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Subject: How to structure a game night. rss

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Steve Dillon
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Hello BGG community!

I am a gamer. I am the ONLY gamer I know. I host a game night every few weeks and introduce people to designer board games. It's ALWAYS a huge hit and many people have subsequently bought their own copies of the games I introduce. The game nights are ever expanding with more an more people wanting to attend, and my schedule does not allow for more frequent game nights or a regular game night. The issue is that every time, there are always people there who have never played any of the games, and I'm not sure what order to play them in.

Here are the usual games that eventually get played (usually groups of 8 to 12 people)

Wits n Wagers
The Resistance
Werewolves of Miller's Hollow
Dixit

Then, we try to break off into smaller groups for...

Pandemic and/or Forbidden Island
Carcassone
Dominion
Settlers of Catan
Ticket to Ride
Rockband (I know, I know, it's a video game, but we like it

Question is... given those games (also open to purchasing others that get strong recommendations), how should I structure the game nights? Is there a particular order people would suggest? How to others run their game nights? What works in terms of logistics of running a good game night with a mix of complete newbies and a few people that have played a couple of times?

Thanks guys!

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Steve Dillon
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Forgot to mention... I also have Bang! The Bullet, but have never actually played it at the game night. Just for completeness.
 
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Hugh G. Rection
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With a group that large, and a regular influx of newbies, you're going to need some of the "experienced" players to volunteer to teach games. You'll go crazy trying to do it all by yourself.

Also, fill out your address information in your profile so you'll show up on the Find Gamers (w/ Google Maps) tool, assuming you're in the U.S.
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Steve Dillon
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Hugh_G_Rection wrote:
With a group that large, and a regular influx of newbies, you're going to need some of the "experienced" players to volunteer to teach games. You'll go crazy trying to do it all by yourself.

Also, fill out your address information in your profile so you'll show up on the Find Gamers (w/ Google Maps) tool, assuming you're in the U.S.


I am going crazy, the problem is that all the experienced gamers(use that term loosely) want to either play the games they know together, or they had so much fun learning a game last time, they want me to teach them a new game each time.

How do others structure their game nights and how do you deal with "newbies"?
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Liam
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Rockband is a videogame.

It's about getting your veterans to pull their weight. I'd get them to agree that they take turn about being a 'helper'. That way it takes the pressure off you and gives you a chance to enjoy playing games and teaching the vets new games too.

The order doesn't really matter IMO. I'd create a gamegroup here on BGG and agree or designate games and a time table prior to the night. That saves on some chaos.

Though it sounds like you've done a great job!
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Hugh G. Rection
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You need to explain to them that you need help teaching games to the new people and that eventually, there will be more experienced players to play with. It's an investment in their gaming future, so to speak.

That, or they can be stuck playing low-level intro games forever.
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Steve Dillon
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Hugh_G_Rection wrote:
With a group that large, and a regular influx of newbies, you're going to need some of the "experienced" players to volunteer to teach games. You'll go crazy trying to do it all by yourself.

Also, fill out your address information in your profile so you'll show up on the Find Gamers (w/ Google Maps) tool, assuming you're in the U.S.


Didn't even know about the find gamers application. Thanks!
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Pater Absurdus
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Quarriors!, Citadels, and 7 Wonders would probably be great fits for your group. You might check out Power Grid or Acquire if you would like to try some brainier options.

I recommend the first because they are lighter and 2 of them can play >4 players. The last 2 because they can play up to 6 and might be a good next step if your group is interested in something more challenging.

I think a worker placement game might be in order (my current favorite is Alien Frontiers but sans expansion it only plays 2-4). It may not exist but, does any one have a strong suggestion for a worker placement that plays 6+?

Hope that helps! I really think these suggestions might work for your group based on whtyou are currently playing in your smal groups.
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Pater Absurdus
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As to the trouble of everyone being new, you need to get some folks to be just as excited as you and perhaps to host their own game night, maybe even learn and teach new games. That is not an easy task...
 
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Charles Phillips
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dr_steve_dillon wrote:

...how should I structure the game nights? Is there a particular order people would suggest?


I would suggest stacking the smaller gamers on top of the larger gamers. Make sort of a pyramid structure. Just make sure your gamer base is big enough. devil
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Phil Hendrickson
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To me it sounds like you are doing quite well, if you keep adding more newbies each time! I second the suggestion above to add 7 Wonders and Power Grid as a shorter/lighter and longer/heavier game, respectively.

If you get enough people to have multiple games going, perhaps you could encourage your experienced guests to start a game they want to play (Catan or such) and teach one or two new players at their table. Get them going on their own, and leave them to teach the newbies there. Then start another table with some other players, at which you teach another game. If you play a shorter game (like 7 Wonders), you could get in a second or even a third game (without more teaching) while the first table plays their longer game.

The goal is to get more people experienced with more games, so at future game nights there can be more playing and less teaching for everyone. But as long as you keep attracting newbies (which is great!) someone will need to teach them. If you are the one inviting them, others will probably assume that you will do the teaching (or at least the introductions).
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Whatever formula you come up with remember to keep it fun for yourself. With a nice sized group there are bound to be others who puck up the torch.

Happy Gaming
 
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David
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At my gaming nights we're usually less than 8 people, sometimes even just 2 so I'm forced to pick games on the fly.

I usually teach my guests a new game unless they have a suggestion of their own. I never break out my heavier games with people I've never played with but beyond that there's not much of a order or progression from one game to another. I suggest a few I think they can all handle and see if anyone's leaning towards a selection.

Like others said you should try and get some of the more experienced players to help you teach games to newbies. Personally I'd also try to work against fixed groups establishing them self. It's not very welcoming to new players. Maybe you can get some of the players who are not so keen on new games to teach their existing ones to new players.
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Steve Dillon
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Thanks all for the suggestions. I have hinted that perhaps others might want to host a game night, but so far no-one has stepped up.

This is, in the grand picture, a good problem to have, as I am expanding the popularity of board games, and for all my complaining, I am having fun! I just get a bit overwhelmed sometimes. I actually have a waiting list of people who have heard of the game nights and want to attend. But i've found that things start breaking down once more than about 15 adults are participating.

A few people have mentioned 7 wonders. I'll likely pick that up next.

Thanks again for all the input!
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David
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dr_steve_dillon wrote:
Thanks all for the suggestions. I have hinted that perhaps others might want to host a game night, but so far no-one has stepped up.

This is, in the grand picture, a good problem to have, as I am expanding the popularity of board games, and for all my complaining, I am having fun! I just get a bit overwhelmed sometimes. I actually have a waiting list of people who have heard of the game nights and want to attend. But i've found that things start breaking down once more than about 15 adults are participating.

A few people have mentioned 7 wonders. I'll likely pick that up next.

Thanks again for all the input!

I'm curious. What do you mean by "things start breaking down"?

As for getting others to host a game night. I can understand that this might scare some of them off. Just focus on getting them to help teach games first. Maybe if you picked a couple of gateway games to play regularly so that your players become comfortable with the game and could collectively teach those to new players.
 
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Mark Gage
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My experience is that you need about 5 people that say they are willing to help run a game night for every 1 that actually does. This sounds kind of bad, I know, but I'm just saying that the spirit is willing, but it turns out that the flesh is busy most of the time, and just can't commit right now.

So be ready to expend some real effort to find these people that are willing to share the work. And when you do find that 1 in 5, appreciate them, for they are rare and lovely creatures.

Two suggestions for organization: (1) encourage other "regulars" to bring their own game(s) and teach it to a table; and (2) hold a "game of the night." Establish that the rules explanation will start promptly at x:xx pm, and then have three or four tables play this game in parallel. This of course requires multiple copies of a game, but hopefully you've found some other people that have been willing to purchase a few gateway games. I've found that this is a good way to encourage cross-pollination between tables, as everyone has a shared experience that they can and do share at the end.
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Steve Dillon
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Kempeth wrote:
dr_steve_dillon wrote:
Thanks all for the suggestions. I have hinted that perhaps others might want to host a game night, but so far no-one has stepped up.

This is, in the grand picture, a good problem to have, as I am expanding the popularity of board games, and for all my complaining, I am having fun! I just get a bit overwhelmed sometimes. I actually have a waiting list of people who have heard of the game nights and want to attend. But i've found that things start breaking down once more than about 15 adults are participating.

A few people have mentioned 7 wonders. I'll likely pick that up next.

Thanks again for all the input!

I'm curious. What do you mean by "things start breaking down"?

As for getting others to host a game night. I can understand that this might scare some of them off. Just focus on getting them to help teach games first. Maybe if you picked a couple of gateway games to play regularly so that your players become comfortable with the game and could collectively teach those to new players.


By breaking down, I mean that it takes too long to get people to break off into groups, and too long to teach all the new games to the new players. People start getting bored and the "game" part of game night disappears. It is then effectively a cocktail party. Nothing really wrong with that, but people who were excited to play "all these new games" go home thinking that they only got to play 1 or 2 games and they complain that it wasn't really a "game night"
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David
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dr_steve_dillon wrote:
By breaking down, I mean that it takes too long to get people to break off into groups, and too long to teach all the new games to the new players. People start getting bored and the "game" part of game night disappears. It is then effectively a cocktail party. Nothing really wrong with that, but people who were excited to play "all these new games" go home thinking that they only got to play 1 or 2 games and they complain that it wasn't really a "game night"
That's what I thought... So essentially they all rely on you to teach them games. Frankly I'm amazed you are able to handle 15 folks this way!
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dr_steve_dillon wrote:
By breaking down, I mean that it takes too long to get people to break off into groups, and too long to teach all the new games to the new players. People start getting bored and the "game" part of game night disappears. It is then effectively a cocktail party. Nothing really wrong with that, but people who were excited to play "all these new games" go home thinking that they only got to play 1 or 2 games and they complain that it wasn't really a "game night"


All the more reason to have at least one experienced person at each table to keep it on track.

For as many people as you have showing interest, you may want to look at some of the online options for organizing events, with invitation and RSVP capabilities. Group Spaces (free) and MeetUp (not free) are setup to handle this kind of thing.
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Steve Dillon
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Kempeth wrote:
dr_steve_dillon wrote:
By breaking down, I mean that it takes too long to get people to break off into groups, and too long to teach all the new games to the new players. People start getting bored and the "game" part of game night disappears. It is then effectively a cocktail party. Nothing really wrong with that, but people who were excited to play "all these new games" go home thinking that they only got to play 1 or 2 games and they complain that it wasn't really a "game night"
That's what I thought... So essentially they all rely on you to teach them games. Frankly I'm amazed you are able to handle 15 folks this way!


It's not easy... But my wife helps out a lot. And I'm getting a few more "regulars" that show up, but even those people say they aren't comfortable "teaching" the game yet. I often end up not playing the last several rounds of games so I can hop from table to table to facilitate things. I'm hoping the game night this weekend will allow some regulars to take up the reigns a bit.
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Steve Dillon
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Hugh_G_Rection wrote:
dr_steve_dillon wrote:
By breaking down, I mean that it takes too long to get people to break off into groups, and too long to teach all the new games to the new players. People start getting bored and the "game" part of game night disappears. It is then effectively a cocktail party. Nothing really wrong with that, but people who were excited to play "all these new games" go home thinking that they only got to play 1 or 2 games and they complain that it wasn't really a "game night"


All the more reason to have at least one experienced person at each table to keep it on track.

For as many people as you have showing interest, you may want to look at some of the online options for organizing events, with invitation and RSVP capabilities. Group Spaces (free) and MeetUp (not free) are setup to handle this kind of thing.


Good idea. Thanks!
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Mark Denison
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I would suggest starting something a bit more touchy feely.

by this i mean something really easy to get people in the mood such as Tumblin-Dice or Quoridor or even Bausack

then move onto the more Dixit or The Resistance

finally moving into your Ticket to Ride , Catan type of euro game

Happy Game Nights
 
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Mark Anderson
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Hugh_G_Rection wrote:
dr_steve_dillon wrote:
By breaking down, I mean that it takes too long to get people to break off into groups, and too long to teach all the new games to the new players. People start getting bored and the "game" part of game night disappears. It is then effectively a cocktail party. Nothing really wrong with that, but people who were excited to play "all these new games" go home thinking that they only got to play 1 or 2 games and they complain that it wasn't really a "game night"


All the more reason to have at least one experienced person at each table to keep it on track.

For as many people as you have showing interest, you may want to look at some of the online options for organizing events, with invitation and RSVP capabilities. Group Spaces (free) and MeetUp (not free) are setup to handle this kind of thing.


I typically use www.evite.com to set up my game nights.

It's free and has some good options for RSVPing. You can limit an event to a number of attendees, based on who replies first. This would help you keep numbers in a respectable range. 15 people?! Crazy.

It also allows people to make comments so you can discuss game options and food plans in advance.
 
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Don't forget the Cheetos and fizzy drinks for game night....
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Hugh G. Rection
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Deep Fat Friar wrote:
I typically use www.evite.com to set up my game nights.

It's free and has some good options for RSVPing. You can limit an event to a number of attendees, based on who replies first. This would help you keep numbers in a respectable range. 15 people?! Crazy.

It also allows people to make comments so you can discuss game options and food plans in advance.


Does evite have an option to create a ongoing group to organize events and such, or is it a one-shot affair for each event? GroupSpaces and MeetUp have the former, which is why I use GroupSpaces. They also have a forum section for the group, to discuss things not tied to any particular event.
 
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