10 Ways to Make Your Game Nights Mega Fun
A few tips heading into the weekend to help your board game gatherings run better for your friends and family.
1. Warm Up With Short, Quick Games
Get the brains at the table primed with a classic short filler game like Bananagrams, Sushi Go!, or Love Letter.
2. Take a Poll Ahead of Time
Nobody wants to show up to find out they're playing a marathon session of Kingdom Death: Monster when they really wanted to get into Settlers of Catan. See what the prevailing ideas are before you get everything set up and paint all those miniatures.
3. Make Sure Everybody Can Reach the Game Board
Don't use the 5'x10' medieval banquet table to play Power Grid. Make sure everybody has a chance to read and touch the board.
4. Snacks: Healthy, Handy, Dry
No grase bombs. That will make everybody feel awful and wreck your games to boot. Dry, healthy-ish snacks: popcorn, pretzels, raw veggies and dip, nuts, and dried fruit.
5. Make it Easy to Hydrate
Your brain, when playing board games, is going to be running at high output for hours on end. You can't do this while you're dehydrated. 1) It's bad for you and 2) You'll lose the game every time. Make it easy for your guests to get water or something refreshing and hydrating like seltzer.
6. Booze: Optional
I'm guilty of having a little too much during a game night (or D&D session) and then either forgetting rules, getting lost in the game, or losing interest. Worse: people get rude and stubbron when drunk, so they're more likely to protest decisions or outcomes they don't like. Have some drinks up front, and if you serve, make it kind of a pain in the ass to get another drink so people aren't getting tanked all night long. Trust me on this.
7. Put the Names of the Games You're Playing in Plain View
Sounds silly, but if you make a list of the evening's games - even if that means you stack the boxes on a highly visible nearby table - people will be exicted for what's next, and also will remember the keep up the pace of play so they can get to all the fun stuff ahead.
8. The Break Zone
Don't prioritize this by putting it too close to your game table beacuse it's distracting, but make it easy for people to duck out of games they're not enjoying or that they don't feel like playing because they're tired or just want a break. Have a secondary area where people can divert to for a chat or to relax. Try not to make that area more fun than the game table, but it's okay to have small side games or even light video games and TV there with additional refreshments.
9. Friendly Competition
If your group is up for it, and you have games that allow for this type of thing, you can run a little friendly competition and see who can win the most games. Make it a little more interesting by awarding points for finishing in certain places (1st = 10, 2nd = 6, 3rd = 4, etc.) and tally up the points at the end of the night. Winner has to clean up!
10. Set Reasonable Time Expectations
Schedule the evening with peoples' time in mind and stick to that window. Pick games that will reasonably fit into that schedule with the number of people attending. Everybody likes to have fun, but dragging it out past bedtime is a bummer. And people won't want to come back beacuse it feels disorganized and chaotic.
Run a tight ship and you'll have fun nights for years to come.