I’d like to take this opportunity to welcome my family to the site (hi guys!). Settle in, find a seat – not too close to the back, sit where you can see, please. To our returning guests, thanks for coming again, we hope you found the comic to your taste, and we’re glad you decided to stay for the blog posts as well. Not everyone does. This week we’re going to be talking about getting others into the hobby. But don’t worry, we won’t keep you too long. Just a brief chat, and then you can get back to work. I promise I won’t tell the boss you’ve been spending your morning looking at webcomics.
Everyone here will know just how much board games have grown up in the last 2-odd years. How they’ve evolved from Monopoly to Catan, Risk to Game of Thrones, Game of Life to… well, that didn’t evolve so much as died a Darwinian death, but you see what I mean. The hobby has gone from a family activity used only a last ditch, desperate measure for a rainy day, to a world of genres, styles, themes and mechanics that I truly believe has something to offer everyone.
The problem is throwing off that ‘rainy day’ perception that follows games around like a dark cloud, obscuring the reality of the hobby, and leaving people with a dull, grey outlook on board gaming. What can be most frustrating is knowing that if people only came to the table they would have a good time. But you can’t force anyone to play a board game, and nor should you try. Suggest trying a game you know they’d like, offer opportunities to play, throw dice at them, but at the end of the day, the hobby isn’t going to hook everyone. And that’s fine. You may never get that 60 player game of 2 Rooms and a Boom you’ve always wanted to try, but there’s always Twilight Struggle.
In seriousness though, there is a wealth of ‘gateway’ games out there, titles that strike a balance between being easy to teach, intriguing for the new player, and, most important, good enough to really grab someone, to make them want to play again, straight away. Depending on the person, that might be Pandemic, The Resistance, Dominion. Think about what game to offer someone; match it to their tastes. Are they into sci-fi or fantasy? Do they have a math-y, analytical mind? Maybe they like economics, accounting (what kind of friends do you have? Maybe you just need new friends).
But don’t be that guy who forces everyone to sit down to a game. If just one person at the table doesn’t really want to play, that’s enough to ruin the experience for everyone. And that can be enough to sour a person on board games. Pick your time, choose your battles, and be nice about it.
And always keep a copy of Love Letter about your person. Everyone loves Love Letter.