A month ago I talked about starting my own boardgame group in my little town. We have had a few weeks now of that group and overall it is going well, but I have definitely learned a decent amount about what my boardgaming group needs and wants. This week I want to talk a little bit about the first few weeks of my group specifically, but also leave you with some tips that I think could apply to any group that you might want to start.
So first, let me give you a little update on my group. So far we have met for 4 weeks and missed one because the space we use was being rented out (we play there for free). The number of people who have joined on any given Wednesday has ranged from 3-9. During our four weeks we have played a decent number of games including:
- VivaJava: The Coffee Game: The Dice Game
- Colt Express
- Castles of Mad King Ludwig
Each week so far I have tried to bring a couple of the same games in order for people to learn them well. This helped out especially in the week with the largest attendance because we needed to split into two groups and have two games taught at the same time. One of the regular attendees taught Castles of Mad king Ludwig and I taught Scoville. Since there was someone who had played CofMKL several times this was easy to do, but had she not been there, I am not sure what I would have done.
Overall I am really happy with how the group has begun to grow. While it has only reached 9 one night, I have had at least three other people ask if we could move the day that we meet to another day in the week so they could come. That is not a bad problem to have at all.
I’ve got some suggestions for anyone who is thinking about starting out a new group or for people who might like to see their group grow. My suggestions come in two different varieties. One set is to help with the organizers sanity and the other set is to help with the maintenance and growth of the group. Of course, you have to keep in mind, these are all just theories for me at this point since this is my first group. Next month I can report back a little more on how this has played out in my own group.
For your sanity:
- No one night is going to work for everyone, so pick a night that works for you and a few others who you think would be regulars. The others will come when they can.
- Do not expect people to help you set up or put away the game. Hopefully this will happen, but if not, try not to hold a grudge.
- Do not expect other people to bring games (especially if you are the main game buyer), but encourage people to bring games they want to play. If they can bring a game to show other people they will have more buy-in to the group and therefore be more excited about helping out in any way they can and coming on a regular basis.
- Don’t think about this group as “your” group. It isn’t, you aren’t special…ok maybe you are special, but if you want to develop a community you have to treat it as everyone is equal. That means treating that one guy in your group who can never seem to remember the rules and blames it on you that you didn’t teach it correctly is equal to everyone else. Trust me, if you do this your sanity might be saved a little.
For the maintenance and growth of your group:
- Bring a consistent group of games with which your group can become comfortable. This allows for people to teach a game while you are possibly teaching another game.
- Find a back up host. This should be someone who is a regular attendee, someone people in the group know, who can show up, bring your (or their) games and teach a game if necessary. My suggestion is to pick someone who most people get along with as well, since you don’t want their to be a horrible experience if you can’t make it at a future time.
- Bring a game or two that plays in 15-45 minutes so you can play an opening game for the night. My group has people who routinely come late, but we typically have opened the night with Colt Express so when they do arrive we are nearing the end of that game and they can almost immediately play a game. They seem to really appreciate that.
I would love to hear, either here or the BGG guild, how starting your group has gone, what tips you would give to people starting a new group or what you have seen work.
Also I’d love to hear your suggestions for games to start mixing into my group’s list of games they are comfortable with. Look at the list above and give the next steps for similar types of games or any game you think they could handle.