your guests had fun and want to come back, then the night was a success. You can have fun next time. You have to make an effort to engage everyone and provide structure to the event.

Good luck and let us know how it turns out![/q]

I want to add my emphasis to this last point made - for a first night don't plan on playing any games yourself, especially if this is a group of gamers-to-be. You're the oil in this gaming wheel. You get to play when the people you've involved are coming to play on a regular basis. First time out you're host!

Have a great time, and kudos for introducing the hobby to new people.
 
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Walt
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Next time ask earlier, please?

Newbies need very simple games to play first. TransAmerica/TransEuropa and Diamant/Incan Gold are great for this; Alhambra and Ra (with mats) are good. With what you have, Carcassonne is good, but forget fields. With Settlers, forget strict enforcement of trade then build.

You need some game teachers and a host. Game teachers need to play the game they're teaching: summarizing the rules and running off doesn't work. If you're teaching the game, you have to play it. So, try to get some assistants: some teachers and a host if you're going to teach.

You want whatever game someone plays first to be a good, comfortable experience. This usually means a very light game, with little or no hidden information for them to worry about.

One exception to the above could be Bluff/Liar's Dice/Pirate Dice. This is one you might be able to still get, too. Uno, though it's not a game that gets much respect here is another fun game for many people, and light enough that few mind the screwage.
 
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Sinister
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Tall_Walt wrote:
Next time ask earlier, please?

Newbies need very simple games to play first. TransAmerica/TransEuropa and Diamant/Incan Gold are great for this; Alhambra and Ra (with mats) are good. With what you have, Carcassonne is good, but forget fields. With Settlers, forget strict enforcement of trade then build.

You need some game teachers and a host. Game teachers need to play the game they're teaching: summarizing the rules and running off doesn't work. If you're teaching the game, you have to play it. So, try to get some assistants: some teachers and a host if you're going to teach.

You want whatever game someone plays first to be a good, comfortable experience. This usually means a very light game, with little or no hidden information for them to worry about.

One exception to the above could be Bluff/Liar's Dice/Pirate Dice. This is one you might be able to still get, too. Uno, though it's not a game that gets much respect here is another fun game for many people, and light enough that few mind the screwage.


Bah...whip out advanced squad leader, tell them the fate of the world is in their hands ,and they better not screw up. When they ask for a rule hand them the whole ASL book and go grab a drink. Then three days later you should emerge victorious with your new group feeling lucky enough that you unlocked the doors.
 
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