Heavy is the head that wears the game-picking crown. A skill up there with controlling the aux cable or managing movie night with a streaming service, finding the right game for your group can be a pain in the neck. No matter whether you’re playing with filthy casuals (“What’s simple enough to teach”), storied veterans (“Is this complex enough to give them a challenge”), or everyone in between (“How the hell do I tech this”); grabbing the right game can be tough.
So, here are a few simple tips to improve your next game night or fight through your analysis-paralysis roadblock. Starting with-
8. Being a bit of a nerd
Ok, maybe a massive one. Keeping track of some key variable scan help you narrow down your search or point you in the right direction for your next choice. Keep track of who’s picked what over your last couple of sessions and track what players thought – did they have quibbles, were there parts that they loved, or are there issues that could potentially be addressed by house-ruling certain elements or picking up an expansion pack. Throwing this info into a google doc can help you make the right choice and, if you add the BGG Hotness list, and keep a tally of everyone’s collections – the answer may just be at your fingertips.
7. Move just outside your comfort zone
6. Confirm well in advance
Spontaneity can be good, but it can also be a real pain in the butt. Making snap judgements about your next session can lead to disagreements, arguments, and an unnecessary expenditure of effort (either to confirm what’s right for the group or losing time learning rules that never, ever get used). Agreeing games well in advance can give your room enough time to prepare for your session and ensure that everyone is happy with the choice. This can allow classics to be played regularly, add space to trial new options, and ensure that no-one has an excuse to complain or expect someone to do the heavy lifting for them when it comes to rules.
5. Always have a backup
Think about your favourite game right now. Now, let it sink in that there’s a very good chance that a person actively despises it…and they may very well be in your group. There are a number of options available to players across an evening but, even if you’ve followed every tip in this list, there is a very good chance that they simply won’t be into it. Having a few games in your pocket can help you deal with groups that aren’t ‘feeling it’, players that prefer something else, or provide an option for those struggling with ennui. Be a good cop, always have a backup piece stashed away somewhere.
4. Check the time available
While sites like BGG can be a fantastic source of inspiration, one of the most important elements to check is the length of time a game runs for a factor it into your session. While it can be fun to grind through a mammoth session of Scythe, if you haven’t got the time to finish it off before your friends start to catch buses home, it can quickly become a case of diminishing returns. Picking out something with a short running time can be a great option for your group and leave more space to chat, catch up, or even run a simple game simultaneously. The choice is yours, just be sure to spend your evening well.
3. Don’t abuse your power
If you’re the one overseeing your next session choice, don’t be a bad gifter and choose something that you love with the ‘hope’ that others will enjoy it. The alchemy of every group is different, and tastes can change week on week. Taking the time to quickly canvas the group can be simple and straightforward. Maybe you want to check in with a player who has suffered through
2. Filler can be a killer
If great things come in small packages, perhaps it’s time to break a few of them out. Small-box games are undergoing a renaissance during board gaming’s golden age for a reason. Portable, no-fuss, and easy to set up – some of the best low-risk ways to try something new is chaining together a few ‘fillers’ and letting your group test the water with ease. These can range from the iconic Biblios, the high-octane Coup, or even simpler fare that packs an insane punch like For Sale. If you’re struggling to find the right option for your session, push the big boys aside and take a look at the smaller picks that make up your collection.
1. Consider your table
While we may be preaching to the choir, we’ve always found that the one variable people always fail to consider is “oh…does it fit on the table”. Though some games are exceptional at scaling to suit your table size many picks can end up running out of room and result in a cramped play-state. Choosing a quality gaming table can help you provide a modular setup for each player, provide enough room to host even the most expanded version on a game, and look great to boot. Add in the fact that a ‘game cellar’ or recessed table can allow you to set a game up days in advance and just forget about it can help save valuable time and guarantee a streamlined gaming experience.
Did you give our tips a chance?! Tell us in the comments below 🙂