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Advice for New Board Gamers

Several days a week, I ask followers on Facebook and Twitter to share their thoughts on a question of the day. Follow us on either platform and you’ll see the questions and able to join in the conversation. It’s a fun way to see how other gamers plan their game nights, what games they really enjoy (or don’t), and how they respond to current events in the hobby.

Last week, I asked for advice that BGA listeners would provide to people who are brand new to gaming, and they offered a lot of really good thoughts, so I wanted to gather some of the best responses here and share what we think are the key things any new gamer should know about board games and the board gaming hobby.

Play EVERYTHING…

“Play EVERYTHING.. even if it doesn’t sound great try it anyways b/c you’d be surprised at what games end up being really fun to you compared to what you might have thought.”
~ Michael Thies

There are thousands upon thousands of different games and different takes on familiar mechanics. You might not like Dominion, but that doesn’t mean you dislike deck builders. Keep an open mind and try everything put before you, because you never know when a game will surprise you and be even more entertaining than you expect.

Be the Person You Want to See at the Table

“This hobby is filled with the opportunity for negative experiences. The best way to ensure your experiences are positive is to always engage in the positive behavior yourself. If you expect that of yourself, you can expect it of others.”

~ Willie Williams

The last thing anyone wants is to have a bad experience, surrounded by people they don’t enjoy being around. So, don’t create that kind of environment. Approach every game you play with positivity, follow the golden rule and treat everyone how you want to be treated, engage in proper hygiene, and be mindful of the games you play – they likely belong to someone else.

Test Games Before You Buy

“Was burned early on by just buying games with a gorgeous table presence only to find out I REALLY didn’t like it. Also, that applies to games where everyone raves about how good it is. Bought Small World based on that and look, played it once, and never played it again.”

~ Martin Perrine

Board games are easy to buy, but not necessarily as easy to get to the table or to sell if you decide you don’t like them. So, be selective in what you purchase. There are more than 1,000 new games released every year – trying to buy every one of them that sounds interesting will not only leave your wallet crying but will dilute your collection and make it harder to get the things you like to the table.

Don’t Ignore the Older Games

“Don’t listen to anyone telling you not to play a certain game. Play everything and anything you can get your hands on. Also have them remember the more bland it looks, the better it probably is.”

~ Bryan Scott

The board game hobby is booming right now. There are hundreds of very solid games released each year, and many of them look amazing. Combine that with the rampant deluxification of components and the buzz from a new game’s release, and you could easily spend all of your time playing new games and ignoring the classics.

But this isn’t a new hobby. Strategy board games designed for adults have been hitting the table for decades, and the current wave of hobby games has been building for more than 20 years. There are a lot of very good games out there to try, so don’t let the release date on the box deter you from trying something a bit older.

Have Fun

Board gaming is a hobby, so it’s easy to get caught up in all the little bits and pieces of it. The new hotness on Kickstarter, the stress of getting a new game to the table before anyone else, the fear of missing out on the newest experiences or conventions. These are common concerns people have, and they can create stress where there should be none.

You are quite literally playing games, so don’t let the pressure of trying new things or understanding all the terminology behind the games you play get to you. Just sit down, make some new friends, and have a good time. That’s what board gaming is all about.

  • Anthony

    Anthony lives and plays games in Pittsburgh, PA. A lover of complex strategy, two player war games, and area control, Anthony is always eager to try a new game, even if he's on rule-reading duty.

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