Cardboard Children: The Perfect Games Night

Hello youse.

With it being Halloween tomorrow, many of you will be organising a special board game night, and inviting some friends round for some horror-themed games. I could have used this column to write about the best of those horror-themed games to play on Halloween, but there would be precisely zero point, because it’s not like you’d be able to go out and buy them in time. Instead I want to use this column to talk about the “board game night” itself. How to hold one, and how to make it go smoothly.

I wrote about this before on my old website, so I’ll be re-using a little bit of that material here, because it all still applies, and also because I like it and I want all my new pals to see it. I’m sorry, I love you. Most of this is hot and fresh out the kitchen, though, like R Kelly’s Ignition.



The game has got to be right for your group. For example, if your group enjoys good games, do not put Risk on the table. Gauge the interests of the group by phoning them at 3 in the morning every night in the week leading up to your games night. A person asked a question at 3 in the morning will always answer truthfully, although the truth will probably be screamed at you and will be wrapped in lots of swear words. Find out what type of thing they like and then pop onto to find the ideal game. Once you’ve done that, just decide to play a game you want to play anyway. It’s your house. Fuck ’em.


For God’s sake learn the rules. Whatever game you decide to play, make sure you have those rules DOWN. Study them. Commit them to memory. If, on the day of your games night, you are going for a shit without taking the rules with you to read on the pan, you are not doing your job properly. Another option is to print out copies of the rules (usually the website of the board game’s publisher will provide downloadable rulebooks) and send them to the players in advance. Just be aware that NONE OF THEM WILL ACTUALLY READ THEM BECAUSE THEY HAVE LIVES. So it’s down to you. Learn the rules, idiot. It’s often worth setting up the game beforehand and playing through a dummy game yourself, to make sure you have it all worked out. I’ve never done this, though, because I am not mentally ill.


Modern board games often take an age to set up. The average set-up time of a modern board game is 17 Passings of the Moon. You need to shorten that set-up time, because no-one likes waiting around while you get your stuff straight. (Am I right, ladies?) Consider the terrible sport of Grand Prix Racing. In that world there is a pit crew. And those guys practice getting shit done FAST, so that they can enhance the careers of spoiled rich kids whose machines do all the work. So you can certainly put in the time to enhance an evening for your friends, right? With games like Arkham Horror, it’s helpful to have all the game components stored in special containers of some kind. Tackle boxes and stuff. Keep your shit organised. Then it’s just a case of pulling all the stuff out and popping it into the wrong places, and not being able to fit it all on your table, and getting annoyed at the sadists who designed the game.


The rules explanation. The whole night can be won or lost on the rules explanation. If it turns into a lecture, you’re screwed. No-one came to a games night to hear you talk. Nobody actually likes you. So be as brief as you can feasibly be. There’s nothing worse than explaining the rules of a game and seeing people’s eyes glaze over and their drool starting to drip onto your unsleeved cards. Start the game as soon as you can. You can demonstrate a turn and explain any details as you go. Believe me here, no-one can go long on a rules explanation and survive. If Barack Obama himself took an hour over the book-keeping details of Arkham Horror, your group would be screaming for impeachment. (That Obama gag is one from the old column, but I’m leaving it in as a tragic reminder of how everyone disappoints us in the end.)


Board games are long these days, and that means you have to make sure your friends are fed and watered throughout, in case they expire. I like to arrange some candy cakes, biscuit bars, chocolate relics, fried crispings and other such snacks on a side-table, so that people can help themselves whenever they feel the need. I also like to make sure that alcohol is available, because a drunk mind is less likely to anticipate one of my trademark backstabs. Of course, once you have laid out all these snacks and drinks, it is vital that you express annoyance at anyone eating or drinking because their hands are greasy and might ruin your cards, and they might spill a drink on the board.


Going all night is usually a good thing (right, ladies?). In board games, it ain’t. I used to be bad for this. When I used to play Descent, a game that had me as an evil Overlord trying to kill every player that came into my dungeon, I would get a ridiculous amount of pleasure from spawning kobolds in front of the exits. These monsters will rarely kill a player, but they will slow a player down. I could keep those poor players in that dungeon until five in the morning. I could watch them grow pale and weak, and listen to their despairing pleas for sleep. I actually used to do this. I would never do it now. It’s a terrible, evil (hilarious) thing to do. DO NOT GO ALL NIGHT. Leave people wanting more, not wanting bed.


If people are hating the game you’re playing, make it clear that they can say so, and that you can stop. Games are games. It’s all supposed to be fun, not a slog, or a job. Don’t take it all too seriously. Sure, it’s a kick in the balls when a board game you’ve paid fifty quid for is stinking up the table, but that isn’t your friends’ fault. It’s probably Knizia’s fault. (I AM JOKING, KNIZIA-FREAKS) Always make sure you have some short games on hand for those times when a game bombs big time and you only have an hour or so of the night left. It’s nice to bust out a cheery little game of Say Anything or Buzz It! on these occasions. Particularly if you’re all single, because these games have the potential to lead to some serious fucking.


This is the one I have a problem with. I am a terrible loser. I hate to lose. On your special games night, you need to follow this rule: DO NOT FLIP THE FUCK OUT. You have invited some friends for a fun night playing one of the many amazing board games out there. It is a positive experience. No-one wants you ruining it all by starting to flip the fuck out when things don’t go your way. There are different ways of flipping the fuck out. There’s the TOTAL FUCKING FLIPOUT, where you will flip the board in the air, kick things over, call someone’s wife a slut and someone’s husband a manslut, and eventually wake up in jail. There’s the MILD FUCKING FLIPOUT, where your voice gets that annoying nasal sound to it, and you moan and whine about how “imbalanced” or “cheap” the mechanic of a brilliant board game is, and all because you fucked up. And then there’s the type of flipout that might be the worst – THE FUCKING STEALTH FLIPOUT.

This flipout is deadly. You fall silent. You smile and keep up appearances. You pretend you don’t care that the whole table just ganked the hell out of you. You pack the stuff away and see everyone out, wishing them a good night.

You go to bed. You lie there, in the darkness, seething. Your eyes are wide open, staring at the ceiling. You can’t even blink you’re so angry. Your eyeballs start to dry out. In the morning, you get up and go to the bathroom. Your eyeballs have turned black by this time. You take some lipstick and draw a dice symbol on your face. You get in the car.

You visit each of your friends’ homes in succession. And you kill them all, in a board game style.

Friend 1: you roll dice down his throat until his stomach ruptures.

Friend 2: You hack him up and bury his parts in two shallow graves, one marked “Draw Grave” and one marked “Discard Pile.”

Friend 3: You strip him, cover him in wool and take him to an abattoir. You find the conveyor belt carrying lambs to the slaughter and swap him in for one of the animals. You watch as he is killed and hung, having successfully traded him for sheep.

Friend 4: You throw him into an incredibly elaborate and enormous Dice Tower you’ve built, letting his body tumble to the bottom, his bones smashing in a satisfyingly random manner.

All that said, I’d state again: DO NOT FLIP THE FUCK OUT. Just have fun. It’s great to play games with friends.


Seriously, don’t give me that “I don’t have anyone to play with” shit. I could put together a 12-player game of something tomorrow if I had to. People who will happily play board games are out there. They’re everywhere. It’s not as niche as you think. If you know people who like to have a drink and talk shit, you know people who’ll happily play a game of Zombies!!! If you know anyone who would play a game of Truth or Dare at a party, you know someone who would play Buzz It! or Werewolf. It’s a tiny step from games like that to a big session of Warrior Knights, with “that girl from work/college/school” voting through a law that limits your military expansion. It’s a great thing to get into board games, because it encourages people to be social. It encourages people to ask people to come up to the house and be entertained. Since I started doing these columns at RPS, I’ve seen so many comments by people saying things like “no-one I know would do this with me, though.” It’s bullshit. YOU DO IT. Actively find the people who would be up for it, organise a board night, and have the time of your life. I guarantee that some of you will end up with a new best friend or a wife through this. I guarantee it. I do not want to hear this shit ANY MORE.

Remember to use to get on board. There will most likely be somewhere helpful nearby.

See you next week, and have a happy Halloween. Can’t wait to tell you about next week’s game.

Remember, I don’t want to hear any of this poor-me shit ANY MORE.


  1. RC-1290'Dreadnought' says:

    Board game night was two days ago :). We were casually playing Risk, and ended up with everyone owning one continent, strangely matching the colors of our armies. That was cool.

  2. apricotsoup says:

    You didn’t mention what you’d be playing tomorrow.

  3. Fumarole says:

    Number eight is especially important when playing Illuminati. Actually, while making for a bad game at times, it always makes for a good story afterwards. But if you tell that story too much, you may find yourself unable to bring new blood into the game. Quite the conundrum.

  4. XuaXua says:

    Don’t play with Ninjas because they flip out all the time.

  5. Frozenbyte says:

    So when are you going to review that new Castlevania game?

  6. hagbard says:

    poor me =(

    (someone had to do it)

  7. Dean says:

    Point 9 is very very correct. I thought exactly the same thing, until I started actually mentioning it to a few people, and not a single one said ‘nah that sounds lame’. Now more people are interested than will fit in my flat.

  8. pkt-zer0 says:

    The article from the old site, just for comparison.

  9. Rinox says:

    @ point 9: it really, really isn’t that easy to find people to play with. Actually, it’s easy to findthem, it’s just incredibly hard to bring them together at a given night to play a game together. Once you’re over 25, managing 5 or more people’s agendas becomes a nightmare with various work schedules, family situations (marriage/girl- or boyfriend/children) and other social activities.

    I have planned and organized several board games over the past few years and I felt more like a secretary aligning people’s agendas than as a gracious host setting up a fun board game. So I basically stopped doing it. If I have to plan board games a month in advance and call or email 6-7 people back and forth to check what dates they can make…fuck it.

    When I was younger, it was as you described, with lots of people up for it at any time. But now…not quite. Maybe I just have bad friends, I dunno. :-(

    • NLi10 says:

      I used to agree with this but then I started to care less and a magical thing happened. Here is how it works.

      Host chooses a date.
      Host e-mails out whole group of lets say 10 people (including people who will NEVER come)
      2 or 3 people say they can make it so it’s officially on
      When the night comes around you’ll usually get half of the original list there
      Great games are had and someone else agrees to host next time

      Sure, people will drop in & out, and often you’ll want to play an 8 player master piece and end up with 4 of you on a different game (or the reverse) but simple flexible fun is the easiest way to sort us busy older people. Set a date and let others plan their lives around it.

      And include the others on the group discussion so they know what they missed.

    • Hallgrim says:


      Somehow I doubt I am the only person who reads these threads and doesn’t have 10 friends.

      The last time I had 4 people over to play boardgames one of them complained that Game of Thrones was “like DND” and pretty much stopped talking to me. Yay for the south!

    • Lendemain says:


      Man, that sucks about your friend and A Game of Thrones. Is this the American South or the English?

      Did you try to ease the group into stuff based on popular fantasy novels, or did you start with it?

    • Chris D says:

      I use the same system as NLI10 and it works for me, or at least it did, now we’ve solidified into a more or less regular group.

      If you can’t find enough of your own friends to join I’d suggest getting the friends you do have to bring their friends too. You’ll get enough people soon enough, well, either that or Kevin Bacon will show up and that’s also a win.

      Boardgames are a great way of making friends with new people as you all unite in a common desire to bring down the scheming git in the lead and take their place at the last minute.

      You don’t need a lot of of people to actually show either, most games work fine with three people. Even if you can only get one other person to show there are plenty of great two player games as well.

    • MrEvilGuy says:

      Finding people who want to play isn’t too much of a problem.
      Finding competent people is a problem.

      Even if I was absolutely brilliant and reciting rules to people and directing them, most will still take at least a game or two before becoming a challenge to me. This is especially troublesome with board games that take awhile to play.

      I think a competent person would be recognizable if they are the people who would go to such lengths (as described in this article) to get together a board game night. They are competent, but they are hard to find.

      I have showed why I do not like playing with people who are not competent.

      It follows that I require competent people to play with.

      Therefore, people to play with are hard to find.
      So, I desire the right to claim “poor me” without being ridiculed.

      Poor me.

  10. Alexander Norris says:

    This is the best guide to serial killing I’ve ever seen. Thanks, Rab! I’ll be sure to keep a copy by my bedside and read it every night.

  11. J.D says:

    The bit about the stealth flipout has just made my day.

  12. Auspex says:

    But what if I don’t know any people who like to have a drink and talk shit or who would play a game of Truth or Dare at a party?

    What if I’m destined to be alone forever more? (This may be a bigger problem than not being able to host a board game night if I’m honest)

    • jaheira says:

      It’s OK to be a loner Auspex. Most of the pressure to be otherwise comes from other people, rather than from within yourself. Ignore it.

    • Lendemain says:


      (Disclaimer: I know nothing about your situation. The following advisory outburst is really based on wind. Take it or leave it as you will.)

      For the love of all that is holy, and, failing that, for the good of your own well-being, I suggest either getting therapy if you have social anxiety or simply doing more things and meeting more people. No one can know one’s own destiny, and so to resign yourself to a bad one is worse than to fight against a potentially bad one.

      Really, you’re probably a better person than you think you are. I was in a similar situation just this summer. Things are looking up for me: they might look up for you.

    • jaheira says:

      See what I mean?

    • Auspex says:

      Now I don’t know what to think!

    • pupsikaso says:

      You don’t have to think. You can be a sheep like everyone else.
      But if you want to think, be prepared to live in relative suffering.

    • Xercies says:


      What a cheery thought that was!

      Anyway that poet once said hell is Other people. So basically to not go to hell we hae to be alone forever.

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      Okay, you’re getting me at gone 1 in the morning here, but few things annoy me more than people seriously quoting Satre’s “Hell is other people” as a basic “People are fucks”.

      The point of “Hell is other people” in No Exit is that “In the company of others, I cannot tell lies about myself”. You tell lies about yourself and your nature to yourself – I’m a nice guy, I try to help people out, I treated my partner really well – and because other people have seen you act in a way other than that – you’re a cunt, you’re deeply selfish, you slagged them off in front of all your friends – you cannot keep up the self deceit. You are annihilated by it. Hell is other people, because they destroy this fantasy you by their real experience of you.

      So for people doing the “The only happy life is one without people because people are hell”… well, they may be right. But they’re also saying “You can be happy as long as you’re willing to be a lying coward”. It’s true, but it’s a despicable truth.

      The key thing – the quote is from a character in the play who’s suffering his delusions being destroyed by people knowing it. Hell is other people, because they won’t back up his bullshit.


    • Lendemain says:


      Let me clarify: I hate being alone. Not that I can’t deal with it, but given the choice, I’d rather be talking with someone else than to myself.

      Auspex doesn’t seem to like it either, so I meant my over-earnest and ridiculous post as encouragement to go out and make friends. If he doesn’t hate being alone, then Godspeed to him.

      Finally, the base of your advice–that it’s OK to be a loner–is fine, and I agree with it. My post’s over-enthusiasm stemmed from the A) the idea that Auspex might feel as I do and B) that he might allow himself to be alone, which, following A, would be terrible for him.

      Also, spot-on explanation of that quotation, Kieron.

    • jaheira says:

      Lendemain – Fair enough. Sorry for being a snarky dick. Force of habit.
      Auspex – you’ll be fine. Anyone naming themselves after one of the cool powers in the Vampire games is alright with me. (Unless you meant the Roman soothsayer – also cool)
      Kieron – did you ever see the BBC version of No Exit with Omar Sharif in it? It was on telly in the early eighjties I think. It was very powerful. I remember it quite clearly despite being way too young to understand it at the time.

    • AndrewC says:

      I think what Sartre meant by ‘hell is other people’ was that he lived in France.

    • EdBurst says:

      @The Auspex debate

      My experiences in this field may be relevant.
      I’m introverted (I find other people generally stressful to be around because I find myself constantly worrying about trying to please everyone else and I can only truly relax when I’m on my own), not to mention shy / avoidant / etc.
      I had no friends. Then I started having expensive therapy. I now have one friend, who I don’t really like.
      Anyway, of all the various things I tried to do to make myself more sociable, the most successful was joining a board-game club – google for one in your local area. We meet once a week, in a pub / working men’s club, and play games. For someone like me who is isolated enough to have little in the way of conversation skills, this is a good way to meet people in a non-stressful environment. There’s usually enough people that we need to play three games at once.
      So when people here talk about having enough friends to get a board-games night going, it just reminds me that for me it’s been the other way around; board games first, friends second.

    • Xercies says:

      Ooh I do hate smiley faces but sometimes there useful in these situations. My post was dripped with sarcasm by the way. Which is hard to figure out useing text but there you go.

      Anyway i implore to get out there and find people even if its only people that like monopoly. It truly is wonderful a great group of friends. I wish there was some clubs out there for me in this bloody uni but there aint and so i have a limited amount of friends. And so i don’t meet a lot of new people. I seriously do definitely.

      I used to think I was a loner and was better by my self but a lot of things happened to change that a and I’m glad.

      Now i just need someone next to me in my bed…

  13. badvibration says:

    Great article. I’ll admit i was guilty of #9 but now i realize how full of shit I was, especially since i do know people who are into board games, I just don’t usually hang out with them. So thank you for enlightening me, and I promise to never do it again for anything.

  14. TooNu says:

    See trying to explain rules to people whose English skills are minimal, nightmare. That said, I explained how to play Chaos in the Old World to 2 different sets of friends and managed it, why? because Chaos in the Old World is fucking brilliant.

  15. Collic says:

    I love this column.

  16. Magrippinho says:

    There is a good book there somewhere.

    You know, the game night that leads to the protagonist having his stealth flipout would be the prologue, act I takes us up to the first board game themed kill, act II up to the penultimate kill with the protagonist suddenly feeling some guilt about all this, act III has an unforgivable board-game related faux-pas by the last friend that pushes the protagonist irredeemably over the edge and then goes on to finish what he started.

    Epilogue: Sentenced to life in prison, the protagonist exclaims “Finally, I’ll have some time to play [INSERT ABSURDLY LONG BOARD GAME HERE]!”

    I know, I didn’t put much thought into this, but I’m afraid that if I do I’ll totally and shamelessly steal the whole thing. You better get to work!

  17. Scroll says:

    Loving the columns and I’ve found a store nearby thanks to that link.

    It’s going to be a devilishly expensive trip but I intend on having a few game nights on some easy boards and see how things go.

  18. Smokingkipper says:

    We played chaos in the old world last night, and battle star the week before. Good times had by all. Neither of us had played board games before, so it was interesting to see the different social mechanics of the two games play out.

    For the record, i was Khorne, and i was a Cylon. Mmm.

  19. pupsikaso says:

    I call bullshit on Rule 9. Due to the circumstances I live in, I am unable to have local friends. All my friends are online, spread across the globe. Surely I am not the only one. Which is why it’s unbelievable that this niche of computerised board games has not been filled yet.

    • jaheira says:

      Yeah, it’s weird that Arkham Horror isn’t a computer game. Especially since it’s solo-able.

    • Cerebrium says:

      Unless you want to play tabletop RPGs. In which case, there are many communities that use IRC.

      Also, if wargaming interested you, there is a program that you can play this on, called Vassal.

    • Biscuitry says:

      Vassal is not just wargaming. It works for most board games I could name. I played a rather enjoyable game of Pandemic across it a couple of weeks ago, with two people from across the Atlantic and one from across the room.

  20. Xercies says:

    I live in a darken room with no windows or doors so I can’t get friends over to play any board games. or call out for anyone really. Or eat and drink,


    • stahlwerk says:

      > Go North

    • Hybrid says:

      A darkened wall blocks your way.
      > Examine Floor

    • jaheira says:

      You are standing on an old rug

      > Look under rug

    • Hybrid says:

      A glint of metal catches your eye as you toss the rug aside, revealing a small wooden door.
      > Open Door

    • JB says:

      The room beneath the door is pitch black. You think that you hear the sounds of a grue.

      >Enter dark room

    • Lachlan says:

      The Grue is in the process of setting up a game of Railroad Tycoon and just stubbed its toe looking for the light switch.

      >Start in Pennsylvania

  21. noom says:

    That thing of people being up for these things can backfire. I tried to start up an AD&D session a while ago (yes, yes, I know that’s pen and paper gaming and not strictly boardgaming) and ended up with around twelve interested parties turning up for character creation. A somewhat unwieldly number of participants for an unexperienced GM…

    • qrter says:

      I had a group like that, for some spy RPG (can’t remember the name). All of them great people, normally lots of fun to play with, there were just too many people, and everyone wants to do their thing.

      At the end of those sessions we would’ve hardly progressed, it just took for-fucking-ever. After a few sessions I politely withdrew from the campaign.

      Personally I’d say 4 players plus GM/DM is the maximum (maybe 5 players if they’re quick players), but 3 players plus DM is probably the golden number.

  22. BigJonno says:

    “Friend 3: You strip him, cover him in wool and take him to an abattoir. You find the conveyor belt carrying lambs to the slaughter and swap him in for one of the animals. You watch as he is killed and hung, having successfully traded him for sheep.”

    Now that was funny, in an incredibly geeky way.

  23. Cokesakto says:

    Games night will hopefully be a night of pizzas and World of Darkness tomorrow. It will be awesome.

  24. Nick says:

    Can I play board games with you Rab?

    • Temple to Tei says:

      He’s MY friend! I saw him first.
      That’s 3 I have now.
      Oh, I want to play Warrior Knights with some gamers.

  25. GHudston says:

    Brilliant as always. However, I will continue this “poor me” shit for as long as I like, thank you!

    Your column has caused me purchase upwards of £200 of board games and start a new (bloody expensive) hobby. Luckily, my friends seem willing to endure my new obsession for my sake, it’s just a shame that they live miles away and we see each other maybe 2 or 3 times a year.

    Also, I currently live in a tiny little bungalow without anywhere to fit even the smallest of board games so my games night will have to wait. Perhaps I didn’t think this though enough…

    (By the way, I used that “findyourgamestore” website and, following the only lead I had in my entire town, found myself in a tiny comic book shop. Finding no games, I asked the bloke at the counter if they did them. He told me that they did have some, while looking down his nose at me as if I was some kind of “sub nerd”. He didn’t explain any further and there wasn’t a single board game on the shelves. Needless to say, I left VERY quickly.)

    • Lendemain says:


      Did board games kill his wife or something? I’d say comics and board games are about equally nerdy if we count all the family-friendly Eurogames, the crappy American ones everybody knows, card games, and classics like Chess or Go–and only equally nerdy because stuff like Horus Heresy is so nerdy and stuff like Bridge has whole literatures and schools devoted to it.

    • GHudston says:

      I don’t know really. It was just very obvious that “That Comic Shop” in Preston was very much just a comic shop and had somehow found it’s way onto that website because they had one copy of Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay rotting away in a corner.

      It wasn’t a friendly atmosphere at all. I find that a lot of these shops tend to be like that. You sort of need to be a regular before they’ll make eye contact with you. If anyone knows of a game store anywhere in or around the northwest that is actually friendly, I’m all ears!

    • Chris D says:


      If space is an issue have you considered card games? There are plenty of them about and mostly they can be played in a pretty minimal amount of space.

    • GHudston says:

      Oh yeah, I’ve considered everything! There isn’t enough table space for most board games and there isn’t enough seating space for anyone to actually sit around the “table” to play anything really. (Table = a small coffee table in the lounge.)

      We have managed four people around it once for one of those trivia type games but we have to sit on the floor to do it so it’s only suitable for games that are very short. Lucky we’re moving in a couple of years, eh?

      Until then I have to make do with commandeering my parents dining table whenever I go for a visit!

    • Chris D says:

      That’s too bad. Do you have friends with more space who could be persuaded to host if you bring the games?

    • GHudston says:

      Not in Preston, no. I moved here for Uni and ended up stuck here for awhile despite having dropped out while my girlfriend finishes her course, all my friends are down south and I haven’t had much luck making new ones up here!

      I sound like Billy-no-mates now, but I just haven’t really had luck meeting anyone in a Uni town who’s idea of fun isn’t “get as plastered as humanly possible, as much as possible”. I love a friendly drink and a chat (preferably over a good board game!), but I’m not much for traditional english binge drinking! Apparantly, I’m a rare breed amongst my age group!

    • Chris D says:


      Ok, none of my business so I’ll stop hassling you.

      But if you were interested it looks like there’s a <a href="link to; Games Workshop" in Preston which might be a good place to meet other gamers.

    • Chris D says:

      Link failure. Oh the shame.

      Lets try that again. Games Workshop

    • GHudston says:

      Don’t worry about it, you’re not hassling me and I appreciate the input, believe me!

      I’m aware of the Games Workshop here in Preston, it’s not that long of a walk from where I live. I used to collect the miniatures, mostly because I enjoy converting and painting them but the games are fun too and I used to play with a few of my friends back home, but earlier this year I had a “straw that broke the camels back” moment when I wanted to buy some new plastic trolls for a Blood Bowl team I was planning and realised how god damn expensive they all are! I haven’t been back since and prefer to enjoy the amazing back story via Dark Heresy/WFRP/various other things by fantasy flight. I put up with the prices for ages but when I can buy an entire game for the same price as three plastic trolls, there’s something wrong!

      Also, it’s probably worth pointing out that I have some quite serious social anxiety issues, among other things. I’m usually ok if I have someone to go somewhere with me, or introduce me to someone but I just stick out like a sore thumb if I attempt it by myself. It’s not pretty! This is, of course, something of a problem having moved and not knowing anyone in the area beforehand. I have my girlfriend for that in most things, but she feels just as awkward as I do in places like GW so she’s not of much help!

      Thanks, though! I appreciate that someone took the time to search for something like that just to help me!

    • Charupa says:

      There is a fantastic games shop in Manchester; Fan Boy Three, they know their stuff and have regular games nights. It may be a bit far from Preston, but they are a great store and you may even get wind of some games players a little closer to home.

  26. mbp says:

    Robert I do not play board games and I probably never will but I would like to congratulate you on a terrific article. Great stuff sir. Great stuff.

  27. Lendemain says:

    Nos. 2 and 4 are probably the most crucial. I don’t know how many rules explanations I’ve bungled in my short life, but it’s a lot. The single best one, oddly, was when I had to explain Cosmic Encounter back in middle school and I had the fiddly and awful Avalon Hill edition. Everyone got it pretty quickly. My only regret is that we played it too much like a Eurogame, where we only played the metagame (read: spoke) towards the end of each game and when we explicitly wanted to screw each other over.

  28. Zogtee says:

    So what you’re saying is that Risk is a pretty great game?

  29. Delboy says:

    So …. like …. if I build a website that allows (board game) people to find each other (postcode based, I guess), you’d all register and use it???

    Perhaps also have some functionality that allows you to set up a games night and then have your friends (or anyone who wants to, should you wish) say that they are coming? A “social organiser” sort of thing.

    Or does such a site already exist and no one here is mentioning it?


    p.s Catchpa : Cntt (well …. I’m not angel … but that’s a little strong!)

    • pupsikaso says:

      1) I wouldn’t give you my postal code.
      2) I wouldn’t trust strangers with my address or coming over to them instead.

      What you should create is a framework for other people to port board games to. So for example, you’d have a game’s list, where a player would choose what they want to play. Then they’d choose a game session they’d like to participate (the creator of the session enters some details, such as how many players, what time and how long they’ll be playing, level of experience if required, any special rules, and so on). Then you enter this session and the framework is basically, well, kinda like a chat channel with text chat and optional voice chat, together with whatever other features you may decide are essential in today’s “social” world.

      The developers that will be porting the game will use that frame to handle player moves, player communication, and any other player-related interaction the game might require.

      Build that, make the right pitch to the right people, and you might just be a rich man.

      That is, if you can beat me and others to it.

  30. MadMatty says:

    i really dont have any friends left…..

  31. JuJuCam says:

    Breaking Rule 8 is my reason for invoking Rule 9…

  32. the wiseass says:

    Or you could, just, play the fucking game without worrying about “the perfect games night”. At least that’s what we do and usually we don’t give two shits about the rules mentions above (except for rule number 5). We usually play way beyond bed time, often we don’t even know the rules when we open up a new board game and usually there is one guy that flips out (without rage quitting tough).

    Nevertheless it’s still a lot of fun. I mean, playing is only half the fun if you don’t argue about Munchkin rules or somebody freaks out because you blocked his street in Settlers of Catan. Bottom line is, you can’t go wrong with playing board games, it’s instant win.

    Oh an besides, RISK is a fuckin’ good board game!

  33. DJ Phantoon says:

    Managed to score Robo Rally from a local gamestore going out of business. Didn’t even know they still made it!

    And if you don’t like Robo Rally, you are a Hitler.

  34. Joe says:

    Point 9 is the truth. I’m no mega boardgame enthusiast but I do keep Perudo and Settlers of Catan around. Have played whipped them out among various circles of non-gamer friends and family and they rarely disappoint. Settlers of Catan requires a bit of attention to start with but most of my test subjects end up loving it. Perudo has inspired cultish devotion among certain circles.

  35. Hybrid says:

    Really great article! I’ve never been one to flip out, but I’ve seen some other players go through TOTAL and MILD. (Wizard rolling for power level in Warhammer Quest and being accused of cheating in Monopoly.)

  36. RogB says:

    I work as a games developer, and Whilst chatting to a colleague about borrowing carcassonne off him another colleague shouted ‘nnneeeerrrrddddd!’.
    You’d think an office full of geeky males (programmer, no less) would be a bit more tolerant but there you go. Even video gamers get all snooty about board games.
    This is why I daren’t send an email out about having a games night. It’s like trying to identify an underground resistance without actually mentioning it :)

    • brog says:

      but.. but carcassonne is mainstream.

      not sure how video gamers can manage to look down on board games
      (since board games are better)
      but there you go. just ignore them, so what if you get called a nerd?

    • Harlander says:

      Shouting “neeeerrrrddd!” is a regular activity for certain members of the RPG club I’m in ;)

    • Lendemain says:


      Eh, I’d send the e-mail anyway. If it hurts you, then chances are your co-workers were searching for an excuse to dislike you, and if it doesn’t–then you’ll have a games night on your hands.

      Of course, you and your Carcassonne-owning friend can try to organize a games night in a quieter way.

  37. Scandalon says:

    Wait, all you lot saying you never have/never will play a board game…you mean not/never Monopoly/Clue/Risk/Life, heck, Chutes and Ladders?!?

  38. Jez says:

    I have the exact opposite problem! All my friends play boardgames!! to many to play on one board xD

    • qrter says:

      Split the group into 2 smaller groups, each playing their own game, then switch games?

  39. Devenger says:

    Had a lovely time playing Incursion (1949: WWII didn’t end, Axis zombie-mutants versus Allied power armour!) last night with someone I’d only learned the name of the day before. Surprise boardgame playing opportunities are wonderful, especially when they let me lay down more and more zombies on the board while laughing maniacally. (Never got my zombies to hit anything, but this didn’t remove the awesome factor.)

  40. Dave says:

    Two great boardgames to have on the side in case of emergencies in any boardgame night: Dixit and Bang. Both can be played with incredibly varied numbers of people (great for people eliminated half way from a large game of mafia or something), both are simple, colourful and the rules can be picked up almost instantly. And both are incredibly fun to play when a bit tipsy.

  41. thebigJ_A says:

    No one I know would do this with me, though.


    • Lendemain says:


      Logical solution: Get to know more people?

    • brog says:

      Something you guys need to realise is: board games are not a niche activity. Everyone plays them. If they don’t, they will. Seriously, just get a copy of something super accessible like Dominion or Carcassonne and invite anyone you know, or their mother, and you’ll have a great time.

      (I’m serious about the mother bit. You’ll be surprised.)

    • GHudston says:

      Board games aren’t niche, no. But try mentioning a board game with a strong fantasy or sci-fi theme around someone who isn’t a gamer, they’ll glaze over immediately. The same thing happens if they happen to glimpse a rulebook that is bigger than the little pamphlet that comes with monopoly.

      They’re not a niche, but “everyone plays board games” is a statement that’s only limited to a handful of (still very good) “accessible” games. It doesn’t help those of us who want to dig out some arkham horror once in awhile. :D

  42. Rosti says:

    First: I <3 the Cardboard Children. Please continue with this great work.

    Second: Whilst I'm not going to go on a Poor Me rant, I am a little sadface that the end of my degree has scattered my excellently solid board game crew to the 4 corners of Europe. I'd try and work in a Ticket to Ride/Risk gag, but I'm trying to focus on starting a 'new' 'crew' for 'gaming'. If you catch my meaning.

  43. drkliter says:

    What game is that you are playing in the picture?