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How to Talk about Board Games (And Get Your Friends Interested In Them)

How to Talk about Board Games (And Get Your Friends Interested In Them)

Board games are awesome, but we all have other hobbies. And sometimes, we even have friends in those other hobbies. Friends who would make awesome gaming partners. How do you tell your surfer friend, your cross-fit (or cross stitch) pal, or your book club buddy about board game night without losing them?  It’s not as hard as you might think. Here are three tips to get you started.

Convey the Fun

mysteryMany people dread board games because they have horrible childhood memories. Hyper competitive siblings might have ruined gaming experiences or perhaps there were heated rules arguments and rampant cheating. And we’ve all been in unending games of Monopoly that went on so long we prayed for the sweet release of bankruptcy. If these experiences are their reference point, any mention of board games can cause involuntary revulsion.

The trick, then, is to convey just how fun and exciting board games can be. You want to show enthusiasm and explain why the games are so great. Maybe contrast them with classic games. “We have this one game called Mystery of the Abbey.  It’s like Clue, but you don’t have to roll dice and can move wherever you want!”

You can talk about how they are full of interesting decisions, and especially about how they don’t take all day to play – at least not most of them. If the stereotypes about board games are that they are long and dull, you want to combat that. “Most of the games we play only last about an hour. And you get to do all sorts of fun stuff like fight mythic battles, build cities, or solve crimes.” Once you allay their worst fears, they often don’t mind hearing a little bit more about it.

Focus on Theme

King of TokyoFor avid enthusiasts, it can be tempting to describe games in terms of their mechanics. “Yeah, it’s a great worker placement game and it incorporates just the right amount of auction and set collection.” To the uninitiated, all of that is meaningless blather that only confirms their suspicions that these games are over their head or simply too nerdy. Instead, when you tell them about the game, you want to focus on theme.

If I want to tell them about Small World, I don’t talk about how each race has a different ability and how those combine with other variable powers.  Instead, I say, “It’s about all these armies like Trolls or Giants or Dwarves. And you all try to take over territory but the world is too small to hold you all so you have to fight.” Similarly, if I want to bring up King of Tokyo, I don’t want to describe it as a twist on the Yahtzee dice rolling mechanism. Instead, something more along the lines of, “You get to play giant monsters smashing a city. The first monster to smash enough, or kill off the other monsters, wins!”

Discussing items in terms of theme immediately makes the games seem more accessible. Especially if it is a fun concept or one they can relate to. Plus, most themes can get your imagination going. It’s easy to get excited about rocketing into space, sailing the seas, or fighting in the ancient past. And if they can at least see why it would be exciting, then you’ve won a major battle – and look a lot less like a geek.

Appeal to their Interests

rebellionPerhaps the best way to describe games is by appealing to their own interests. If something interests them, there’s probably a game about it. Maybe even a great one. For instance, maybe your hiking buddy has a fondness for rock gardening. You could work in a little discussion about Karesansui. Your workout pal tells you that he’s always been fascinated by the battles of World War II. It just so happens that you own a game called Memoir ’44. And so on.

The other two points above are designed to get people to at least see your point of view. Maybe they decide games aren’t for them, but they can appreciate your interest and come away knowing that boardgames are so much more than Candy Land. But if you focus on their interests, they might even be intrigued enough to try some games themselves.

Maybe your friend in all those microbiology classes would appreciate Pandemic. That guy who likes to travel might be interested in Ticket to Ride. And the girl in your group who is a huge Star Wars fan just might want to learn more about X-Wing or Rebellion. If you keep the focus on their interests, you might even find someone willing to show up at your next game night.

How do you go about telling people about board games?  Give us your tips in the comments.

Image Credits: Days of Wonder, Iello Games, and Fantasy Flight Games

Featured Image Credit: Z-Man Games

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