It’s the beginning of July and it has been warm summer so far. Some of the days have gotten into the upper 90’s in temperature along with 70% humidity. We saw a thunder storm hit while playing games which ended with a rainbow due to this crazy humidity. It has been nice to take a break from it all and play some games to cool off.
This Game Night review will feature the now traditional statistics that will be included first of the month reviews. I’m also including a section on my thoughts that I wanted to reflect upon. Specifically, I wanted to write about new players and some best practices in welcoming them to the table. This is all in the hopes that you may have some insight if this happens to you on your Games Night or if you’re able to come to ours.
I hope there is something for everyone in this review and that you have fun reading them. I really enjoy putting them together. Reflecting on it all has really added so much more to my enjoyment of Game Night. Thank you very much to all of you that make this possible. Let’s get into the review.
Lanterns: The Harvest Festival
Betrayal at House on the Hill
Total Plays at Game Night – 7
Last Played at Game Night – January 29th, 2017
Top Ranked Player – Esther K. (6 Wins, 66% Win Percentage)
Top Score – 263 (Esther K. on April 4, 2015)
Most Total Plays – Kyle D. (11 Plays)
Longest Win Streak – 3 (Esther K.)
Current Win Streak – 2 (Andrew H.)
This is easily in my top 10 games of all time. I’ve loved this game from play 1. I thought that I would get that out of the way before we even begin here because I’m not going to be doing much of a review here as much as I wanted to talk a bit of strategy and about the expansion.
I lost this game of Stone Age which isn’t surprising. My chances of winning this is usually pretty low considering the caliber of players that can be found at the table any given week at Game Night. It doesn’t hinder my enjoyment but rather challenges me to be better at my next game.
This game started out on a very similar note as previous games. I usually start out with trying to expand my agriculture track and my work force. This usually only requires a worker or two so the rest of my work force is dedicated to gathering wood for the first couple rounds. I kind of view this as a chump resource that is easy to acquire and can be used to pay for the cards for bonuses.
I find that my game tends to fall off as the game develops and I fall short in 2nd or 3rd place. There is almost always a dominate player that adopts a strategy that I didn’t see while playing which brings me to my point. Every player at the table needs to be accounted for as they make there moves. What are they doing with their workers and what cards are they picking up. The end game points can really sneak up and bite you if you let it get away from you.
In this game, I didn’t see that the winning player was gathering technology cards. In fact, they were able to pick up all 8 of the technology cards without challenge. This accounted for 64 points of his total 187 point game. Even just one less technology card would have dropped him 15 points which would have dropped him from 1st to 3rd place. I still would have lost in this scenario as I would have tied with the new winner and she would have broken the tie.
My point I’m trying to make is that it is easy to focus on one player at the table and play them directly. I was doing this from start to finish as the player across from me was a very experienced player and I viewed her as my challenge. I didn’t even consider the other players in this so I didn’t watch them. I wasn’t fully engaged in the overall experience. I blame the beer!
I’m happy to see a new player come to the table and wipe the floor with some veterans and have them scratching their heads wondering what just happened. This was a very fulfilling game that I felt needed some reflection.
The final point I wanted to touch upon is the expansion. We didn’t play with the expansion in this game but I wanted to share some thoughts that I had on it. It does add quite a bit to the game that I do enjoy but I feel like I may be in the minority here. Many people that sit down to play the game prefer to keep the game vanilla with just the base game. I do understand that it adds a bit of complexity to the game but I also feel like it adds depth and strategy. Most of the people I talk to about this say that the expansion just adds unnecessary components to a game that they already enjoy so why bother adding it. It is obvious that their experience to Stone Age still feels new and would like to explore the game farther before adding anything more to it which speaks to it’s worth in the collection. It’s a game that has legs and will see a long life as a Game Night favorite. I may have to wait for a bit before the expansion really finds some plays.
There is lots of new gamers that come to game night and many of them have limited gaming experiences. They usually include classic games like Monopoly or party games like Cards Against Humanity. There isn’t anything wrong with games like these but they have become a little overplayed by most of the gamers that are apart of this group. We don’t enjoy them as much as the new classics. These games are far more fun in our opinion and should be shared with everyone.
The problem I find with these new players is that a lot of these game mechanics are foreign and are difficult to understand initially. We take these things for granted as we play so many different games and these mechanisms get reused so we see them all the time. They have become second nature to veteran gamers. It’s something that I like to remind would-be gamers that want to become better at games. Play more games and you will be a better player. With this in mind, I like to start new gamers off on the right foot. Here are a few things I like to follow when a new player stops in on Game Night.
Be Welcoming and Warm
This can be more difficult than you would think. Many times at Game Night I just want to play a game and have some fun but there is always a job to do. As host, you must be attentive to the new players stopping in. A nice handshake and a smile can be just the little icebreaker that they need to feel comfortable with a brand new experience that may be slightly frightening. Get their name and try to use it a few times so it feels very personal. I also try to assess what previous knowledge they have before we start to play games. This will help you out later.
Stick to the Simple Games (Gateway Games)
If the last game they played is Clue, then throwing them into a game of Scythe can be intimidating. I’m not implying that they are not intelligent enough to tackle a task like this but rather they are not expecting something like this for a fun evening. Their previous game knowledge is classic games which are usually family style games that cater to a wide spread of ages. These games are simple to understand, teach, and play within a short time (Risk and Monopoly excluded). That is what they think games are so that’s what they think a board game group will be playing. I couldn’t tell you how many times strangers would ask about a game we were playing and immediately ask if it was like Risk or Monopoly.
Start these players out with something easy and maybe even a bit familiar. I have a few games that I like to start with that include games like Ticket to Ride, Snake Oil, Dixit, For Sale, or Codenames. Any game that has rules that can be explained in less than 5-10 minutes or can be taught while they play. Get them playing sooner rather than later. Long teach sessions usually starts to make the new players panic and back out.
Try to pick a game that matches the attitude of the player that you were introduced to as well. If they seemed timid or shy then don’t start the night off with a highly social game. If they gave you the impression that they are not looking for a long night of gaming then keep the games short and quick. Be mindful.
Keep the Players Engaged Inside and Outside of the Game
This can be difficult for some people as they aren’t naturally social. It is a valuable skill to have in these situations. Once the new player seems to understand the general concepts of the game and feels comfortable in playing then ask them questions outside of the game in between turns. They have lives outside of the game group and you should try to establish these bonds. a good rule to follow is the F.O.R.D. method. This is a technique that will help make small talk easier. It stands for family, occupation, recreation, and dreams. Each topic is an aspect of their lives and will keep you away from the amazing conversations about the weather or politics.
I always like to loop back to the game with my conversations and make observations about the game being played. I will try to point out some strategies I like to employ or when a player makes a really good move. Sometimes they are not even strategy-related and are merely highlighting situations. Sometimes I just like to have a laugh about what is happening at the table and want to share that experience. This tends to have lasting effects on players that the game alone has trouble doing. Many players don’t remember the game itself as much as the experience of playing the game. This experience includes things like their overall mood. Keep things fun and light and they want to have that experience again.
Take a Break
Games can be exhausting for some and energizing for others. I find the former is true with new players. This is all very new and can be mentally draining. Take some time after your first game to simply enjoy the company of the players at the table. Stop for a moment and maybe talk about how the game was played. Reminisce about all the experiences you shared or maybe talk about some future strategies you may employ. This may sound very corny but its something that many of us in the group like to do after a good game. It’s like the icing on the cake. It really puts a stamp of approval on the whole gaming session. This may be just what the players need to recharge and gear up for a new game if they have the time.
Invite Them Back
They will have to leave eventually. Don’t try to keep them there past their comfort level. Shake their hands and bid them a warm farewell. Let them know that they are always welcome back to the table. This is also a great time to use their name a couple more times to keep this closing personal. Make sure that their last memory of Game Night is a positive one.
Statistics from June 2018
Plays – 49 (+2 from May)
Games – 27 (No change from May)
New Games – 4 (+3 from May)
Players – 28 (-1 from May)
Time Playing – 25 hours (+4 from May)
Days of the Month Playing Games – 10 (+3 from May)
H-Index – 3 (3 games were played at least 3 times)
Top Logged Player – Eric Benac (14 Games Played with 27 Logged plays)
Highest Win Percentage (More than 5 Plays) – Kyle Harvitt (63%)
Most Played Game by Different Players – Byzanz (9 Different Players)
Top 5 Most Played Games in June 2018
7 Total Plays
5 Total Plays
3 Total Plays
3 Total Plays
3 Total Plays