Nick Pitman
Scotland
Glasgow
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Since I joined our gaming group here in Glasgow (http://www.primordialgroup.com) a few years ago it has gradually grown to a total of about 20 people, with an average of about 6-10 turning up on any one night.

In the old days when there were only about 4 people there we would all bring a few games, sling them all on the table, then hum and haw for a while until we all agreed on something to play.

As the group grew we chose to become more organised. This was for a few reasons - to allow the less vocal in the group to have some say in what was played in terms of both nominations and selection, to make the evenings more slick and cut down on wasted time, to pick games suitable for the number of people attending, and to allow us to select the less popular games on nights when the right combination of people keen to play them turned up.

We did all this with a GeekList (a few in fact)
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/35200 (current)
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/29235 (old)
The idea is that everyone nominates 3 games and people thumb all the games they want to play, with no limited on how many can be thumbed. The list is organised by thumbs and games at the top of the list are played first, taking into account attendance on the night. Once virtually all who have thumbed a game have played it the game is removed and the nominator adds another to the list.

This has generally worked very well. However there have been a few problems. Particularly
- Stagnation. Games sitting in the middle of the list for a whole year with new games always jumping up over them.
- No way to add on a new 'Hot' game. (Automobile was not on the list so the list was duly thrown to the wind so we could play it 3 night in a row).
- No way to easily calculate the best combo for any given selection of players on a particular night.

So any suggestions?

It is worth noting that we already use an automated email response system to allow people to click a link about their attendance and generate a list of who is coming which appears on the website. We also pull data from the Geek onto our site already (eg game rating to create a top rated by us table) and keep an online score tally. [I say we, I can take none of the credit for the tech work on the site].

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whistler
United States
West Virginia
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Sorry, no suggestions, but I gave you thumbs because your group has a cool name. Perhaps you should just play your namesake all of the time.
 
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Wurtsboro
NY
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Perhaps when people show up for the evening, they could put one or possibly 2 slips of paper into a hat, and then have a drawing. If 4 out of 5 people want to play Automobile, then there's a good chance it's going to get played that night.
 
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Silas Knight
United States
Arcata
California
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Have you tried fascism?

I pull out three or so games that fit the ideal number of players, let people talk about preferences, then tell everyone what we're going to play next.

Never fails.
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Silas Knight
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>I pull out three or so games that fit the ideal number of players, let people talk about preferences, then tell everyone what we're going to play next.


I should mention that this system only works when I'm not playing against my fiancée. In that particular case, I list three or so games that I want to play, then she tells me what game in our entire collection she'll deign to play against me that evening. :-)
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Orrin Venn
United States
Metairie
Louisiana
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Quote:
So any suggestions?


In my opinion, this is one of those times when democracy does not work. The games stuck in the middle of the list are proof. They never get played even though there are SOME who would like to because they never get the majority vote. If games are voted on, the Somes will never see their day (game).

The Somes deserve a day and the way to give it to them is to set up a secret schedule where all members get to 'have their day'. They get a meeting to choose whatever game they want and everyone agrees to play it. At least for the first round. Afer that, let democracy rule. This at least gives everyone a chance to endear the other members to the game each player likes most.

Hope this helped.

PS Even if the schedule is not secret, discourage those from not attending who may not like the 'game of the week'. Like good ol' Yogi Berra said about funerals, "You should always go to people's funerals 'cause if you don't, then they won't come to yours."
 
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Matt Davis
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New Concord
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One possibility, known as "the metagame":

Bring several distinguishable decks of cards. Give everyone the ace through n (or maybe n+1) of a suit, where n is the number of attendees. Everyone nominates one game to play. Everyone votes on what they want to play by putting one of their cards face down on that game - the higher numbers mean, I really want to play this.

Then you total up the score on the games. Whichever game has the highest total gets played. Then the people who voted the highest on it go play it. Remove their votes from the remaining games and now see what has the highest total. Repeat until everyone's in a game.

Pros:

-Your "no" votes aren't as public, so if X hates game Y that Z loves, putting an ace face down on it hardly gets noticed.
-Rarely will you end up playing a game you hate.
-The new hotness is easily included - if someone brings it along, it's there to be voted on.

Cons:

- If 3 people really want to play Automobile and no one else does, this method will never make that happen. But if three people really want to play Automobile and no one else does, they should go play it and make everyone else figure out what they're playing.

-Doesn't help the "middle" games in theory, but if a game keeps getting nominated and not played week after week, people will tend to say "Sure, let's get that to the table," even if only a favor to the nominator.
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Pone McPoneface
United States
Dublin
Ohio
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There is a road, no simple highway, between the dawn and the dark of night, and if you go no one may follow, that path is for your steps alone. Ripple in still water, when there is no pebble tossed, nor wind to blow.
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Use the Octagon. Two games enter and only one leaves... and gets played. You can also use this to resolve player disputes. laugh

I myself have a family Octagon for holiday misunderstandings, sibling rivalries, etc. It has really simplified things in my life.

Seriously though, you can try and create a commitment list for a game title for your gaming group to sign up for. You can even list potential gaming dates and have multiple lists with a minimum number of players needed before that game gets locked into a gaming session. You could even do this for the same title and have many dates listed. In my gaming group we tended to post many of the same titles for different weekends until one of the slots gets filled and we tended to remove the other lists and then add different titles in their place. I hope this doesn't sound confusing, but it has worked for my gaming group in the past. I hope you find success in your gaming schedule and wish you the best of luck!

Joe
 
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Laurence Parsons
United Kingdom
Charfield
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Your problem may be that you are too organised.
Our Monday game group comprises anywhere between 6-12 "regulars" turning up any time from 7pm onwards. What tends to happen is that as soon as there's enough for a game, someone will suggest one and , vetos notwithstanding, they're off. As more people turn up, another game gets started in much the same fashion.
There can be the downside that we have one latecomer who has to wait (it was me last week), but that's not often; and there's always chat...

My Saturday group is much more organised in that it's 3 couples at a regular time. We generally bandy around suggestions, and if we can't get a consensus we elect someone who hasn't chosen for a while, and they choose. Or we play Power Grid
 
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Jon Cormier
Canada
Ottawa
Ontario
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Wow, embarassment of riches here. It's a classic problem of success - what originally worked to get you to this point doesn't work once you've reached the goal and continue to grow.

I would suggest you try the occassional "theme" night - July is the month you give the "reserves" a chance to play, so the more popular games aren't options - only games that haven't been played in X months are available. Or you can celebrate trains, pirates, ancient civilizations with only games including those themes, etc.

Give it a try once, and if it works then every fourth gamenight should be a reserve match if people like it - you can sell it as a chance to try new games or to get reacquainted with old favourites. I don't suggest you try to control the selection too much or you alienate the group - the selection process is probably what brought them to the group in the first place, but I think it's worth a shot to try and organize something a bit more specific once to see how it goes - if they hate it, then put it on the back burner. If it's a hit, try it again at a future game night (just not all the time or people will start to feel micro-managed and I know I have that enough during the weekdays).
 
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Nick Pitman
Scotland
Glasgow
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Cheers for all the replies guys. Will mull them all over and let you know what we decide on.
 
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