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Subject: The Yellow Meeple...Starts a Board Game Group at Work rss

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Fiona Dickinson
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After struggling to find a very local game group to our new house or my workplace I finally took the plunge and decided to start a work game group. I’ve been wanting to do this since starting my job there 9 months ago, but lunchtimes never worked out because everyone is so busy and with a long commute I really just wanted to head home straight after work.

Our recent move means my commute is better and so I decided to advertise my new board game group for the after work slot. I’d like to start writing about the challenges and successes to try and help others starting new gaming groups. Spoiler alert – after the first week, I think it is definitely worth it for anyone thinking of starting a new group when there’s no-one else doing it!

Updates every two weeks at thegameshelf.blogspot.co.uk
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Fiona Dickinson
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Week 1
Number of Attendees: 11
Games Played: Dobble, Looney Quest, Exploding Kittens, Secret Hitler, Jamaica

The First Week Challenges

Making a booking at a venue (in my case a pub) when you have no idea how many people are going to turn up!
Some pubs I asked were also unsure about reserving a large number of tables on a regular basis, either wanting payment or a commitment that we would be eating or drinking.

Knowing what games to provide

For the first game night I really didn’t know anything about the people turning up. I tried to ask people about their gaming experience after they emailed me but the responses varied a lot!
“I like playing Guess Who and Cluedo with my family”
“I only play Backgammon”
“I am a master at Catan”
“I played Catan once 3 years ago and liked it”
“I play lots of games”
“I don’t think I’ve ever played a board game, but I sit next to you and I will support you in your quest to make new friends”

I decided that gateway games were best and picked some fillers (eg. Dobble) to start and then a mixture of abstract (eg. Blokus), gateway euro games(eg. Catan) and silly fun (eg. Looney Quest). I was a bit scared this might alienate any seasoned gamers who turned up, but out of the three that did, one brought a couple of their own games and the other two seemed happy enough. I can bring out some heavier games over time.

Entertainment factor seemed to be key with most of the crowd. I’m not sure how well introducing strategy games will work in the long run.

Worrying that no-one would turn up

There were 15-20 scary minutes where I was sitting in a pub with a small mountain of board games and no-one to play with. It was a bit of a worry and a few people were giving me looks of pity. From my publicity of the evening i had 14 people interested, but I’m not going to try and make people commit each week, it’s just too hard in the crazy environment we work in.

The Successes

People Came!


There was loads of shouting and laughter
A lot of this shouting was aimed at Dobble, which was definitely the hit of the night! But all the games were a hit. My personal favourite moment was two people celebrating how great it was to win a game as Hitler and a Fascist...they were also amused at this distasteful victory.

A lot of people were introduced to a whole new side of board games
A few people were really surprised at how diverse and fun board games could be and couldn’t believe what ‘counted’ as a board game these days. I’m really glad to have opened their eyes a little bit to the hobby!

Meeting new people

My workplace is around 1200 people in one campus and I work in a team of just 10. Already I’ve met a bunch of people working in different teams who otherwise I would have never crossed paths with and that’s awesome!

Happy people!
I made a bunch of people happy and that has made me really, really happy! Especially the gamers who are just really grateful that someone thought to organise something.

Lessons for Next Week

Book better tables
The pub isn’t going to know what you need unless you tell them. We ended up o high tables with bar stools – a bit uncomfortable and quite small tables.

Try something with a bit more strategy
Part of my motivation for starting a group was just to meet new people and spread the love of the hobby, however the other part is that I do want to play more games more often. To keep me personally happy we’ll need to move beyond the games that are just silly fun, so I’ll be trying to engage people in something a little more tactical next time.
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LMP ADK
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I love your post! I am dealing with similar kinds of issues and have been thinking about trying to do something like this! I will be eager to hear how it is working for you! How did you "advertise" the group at work?
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Fiona Dickinson
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Lpiche wrote:
I love your post! I am dealing with similar kinds of issues and have been thinking about trying to do something like this! I will be eager to hear how it is working for you! How did you "advertise" the group at work?


Thank you!

We have a work intranet which has a forum. I left a message on the forums and made sure to show pictures of the 'style' of games I meant. I posted once to gather interest and then a second time once I booked a venue and had a time and date - both got responses.

Talking to close colleagues has definitely put me in touch with one or two other people as well.
 
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Fiona Dickinson
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The first week of game group left me feeling elated after introducing new people to the hobby and feeling like I had really started something good both for myself, the hobby and to build social bridges for other people in my workplace.

For week two I was probably more nervous about whether people would come back and also about picking the right games – In Week 1 I could forgive myself if I got the games wrong but knowing a little more about my audience my audience would I make the right choice to keep people interested?

Week 2
Number of Attendees: 8
Games Played: Dobble, Get Bit!, Coloretto, Catan, Survive!

The Challenges

Deciding whether to try and encourage more new players

With 11 players last week we were pretty full at the two tables I’ve booked in the pub. It’s not the largest venue so I don’t know how much of the table space we can take up before being unwelcome. This week I chose not to re-advertise and everyone who didn’t have other commitments returned from Week 1, which is a good sign! Next time I might readvertise and use some photos to show the fun we’ve been having.

Knowing what games to provide

The first week taught me that fun sells, but at the same time I know there are people in the group who have played heavier games before and I want to try and give people a broad experience before we get stuck with only ever playing the lighter side of games. This week, one person was determined to play Catan, so this was my test for a euro-style game. Card games were also covered by Coloretto. I also chose Get Bit this week - a bad call! It's not as quick as I remember and so the player elimination probably resulted in some boredom and disappointment rather than the quick, engaging filler I wanted.

Timing
We work in a high pressure environment and some people always have to work late. This week one person turned up 1.5 hours after we’ve started and I always want the latecomers to be able to join a game. This does mean ensuring that one group is playing something quick, which I think could be challenge going forward.

The Successes

People Came Back!

I’m starting to figure out people’s tastes
Through the game of Catan I managed to identify two players who are happy with some strategy and one who definitely isn’t and only wants to play ‘silly’ games. I’m pretty sure I can work with this going forward. So far everyone else seems easy going so I’ll need to try a few different styles of games to figure people out.

A surprising favourite game...
After each session I send round an email to say thanks and to give people a list of the games played just in case they want to find out more or request I bring it again. I get a number of responses and this week everyone was most excited about Coloretto! I had no idea this game was going to be popular, but people played game after game, enjoying the combination of simple mechanics and tough decisions. I’m not sure how I replicate this success, but maybe more card games is an easy way to go.

An offer from the manager...
An interesting development during the evening was a chat with the manager. He wants to meet up and talk about board games. I don’t think he wants to ask us to buy more drinks or not to play Dobble with some particularly loud players, although I am a bit worried! The more optimistic side of me thinks he might want to broaden the pub’s own board game collection, or even to start his own board game night or start advertising mine to a more broader audience than just my work colleagues. I’m looking forward to meeting him next week!

Lessons for Next Week

The right games for the right people
I’m definitely going to introduce a new euro game next week, perhaps Alhambra or Carcassonne to see who is interested in the less ‘silly’ style of games. However I also know I need to keep the entertainment factor high, perhaps with Dixit or bringing back Loony Quest.

Encouraging more teachers
This week I was the only person there able to teach games, and I’m the first to admit I’m not the greatest teacher! That’s a challenge as soon as the group gets bigger than 4 or 5 people. Even though some other group members do know some games, they don’t seem that willing to teach them. I may have to stop playing so many games to enable me to teach and help during games. Hopefully as we start to repeat the games we play then people will be able to play without teaching and maybe more people will bring their own games from home.
 
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Fiona Dickinson
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If I was disappointed by the number of people for week 3, then let’s say that I found week 4 pretty devastating. There was just me and 2 other people. The other two people are people in my team at work so as much as I’m super happy they’re playing games, I’m not sure if they are really that interested.

Nevertheless, we played a good number of games and I think they both enjoyed it, even though it was shorter than our normal nights.

Week 4

Number of Attendees: 3
Games Played: Rhino Hero, Coloretto, Dobble, Forbidden Desert

The Challenges

Dwindling Numbers
Perhaps it’s because we’re well into the Christmas season and people have other social engagements to prioritise, but this week was definitely very disappointing for turn out and made me question whether there’s really any point keeping trying if a board game group just doesn’t seem to be something that enough people want to engage with.

I really hope I can blame it on Christmas or work commitments. I’m pretty sure everyone was enjoying the group, so let’s hope more people return. If not next time, then definitely in the New Year.

Few players but different tastes
With just three of us, we could obviously only have one game running at a time, which is a challenge with different tastes. One of my colleagues has admitted to only liking ‘silly’ games, whilst I think the other is a strategic euro gamer in the making. Luckily both were willing to compromise and sit through a game of Rhino Hero (silly) followed by Coloretto (strategic but quick).

The Successes

Trying out a co-operative game
Co-operative games are definitely my favourite genre, but after my first attempt at introducing Forbidden Island to my parents, I’ve been put off introducing the genre to new players. However, my desire to share some of my favourite games is greater, so this week I packed Forbidden Island. My intention had been to simply observe the game and not play, because I didn’t want to risk becoming the alpha gamer and playing it for the group, but with only 3 of us, we all played. I definitely think people were making their own decisions and enjoying the concept, but the game played out quite easily and probably wasn’t interesting enough for the people playing. I don’t think they’ve been put off co-operative games, but I need something more interesting next time.

Lessons for Next Week

Get people excited again

I quite simply need to get more people excited to come along and play.

Every week I send a reminder email the day before and a thank you email after the event to let people know what games they missed out on. Unfortunately that doesn’t seem to be enough.

Could I Christmas theme our last event before the Christmas break? I have no Christmas games, but I could bring snacks and party games? Any advice for regaining some momentum would be much appreciated!
 
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Karan R
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Good luck at busting out TI3 one day
 
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Michael Cathro
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The only advice I can give you is to keep at it. It takes a while to get a solid game group cultivated. I was asked to get a board game night up and running at a FLGS a while back and there were a few nights where it was only me and my family there playing games. We kept it up and took the opportunity to welcome new people as they showed up and eventually it grew to the point where 10 people was the norm. Perseverance will pay off.

Asking for people to provide feedback on the games after you play them and maybe including some of the comments in the follow-up email might help encourage people to attend the next event. Good luck!
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Kirk Groeneweg
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Did you ever have the chat with the manager? If so, how did it go?
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Fiona Dickinson
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fedspaz wrote:
Did you ever have the chat with the manager? If so, how did it go?


Good point, i forgot to mention! We had a few crossed wires when we met. When he asked "Are they your own games?" I said yes assuming he meant mine rather than belonging to the pub or office. In fact he thought I was the game designer and wanted to help promote my games by stocking them in the pub...I was of course flattered but there were no other opportunities he wanted to explore.
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A Huge Goat
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I'm curious to see how this goes. I'm tossing around the idea at my company and we have a built in area built like a pub which would work fine. Our company is big on team building and bonding.
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Fiona Dickinson
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Our 5th game group meeting took place in the week leading up to Christmas, so I was nervous that once again we’d not have many gamers. I tried to encourage people with the promise of cake and a little Christmas gift. The 3 people who came were very happy with their gift of the Dobble demo, since Dobble has been such a big hit with the group! Only two of those people even stayed so we had another quiet evening.
Nevertheless, we played two good games and I can only hope that more gamers return in the new year, otherwise I’m likely to call an end to work board game nights because it’s too demoralising.

Week 5

Number of Attendees: 3
Games Played: Settlers of Catan, Forbidden Island

The Challenges

Dwindling Numbers
This is the same challenge as last week. I hope low turnout is just an effect of people’s busy social schedules around Christmas time. Slightly better than last week though, one of the attendees was someone who I’ve only met through work games rather than an established friend, so I’m trying to remain positive. We chose to play a 3-player game of Catan and even then one person had to leave, but fortunately it wasn’t awkward for the two of us to play another game and he wanted to give Forbidden Island a try because he was intrigued by the photo I sent round in the event invite. (Note to self, sending photos of cool games might be a strategy that works.)

Same old games
It’s weird how self conscious I feel when I bring along a bag of games that doesn’t change significantly from week to week. I usually swap one or two games each week, but keep the core games like Catan, Carcassonne and Dobble. Personally I love to try lots of new games and I assume that’s what other people want to do too, but I also don’t want to alienate the people who might want to stick with what they know. Overtime, if more people start to bring some games I hope the variety will begin to solve itself. For this week, people seemed genuinely OK with another game of Catan and I don’t mind playing it either.

The Successes

Converting a sceptic to co-operative games
When I first thought about bringing a co-op game to the group I discussed it with a few people and one guy in particular said he didn’t like them because of the alpha gamer problem. The same guy expressed an interest in Forbidden Island and even though I warned him it was a co-op he was still willing to try it. For me it was definitely a challenge not to alpha game a 2-player teaching game and I was very self aware to avoid the problem. I think I did a good job at letting him make most of the decisions and strictly talking about rules rather than options. The game was also on our side in making it a really challenging difficulty that we just managed to win. I generally find this to be the best way it can go in a teaching game – too easy and you players don’t think it’s worth playing and too hard and they’re demoralised.

I’m really happy with how people have taken to Forbidden Island and can’t wait to start sharing some more of my favourite co-ops with the group.

Lessons for Next Week

Re-advertise
I am hopeful that some of my regular players will return in the New Year, but I think I’ll also put a new advert up on the intranet which sells it as an established group, with some photos that have been taken over the last couple of months. In a company with many deadlines and stressed people, I think it’s better to have a higher number of people interested so that each week there’s still a respectable number of gamers who can make it.

Fresh new games
Over Christmas I’ve had the opportunity to take home my whole bag of board games and plan on taking some fresh new titles back with me in January. I’ll still stick with a couple of traditional gateway games that are familiar for new players but I’m also hoping to take Takenoko, Telestrations (if I ever get a big group again), Dixit & Flash Point and then start introducing some new mechanisms like worker placement with Stone Age or card drafting with Oceanos, Medieval Academy or 7 Wonders. I can’t wait to share more games with new people and just hope that I’ll have enough people interested to stay keep coming to the group.
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Fiona Dickinson
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This time it was our first week back after the Christmas break and I was excited to see if we could overcome the drop in numbers that I experienced before Christmas. Unfortunately my dreams did not come true but I did get the chance to introduce some new games to some new gamers.

Week 6

Number of Attendees: 5
Games Played: Dixit, Dingo's Dreams, Takenoko

The Challenges


My work schedule

This week I had to work late, meaning that I didn’t get to game group on time. I let my close colleagues know and told them where to look to find my games – especially the small, easy to learn games that I keep in the top drawer of my desk. I worried that any new people might be looking for me in particular, but had to trust that they’d get by without me – it’s a good test for the inevitable weeks in the future where I will be on holiday or otherwise unable to attend.

New teachers...
As a result of working late I had to rely on a new teacher to teach the first game. I certainly don’t think of myself as the best teacher and had been hoping that others in the group would eventually start to share the burden. When I arrived I believe they’d spent around 20 minutes being taught Dixit – probably not the best teach ever, but they were playing correctly and everyone was having fun. So long as you don’t mind losing, Dixit is also a game you can jump into as a late player, so enjoyed some Dixit too!

The Successes


New gamers!

Having said that numbers were low, it’s certainly exciting to still be seeing some new players. I have had to move our game night to Monday which has opened up the opportunity to come along to a couple of people, which is great! At the same time I’m unsure if it will mean others can’t make it, but only time will tell. Both the new players are entirely new to modern board gaming, but they’re also very close colleagues so it’s nice to have some support and the opportunity to introduce games to even more people at work!

New games!


All three games we played this week were new to the group. My goals over the next few weeks are to deliberately try and introduce some new mechanics and then slowly move to some more complex games to keep me interested, as well as some of the players in the group who obviously have an appetite for some heavier games. I think all three games went well – at least someone in each game expressed interested in playing them again. I think the least successful was probably Dingo’s Dreams which I seem to always over simplify when teaching and cause some confusion as a result.

Lessons for Next Week


I’m all out of ideas. I’m trying my best to run a good game group, being welcoming, bringing engaging games and always reminding people the event is running. Over the weeks I think I’ve had around 15 unique people come along, and a further 5 or 6 expressing an interest but never attending. I’ll keep doing what I’m doing for now and just hope that I can have more successful evenings in the future.
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Kirk Groeneweg
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If it's any encouragement, it sounds like you are heading down the right path. Even tho you've had small numbers, if the people are having fun (which it sounds like they are) the word will spread and more will come. Keep encouraging them to spread the word. I guess I'm saying be patient and remember to have fun yourself!
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Fiona Dickinson
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I can’t deny that running a board game group at work is starting to become a little disheartening. Every two weeks I carefully decide which games will best suit the group, which games have previously been successful and which new mechanisms and ideas I want to introduce to the group. Unfortunately other people’s priorities, including work itself get in the way of attendance each week and unfortunately there aren’t enough people reliably there each week to keep me motivated.

Week 7

Number of Attendees: 3
Games Played: SET, Sushi Go!, Takenoko

The Challenges

Attendance
I feel like I’m saying this every week now, but low attendance is getting me down. I’m not taking it personally, it’s just disappointing when I’m looking forward to a Monday evening and then I have to worry about whether I’ll actually be sitting in a pub on my own. After emailing round I found out that one person was able to come for 30 minutes and the other person could stay for longer. Still a good time, just not the big game night that I dream about...

The Successes

Different people
Having said that only 3 people came, the positive was that they weren’t just my close colleagues coming along out of pity. One person only ever came to my first ever event and I never saw her again. The other is one of my more regular attendees, but only met through starting a board game night. It’s definitely a positive to keep seeing different faces.

New games!
The three games we played this game night were all new to the other players, so I taught all three. I find the concept of Set is a bit of a difficult game to teach, but after a lot of success with Dobble, I thought Set might be a slightly calmer and less frantic alternative for the group. I think the two new player enjoyed it, but as the player with more experience I was a runaway winner. I bought Sushi Go specifically for the group to start teaching drafting and it definitely worked. The cute artwork and simple scoring are definitely a plus and I’ll be using it again.

Finally we ended with a two-player game of Takenoko, which I’m slowly teaching to individuals in the group and everyone is really enjoying. Obviously Takenoko is a light game, but for this game group it’s a good step up to something heavier than fillers and party games. People seem to understand and grasp the concepts but they do say it’s quite complicated once the game is over. I will keep it with me for a couple more weeks to allow some more people to try it.

Lessons for Next Week

Check on interest before turning up

This week was the first time I was genuinely worried about sitting in the pub on my own. I ask all of my close colleagues in person and this week they all had other plans, so I was relying on people who I don’t see in the day-to-day course of work. I had to send round a slightly desperate sounding email to determine if I’d be all alone. So, from now on I’ll be asking people to reply to my reminder email and hopefully that will both give me some reassurance as well as encourage other people on the mailing list who know that there’ll be more people attending.
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Fiona Dickinson
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This week, once again, the board game group was victim to work and other commitments. After much persuasion of my close colleagues I persuaded two to come along for a 45 minute break from work, after which they headed back to their desks, leaving just two of us playing games again.

Week 8

Number of Attendees: 4
Games Played: SET, Dingo's Dreams, Hanabi

The Challenges


Picking the right games for two players
When I first started the group there were lots of people interested and my concerns were to try and increase my collection of high player count fillers that I could use to start the evening. The trend now seems to be that a lot of people leave after we’ve played these quick games, leaving just me and one other person to play a slightly longer game. So far I’ve used Takenoko and Hanabi because they were already in the bag of games, but I think from next week I’ll add some dedicated two player games to the bag, maybe Jaipur, Raptor or Patchwork. I might also swap out some of my games that just won’t work with two, like Medieval Academy or Dixit.

The Successes

Attracting attention in the pub
Now that I’ve moved the group to Monday nights, we meet at the same time as the Backgammon Club. I get a bit jealous that backgammon club is definitely more popular, often with a group of 10 middle-aged men drinking beer and having competitive tournaments. This week we played Hanabi, which from the outside probably does look a little bit weird – we had a bit of an audience at times and I wish we’d actually spoken to them, but I was too busy concentrating on the things I needed to remember. Next time I’ll definitely talk to the interested people to open their eyes to a whole world of games!

Trying out new games
As mentioned above, this week we played a 2-player game of Hanabi. For new gamers, Hanabi is definitely unique but in principle it’s easy to grasp. For me the hardest part of teaching Hanabi is stressing the importance of what constitutes ‘cheating’ or giving too much information. Luckily this new player took it really well and we actually played a perfect game. I probably had to help a little bit too much than the rules was allow, hinting things like “look at the discard pile” or “fours are safe to play now” but for a first game it was a big success!

Lessons for Next Week


Invite people from outside work
A new idea that has occurred to me is a strategy to ensure that there will always be someone to play games with. Next week I’ve invited two of my friends from outside work to come along on a Monday evening. OK, it’s cheating a little bit, but I’m hoping that it will allow us to have a couple of games running at once and will just increase the buzz around the table to have a few more people. It also means I can worry less during the day that people will drop out and not turn up in the evening.

Don’t forget Codenames

I’m so excited to try out Codenames with this group and specifically bought a copy for the group. Unfortunately, once again this week, I forgot it. We played it with my parents last weekend and they really loved it – definitely a sign that it’s a very universal crowd pleaser. The ability to add new players as they arrive will make this the perfect way to start the evening next week!

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Fiona Dickinson
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I think I’m now down to a select few people who even pay attention to my invites and emails about board game group. It’s a shame, but I think when I changed to Monday evening I lost a few people. I don’t have many free evening but perhaps I’ll set up a poll to see when people think they can actually play games in any given 2 week period and hope that one turns out better than my standard 3 or 4 attendees. Nevertheless, this week I had a really nice time and we played a lot of games.

Week 9

Number of Attendees: 4
Games Played: Dingos’s Dreams, Sushi Go, Codenames, Karuba, 6 Nimmt

The Challenges


Dealing with different arrival times

The night started with just two of us, so finding a quick game for two people was the first challenge. I settled on Dingo’s Dreams, a game that I only had to give a rules refresher for and one we only had to play one round of. As is predictable someone turned up just as we finished the teaching. We ploughed on but then moved on to 3-player Sushi Go. Inevitably our fourth player arrived just as I finished teaching that too, but they watched the first round then joined in - not technically fair, but actually the points didn’t work out too skewed at the end of the game. With a few more players it would be better to start with something like Codenames where dropping into the game is easier – if anyone has any other recommendations for games that work in this way, that would be very useful!

The Successes

Bringing a friend

Bringing a friend from outside work a definite plus this week. She had a really great time and wants to come again, plus it meant the evening lasted longer and we could play some higher player count games such as Codenames. The only downside was that I think others from work thought they ought to leave relatively early to allow us to have food. It wasn’t a problem but I think people might have stayed longer otherwise.

Someone decided to buy a game on the spot

I once again brought out Sushi Go this week. The cute, tasty looking Sushi seems to be a definite appeal for new gamers. In addition, everyone picks up the game really quickly and even as an experienced player I am rarely the winner, meaning everyone is very quickly on the same playing field. We played it once, played it again, and playing it a third time was actually vetoed by another player who likes to try more new games. The newest member at the table decided to buy Sushi Go immediately!

Two people have pinkie promised me that they’ll come next time

I always invite my close colleagues to board game night because they’re always interested in what I’m doing and in some ways I think they’re keen to support me. I never expected them to become my regular attendees and in fact wanted to get more of a range of people to come along from other parts of the office. However, there is one colleague who has always been interested and never turned up. This week I believe he was forced by someone else to promise me he’ll come along next time and of course I expect the enforcer to come along too!

Lessons for Next Week

Longer games

I’d really like people to stick around to play something a bit longer. We seem to get stuck on the filler games and have barely even touched traditional gateways like Ticket to Ride or Carcassonne. I was happy to get Karuba played this week, but that was only with my friend from outside work, and really falls into the filler category for me too. Next week I think I have more new players so I feel I have to use games with a low time commitment, but after that I’m going to try and focus on something bigger.
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Fiona Dickinson
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This week was definitely a better week for attendance, although it’s definitely turned into a group for the people I can persuade in my team, plus one person who still attends from a different team in the company. It’s time to re-advertise the group and see if anyone new wants to come along and can do so on a Monday evening. But, for this week we were six, which is the most people for a long while, so let’s take a look at this week in my work board game group.

Week 10
Number of Attendees: 6
Games Played: Codenames, Dixit

The Challenges

The length of time people will stay

I start board game group 6.30pm - 30 minutes after work officially finishes, which means we often start playing at 6.45pm. This week, everyone essentially left by just after 8pm. We did fit 3 games of Codenames into that time and a short game of Dixit, but I just really want to spend a longer evening gaming to justify my effort in staying after work given that I probably live the furthest away from the office. I guess most people just don’t see board gaming as their full evening activity or don’t want to pay to eat food at the pub we play at, so I’m not sure how I can resolve this unless I lock people into longer games.

The Successes

New people
This week, my partner, Amy, joined us for the first time. Once again it’s definitely good to have a guaranteed extra person attending – it just looks better to have a larger group and encourages people to stay and keep playing games. However, I’m not really going to count Amy as a new recruit. One of my close colleagues did come along for the first time though. He’s always talked about playing Catan with friends and family but always backs out of coming to my game nights at the last minute. It was nice to have him along, but I will be surprised if he becomes a regular, even though I think he had a good time.

Fun times
Codenames was definitely the hit of the evening. Even though people found it a little difficult to grasp during rules explanation, it’s easy to understand once playing the game and after we were done once, everyone wanted to try again and we eventually played a best of three. In particular, our new player was amazing at giving clues, which is always a nice bonus for the new person to feel like they’re on a level playing field with the other people at the table.

Lessons for Next Week


Longer games

This is the same as I said last week, but I do seem to be stuck in a cycle of playing a couple of light games or party games, then everybody leaves. I need to break this cycle and only use the fillers or high player count party games when I need to wait for more people to join the group. When I think everyone is present we should jump straight into something a little more challenging and I’ll just have to hope that doesn’t scare people away!
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Fiona Dickinson
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I'm excited to say that I've started a new job and next week I'll be starting a monthly board game night, so these blog posts will be starting up again.

Last time I invited a people in the office who were interested in gaming.

This time the office only has 9 members of staff so everyone is invited and we'll be starting at the very gateway level!

Any ideas for games to try are appreciated - I don't want to just be playing party games - I want to show them something less silly too.
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Karan R
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Ticket to ride, tokaido, stone age are good non party newbie games
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Ben Shever
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For 9 players I recommend Werewords. It's a werewolf style game but using 20-questions as it's base. I've had unbelievable success with it.
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Rebecca Jensen
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Congrats!

I suggest starting with Sushi Go! then introducing 7 Wonders after that. Sushi Go! is adorable and approachable, then 7 Wonders shares a mechanic, but puts some more strategy meat on the bone. Both are great for large groups!

Also, see if you can get some support from another gamer. It would be helpful to be able to split groups so you can play 3-5 player games, not just 6+, and having another gamer around to teach games would help that happen.
 
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PlayBosco wrote:
Congrats!

I suggest starting with Sushi Go! then introducing 7 Wonders after that. Sushi Go! is adorable and approachable, then 7 Wonders shares a mechanic, but puts some more strategy meat on the bone. Both are great for large groups!

Also, see if you can get some support from another gamer. It would be helpful to be able to split groups so you can play 3-5 player games, not just 6+, and having another gamer around to teach games would help that happen.


Unfortunately there isn't another gamer unless I bring in someone from the outside which kind of ruins work social night. I'm trying to think of a game that is meaty enough but that I could leave a group to play after teaching it. Possibly Carcassonne?

Thanks for reminding me of Sushi Go! It went down really well at my old workplace.
 
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fibobs wrote:
PlayBosco wrote:
Congrats!

I suggest starting with Sushi Go! then introducing 7 Wonders after that. Sushi Go! is adorable and approachable, then 7 Wonders shares a mechanic, but puts some more strategy meat on the bone. Both are great for large groups!

Also, see if you can get some support from another gamer. It would be helpful to be able to split groups so you can play 3-5 player games, not just 6+, and having another gamer around to teach games would help that happen.


Unfortunately there isn't another gamer unless I bring in someone from the outside which kind of ruins work social night. I'm trying to think of a game that is meaty enough but that I could leave a group to play after teaching it. Possibly Carcassonne?

Thanks for reminding me of Sushi Go! It went down really well at my old workplace.


Carcassonne is a great idea! I find that new gamers get a little tripped up on the farmer, but otherwise, folks should be able to continue play on their own.

 
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Those of you who follow our blog (thegameshelf.blogspot.co.uk), or have followed this series might have noticed the long hiatus. I last posted a Work Game Group report in March. Since then I moved on from that job, looked for a new job and got married. I've been in my new job one month and it's quite exciting that I've already managed to start a new group and we plan to meet once per month.

My new office has fewer than ten people, so it's a work social night, rather than a night to gather interested people. This definitely meant some people were reluctant and a couple of people didn't attend, but overall I was pleased with their willingness to take part and try something new. It's nice not to worry about how many people are going to come along, but complete non-gamers bring a new set of challenges.


Week 12
Number of Attendees: 7
Games Played: Codenames, Spot it!, Spyfall, Rhino Hero, Ticket to Ride: Europe

The Challenges


A large group
For most of the evening I was the only game teacher, which is always going to be a little challenging with a group of 6 or 7 people. I don't own many games that work for this player count, besides Codenames and Spyfall. I need to think a little bit harder about how I can either move beyond party games and hit the high player count with games like Celestia or Jamaica or whether I can get a smaller group playing independently with something simple like Carcassonne. This week everyone left at the same time, but maybe in the future if numbers start to dwindle throughout the evening this will be the chance to teach something for a lower player count that they might be comfortable to then play independently at the next game night.

The Successes

Venue
Those who have read my older posts will know that we used to game in a pub, which comes with many problems, including reserving the right number of tables, noise, table size etc. Fortunately, now that I work in a small office, it's much easier to justify using a meeting room to play in. We have two meeting rooms and could probably support two or three games happening at once, so I'm very happy never to have to
worry about venues again!

A gamer!
Word has spread to our head office in Canada that I'm a gamer (I'n trying to organise someone to accept my amazon orders before I visit in a few weeks). The great news is that someone reached out and told me that they play games too! The even better news is that he's moving to the London office in the next couple of months and the good news for game night was that he just happened to be here for a visit! I definitely enjoyed our geeky chat over a game of Ticket to Ride: Europe at the end of the evening. So long as I didn't scare him away we'll be heading to the board game cafe in Winnipeg in a few weeks and I'm looking forward to some more after work gaming when he moves here!

Very happy customers
As far as I could tell, everyone really enjoyed our game night! We only played party-style games, but there was a lot of laughter and fun. One colleague said she wanted to buy Dobble for her dad, Codenames for home and Rhino Hero for her nieces - that's definitely a glowing reception to some of the games we played! I kept the whole group together for the whole session, which meant bending the player count slightly with Dobble and Rhino Hero, but I think it was the right choice to make for our first night of gaming and made for a great social experience, especially with a couple of new members in the team.

Lessons for Next Week

Encourage splitting into two groups
As I've said above, seven players can be hard. I don't want the group to get stuck in a cycle of playing party games. There is a risk that they won't find slightly less 'fun' or 'exciting' games a bit boring if I get them too hooked on Dobble and Codenames. To try and play some gateway games like Ticket to Ride, Catan, Carcassonne and Takenoko I will need to find a way to split the group and teach two games. At least I will soon have a second teacher and then this will be far less of a challenge.

Playing something new
Everyone loved Dobble, Codenames and Rhino Hero. I hope that next time we play, in one month from now, they don't just request to play the same games again. I love that everyone enjoyed them, but for my own enjoyment, we need to play some new, and slightly more challenging, games too!
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