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Games day/night at my place - Advice?

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23 Feb 2008 06:02 #3269 by hmocc
I'm thinking of hosting this games get together and try to make it a regular thing so I can have a proper gaming group.

What advice can I get from the F:AT crowd that I won't find on the other boardgames site?

Please bear in mind that I'm doing this for purely selfish reasons: I want to play more, I want to play more of the games I like (medium-to-heavy, big on theme, with the occasional filler) , I want to play with like-minded people, I want fun and banter rather than awkwardness.

Also there are a few other things I don't want: total house mess-up, grease/drink on games, big spending on food/drink.

Any suggestions?

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23 Feb 2008 11:55 #3275 by hacksword
hmocc wrote:

What advice can I get from the F:AT crowd that I won't find on the other boardgames site?

Pick games with subject matter that they actually like, rather than games you think they should like. Don't host a game night with an agenda. If that means you have to start with some familiar games like Risk or Monopoly, that's fine. It's more important that everyone has a good time, especially on the first night.

Once you get a regular game night going, then you can start bringing out your favorites.

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23 Feb 2008 12:07 #3278 by mikoyan
hacksword wrote:

hmocc wrote:

What advice can I get from the F:AT crowd that I won't find on the other boardgames site?

Pick games with subject matter that they actually like, rather than games you think they should like. Don't host a game night with an agenda. If that means you have to start with some familiar games like Risk or Monopoly, that's fine. It's more important that everyone has a good time, especially on the first night.

Once you get a regular game night going, then you can start bringing out your favorites.

What he said. The main point of game night is for everyone to have fun. If that means playing those two games so be it. As you have people coming more often then you might bring out the heavy guns. IF the people you play with already like the heavy guns...more power to you.

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23 Feb 2008 17:07 #3301 by TheDukester
Pretty much what everyone is saying ... but definitely use "The First Taste Is Free" strategy. Be totally willing to play what your guests want to play; within a few weeks, you can have that twisted around to what you want to play. Woot!

Also, be firm with the fact that it's your house/apartment/condo/whatever. If you don't want food at the table, smoking in your place, or whatever, make your stance known during the first gathering. Your guests need to respect whatever rules you want to put in place.

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23 Feb 2008 19:15 #3305 by Shellhead
One subtle way that I handle the food/beverage issue is that I supply the snacks. That way I can keep Cheetos dust and grease off my games without obviously coming across as some kind of control freak. I never worried about drink spillage in the past, but now that my Arkham Horror game represent an investment of over $100, I have encouraged the use of these four really nice wooden tv dinner stands that my girlfriend got a few years ago. They are basically like small wooden tables, and everybody now naturally puts their drinks on those to free up more space on the table.

The really big issue for your group is going to be the players. Are these old friends? Or will you be recruiting new people, too? Ideally, you should have so many players to choose from that you can just pick the like-minded people, but that is really tough to do. I have spent much of the last 15 years gaming here in the Twin Cities, so I have literally played with more than 200 local people, in boardgames, rpgs, larps and CCG events. So I just barely keep in touch with maybe 30 of those people, and advertise my periodic game days to them as AmeriTrash days, so nobody bothers showing up with their EuroGames or lite fillers. Since you may not have that luxury, I recommend that you gradually convert people to your style of games by use of gateway games. And try to play in other local groups so you can meet a wider range of people that you might recruit.

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23 Feb 2008 22:23 #3309 by thdizzy
Are you interested in having a hardcore gaming night or a more social type of event?

The hardcore event is pretty easy--just invite the people that you know who like games. Generally this will be a one game event. For example, I do this when I want to play Twilight Imperium. In these cases, I usually buy the drinks and snacks, and we order pizza and split the bill after the game is over.

However, if you want a more social event with multiple games running, you'll have to invite more people, and perhaps a lot of friends and spouses that aren't hardcore gamers. That's no problem, but you won't be able to play any epic games. To avoid having to teach all the games, it would be nice to find a co-host or two that can split the duties of explaining rules and serving drinks. With this type of event, you can have multiple games running. However, don't put the focus too strongly on games, especially if you're trying to get people interested in games. Generally for that type of party, I usually have an area for food, an area for people to just sit and chat, an area where people can play video games, and an area or two for board or card games. New gamers will be started out on video games, to get them into the gaming mood, and when you get your gamers together to play boardgames, then you just ask if they'd like to join the group and they will usually say yes. Nobody wants to sit and play video games by themselves at a party. For the food, I usually make it a potluck just because it's expensive to buy food and drinks for a party of 15 to 20 people. The food is usually in another room, so provide a decent amount of breaks so that people can snack up before going back to the game room. Also, if you lay a few boxes of tissues around the snack area, people are usually smart enough to wipe their fingers.

As far as worrying about food and drinks near the games, I wouldn't worry too much about it. Parties are about fun, not about washing hands. If your games are getting worn, that's a good sign that they are being played. If all of your games are in perfect condition, it means that either you've crossed over to the world of collecting or you don't have any friends. Let your friends have a good time with the games. That's why you bought them.

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24 Feb 2008 10:41 #3318 by bob_the_goon
Good advice from everyone. Here's my two cents:

To keep costs down, everyone chips in for dinner at my bi-weekly group. I divide the money spent by the people eating and everyone throws in. Usually it's $2-$3 for a homemade meal of some sort of meat and one or two sides, more if we order pizza or something.

I do the big epic games as Saturday events. When it's just six of us on one big game, I smoke a pork shoulder or brisket and dinner's on me. Sometimes though, I do it as a big open games day, and people bring snacks and beverages to supplement the big cut of meat.

I allow food on the table when there's room, otherwise we use tv trays placed at the corners of the tables. I find that people are generally careful. So far, I'm the only one to spill anything, several times. Food is also spread out buffet style in the kitchen, not the game room, and at big events people tend to stand around in there talking and eating between games.

My regular group is a mix of gamers and newbies/friends who only game when I invite them. It's invaluable to have at least one seasoned vet at each table.

Games are picked by majority. There's no agenda. We count the attendees, decide if it warrants splitting to multiple tables (it almost always does) and people toss out ideas for what to play. When a game appeals to a couple of people the group splits itself.

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25 Feb 2008 18:32 #3358 by ubarose
I started by inviting a couple of people at a time over for coffee and dessert in the evening. We'd usually play one game and then maybe a short filler or dexterity game to wrap up the evening. I provide everything, since I feel it would be rude to invite someone to my home and then hit them up for refreshment money. I pick games that either had themes my guests were interested in, or games that played to their strengths.

When people started asking me when we were going to get together to play again, I started arranging larger, and longer gatherings. That was when we moved into the more informal everyone brings food or pitches in for delivery type thing. I still provide all the ice and drinks. And there is always a lot of clean up afterwards. You can't get around that when you have a large group over your house for several hours. Also, by that point, most folks knew what they liked, so I just throw open my game cupboard and let them pick what they want or what looks interesting.

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26 Feb 2008 14:55 #3408 by hmocc
Thank you all for the great insights and suggestions!

I decided I want to start with something small and with people who are gamers already, and this is, basically, because I still have a long way to go before being confident in my games knowledge, let alone hosting for non-gamers.

I'll avoid the food/money pitfalls by having simple drinks and light snacks away from the games table.

I'm planning to have the first session at the end of March and I'll let you all know how it went.

Cheers!

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