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Subject: Hosting a Game Night rss

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Barry Roy
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Folks,

My wife and I are hosting a Game Night for 6-8 adults. However, nothing leads me to believe that anyone in the group has ever played anything more compelling than Cranium. In fact, on the two (2) previous editions of Game Night we played Cranium and Trivial Pursuit.

Games in my collection include:

Settlers of Catan
Ticket to Ride
Wallenstein
Time's Up
Mystery of the Abbey
Balderdash
Friedrich
Carcassonne
Acquire
Bootleggers
Pirate's Cove

Would any of these be both: (1) appropriate; and (2) appealing.

Games I am considering purchasing for the evening, based on things read here, include:

Royal Turf
Bang
For Sale
Werewolf; and
Betrayal on the House at the Hill

Any thoughts would be most appreciated!
 
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Chris Drake
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Ticket to Ride

Acquire

Carcassonne

These have always gone over well when I introduced them to novice gamers

Settlers of Catan: I am ashamed to say I have it and a couple of expansions but it has never hit the table. I have heard of other people introducing it to newbies with success.
 
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Barry Roy
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Chris,

Same with me. I have had Settlers for years without a play.
 
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Scott Tepper
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Hi Barry,

If your goal is to turn non-gamers into gamers, I'd recommend starting slow.

There's no easier way to shut down a non-gamer than to throw what we would consider a mid to advanced level game at them. So I would definitely stay away from Wallenstein, Freidrich, and Bootleggers for right now.

Time's Up is a perfect game for 6 or 8 non-gamers. (But it's more of a party game than a Euro game, if your goal is to start them to start getting used to the "newer" mechanics of the games that you already have.)

In my experience, if you are trying to get game converts, you want to have simple, "fun" games in the beginning. When they see that they've really enjoyed them, you can get them to come back (and maybe they'll bring more people) and you can start introducing them to game mechanics that are a little more advanced.

Werewolf is a great game - for the right people. I also wouldn't recommend it for less than 8 people. Actually, I won't lead it with less than ten. With too few people, it's over too quickly, and it's not a very satisfying experience.

Carcassonne is a great game for introducing newcomers to games. And many people have had success with Settlers as a gateway game. Ticket To Ride is also a good game for newbies.

If you're looking to purchase some more introductory games, I might suggest High Society, Poison, Cartagena, Blokus(or Gemblo) and Ingenious. All are good games that can be taught in just a few minutes.

Here are some lists that have recommendations for non-gamers:
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist.php3?action=view&listi...
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist.php3?action=view&listi...
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist.php3?action=view&listi...

Good luck!

Scott
 
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Greg Pool
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It's been my experience with new game groups both at home and at work (lunch hour) that like a good school teacher you need to monitor and adjust to the preferences of your group.

My best luck has come from starting slowly and building up to a great game. I start with light fillers and then medium games, then I see if they can take the reallly fun but more involved games. Along the way I learn what some people like and don't like, or how their personality plays out when having to make difficult decisions.

For example, you might discover someone in your group really doesn't like making the brain-burning decisions and just throws a card down in spite, instead of really thinking it through.

You also want to make sure everybody is in on the fun of the event. If they are not "playing along," they probably won't have a good time with a more involved game.

This would be my lineup:

For Sale - Easy to teach, each to play. Great way to learn about your crowd first and see if they learn from you well enough.

Royal Turf - Haven't played it, but it looks like a light to medium light game that could be easy to learn.

Bang - Great group game, a little more rules and cards to learn about, but if the group is into it they could have a lot of fun.

Werewolf - I so want to play this but I never get enough people. If you think you can be a good moderator, go for it but leave all the special characters out the first time. Add one in each time if they all want to play again. And make sure everyone feels ok if they get eaten or hung early on.

Betrayal on the House at the Hill - I played this last Halloween with a group who I thought could take all the details of the game. I think it went over alright (I loved it!), but there were so many things to think about and look up that I think I lost some folks. In otherwords, the details took away from the ability to get into the game and have fun. Sadly, it might not come out again, even for the recovering D&D gal in the group.

Looking at your full list, I would consider Carcassonne then Ticket to Ride then Settlers of Catan after playing Royal Turf.

Good luck with your group!

 
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J Jacy
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I'd say if all they know is Crainium, start them on light party games they've probably never heard of. Pit, Apples to Apples, and if they've had fun with that (both card games that are simple and can handle more than 5 people [unlike other suggestions which don't even fall in the 6-8 people range you need], then bring out Bang!.

If they all enjoyed those games, or if some people found Bang too difficult then you'll know that you have to still keep it real simple, and maybe only go as complex as Ticket to Ride, Ingenious/Blokus for a while (although these games don't support 6-8).

I also have to chime in for Fearsome Floors. People like the idea of getting away from the monster, as long as you at first understand how it moves, people tend to "get it". Plus it is forgiving at first because if the moster gets you, you just go back to start in the first half of the game (and that's not always a bad thing). It also plays up to 7 people. Just make sure that someone isn't getting caught up in trying to figure out every single move to optimize theirs, and they keep it fast and light.

Just my thoughts.

-jjacy1
 
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Ward Batty
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The basic Settlers is a GREAT game and still hold up 12 years after it was first published. It's a great gateway game, but it only plays 4. Don't bring in expansions to make room for more players. The base game is the best, especially for new players.

Of the other stuff you have, Ticket to Ride, Time's Up!, Carcassonne, Acquire and Pirates Cove should work well with most groups.

Of the stuff you are considering, Royal Turf is a great game with lots of replay value, For Sale is also good.

Others to consider, Circus Flocati is a great, fast and light card game. Blokus is a great game that is easy to learn, same for Ingenious.
 
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James Stubbs
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Wardo wrote:
Others to consider, Circus Flocati is a great, fast and light card game. Blokus is a great game that is easy to learn, same for Ingenious.


Wits & Wagers might also be worth considering as you've already had them playing trivia games.


 
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Jeff Wolfe
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I tend to like to start very light, with something like TransAmerica or TransEuropa. Depending on your group, you might get away with starting out with Settlers of Catan or Ticket to Ride, which are slightly heavier and might turn some people off. Anything heavier than Settlers or TtR, I would avoid for a new group. I would include Time's Up (or Balderdash) in the mix so there's something there of a familiar flavor for people. Between the heavy (to them) games, I would insert light filler, such as Cloud 9 (For Sale might work here). I would avoid Bang because of the elimination aspect. I would also avoid Werewolf, both because of elimination and because you really should have at least 11, especially with a new group.
 
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Melissa
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I'll second the rec of Apples to Apples to get people in the right mood.

We've found Pirate's Cove to be a great game for casual gamers - if they like the theme, they will be willing to learn a few new mechanics. You'll know best what will go over with that group.

Ticket to Ride and Carcassonne are also great games for newer players.

I'd recommend that you spend some time, once you've chosen your games, thinking about how you will explain them. That's really the key to sucking people in - or to put it the other way, if you take too long to explain the rules and lose them, then you will never get them back.
 
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C C
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Another good way when people are new to games is to explain the basic rules, then start to play the game making it clear that there there are still some parts of the game that need explaining.

I find that most of the people I play with get information overload when you try to explain the rules and would much rather just have the basic idead of the game and the 'Goal'. Then they are happy to pick up the subtleties and extra rules as you go along . In fact it is quite nice to see how they react as they realise how the game works (and maybe beat you )

CC
 
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Scott M
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Bang! is a lot of fun with the right people and can be picked up fairly quick with use of the player aid cards since its symbol based.

Mystery of the Abbey I think would be a good choice too since you can sort of sell it as similar to Clue, which they probably know of or have played years ago.

Ticket to Ride seems to be THE gateway game at the moment. Super easy to learn and people seem to be drawn to the little plastic trains.
 
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Richard Ashby
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I'm new to this gaming hobby myself and over the holidays I would spend a night learning one of the recent games I purchased playing against myself and then I would rope some relatives into playing it within the next few days. Some of these experiences may help in your decisions.

Ticket to Ride was among my first purchases and was the game I started with due to all of the recommendations both here and on other message boards. It went over fairly well in the two different games I played with different people in each game but I didn't see any wow signs in their eyes. The players seemed to be reacting to the cards rather than trying to come up with any strategy. In future plays, if they are willing, I'm hoping the strategy comes into play in the group.

Lost Cities went over really well with my mother who was also a guinea pig in the first TtR game.

Smarty Party was ok but there were a lot of distractions and people were already a bit tired when the game started.

I spent a night learning Carcassonne: The City but have not had the opportunity to try it out on anyone as of yet. To me Carcassonne doesn’t seem as intuitive to a non-gamer but since I really haven’t played it yet I could be very wrong.

Now finally came The Settlers of Catan with two very non-gamer types as my guinea pigs, my mother again and one of my sisters both of whom I played in separate games of TtR. While it was a bit harder to teach the rules at first than TtR was I opted to use the beginner setup since it was my first real game as well and I used the "let's just play and you'll see how the rules fit together" approach. I wasn't sure how they were liking the game as I could see obvious strategies that weren't being taken advantage of but when I won the game both of them let out a resounding "No" and then went on to describe to me and each other what they would have done next if given a few more turns. In the end it really did seem like they enjoyed it more than the other games tried so far.

Pirate’s Cove and Caribbean are both on my list as games to try next time but I’ve been instructed to let them play a game they have already played once before and leave out having to learn a new game every single time I get them to play something.

Mixing in some American style games they are used to as a lead in along with some simple games like Diamant or Poison has also been an idea I’ve kicked around.
 
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Denise Lavely
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I agree that people need to be led into the newer kinds of games gently. I've introduced over 50 people to Settlers, and while it rarely flops completely, it sometimes is overwhelming to non-gamers.

I'd strongly second (or third or whatever it is) the suggestion to start with another party game, Apples to Apples is perfect and relatively cheap and easily available, or you could go with Time's Up since you already have it.

After a round of the party game, ask "Anyone want to play something with a little bit more meat on the bones?" and then lead those people into Ticket to Ride or Settlers or some other gateway game. Let the other people keep playing the party game for now - if you have the right people playing the gateway game, the others will become intrigued over time. Besides, if you try to teach a Euro style game, even an easy one, to a bunch of newbies at once, most of them will just be too confused to have a good time. If you only get a few takers and everyone else is playing a party game, you can focus in on helping those few playing the gateway game to have a better understanding, and therefore an overall better time.
 
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Chris Shaffer
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Denise wrote:
After a round of the party game, ask "Anyone want to play something with a little bit more meat on the bones?" and then lead those people into Ticket to Ride or Settlers or some other gateway game. Let the other people keep playing the party game for now - if you have the right people playing the gateway game, the others will become intrigued over time. Besides, if you try to teach a Euro style game, even an easy one, to a bunch of newbies at once, most of them will just be too confused to have a good time. If you only get a few takers and everyone else is playing a party game, you can focus in on helping those few playing the gateway game to have a better understanding, and therefore an overall better time.


Denise has it right - when you're ready to step up to Settlers or another Euro, most of which are 3-5 players, leave the extra people back playing the already-known party game -- or switch them to something really simple that they already know, like Uno.
Your nightmare is eight people, two tables, two new games. Trying to teach two different games at the same time is a recipe for disaster.
 
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