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My wife and I want to organize a game night. Most of our friends like to play board games - they are familiar with games like Settlers of Catan and Ticket to Ride. However we are more adventurous. Besides making new friends, what are some ideas for how to organize a game night with friends who like games but who are not board game aficionados?

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How many people are you talking about? Multiple simultaneous games versus one game at a time for the entire group has different dynamics. Also, will everybody be gaming, or are some people there just to be social (spouses/kids who tagged along, etc)? –  Monica Cellio Nov 11 '13 at 15:47
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3 Answers

Depending on the size of the group and the time allotted:

  • Get games where people do not loose, though people can win. E.g. everybody keeps playing until the end and the player with the highest score wins.Not a game where people get killed and then have to watch the rest play for another 4 hours. (Titan, I am looking at you).

  • Do not get uber long games. E.g. no Titan, no Doom, the board game, no eclipse (the game can be short, but NOT on the first time you play it).

  • Start with relative easy on-complex games to start with. E.g. Alhambra. Of if you play Catan make sure it is the basic version and not the game and the Cities and knights extension.

  • Get a few short games to fill time gaps. E.g. bohnanza or Der Schattendieb.

  • If you have 7 or 8 players consider running to games simultaneously. E.g. thurn-and-taxis (up to 4 players), basic catan for those who never played it before starting on a more complex game, powergrid etc etc.

  • Last but not least, consider a few non board games for variation. Machiavelli can be played with a large group.

On games nights I also like to pre-arrange food. Usually with some short games while people arrive and the cook (mostly me) cooks, then dinner, a clean table and some games. Add some non-greasy snacks.

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One more note that I think is very important: make sure someone already knows the rules for the games. It is not fun to show up to a party and watch someone read a rule book! –  bengoesboom Nov 11 '13 at 18:41
    
True. This does not matter much for some games. But the first time we player Eclipse we spent over two hours unpacking and reading the rules. Someone who know and could explain would have helped a lot. Ditto similar complex games. –  Hennes Nov 11 '13 at 18:57
    
On the other side, many players will complain about having to read the rules before they attend the party... Many of my non-gamers friends won't read any pages of a rulebook but prefer to sit and listen to the rules... I usually try and know them by heart... –  Andy M Nov 12 '13 at 15:37
    
@AndyM, you don't want to require casual players to learn the rules offline (they won't go for it, and I don't blame them), but you want to optimize for effective teaching: somebody who knows how to teach should be prepared to do so, so should know the rules reasonably well. –  Monica Cellio Nov 14 '13 at 22:07
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I think an important thing when you are introducing new games to players, especially if the players are not used to these types of games, is to explain the dynamics that will be new to them when they play this game.

If they are familiar with Settlers of Catan, maybe try and explain some of the new mechanics of whatever new game you are playing in terms of similar situations that might come up in a game of Settler of Catan.

I play a lot of Werewolf (or Mafia as you may know it) and something I always do when new players join the group is explain the rules of the game, and then go one step further and explain some basic dynamics and interactions that will happen so that there is a sense of familiarity for the new people as the game unfolds. They will be more likely to notice things that I told them might happen, so they feel more comfortable and more knowledgeable about the game from the beginning. That has really been successful for the new players I've taught the game to.

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Honestly, I think Catan is too long. Ticket to Ride is fast, Dominion is fast, 7 Wonders is fast.

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-1: I don't see how this answers the question. –  ire_and_curses Nov 13 '13 at 0:45
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Also: Dominion is fast? In my experience it is not when dealing with new players, re-explaining actions, buys etc etc. –  Hennes Nov 13 '13 at 13:16
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