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Subject: Too many players on board... rss

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The Seal of Approval
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...or: The game-playing monster I created.

My epoch of serious gaming started about four years ago, with the treasure of information that is BGG.

So I bought a few games, and started to look for people to play them with. It might be a situation some of you are all-too-familiar with.

I was lucky. A few of my friends already were avid Settlers and Carc players, I'd join them for a game every once in a while, and I could lure a few of them into a game of Ursuppe or PR in return.

Still, times changed, people started to work. People started to study in earnest. And I had only a handful to call, so if only two or three people said "Sorry, no time this weekend" - that was it, as far a gaming was concerned.

I had good luck with lighter games for a while - nearly everyone I regularly met back then would enjoy a game of Werewolf, Bohnanza or TtR once in a while. After a year or two, I got tired of these games, and wanted more - and heavier gaming.

I've contacted people via BGG. The first I met were avid gamers, fine people, but not really compatible in game preferences (I mainly stay with mid-to-heavy Euros or hybrids) or gaming style (I want to play even the heavier games fairly quickly, not with age-long contemplation about a single move).

About a year ago, I started getting bolder. I asked around. I asked literally everyone I knew I even remotely considered a likely gamer. Most of them have been introduced to the likes of Risk and Monopoly. Many knew Settlers and Carc. Very few (if any) were familiar with Power Grid, Caylus, or Die Macher, and that was the alley I wanted to lure them into. I realized that some people I had known for a while were actually playing themselves, on occasion.

I've learned to know my gamers. I have an idea about individual preferences, and can usually offer a game that pleases everyone (including me!)
When I want a serious strategy-heavy evening with Shogun, Imperial or Caylus, I know whom to invite. I also know who would be up for a light session of TtR, or Category 5 (almost everyone, in fact).

I spend a lot of time organizing gaming events. I have the games. I select the games (mostly). I invite the people. I read and explain the rules.
And I enjoy it every cube.

But lately, I have encountered a problem that I didn't expect I'd ever have:

There are simply too many people I'd LOVE to invite! Things have grown big, for I have created a game-playing monster!

My current list includes 19 people, plus all of my cousins which I meet in separate family-game-ins!
Not all of the 19 people like all of the games, but even when I select only from my absolute favorite games, I could invite like 12 people who would enjoy to play them!

My place isn't big enough for anything but a single game a time, that makes it 6 players max for my favorite games. So I invite no more than 5 people at a time. I really enjoy these evenings, but there are downsides:
People have already complained to me after not being invited to a gaming night. And, people who'd like to game and are not invited don't play! This means, less gaming in the world!

I don't like that!

However, gaming events are also social events. All of these people I consider not only gaming buddies, but - first and foremost - friends. Even if I invited more people with the intention of having two or three gaming tables, the people usually don't want to split, and would rather play nothing, but sit together in a big group. Something like a little party, which is fun by itself, mind you, but no gaming!

So...
What to do with such power? I wish to use it for the Good of Gaming!

Well....

In writing this, I realized just how lucky I am, to have these problems instead of the *other* problems. My current tactic is to schedule so many gaming nights that some of the regulars will feel like skipping one or the other, leaving spots for other would-be-gamers on my list.

So take it as my story of how I found (and founded) my personal gaming paradise.

Thanks for staying this far!
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Gregory Amstutz
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I wish I had your problem. Our "group" (and I use the term loosely) consists of me , my wife, my best friend, and, if we're lucky, 1 or 2 others. We get together to game once or twice a month, maybe. I'd kill to have that many players! Well, maybe not kill, but you get the drift. Count your blessings, tell everyone to lighten up, and enjoy it while you've got it!

Good Gaming!
 
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Steve Sisk
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Sounds like you need to take your game group somewhere there's enough room for everyone. You could try asking around at a local game shop (they sometimes have room to accommodate gaming groups), coffee shop (most gamers I know LOVE coffee and are sometimes even willing to pay for it), library, school, church, or wherever there's enough space for a large crowd.
 
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The Seal of Approval
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SiskNY wrote:
Sounds like you need to take your game group somewhere there's enough room for everyone. You could try asking around at a local game shop (they sometimes have room to accommodate gaming groups), coffee shop (most gamers I know LOVE coffee and are sometimes even willing to pay for it), library, school, church, or wherever there's enough space for a large crowd.


And right here's the problem. With a couple of exceptions, they are no gamers, only people who enjoy playing games. That's a big difference.

They probably wouldn't enjoy the game shop (particularly the one I know has a room...very gothic...)

A Coffee shop might work, but it's always a real pain to split the group, because they have such a great time being all together! - Here's the non-gamers-who-enjoy-games at work.

I've been to one or two parties were a few people went to a separate room
to do some serious gaming (including me, obviously), while the others were having fun chatting and watching crazy web videos. Whenever we heard roaring laughter from the other room, someone just *had* to go over and look what all the noise was about. It didn't really help to get into gaming mood.

I'd rather have parties (with party games, if desired) and separate only-gaming events.
 
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Andy Leighton
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Well I'm one gamer who doesn't like coffee. In fact in our group most of us drink tea in preference to coffee.

Some ideas for larger groups -
Community centres - these could be council run or a church hall. These are sometimes able to hired out for a fairly small amount. They sometimes have kitchen facilities for tea/coffee making.

Pubs. We have mid-week games in local pubs. Make sure you get one with good light. Also pubs sometimes have function space - back-rooms and upstairs rooms which they are willing to hire out.

Maybe talk to some of the other clubs in your town. They may have already done some of the donkey-work in looking at places. If you are really lucky they may be renting out a space that is really too large for them and be willing to share (this is very good if it is a compatible club like backgammon, wargaming or scrabble).
 
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The Seal of Approval
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andyl wrote:
Maybe talk to some of the other clubs in your town. They may have already done some of the donkey-work in looking at places. If you are really lucky they may be renting out a space that is really too large for them and be willing to share (this is very good if it is a compatible club like backgammon, wargaming or scrabble).


Ah, this is one point I should clarify:

I don't have a gaming club.

All I have are a number of friends who'll join me in my favorite hobby. Frankly, I don't want to handle it as a club (and I never felt the urge to go to gaming clubs, for that matter, even when I had less gaming opportunities than I wanted). Some here might disagree, but games come - always - after the people.
 
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Andy Leighton
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Sure but clubs don't have to be formal. They don't have to be open membership. They can be just you and your family and friends. It is still worth talking to other clubs (not just games clubs) as they may well have done a lot of the work in looking at venues.
 
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Kevin Brown
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Does anyone else in the group have more space? Perhaps you could start a rotating thing, so that several people get the joy/responsibility of hosting.

Ask your friends for suggestions. Maybe one of them will have an answer.
 
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Mendon Dornbrook
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Sounds like it's time for a CON!
 
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How many people can you accomodate at your place? If you can fit more than six (I.E. in other rooms or the like), I'd recommend just having a big game night with different games being played in different rooms, and when one game ends, people can tablehop to another room, stick around for the next round, or just wander and watch the action.
 
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Paul Schulzetenberg
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That sounds a lot like my situation. Six months ago, I was getting requests for more games than I had the energy to organize, and people were feeling hurt when I couldn't invite them to everything. Finally I just got fed up with the whole thing and created a more structured gaming group. We arranged weekly meetings, and people can come as often or as seldom as they wish. I also asked for help with hosting, so that I wouldn't have the sole burden of preparing and cleaning up every week.

I can't say whether it's appropriate for you, but the results have been great for me. Most of my friends don't want to play games every week, but only about once every other week. That helps us with space problems quite a bit. We generally get between 7-12 people on any given night. I had to lean on people a little bit at first to get them to split up into smaller groups, but after a few times, people got the picture and will now separate into groups without much hesitation. As for getting into heavier games, I find that once you start multiple tables at the same time, the types of gamers will generally sort themselves. I also attend a separate biweekly game night at my FLGS to help me get my fix of heavier games.

Anyway, I'm no expert, but I thought you might want to know what worked in my group. After six months, my game group is working out better than I ever expected. Try it, you might be surprised!
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Tara King
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As a member of Paul's aforementioned game night, I can say it has worked really well. A few things he did early on established a friendly, fun and gaming-focused atmosphere, which really helped deal with some of the problems you described (distracting party in another room, or people not wanting to split up). Create the expectation that everyone is there to game, and that people will be able to play the game they want with the people they are there to see. Some tips I hope are useful:

1) Bring up the topic of picking a game to play once you've got critical mass to start a game. If people sit around and chat and eat snacks, the next thing you know you've only got time for Bohnanza. We usually get the games started (or at least the decision process started) right away, and people seem comfortable with that.

2) Consider the "I Don't Know, What Do You Want to Play?" game. Paul gets ribbed for it, but we always end up with good selections and it focuses attention...plus gives a little leeway for late arrivals.

3) Unless your friends are extremely into each other, they'll probably be okay with splitting up when they realize that they can come every week (or however often) and see the rest of the group. It doesn't matter that much if you played with X this week, because you can always play with X next week as well. The regularly scheduled game night also means that people who aren't interested in gaming on a given night don't feel obliged to show up, because there is always next week. I find that this set-up keeps people interested in games, but in a socially friendly and flexible environment.

These are dependent on having space for more than one game, but I feel like that's been covered already. Good luck with your monster!

/groupie ninja
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The Seal of Approval
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Thanks all! Some really interesting advice (special thanks to Paul and Tara) - I'll see what I can use for my situation, and how it works out.

I've already born the idea f a once-a-week evening gaming session (started this Thursday, in fact), and I'll see how that works out.
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Lynette
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Hey your game group sounds like it is really growing. Since my group isn’t much bigger than yours I have a few tips you might want to try. Of course our meeting place is large enough that if 20 people show up we can deal with it (though our record to date is 14 I think) and we often have 2 tables of games going on at the same time. We even occasionally have had three tables with different games going. But still here our some of my observations, I hope they help.

1) Many people have a night they prefer. In our group we make a point of having one Friday night and one Saturday night a month for exactly this reason. There are people who will never show up on Friday and others who will never show up on a Saturday. So if you alternate your nights you most likely will cut your potential players for any given night down to a smaller pool. The occasional weeknight will pare the list even more.

2) The more often you have game nights and the closer they are together, the more likely most people will pick one night or the other, not both. In our group, when our nights are evenly spaced two weeks apart we have higher attendance to both nights and about 7 of the core group show up to both events. When for some reason we have to have them only one week apart, less people attend both nights.

3) Many people have a strong preference for particular games. So if you set out a game schedule of specific games to be played on specific days for the next two-three weeks, and then send out the list to everybody asking them which game nights they would prefer to be invited to play, your group might sort itself without anybody having to be left out or you having to make the hard decisions.

If you have the time to have two “games” a week, I am guessing that your group will quickly drop down to a manageable size for any given game.

If not, you can then make it RSVP for specific games and whoever replies first gets preference, 6 slots for Power Grid, once they are filled up, your night it set.

Good Luck finding your optimum gaming rhythm.
 
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