How many times did you have a trouble finding enough people to play a board game or anything else that take more than just two to play? This has to be the most common problem when it comes to this particular hobby. It is not that you don’t have anyone to play with, but rather more factors are involved. First of all, time is essential. Some board games take from 4 to 6 hours to finish and some people might think that it is a bit exhausting. On the other hand, not everyone can spare that much time on a board game.
But if you forget about time, there are still few major problems when it comes to gathering to play something. One of the most important things is what kind of game are you playing and are all of your friends interested in that kind of game. Some people are not even willing to try something new if they are not interested into certain subject or are not fans of certain kind of setting.
I am talking about serious players and board games that require your concentration. Light games that are fun and played fast are great for everyone. However, when it comes to more complex board games you should first think before inviting someone to play with you. You want serious players, not in a way that they are dead serious about everything, but people who will concentrate and finish the game when they start one. It has happen few times that we were not able to finish a game as someone was ruining the game from the beginning. You don’t want that. After a long time and a lot of games, I now know who I am going to call when I want certain game to play.
It takes a lot of patients to sit and play a game for 4+ hours. Games like Twilight Imperium can take even more than 6 hours to finish. Now imagine if you have someone who decides to drop out in the middle of that game, because he or she was bored. It actually ruins the game for everyone and you lost few gaming hours, and instead of having fun you go home frustrated. It is eminent to happen before you filter all your friends and see who you want to play and who you don’t want to play with.
After some time you will realize that you have to expand your gaming circle. It is not that hard to find new players. However, it is very hard to keep them. People are interested in board games, but they see it as one time thing and they don’t plan to make it their everyday thing. It is your responsibility to convince them to try something else and to keep trying until they found something that they really like or until they are hooked and then they will play all the time.
It is very important to how you approach new players. You are supposed to make it look interesting and easy. No matter what kind of game you want to play with them you should be able to explain it to them as easily as possible. As they are unfamiliar with board games everything will be new to them, and even something that might be common to you will be quite difficult for them to understand. In general, you should be very patient.
At the beginning it is very hard to tell light-gamers from future hard core gamers. You should approach all of them in the same way. I don’t say that you should start with some extremely simple games and treat them as stupid. You should understand that it is all very strange for them, and just make it easier for new players to blend in and start playing with the rest of you.
Always be prepared. Don’t try to learn new games to new players that even you are unfamiliar with. This way they will not have that excitement as you will always consult rule book and make long pauses. Not that long ago, my friend tried to teach us how to play Small World. I knew that that game was simple, but the way he started to explain I had to read the rules for myself in order to see what is really going on. He kept saying how it is simple, but actually never showed us how it is played. After that game I thought that I will never play that game again. However, after I decided to try it again I realized that Small World is awesome game I kept playing it since.
Another very common mistake is not to overload new players. It is enough to play only one game per session and let the information settle before starting another one. For a long time I had a trouble playing Twilight Imperium. The first time I played that game, a guy that we played it with, encouraged us to play two games in a row. We finished after some 12 hours of playing and it was almost dawn. I could not see a picture of that game for a long period of time. Don’t force your players to do something like that, they will never want to play it again.
When you introduce a game to a new player be very patient and try to explain it as best as you can before starting. You might try with shorter and simpler games like 7 Wonders, but I think that if the player is willing to learn to play you can teach them which ever game you want. Not that long ago, my friend was interested in trying some of my board games. She saw Chaos in the Old World and for some reason wanted to try that particular game. It took me a while to explain it to her as it is quite a complex game, but when we started she almost won. She was so amazed after that she now wants to try every single game I have. Just be patient and you shall expand your gamers base in no time.