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Board Game Etiquette
When you have a long-standing, regular games group, you will probably have already established certain "house rules" that define what's considered good behaviour at the table. Chances are many of them are actually unwritten rules that have just come out over time and are based on the types of people you play with. In this article, I want to try and talk about a few of these rules that are probably generally useful to have at games night, whether this is with a long-established group or people you've just met.
Spilling a drink on a game can be an expensive disaster, so I ban food and beverages from being on the table during a game. I have nice wooden tv dinner type tables arrayed around the game table that are lower than the table, and people are welcome to put their drinks there. And I strongly discourage phone usage during a game. If it's an urgent call, fine, we will all take a break. But if it's just somebody with a compulsive need to pay more attention to their phone than the game, then we are better off without that player.
As for in-play rules, we already have the rules for each game, and that is enough. In many games, picking on the leader and not picking on the weakest player is just sensible strategy. But some games require player elimination or just opportunistically preying on whoever is nearby, especially if the game has a significant geographic element like a DOAM game.
I find my “table manners” are different with people I don’t know well versus those I do. My favorite people to play with are the friends I’ve been rolling dice with for the last two to three decades. We are more family than friends and we can all be our gaming selves - our best and our worst - and have the greatest times together. We text weekly about games and people we’ve played with, reminiscing about great narratives and complete meltdowns, “remember that time…” or “remember that person…”
With strangers, I’m more shy and less confrontational. I’m downright pleasant!