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Subject: Tricks, Bribes, and Deceit...anything to get a game to the table. rss

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BJ Keith
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"The glare from the shrink wrap on a perfectly square box,
Meeples and dice, and tiny wooden blocks,
A new rule book to which I desperately cling,
These are a few of my favorite things."

I freely admit it...I like new games. I assume most of us here on the geek do. I love analyzing game mechanisms, experiencing new play, and most of all discussing the game afterwards as it relates to balance, pacing, and overall amusement. But I have found that my love of new games is not shared by my current gaming group. Let me start with a little background information on the group. Then I'll explain the issues I have perceived and then maybe, this community can give me some suggestions on what I need to do to get new games to the table, right where they belong.

So the main group consists of four husbands and wives, including my wife and I. Three of these families have children. One family has a boy, 8 years old, another family has two daughters 3 years and 7 months respectively, and the last family has a 10 month old boy. While some might think that the children can ruin game night, with this group I've found it to be quite the opposite. The children are the reason the adults get together and that ends up bringing games to the table. The littlest ones crawl around on the floor as the moms are rolling dice on the table, it's quite cool.

The biggest gamer in this group is me. Followed by my supportive wife, who is shocked she actually enjoys the games I've convinced her to play. She is starting to embrace her gaming side which has made for some great fun. The rest of the group is made up of mostly new gamers who are primarily interested in gateway games, which is fine by me. I like gateway games for a laid back, casual evening. So, Catan and its expansions and Ticket to Ride have found their way to the table. These are mainstream games but there is no denying that they're good and can easily whet the appetite for more, only this hasn't exactly happened. I have another game that I consider a very basic yet enjoyable gateway, Scotland Yard. It's a familiar theme and has a nice presentation. However, among my current group I've yet to convince them to give it a go. I've taken it out of the box, explained the rules and shown the nifty board and hat ("Does showing the Mr. X hat really work?" "Sixty percent of the time it works a hundred percent of the time."). Yet the group eventually settles on...well, Settlers. So after giving the topic much thought I decided what was needed was a spark. And I had a great idea of where to get it.

I had discovered a little out of the way game store recently. The store had super friendly people and loads of games for testing. My wife really enjoyed looking at the games and was excited about getting the chance to test. I figured this would have the same effect on the group. I talked up the store, the people, the selection and left it at that. Lo and behold it worked! They went and they even tested a simple shock game where the first person to hit their clicker shocks everyone else. They loved it! But alas, the store the next week put up going out of business signs. I thought I was doomed. And yet the group actually ended up going even more to buy games that had been marked down. At this point I was excited thinking I was a genius. In the buying spree I picked up a copy of Battlestar Galactica: The board game, convinced I could get it to the table. My group was motivated! What could go wrong? But something did.

The group bought games alright, but can you guess which ones? Settlers, settlers expansions, and Ticket to Ride. Instead of playing other peoples copies they now had their own. What!? Why!? But surely all those neat games they saw, all the comments they made, BSG could get a go. Why not? I know! We'll play the Ultra Fast Variant. It'll be ok.

So far no go for BSG. Ditto for Scotland Yard. A familiar refrain I've heard from the group regarding BSG is "Bears, Beats, Battlestar Galactica". A quote from the TV show "The Office". This is used as a reason not to play the game, jokingly associating those who play it to Dwight K. Schrute. In truth none of us have watched BSG the show. And none of us particularly care to. But the real issue can't be theme. Scotland Yard has no stigmas and it hasn't been played. I asked one of my gaming group members what it would take to play it. She said "alcohol", in jest. Truth is if beer is what it takes beer it shall be. I really want to motivate this group. Free pizza? Saying let's get the kids together then having the game setup when they arrive? I'm willing to do it. But I need some suggestions. Please give me some suggestions. I don't think the group needs to change. I've seen them play new games before and love them. I think I just need something to get it started. I'm willing to try anything...to get them to try something.

Edits: Grammar, Spelling
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Jonathan Tullsen
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The Road goes ever on and on Down from the door where it began. Now far ahead the Road has gone, And I must follow, if I can, Pursuing it with eager feet, Until it joins some larger way Where many paths and errands meet.
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Lock the door and force them at gunpoint!
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David Debien
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To ease them into BSG, I would try The Resistance and if they like that, tell them BSG is similar but with more substance. I played the game before I became a fan of the show and indeed it was the BSG game that made me go back and give the show a second chance. I have now seen the entire series and must say it is quite fantastic.

Scotland Yard is a great hide and seek deduction style of game. No idea why they wouldn't want to try it at least once.
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David Debien
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Also, welcome to the Geek!
Here is some GG to get you started.
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J H
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I would say like any master criminal, bide your time. Let them play their copies of Settlers and TTR in their own homes. Eventually they will tire of those games and find themselves wanting something...something more.

That's when you break out Scotland Yard and BSG.

Patience young Jedi...patience.
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Dan Cepeda
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Not to be a naysayer... well, maybe to be a naysayer... You might need to find another place to really get your gaming fix. I've gamed with people like this. Even if you do get them to try the meatier things, that's no guarantee they'll continue playing them.

My advice would be to accept the group for what it is: a light gaming group. They may come around, but I suspect if they haven't by now, they probably won't any time soon. "Forcing" them to play one of your games is a probable way to build resentment. Especially if they find they don't like it.

However, I suppose you have to at least try. Just bargain with them. Get them to try it "just once" or whatever, and if they hate it you'll never ask them to try anything else ever again. Or something like that.
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Jonathan Tullsen
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Not to be a noob... but what is BSG?
 
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David Debien
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Military Muskrat wrote:
Not to be a noob... but what is BSG?


Battlestar Galactica: The Board Game
 
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Jonathan Tullsen
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The Road goes ever on and on Down from the door where it began. Now far ahead the Road has gone, And I must follow, if I can, Pursuing it with eager feet, Until it joins some larger way Where many paths and errands meet.
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casualgod wrote:
Military Muskrat wrote:
Not to be a noob... but what is BSG?


Battlestar Galactica: The Board Game

Ahhh...
I have played this game but never heard it referred to as BSG...
Thank you!
 
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BJ Keith
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To ease them into BSG, I would try The Resistance and if they like that, tell them BSG is similar but with more substance.


I think that's a good idea. Hadn't thought of that. I started off relating it to "Mafia" which also has similarities.
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Oliver Kiley
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My thought is that maybe they just do not like the look of either Scotland Yard or BSG from a thematic standpoint. It's a visual thing for some people. Also, just the quantity of bits / scale of the game can be off-putting, which is something I've noticed especially among non-"gamers,"

Could be that the deductive element in both BSG + Scotland Yard is not appealing to the group.

Try picking some other games that maybe be more in-line with Catan/TtR in a component scale and weight standpoint:

Other readily available "gateway" considerations (copied from an older post):

Tile Laying -> Carcassonne (Carcassonne: Hunters and Gatherers may be a better standalone game)
Cooperative -> Forbidden Island
Network Building -> Ticket to Ride
Role Selection -> Citadels
Deck Building -> Dominion
Area Control -> Small World
Worker Placement -> Stone Age
Card Drafting -> 7 Wonders
Economic/Civ-Building? -> Catan
Auction -> Ra
Abstract -> Ingenious
"Party" -> Dixit
Deduction -> The Resistance
Press Your Luck / Die Rolling -> Roll Through the Ages: The Bronze Age
Card / Hand Management -> Bohnanza

Full conversation here: The Universally Agreed Upon Top 5 Gateway Games


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BJ Keith
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iidhaegn wrote:
...

My advice would be to accept the group for what it is: a light gaming group. They may come around, but I suspect if they haven't by now, they probably won't any time soon. "Forcing" them to play one of your games is a probable way to build resentment. Especially if they find they don't like it.


I am nervous about doing this. I don't want to be forceful. And like you said if it doesn't go well it will affect their desire to try new games in the future.
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BJ Keith
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Could be that the deductive element in both BSG + Scotland Yard is not appealing to the group.


I didn't actually consider that connection. But it's true. They both require deduction and a lot of cooperation. I love these type of games but maybe the rest of the group doesn't. I'll have to ask them directly about that.
 
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steven riola

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Just a possibly suggestion for you and your group.

Try to schedule a rules playthrough with a couple of the members. It doesn't need to be the entire group, just someone else that you can teach/learn the mechanics with so when it hits the table you have someone on your side.

A new game, a big box, new rules can be daunting and intimidating, especially to a casual, light gaming group. So if you can swing a vote from the group to your side and possibly have the game already completely set up before the the game group gets there could be a huge help.

Just a suggestion...

I consider our gaming group a big of a heavier group, we play some long dragged out games but when there's a new game we want to play and are worried, we try to get 2 people together to just play through the rules and go over everything together. Recently we bought Ora et Labora, after looking at the rules and all of the pieces, we knew we needed a walk through before all 4 of us sat down. So two of us sat down with a few beers, the rule book and took it step by step, so now when we introduce it to the rest of the group, two of us know how to play and can help guide the other two.

Good Luck, I hope it works out for you!
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BJ Keith
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thearkhammonk wrote:
Just a possibly suggestion for you and your group.

Try to schedule a rules playthrough with a couple of the members. It doesn't need to be the entire group, just someone else that you can teach/learn the mechanics with so when it hits the table you have someone on your side.

A new game, a big box, new rules can be daunting and intimidating, especially to a casual, light gaming group. So if you can swing a vote from the group to your side and possibly have the game already completely set up before the the game group gets there could be a huge help.

Just a suggestion...

I consider our gaming group a big of a heavier group, we play some long dragged out games but when there's a new game we want to play and are worried, we try to get 2 people together to just play through the rules and go over everything together. Recently we bought Ora et Labora, after looking at the rules and all of the pieces, we knew we needed a walk through before all 4 of us sat down. So two of us sat down with a few beers, the rule book and took it step by step, so now when we introduce it to the rest of the group, two of us know how to play and can help guide the other two.

Good Luck, I hope it works out for you!


It's a great idea. I think I could definitely convince one of them to do this with me. Going through the motions of the game and getting an idea of it first could be a game changer (A good pun but unintentional). I really wanted to do this when there was testing available in the store but that's not going to happen now. Thanks for the suggestion.
 
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steven riola

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[/q]

It's a great idea. I think I could definitely convince one of them to do this with me. Going through the motions of the game and getting an idea of it first could be a game changer (A good pun but unintentional). I really wanted to do this when there was testing available in the store but that's not going to happen now. Thanks for the suggestion.[/q]

And on a side note, my wife enjoys gaming as well. What really sold her was going to the same store with me. She's an artist for a living so she was initially drawn to a game that had cute, fun art and I sigh'd and rolled my eyes. I smiled and said sure...

In the end, she was the winner. She bought Takenoko, which had a little panda and gardener and I thought it was going to be a nightmare. Not only did I learn a lessen not to judge a game by its cover (because it's pretty awesome) I got her buy-in.

Maybe you pull up miniaturemarket.com or coolstuffinc.com with the gaming group and see what people are drawn too and start there with new games.
 
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BJ Keith
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thearkhammonk wrote:

Maybe you pull up miniaturemarket.com or coolstuffinc.com with the gaming group and see what people are drawn too and start there with new games.


I've never been to either of those sites. I will have to check them out.
 
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Juan Medina
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Sometimes you have to admit some games are not for casual players. I find that BSG is quite heavy, and also confrontational to booth. Not an easy sell. If you have access to easier games, growing up your group seems to work well. I have some friends that I never thought would play heavy games that have actually got there after playing simpler fare first. Once they are familiar with the mechanics, it is easier to get heavier games played.
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BJ Keith
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PrivateMeggido wrote:
Sometimes you have to admit some games are not for casual players. I find that BSG is quite heavy, and also confrontational to booth. Not an easy sell. If you have access to easier games, growing up your group seems to work well. I have some friends that I never thought would play heavy games that have actually got there after playing simpler fare first. Once they are familiar with the mechanics, it is easier to get heavier games played.


I get this. So you think a game that would be like a step up from catan and TTR would be good. The next level up from gateway. So what games have you used or would recommend for this?
 
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BSG is a co-op game with a traitor. Maybe try a simple co-op game like Pandemic. If you want even simpler try Forbidden Island.
 
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bubbybebay wrote:
PrivateMeggido wrote:
Sometimes you have to admit some games are not for casual players. I find that BSG is quite heavy, and also confrontational to booth. Not an easy sell. If you have access to easier games, growing up your group seems to work well. I have some friends that I never thought would play heavy games that have actually got there after playing simpler fare first. Once they are familiar with the mechanics, it is easier to get heavier games played.


I get this. So you think a game that would be like a step up from catan and TTR would be good. The next level up from gateway. So what games have you used or would recommend for this?


These are some I have been able to use for that purpose:

Thurn and Taxis is what I play past Ticket to Ride. It introduces more complex victory conditions and some Euro mechanics without being a lot more complex than Ticket to Ride. Plays in about one hour.

7 Wonders is the one I call an "after Gateway" game. The gameplay is not difficult, but the scoring requires a bit of explanation. Once people get it, it is easy to play, the core of the time will be spent deciding what you want to go for. Thread carefully with this one and go with a smaller group first. Seven confused players make for a long and arduous game. Your first game will probably take a bit, but after a couple they are likely to go 30 to 45 minutes, and once your players are in good shape you can go for larger games with ease (I still prefer five players tops though).

Dominion is a bit dry, but it is easy to explain and play, also readily available and something that I have seen a lot of people like to play regularly.

The Resistance has been mentioned by others (wise people!). It is a blast and not hard to get. It also works well with a large group and a mix of players.

Shadows over Camelot is easy to play and has a traitor mechanic, and it is cooperative so it works well in family settings where you have kids and parents playing together. It also works well for large size groups.

Asara introduces scoring and worker placement mechanics in a simple and short euro game. Some people usually suggest Stone Age and while I see why, the scoring on the game is not simple due to the multipliers. Another good worker placement mechanics game that is not too complex (you only need the one person to really know how to keep the turns going) is The Pillars of the Earth.

Fearsome Floors has always been a blast when I brought it to the table. Kids dig the game because of the monster while adults can actually sit and calculate their odds. It also works well with large groups as the downtime is minimal.

Small World has visual appeal, it is easy to get and the rules are not too complex. It is a good game to introduce area control concepts.

Flash Point: Fire Rescue is probably the best family coop I have seen, closely followed by Forbidden Island.

Well, that ought to get you started. If I can think of more I will post something, maybe start a geeklist.




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BJ Keith
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Hey thanks for the list. Definitely will check these out. Flash point looks awesome.
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Mezmorki wrote:
My thought is that maybe they just do not like the look of either Scotland Yard or BSG from a thematic standpoint. It's a visual thing for some people. Also, just the quantity of bits / scale of the game can be off-putting, which is something I've noticed especially among non-"gamers,"

Could be that the deductive element in both BSG + Scotland Yard is not appealing to the group.

Try picking some other games that maybe be more in-line with Catan/TtR in a component scale and weight standpoint:

Other readily available "gateway" considerations (copied from an older post):

Tile Laying -> Carcassonne (Carcassonne: Hunters and Gatherers may be a better standalone game)
Cooperative -> Forbidden Island
Network Building -> Ticket to Ride
Role Selection -> Citadels
Deck Building -> Dominion
Area Control -> Small World
Worker Placement -> Stone Age
Card Drafting -> 7 Wonders
Economic/Civ-Building? -> Catan
Auction -> Ra
Abstract -> Ingenious
"Party" -> Dixit
Deduction -> The Resistance
Press Your Luck / Die Rolling -> Roll Through the Ages: The Bronze Age
Card / Hand Management -> Bohnanza

Full conversation here: The Universally Agreed Upon Top 5 Gateway Games




This was my thought as well. If I'm enjoying Settelrs and TTR, I'm looking for other games that will give that feel. I would suggest Stone Age. It has the familiar elements of resource collection and building, but adds the concept of worker placement and more complex scoring. It's also gorgeously produced.
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BJ Keith
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Quote:
This was my thought as well. If I'm enjoying Settelrs and TTR, I'm looking for other games that will give that feel. I would suggest Stone Age. It has the familiar elements of resource collection and building, but adds the concept of worker placement and more complex scoring. It's also gorgeously produced.


It's funny how true this is. I remember the first time I saw stone age and the box was open. Some different friends saw the game and said "I want to play that!" I was surprised. The visuals aren't as important to me as the mechanic so I often take the impact visuals can have for granted.
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