Date Posted: 2017-10-24
I started board gaming awhile back, introduced by a fellow friend that I meet only twice a year. He will usually bring 3 different games and the group will always have a blast playing them. So I thought, why not buy those board games and have a blast with my other friends and family! Unfortunately, the journey was not that easy.

'Board games?! I hate Monopoly/Risk/Jenga/Uno.'

Everyone would have heard of Monopoly, Risk, Uno and other mass-marketed games. Unfortunately, these games barely scrape the immense possibilities of board gaming. Modern board games feature a new level of strategy, cooperation and interesting mechanics.

What works best with my friends is to tell them that the games are similar to those game they have heard before but much, much better.

'I don't play board games - sports/video games are so much more engaging!'

It is perhaps normal for people to view board gaming as boring and monotonous when they compare it with sweaty, speedy sports and the explosions in video games. And it will only be a losing battle if you try to convince them otherwise. Instead, try to find a similar mechanic or theme between their idea of fun and the board games you want to introduce and emphasize the areas that board games do better.

For example, if they love creating viruses and spreading across the world in Plague Inc, show them Pandemic, a game where players attempt to squash an infection but instead of playing it alone, they get to play it together with their friends! Or what if they like playing real-time strategy games such as Starcraft and Red Alert? Show them Power Grid where players fight for resources to power cities using power plants but instead of playing it with the computer or a distant online opponent, they get to see the look on their friends' faces as they outsmart them in resource management and deception.

Organizing a Successful Night of Board Games

Truth be told, the biggest mistake is to call it a "Night of Board Games". Non-gamers might have too many preconceptions of board games and making it the central part of the event is setting yourself up for failure. Make it a gathering for your friends to catch-up, of good food and good music. Let the board games be something of an 'oh look I have some games for us to try out'.

Start with 'Gateway' Games

Gateway games are easy to learn, fun to play for the first time and does not take too long to complete. But you cannot randomly pick any of the community-chosen gateway games on Boardgamegeek and expect it to roll smoothly. Read our article titled 8 Games to Introduce to New Players for more information.

Remove Distractions!

To really enjoy board games, players should get a certain level of focus. They are built painstakingly by the game designers to immerse players in an alternate reality. Ask everyone to keep their phones away and switch off the TV. Playing music in the background is fine but make it something ambient.

If there is a meal segment during the gathering, let them socialize while they eat so they do not have to during board gameplay time.

Speaking of food...

Have Good Food

Good food is a sure fire way of enticing your friends and family to gather at the table. Let them know that they can socialize and even play simple "drinking games" while they are at it. Soon, taking out your board games will feel almost natural to bring to the table.

Theme, theme and more themes.

Another trick is to find relevant themes to the occasion. For example, you could play One Night Ultimate Werewolf, Mysterium and Arkham Horror during Halloween. You could also play Pandemic and Dead of Winter after an episode of Walking Dead or any other zombie-related movies.

By making the theme of the board game relevant to the overall theme of the occasion, your guests are more likely to view them favorably.

Using just these few tips above, I managed to get my friends and family hooked into board gaming. For them, they preferred Cooperative and Strategy games instead of the Bluffing games as they felt slightly uncomfortable. Nonetheless, I would probably sneak 1 in pretty soon...