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Food For Friends - Eating and Drinking at the Board Game Table

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06 Apr 2021 00:00 #321710 by oliverkinne
So let's start at one end, where someone always wants...

It's been a question that I've tried to tackle a few times before and that has been ongoing in board game circles for decades (probably): whether food and drinks should be allowed at the board game table. There are many different opinions and they range from wanting to keep everything pristine to only caring about having fun with friends. Everyone will have to decide for themselves, but in this article, I want to look at a number of possible approaches. (This article was inspired by a discussion on my Discord.)

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06 Apr 2021 11:24 #321711 by Shellhead
Arkham Horror 2nd edition was the game-changer for me. It was a big hit with my gaming friends, and we loved playing all expansion boards at once, which meant that there was eventually well over $150 worth of game on the table. That's when I came up with a house rule that people had to leave their food and drinks off the table. My girlfriend and I have this really nice set of wooden folding tv trays that just happen to be a couple of inches shorter than my gaming table, so players put their food there.

Even so, a friend managed to spill a large glass of water all over my Arkham boards. He kept his glass on the side table during the game, but while we were putting the game away, he inexplicably moved his big glass of water onto the table. Almost everything except the boards were already safely in boxes when he bumped the glass, and it turns out that the odd texture on the Arkham boards is water resistant. I had a roll of paper towels close at hand, so we saved Arkham again.

Aside from that, I have a total ban on Cheetos on game days. I don't need sticky orange crud coating my cards and other components. Fortunately, my girlfriend is the only person that I know who likes Cheetos, and she rarely plays board games.

When I game at open venues or other people's homes, I tend to leave the expensive games at home unless I know that the host has similar rules to mine. This was especially true with my monthly hipster board game group, where everyone had to bring food or drinks to share, and most of the players enjoyed craft beers while playing. The host paid top dollar to pick up 1st edition Heroquest at a GenCon auction in 2018, then accidentally spilled a beer on the board during our first game, so I now call that game Beerquest.
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06 Apr 2021 15:58 #321729 by Msample
I'm fairly chill about food and drink. I think a little common sense goes a long way. As far as drinks, I only drink water and use a Hydroflask with a flip up drinking spout, so spills are not an issue. Most of the people I game with prefer to take a break to eat vs eat at the table. Maybe some cookies or light snacks. And whether by chance or maturity, I can't remember the last time anyone I gamed with ate Cheetos. If I am playing an expensive OOP game I'll be more mindful to be sure. But esp with light filler type games , IDGAF.

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06 Apr 2021 16:25 #321731 by Shellhead
Back in the first year or so of Magic: the Gathering, I had a friend who acquired a reputation for accidentally spilling drinks on cards. After the second time it happened, we made him sit at a separate, adjacent card table. Even then, he still sometimes spilled, but at least it was only his own cards getting wet. He moved away before the invention of the card sleeve.
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06 Apr 2021 23:30 #321741 by jason10mm
I can tell you that the Puerto Rico board is VERY susceptible to breast milk.

Not that breast milk is a common game night snack, but when momma wants to game, mommas gonna game :P

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07 Apr 2021 04:47 #321745 by Greg Aleknevicus
I agree that this debate has existed for decades, but it shouldn't have. The owner of the game gets to decide if food/drinks are allowed while playing. No, you're not allowed to try to convince/shame them otherwise. Yes, you are allowed to buy a copy of that game and play it instead.

Where's the debate?

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07 Apr 2021 11:22 - 07 Apr 2021 11:41 #321751 by Sagrilarus
I don't think that's the direction the conversation generally goes, or even should. It's a social contract so social rules apply, and in social settings there's always going to be some level of negotiation, either verbally or through actions. My attitude is always this -- if I damage your game (or your table) I'm responsible enough to make you whole. I'll buy you a new copy. The good news is that I very rarely sit down to can't-replace-it-because-it's-kickstarter-limited-edition-bullshit titles. Another reason to avoid that crap.

On the rare occasion I've played games with one copy in the world, generally playtest copies at mini-cons, I keep my drink on the floor next to the chair leg so it can't spill onto anything not easily replaceable. Nobody has ever asked, but I don't want them stuck without a copy for the remainder of the weekend because their computer and plotter are in Phoenix.
Last edit: 07 Apr 2021 11:41 by Sagrilarus.

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07 Apr 2021 13:12 #321753 by Msample

Greg Aleknevicus wrote: I agree that this debate has existed for decades, but it shouldn't have. The owner of the game gets to decide if food/drinks are allowed while playing. No, you're not allowed to try to convince/shame them otherwise. Yes, you are allowed to buy a copy of that game and play it instead.

Where's the debate?


It pops up on BGG fairly regularly.

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07 Apr 2021 13:25 #321755 by the_jake_1973
It is also a fairly regular guest on the Boardgames subreddit.

We will usually eat before we play. Food during games is like trail mix, M&Ms, licorice, and the like. sometimes chips, but my group are pretty cognizant of shit being on their hands before handling the game. I would have stricter food rulings if I were playing with strangers.

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07 Apr 2021 13:51 #321756 by charlest

Sagrilarus wrote: My attitude is always this -- if I damage your game (or your table) I'm responsible enough to make you whole. I'll buy you a new copy. The good news is that I very rarely sit down to can't-replace-it-because-it's-kickstarter-limited-edition-bullshit titles. Another reason to avoid that crap.


I think that's a great attitude and I would do the same if I was the cause.

Most of our game playing is at my house with my games though, and if a good friend ruined a game, I would have a very difficult time accepting their money to replace it (I suppose if they showed up with a copy of the game I wouldn't turn it down). I'd probably just re-buy it myself or live with the damage.

I'm a bit OCD with my stuff and condition admittedly, which makes this even more of a conundrum.
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07 Apr 2021 14:22 #321759 by Sagrilarus

charlest wrote: I would have a very difficult time accepting their money to replace it


And the social rules would apply at that point as well. The fact that you offer is often sufficient, and I'd likely tell them to buy a case of beer for game nights as suitable penance for the sin. Honestly, the few messes I've seen were not game-ending events, just a need for a cleanup.

I appreciate that some people are sleeving their boards now (which frankly, is absurd), but I don't play with anyone like that. Best guess is I never will considering I just dumped half my game group.
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07 Apr 2021 14:33 #321760 by Msample

charlest wrote:

Sagrilarus wrote: My attitude is always this -- if I damage your game (or your table) I'm responsible enough to make you whole. I'll buy you a new copy. The good news is that I very rarely sit down to can't-replace-it-because-it's-kickstarter-limited-edition-bullshit titles. Another reason to avoid that crap.


I think that's a great attitude and I would do the same if I was the cause.

Most of our game playing is at my house with my games though, and if a good friend ruined a game, I would have a very difficult time accepting their money to replace it (I suppose if they showed up with a copy of the game I wouldn't turn it down). I'd probably just re-buy it myself or live with the damage.

I'm a bit OCD with my stuff and condition admittedly, which makes this even more of a conundrum.


Agreed - none my games, if suffering a spill, would ruin me financially TBH, I'd just write it off as a cost of doing business so tp speak. If its at your house and you allow food/drink, I think your tacitly accepting any potential fallout. About the only time I raised a stink was at a convention once when a douche sat at my table with fucking sticky buns to play a card game ( Atlantic Storm which was OOP and going north of $100 assuming you could find one ) and the guy in question was a known douchenozzle so I took the opportunity to rip him one.

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07 Apr 2021 16:10 #321761 by RobertB
I remember M:tG tournaments would provide you with a view of both ends of that spectrum, often at the same time. I've seen cards resleeved after every match, and I've seen players that looked like toddlers after eating a birthday cake with both hands, handling hundreds of dollars worth of cards.

Didn't see this, but the best story I heard was about some asshole at a Type 1 tournament (don't know what they call it now) asking to randomize his opponent's deck. Perfectly legal. So he takes the $1000+ worth of cards and starts smearing them all over the table, like I've seen done in Vegas to randomize a poker deck. Asshole's opponent just about started throwing punches over that.

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12 Apr 2021 23:44 #321976 by KingPut
I learned most of my social skills and hospitality from my Italian mother. If you come to my game night you better be prepared to eat and drink. Typically I start game night between 1:00 pm and 4:00 pm. I usually make sausages or meatballs and some kind of pasta dish. Or maybe I'll switch it up and make Beef Stew or Jambalaya. We'll play the first round of games in the afternoon and then break for dinner around 6:00 pm before starting the evening gaming. Dinner isn't eaten during gaming. It is eaten away from the games. It's a time for us to socialize and interact with out cardboard in front of us. It's a time to get to know each other outside of the games we play.
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