TOP 10 MISTAKES EVERYONE MAKES ON BOARD GAME NIGHT
The table’s set, the guests invited, and music playing. “Nothing can go wrong with this game night” you think.
Until it inevitably does.
Planning a board game evening can be a massive ordeal and – time and time again – all of us keep running into the same issues and doing nothing about them.
So, here are the top ten mistakes everyone makes and some simple ways to fix them.
10. SETTING A FIXED START TIME
No matter where your evening is happening, we can guarantee that it’s going to take your friends time to arrive. Having a set start time can leave the lot of punctual people waiting for your friends to arrive and twiddling your thumbs. Try to set an hour or half-hour period for your friends to arrive and set up a games console or a few filler games to pass the time before the group appears in its entirety. This’ll keep things relaxed and create the perfect mood for the evening.
9. FAILING TO READING THE RULES
An absolute, complete cardinal sin. If you are hosting the evening, it’s essential that you know the rules of any games being played in full. This lets you teach efficiently and learning ‘as you go’ takes significant time. It can even border on being disrespectful if your friends have given up their evening to hang out. And – if you’re not teaching – try and learn the rules anyway. Along with giving you a winning edge, it can be incredibly useful when it comes to helping out with the rules explanation.
8. NOT HAVING BACKUP GAMES
You’ve got a game prepared, ready and…half the people pull out. Having a few back-up games for lower or higher player counts can help your evening go ahead despite disruption and not leave you forced to cancel. Some simple games like Codenames, Sheriff of Nottingham, and Decrypto can scale for a range of group sizes and be taught easily – letting you roll with the punches.
7. HAVING THE WRONG SNACKS
While it may be tempting to throw out bowls of sweets, chocolates, and crisps, we’d advise against it. Sweet foods can result in a sugar crash, making it difficult to make complex decisions or keep up with the state of play. A fantastic alternative is to provide your guests with dinner. Matt Lees of Shut Up and Sit Down produced a series called The Opener that includes simple recipes for hearty meals to accompany a night of gaming. This can help give the energy to support a long night and make ‘topping’ up with beer and other treats more palatable.
Are you interested in drinks? Check out TOP 10 GAMES AND THEIR ACCOMPANYING SPIRITS
6. NOT TAKING BREAKS
Even if you’re an iron-bladdered god amongst mortals that plays whole games of Twilight Imperium in one sitting, failing to encourage others at the table to take breaks will end up in disaster. We would recommend taking a five minute comfort break every hour or so and let people feel free to excuse themselves when needed. Remember that it’s important to be a flexible and generous host and accommodating your guests and speaking up for those that may be shy is essential.
5. FAILING TO PREPARE YOUR SPACE
No matter how much we may refuse to admit it, no one likes to play in a cluttered or messy room. A quick five or ten minute tidy can help square your materials away and ensure your game is set up and ready to play. Unfortunately, this can be a bit of a challenge for those of us living in smaller spaces or with limited time when coming back from work. Thankfully, rathskellers range of gaming tables are custom built for different room sizes, letting you make the most of smaller spaces or let your bigger rooms truly sing – speeding up set-up and breakdown after a long night.
4. NOT CONSIDERING DIFFICULTY
If your group is relatively new to gaming or struggles with complex rules, it’s probably best to avoid springing something difficult on them. If you’re not sure about what games to try, we would always recommend reviewing the complexity scores for each on BoardGameGeek. This tracks the overall ‘challenge’ of a game, including rules complexity, edge cases, and overall depth and effort. Anything ranked 1 or below is great for kids or younger groups. 1-2 is great for novices or groups looking for a simple gaming experience. 2- 3 is the sweet spot for many, offering depth without asking too much of new players. 3 and up is for groups that are familiar with heavier games, and anything ranked 4 or higher is not to be attempted without a hazmat suit and a set of prayer beads.
3. NOT CONSIDERING GAME TIME
One of the biggest disappointments for a games night is having to pull the plug before the end is even reached. A simple fix is to check the running time on the box and factor in any additional variables for your evening. For example, if you’re playing the Arkham Horror LCG, each player adds roughly an hour to the overall play time and first-time plays can take significantly longer if you’re not familiar with the rules. If the game can’t comfortably fit into the time available, maybe it’s better trying something else.
2. NOT KNOWING WHEN TO PULL THE PLUG
The one thing worse than cancelling a game night is holding one where people get tired, bored, and end up going through the options. This can be helped by letting players play an initial round and then ‘checking in’ to see if they’re still enjoying it or if they want to stop. Remember, while playing games is fun, the most important thing is to have a good time with your friends. And if that means playing something else, stopping the evening early, or just going to the pub – that’s fine too.
1. FAILING TO KEEP A DATE
Board games are unique in that they need a certain number of individuals to physically turn up to play them. Wrangling a night with a bunch of friends at short notice is incredibly difficult, which is why we would always recommend agreeing to hold a regular meet. This straightforward trick lets you play longer games, remain flexible to life changes, and avoid last minute disappointments. Once a month is manageable for most, letting you quickly build familiarity with a stable of games or share hosting duties. And it removes the stress of planning for the one organized person in the group. Try it, you’ll be surprised just how effective it is.