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