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Subject: How was your first gaming club/group experience? rss

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Sander
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This friday, for the first time ever I'm going to a 'Board Game Club'.
It's a non-profit organisation with around 50 members (I guess), playing board games together every 3th friday of the month.

So for those of you who also go to similar 'meetings':

Since I've never been to a group like that, or ever played with people I didn't know for that matter, what can I expect?

Or do you still remember some of your first impressions of the first time you went?

I've decided to bring my girlfriend, just in case it's filled with kids and old people.
 
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JD
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Bringing someone is a good idea. My first experiences at games clubs were not positive but I don't want to scare you and it really depends on the crowd so you may have a great time. Hope for the best and have fun!
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Chris Ferejohn
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Kind of depends if you are ok with being a bit assertive in asking people if they are looking for a game and/or if you can join them. If so, you should be in good shape. If not, you might want to bring a friend...
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Cory Suter
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Oh I remember... It was last weekend!

To be honest, I had no idea what to expect. The meet up website said "good times and great people" but they were strangers none the less. Regardless, good times and great people were right!

We went on in and introduced ourselves immediately. This broke the ice a little and after that we split up into a group of four. Two regulars took us under their wing and helped us out.

I only brought Forbidden Island but I was hoping they would let me play their games. Long story short, two games were introduced to myself and my girlfriend: Survive: Escape from Atlantis! and Kingsburg.

I loved every second of it and got to expose my girlfriend to a gaming atmosphere. We now want to go back.

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Eric Jome
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The most important thing to remember, as others have mentioned, is that you should not be shy about inviting yourself into a game or asking others to play a game with you. People are naturally a bit awkward with strangers, but gamers warm to each other quickly if you get into a game. Don't be discouraged if it takes a few tries to get something started - sometimes just set something up and be ready to play and the sight will attract other gamers, but sometimes you'll have to jump in or talk people into it.
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Patrick Jeff
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It was overall a good experience for me. The first time I went to a group like that we played "Le Havre" which wasn't the best experience due to the complex strategy required and the fact that a game could last 2-3 hours.

On my second visit, I was introduced to Race for the Galaxy and loved it. Not sure if I would have been willing to try a complex game like that without some instruction from experienced folks.

Overall, feel free to express your interests and hopefully there will be a few games going so you can have your pick of the litter.
 
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Chris Stanton
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Mine was some years back but my memory's not failed that badly.
I'd met a few of the local gamers at a market stall (he did toys & games) & they suggested the local gaming club. I duly turned up on the night. Age range was teen- OAP with a healthy scattering of females & for the most part very friendly & welcoming (the few that weren't just took a bit of time to open up to newbies- same as anywhere).

You are going to end up playing games you don't know against people that know them very well- expect to lose badly
Taking the girlfriend along is a good idea (but it's probably better if you play in different games)- then you can see which games you both enjoy & can play together at home.
 
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Pete Lane
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When my regular gaming group started to break apart due to personal reasons... my wife and I tried Meetup to find a new group.

It was at a fellow's house and had about 15-20 people total, all strangers to us. It ended up being a REALLY awkward and uncomfortable experience for both of us, partly because we were in a stranger's home and partly because of some of the other attendees' behaviors.

While we never ended up doing other events with said Meetup group... we DID end up learning about another regular event through them that we make sure to frequent.

So keep in mind that even if THIS event doesn't work out for you, you might meet some new people and open up another different opportunity that DOES.
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Juan Flores
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First time for me was great. My wife and I went to our FLGS (Madness Games & comics in Plano,TX) for our first gaming group experience.

the staff, owner, and fellow gamers were all great. we felt very welcomed and got to play a new game. We were taugh how to play Caylus. We have been back 1 more time since then and had a great time also.

 
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Jason Weed
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I was looking for Axis and Allies players, they introduced me to Puerto Rico, I was hooked from the start.
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Bryan Mosher
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My first such experience was last Saturday. I've done other activities (geocaching) that involved meeting strangers that I only knew online, so I did not have a problem with any awkwardness in the social interactions.

My early misconception was assuming ahead of time that I would play specific games. When I was first invited into a game, I said, "No, I'm waiting to get X started with so-and-so", and the reply was "No you're not, sit here and play this game with us" (in a friendly way). So I did, and had an experience I didn't expect.

I left with two feelings. First, it was a bit like a math conference. But I am a mathematician, so I felt right at home. Second, everyone's attitude seemed to be, "If you'll play this game with me, then you are my friend." After having my game suggestions turned down constantly by non-gamer friends and family, that made me feel at home too.
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Jacco Versteeg
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My first experience was with the first group I started, so I guess that doesn't quite count.

So, my first experience joining a group as an outsider was pretty positive. The people who were there obviously knew each other, and most of them had already sorted out what they wanted to play that evening, so that was that. Another game got set up and I simply got invited to join in, so I did.

Basically, if you have an organiser who knows his or her business, they'll make sure you'll be made welcome, being a newcomer. Depending on the group, there may be other people who will take on a similar role. In any case, it's always a bit of a gamble: some people you'll get on with, others you won't. Same goes for groups.
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Pete Lane
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firstbass wrote:

My early misconception was assuming ahead of time that I would play specific games. When I was first invited into a game, I said, "No, I'm waiting to get X started with so-and-so", and the reply was "No you're not, sit here and play this game with us" (in a friendly way). So I did, and had an experience I didn't expect.


This is huge. We have plenty of first timers at our events post excitedly how they want to play THIS and THAT and THIS and OMG I CAN'T WAIT FOR THAT! Only to end up engulfed in a pile of other games that they never saw coming. While they may never get to touch the original lot, they are always thankful with what they DO get to play.
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CHAPEL
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After the ether of gaming that was a couple friends getting together for a game like settlers or history of the world, I think my first "game group/club" experience was a group called RussCon. I think it was somewhere around 1999-2000. At first I just joined the news group, only because I enjoyed the session reports more than anything. Then I would go periodically every now and again. It was an interesting group. Had an eclectic range of people, and it wasn't as structured as the gaming group I'm used to today. People would come and go throughout the night, they would play great oddball music. People would bring strange and wild food delicacies. Truly an original group, and then Russ moved to Poland, and then it kind of went the way of the dodo. So sad.

Then around 2002 or so I joined another group in my neighborhood that I'll call the "Round Rock Gamers", but it was Ed and Suzan Roz. gig. This was more of a structured group. One that games started promptly at 6:30, and the games were the attraction. Which I also liked. The group was very friendly and inviting, and I don't think I had much of an issue felling right at home.

I kind of consider both these groups my first group experience, as they were so wildly different experiences in gaming.
 
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Keith Sletten
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Hmmm. I think it was '94. All I can remember is some scary people playing the Vampire CCG (ah yes, it was called Jihad). I played MtG and learned a fun little game called Wiz-War. Good times. But yeah, I brought a couple friends. It helps to have someone you know there, unless you're an extreme extrovert.
 
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p55carroll
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Not relevant to yours, but since you asked ...

Mine was a wargaming convention in May 1972, in Grass Valley, California. (Any other old Geeks remember that? The only name that sticks in my mind is Bob Kelso.)

On the whole, it was weird, but fun. I was seventeen, and I went there with a friend. We'd been playing board wargames for a few years, but this was the first time we ever met other wargamers. Also the first time we ever saw miniatures games.

Besides the expected gaming, there was also a sword-fighting demo put on by the Society for Creative Anachronism. And in the evening, they showed Soviet army films.

I remember being embarrassed to see grown men on their hands and knees, playing a 1/32-scale tank-vs-tank game with rubber-band guns.

But my friend and I got down on the ground at one point to try a demo of a new Star Trek game played with ship cards that had strings attached to represent phaser fire.

For a couple weeks afterward, we joked about those guys playing with toy soldiers. Then suddenly we both wanted to get into miniatures ourselves. We bought a few figures and models and played around with them a bit, but neither of us ever followed through.
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Lori
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lxiaol wrote:
Or do you still remember some of your first impressions of the first time you went?


I do remember my 2 first times. One was a group meeting at someone's house, so only about 15 people. The host was very welcoming and assumed responsibility (which not every host will) for seeing that everyone got into a game, and as much as possible that everyone had fun. So that was pretty easy.

First time at the game store was harder, because I'm a pretty shy person. The store owner greeted me, asked if I was there for games night, welcomed me and assured me that a bunch of people would show up around x (I was on the early side). And they did, just as she predicted. There was a designer there demoing his game, so it was easy to get in on that. Then I managed to drift into another game with some other folks and ended up having a good time.

lxiaol wrote:
... with around 50 members ... what can I expect?


One thing I would caution you NOT to expect (though you may get it) is that anyone will be acting as the "host" of this gathering, or taking responsibility for making sure you and other newbies meet people, get into games, or enjoy yourselves. Group styles vary, but the larger and more public the group, the less likely it is that anyone is doing this sort of hostly function. More likely it just happens.

However, I think the size of the group is in your favor. With that many people, there will be a lot going on. I think the key is to show up promptly, be willing to play anything with anybody, and be outgoing enough (or force yourself to fake it) to go up to strangers and ask if they need another for whatever game they're about to start. If they say no, don't take it personally, because it won't be personal. Just wander off and try again.

lxiaol wrote:
I've decided to bring my girlfriend

This is a double-edged sword. I definitely would NOT bring more than one person, because then you start to be a little subgroup of your own, which is not how you get to meet the big group. Bringing one person means you have somebody to be with, but the downside is that it's now more difficult for you to join things; where there's room for one, there may not be room for two. If there's a slot for one, do you take it? Does she take it? Is whoever takes it then worried about having abandoned the other one? I think you'll do best if you're both prepared to split up and mingle, but definitely discuss your expectations before you go. If it works out well, you may not see much of each other all evening, but you'll have learnt twice as many new games and met twice as many new people that you can introduce each other to next week.

lxiaol wrote:
just in case it's filled with kids and old people.

I would start by letting go of this prejudice first. I have no idea how old you are or what seems "old" to you, but gamers come in all ages. That person who looks like they could be your grandparent may be someone's grandparent who got dragged to their first game night and is dumbfounded--or they may be a veteran gamer with decades of experience and knowledge that they'd be glad to share with you. Gaming is a hobby that lasts a lifetime, and you're probably hoping to be an old gamer one day, so don't be dismissive of the "old people." Some of the geeks giving you good advice in this thread might be ones you'd brush off as "old people" if you met them in person, and that would be your loss.

As for the kids, some of them will be whiny, immature, inattentive pains in the ass, and others will be bright, together, experienced, friendly gamers that can probably school you at anything you put on the table. You never know, but here's something to bear in mind: You're the new guy. You're starting at the bottom of the social heap here. The best way to start is to be willing to try anything with anybody. Once you gain a foothold in the group, you'll be able to be more choosy.

You don't know how homogeneous or diverse the group may be. And I don't know from your post whether you're more focused on the gaming, or on finding people similar to yourself to socialize with over games. Even if it's more the latter, remember, the public group is a door. You have to go through that door to get into your local gaming scene. Play nice with everyone for now, and you'll meet people, you'll find out about other gaming opportunities, etc. Good luck!
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Paul DeStefano
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I remember my first club experience. I walked through the door with the cupcakes I had brought.

Within seconds and with startling precision, the cupcakes were pulled from my hands, a black hood thrown over my head and my hands bound.

I was lead down at least one flight of stairs. There was a landing mid way, upon which I was spun about, so I was unsure of the next direction. I smelled mold and charcoal smoke at the bottom of the staircase. The sound of vermin skittering by the walls was disoncerting as I was prodded forward by a small wooden cube being forced into my neck.

Next thing I knew, I was thrown down, and my hood yanked off.

It was a small stone room with a table in the middle. Three others, also apparently dragged to this area, looked at me in pained interest.

I got up and wiped myself off. I looked questioningly at the unkempt men.

"We must prove our worth," one said, pointing for me to take a seat.

I sat. On the table, Candyland.

"We must play to earn a seat..." one whispered, pointing to the ceiling, "...up there."

I hesitantlty drew a card. Blue blue.

"How long have you been here?" I asked tentatively.

One of the men sobbed. "Four months..."

But after a while, things got better and now they let me into a room with natural lighting and access to BGG. The leather collar isn't so bad, you get used to it.
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David Dyer
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I had a pretty good experience my first time. I am not the type of person to just walk up to someone and introduce myself and couldn't convince a good friend to join me for support. She insisted I go it alone. I'm glad she did. This meetup was in a restaurant. I walked in, with several games, Scattergories, Payday and Taboo. I quickly learned these were not the types of games these people usually play. I forced myself to approach someone who was just opening a game for the first time. It happened to be Qwirkle. I loved it! On the same day, I was introduced to Settlers of Catan and a few others I can't recall now.
I was still really nervous about meeting people like this but everyone I met my first few times were all friendly and did not mind teaching games that were new to me. Four years later I am now a "vet" and do my best to make newbies feel comfortable and teach any games I am able to.
 
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Gordy Crozier
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I had arranged a game with a group of people to play Battlestar Galactica on the centre's forum so I knew what I was going to play, it was still a bit weird walking into somewhere you don't really know anyone. It can be a nice experience, no-one remembers that one time you forgot that rule that made your first game of Zombie State a lot more difficult or that time you misread your hand in Dominion and didn'y buy a Province when you could have. Its a group who haven't realised how stupid you are basically!
 
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Michael Moak
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I just knew in a town this size there had to be at least a few people that played these new board games, but how to find them? The internet was my friend and I found a local group that met two Saturdays a month. I picked one and showed up at a local coffee/sandwich shop. Nobody was playing games. I ordered a sandwich and waited a little while, nobody showed. I went back home and posted on the message board; had I missed something, was I at the wrong place? I got a few responses that basically said "Oops, everyone was doing something else that weekend".

I waited two more weeks and tried again. This time there were folks there and I was treated warmly and invited right in to play even though I was a total noob. That was at least 3 years ago. I go every chance I get and love every minute of it. Like other posters have said, don't go into it with preconceived ideas or expectations. Just let them know you want to play, your willing to play most anything, don't push an agenda and just go with the flow. You may find out that this particular group is not for you. You may have a totally unexpected good time. If you like/love/obsess over board games then a group/club is a great way to play things you would not normally try or buy.

BTW, don't be the troll you suspect others might be. Good manners and good hygiene are the way to go regardless of the group. Do you remember that guy that said that thing about first impressions? whistle
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Jay Lacson
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Here's my plug for the Oahu Board Gamers Meetup group.

The first event I went to, I brought a co-worker who was more into board games than I was. I brought Cosmic Encounter and expected nothing.

But, when we arrived, the hosts were very welcoming and basically held light conversation (where are you from, what's your occupation, etc). After a while, we set up Cosmic Encounter and just played. After that game was done, we played a different game, and then a different game, and so on.

It was a fantastic time and I've become a regular attendee. And I can't wait to attend the next one!
 
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Keith Levy
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Sander,

My first club experince would also not be applicable, since I also started a club from scratch.

If you are talking about a non profit group that is inviting the public,
you are probably pretty safe on attemping a visit, as the group most likely knows what it is doing, and will help newcomers feel welcome.

Most large clubs that have been around for a long time, and are open to the public, are most likely going to turn out to be safe and enjoyable ventures.

Larger clubs that have been around for a while and are more formal, should also have some type of web presense, so you can get a better idea of what type of group they are.

Some areas of the country, have the delightful dilemma of numerous high quailty clubs and groups with many places to play on mutliple days of the week.

I find some newcomers will inquire before hand either via e-mail or phone. This is good way to get a feel for things in advance and get a much higher level of comfort in advance.

Good Luck with the club you found, I hope you continue to enjoy it.

Keith


 
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TJ
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I had a pretty good time the first time I visited a gaming group. It was at one of the member's house so even though it was a Friday night everyone left around 9 pm; this game us enough time to play 1 moderate/heavy game and a couple of short card games. The people were friendly enough (I made 8), but I definitely learned that introductions were not to be made during a game, which I thought (and still think) a little strange. My second experience wasn't quite so good; it was a much larger gaming group and I had to be very aggressive in finding a game, which felt really odd considering how 'social' games are supposed to be to begin with. I've gone to several game nights and groups since then, but I've really learned that I enjoy playing with friends a lot more, even if it means my favorite, heavier games don't hit the table as often.

That said, after a game of history of the world tonight in which everyone played sub-optimally (one guy said, half joking, "I really don't like to win by using strategy" to explain why he was attacking more territories in an area he already had dominance in), I remembered why I like gaming groups every now and then: I don't always have to explain the rules and keep the game on track, I don't have to move every single piece for every player, I don't get targeted even when I'm in last place because everyone else is afraid that losing is part of my strategy, and most important of all I don't have to sit around for an hour talking before we start the game, only to end it half way through because we didn't start playing early enough.

So I hope you have (check that; had) a good time at the gaming group! It might not replace gaming with friends (even "non-gamer" friends who are willing to play), but it certainly is nice to have a really challenging game every now and then, and really focus on the tactics and mechanics without feeling guilty because you "always win".
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When I was new to the hobby, my local game group was perfect for me. I got to play a ton of games and I didn't mind if once in a while I found myself in a game with someone I didn't like. Now that I've played quite a few games, I don't feel the same itch to play all the time and I only want to play with people I like. As a result, game groups no longer hold the same appeal for me.
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