Our 5th game group meeting took place in the week leading up to Christmas, so I was nervous that once again we’d not have many gamers. I tried to encourage people with the promise of cake and a little Christmas gift. The 3 people who came were very happy with their gift of the Dobble demo, since Dobble has been such a big hit with the group! Only two of those people even stayed so we had another quiet evening.
Nevertheless, we played two good games and I can only hope that more gamers return in the new year, otherwise I’m likely to call an end to work board game nights because it’s too demoralising.
Number of Attendees: 3
Games Played: Settlers of Catan, Forbidden Island
This is the same challenge as last week. I hope low turnout is just an effect of people’s busy social schedules around Christmas time. Slightly better than last week though, one of the attendees was someone who I’ve only met through work games rather than an established friend, so I’m trying to remain positive. We chose to play a 3-player game of Catan and even then one person had to leave, but fortunately it wasn’t awkward for the two of us to play another game and he wanted to give Forbidden Island a try because he was intrigued by the photo I sent round in the event invite. (Note to self, sending photos of cool games might be a strategy that works.)
Same old games
It’s weird how self conscious I feel when I bring along a bag of games that doesn’t change significantly from week to week. I usually swap one or two games each week, but keep the core games like Catan, Carcassonne and Dobble. Personally I love to try lots of new games and I assume that’s what other people want to do too, but I also don’t want to alienate the people who might want to stick with what they know. Overtime, if more people start to bring some games I hope the variety will begin to solve itself. For this week, people seemed genuinely OK with another game of Catan and I don’t mind playing it either.
Converting a sceptic to co-operative games
When I first thought about bringing a co-op game to the group I discussed it with a few people and one guy in particular said he didn’t like them because of the alpha gamer problem. The same guy expressed an interest in Forbidden Island and even though I warned him it was a co-op he was still willing to try it. For me it was definitely a challenge not to alpha game a 2-player teaching game and I was very self aware to avoid the problem. I think I did a good job at letting him make most of the decisions and strictly talking about rules rather than options. The game was also on our side in making it a really challenging difficulty that we just managed to win. I generally find this to be the best way it can go in a teaching game – too easy and you players don’t think it’s worth playing and too hard and they’re demoralised.
I’m really happy with how people have taken to Forbidden Island and can’t wait to start sharing some more of my favourite co-ops with the group.
Lessons for Next Week
I am hopeful that some of my regular players will return in the New Year, but I think I’ll also put a new advert up on the intranet which sells it as an established group, with some photos that have been taken over the last couple of months. In a company with many deadlines and stressed people, I think it’s better to have a higher number of people interested so that each week there’s still a respectable number of gamers who can make it.
Fresh new games
Over Christmas I’ve had the opportunity to take home my whole bag of board games and plan on taking some fresh new titles back with me in January. I’ll still stick with a couple of traditional gateway games that are familiar for new players but I’m also hoping to take Takenoko, Telestrations (if I ever get a big group again), Dixit & Flash Point and then start introducing some new mechanisms like worker placement with Stone Age or card drafting with Oceanos, Medieval Academy or 7 Wonders. I can’t wait to share more games with new people and just hope that I’ll have enough people interested to stay keep coming to the group.