So, you want to start a boardgame group?

Where I live there are plenty of people who like to play games, but unfortunately our game nights were few and far between and very inconsistent. We also played the same set of games almost every time when we did get together and play. So I had a brilliant idea! I’ll start a game group. We can meet weekly and play games and I’ll be able to get a lot more of my collection to the table. Excellent! I’m inviting you to join me as I progress through the peaks and valleys of organizing and hosting a game group. Once a month I will be reflecting on how the group has gone and what my plans are for the next month.

Today I want to start by looking at the pre-first meeting planning our first meeting which happened last week.

Heading into the first meeting I had to figure out a day and time where I knew a few of my friends would be free to come, otherwise the first night could have been me and a random person who just showed up. Personally, I wouldn’t have cared, but it may have been a bit awkward for the other person. Between my friends and I we settled on Wednesday night from 7-10 as the best day and time. I found a place to host it (my apartment is way too small and I wanted it to be a more public place) and we were all established for the first night.

For the first week I wanted to establish a group of regulars so I personally invited my friends that I had played games with and then reached out to the larger community around me on a semi-public group on Facebook. This was the hardest decision for me. I wasn’t sure how far to reach out for the first night. If I opened it up wide and no one showed up or only strangers showed up, it may have been awkward for people, but my eventual decision was to start it small and grow slowly.

The First Night

Then came the decision of what games to bring. I knew that at least 1 other person was coming with a likely 2 beyond that as well, but I wasn’t sure so I had to prepare for it just being me and for it being a large group. i also wasn’t sure if kids would be coming. I didn’t say “no kids allowed” (on purpose) so I needed to have something for them as well. I knew that a wide range of games was needed with a decent range of player and ages. Here is what I decided to bring:

  • Castles of Mad King Ludwig
  • Pandemic: The Cure
  • Rhino Hero
  • Targi
  • 6 Nimmt
  • Cypher
  • Mamma Mia

7 o’clock came and went on the first night and no one showed up. I knew my one friend would be a bit late, but I was sitting in the room alone, wondering if anyone else would come. Sure enough, some people did. At around 7:30 four of us were there and so we decided to play Castles of Mad King Ludwig and since I was the only one who had played, I was the teacher. Not surprised or bothered by that, I started to explain and about half way through the explanation, a 5th person showed up and I was left in a quandary. Castles only plays 4 people, we have 5. So, a decision had to be made whether we started the explanation of a new game, just have the late arrival watch or I could sit out and let the others play. I really wanted to play the game, this was, after all, my game night and gosh darn-it, I should be able to play my game at my game night! Ok, I did think that, but not for long, probably only a few seconds in reality. Instead I stood up, offered the new guy the seat and finished teaching the game. Everyone enjoyed the game and one guy even said, “Where can I get this game?” To me, that meant the night was successful.

The Issues

So clearly there was an issue with player count and the fact that I didn’t play a game could be seen as an issue, one that I would like to remedy in the future. There is also the issue with people showing up later than others. These are all things that might continue to be concerns and therefore require planning to remedy.

Plans for Next Time

For the second week I decided to bring the same games. The games seem to cover a wide range of options and eventually I would like some of the regulars to be comfortable with some of these game in order to have them teach the games to new people, especially if I won’t be able to attend or if the groups grows dramatically and we have several games going on at the same time.

In order to resolve some of the issues that I had mentioned before I needed to see what truly mattered. In truth, me playing a game doesn’t really matter. Yes, I would like to play more games, but if my goal is to get a group to consistently play and expand the number of boardgamers in my town, then it doesn’t matter if I play or not. If I can, I would love to play, but if I can’t, then oh well.

Then there is the issue of people showing up later than others, probably after others have already started to play a game. I have two ideas to help solve this idea: The first idea is to start the night with a filler so if people show up later, they only have to wait a few minutes before a new game can start. Still though, people might show up after the filler is done and after the longer game has started as well.  So my other solution is to encourage games that play 5 when we have 4 people, 6 when we have 5, 4 when we have 3 and so on. This way, if someone comes later (and it is possible), they can jump in and play. Of course this also determines what kinds of games can be played, but for now, I think that might be the best option for my group.

Next month, I will continue this series, taking a look at the first month of this group, discussing issue and possible solutions as well. If you head to the BGG guild for the podcast I will post a discussion question and would really love to hear your thoughts to help my group.

My question for the month is; What other solutions would you suggest I try for the issue of late arrivals?

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