Game Days

I live for game days. A day of friends, games, and relaxation. Social interaction! Brain exercises! Adventure! Storytelling! It is my perfect mode of existence. My happy place.

My husband, Greg, and I host a Saturday game day at our home at least once a month. We are incredibly fortunate to be able to build our collection and have a fantastic gaming group that shares our love of board games and even helps us raise funds for charity. To keep organized, we maintain a private group on Facebook where we plan our events, chat, and share gaming news with folks. A couple of our friends are not on Facebook, so we set up events with Google Calendar, too. Saturday game days are something I look forward to every month.

Our game days start at noon and end whenever the last person leaves, usually around 9p or 10p. The first hour is always a socialization hour while folks show up and we prepare a lunch order. Our group members are friends from various branches of our lives: we each have friends from high school in the group, as well as college friends, co-workers, people we met via other local gaming groups, and friends we have met by participation in non-gaming hobby groups. For many people in the group, game day is the only time we all see each other in person, so it’s nice to have some non-game time for face-to-face catching up.

Around 1p, the games begin. Sometimes we start the day with a game big enough to include everyone if we have 7 or fewer people. We like 7 Wonders, Mysterium, and Bang! for this. Otherwise, we will break into groups and have multiple games running at once throughout the house.

RPGs and Interactive Fiction

We have a lot of games, which can often lead to some analysis paralysis for folks as they try to decide what to play. To combat this, we started doing themed game days: Greg and I choose a theme for every game day along with a menu of 4-6 games within that theme, for which we read the rules and can teach on game day. This has helped us get game day rolling a lot faster and eliminates wasted time. When choosing games for the menu, we often choose games that we have not played yet or games that group members have requested. Guests will often bring their own games that fit the theme, as well! Of course, our full collection is available every game day if people have a specific game in mind to play.

Filler games shelf

If we have a couple games going and, as is usually the case, one game finishes before the other, then the group from the first game will usually grab a quick filler game to play while the second group finishes up. Once a couple groups have finished their games, we will reorganize and choose new games.
This month we have a “Lights & Festivals” theme to coincide with the holiday season. The menu includes:

Lanterns: The Harvest Festival (2-4 players)
Hanabi (2-5 players)
A Feast for Odin (1-4 players)
Kingsport Festival (2-5 players)
We are also including Dead of Winter: Warring Colonies (4-11 players) since it takes place in winter, everyone is fighting for food, and one of the NPCs is a mall Santa.

In January, the theme will be “The Written Word” and will feature games based on novels/comics/literary characters and games about books/writing/letters/words:

Ex Libris (1-4 players)
Paperback (2-5 players)
Letter Tycoon (2-5 players)
Kill Shakespeare (2-4 players)
Sheriff of Nottingham (3-5 players)
Beyond Baker Street (2-4 players)
The Dresden Files Cooperative Card Game (1-5 players)

To see more theme lists, click here. Themes we choose range from genres, mechanics, designers, holidays, etc. In the past, we have done themes for horror, fantasy, medieval, tile placement, Feld, area control… the list goes on and on.
Our group has enjoyed the theme days for various reasons:

  1. Faster decision making means more time for playing
  2. Focus on getting unplayed games to the table
  3. Someone has already read the rules and is ready to teach
  4. It is fun to see the variety within some of the themes

Have you tried themed game days with your gaming group? Did you enjoy it?
What other methods have worked for your group?

0 thoughts on “Game Days”

  1. I’m definitely impressed by the amount of work and time that goes into this. We have been hosting a big game day at our house, (~15-20 people), every 3 or so months for the last couple years. It’s always a huge expense with all the food we provide and a lot of work and I’m starting to get burned out. Any recommendations on combating this?

    1. Providing food for that many people DEFINITELY adds up quickly! We have everyone pay for their own lunch/dinner when we make a food order. We provide some snacks and drinks, but people also bring their own drinks, as well. Luckily our group is pretty supportive. We provide the games and the gaming space every month (sometimes a couple times a month) along with some snacks, so everyone is fine paying for their own lunch. Occasionally Greg and I will pick up the food tab for special events or just because we feel like it to show some extra appreciation for the group.
      In our game day invites, we make sure to tell everyone that 12p-1p is a social hour and that if anyone wants to order food with us, they can. We also let people know they are welcome to bring their own food/drink if they wish. So far there haven’t been any problems with this method.

    1. We actually got it to the table a month ago when we had our big Extra Life event. It was a lot of fun. We didn’t have an odd number of people, so we didn’t get to try it with the Lone Wolf, which is what I’m hoping we can do this Saturday.
      The set up for the game is the only downside so far… You have to pull pieces and cards from both the base game and the Long Night expansion. And then… when the game is done everything has to go back. I wish they’d just reprinted the cards so that a set could stay with Warring Colonies instead of having to pull them, but it’s not a deal breaker.

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  5. Great way to run a game day!! We start at 2 pm so we skip the lunch thing. Then we either only have 2 other people over, so it’s just 4 of us, or 6 other people so its 8. Then it’s only 1 or 2 games going. I haven’t thought to do a theme day. When it’s the 8 person day, there’s usually not been too much paralysis in choosing games because at least one person in each group has been really itching to learn a new game that we have.

    1. The paralysis in our group is usually that too many people want to play too many games so there is an abundance of choice. The nice thing is that we try to focus our menu choices on games we haven’t played yet. It really helps us play more of the newer games in our collection.

  6. The themes are a great idea!!! Especially when you own so many games, and you’ll be able to make sure you rember the rules to teach because people aren’t choosing randomly

  7. That’s awesome that you do a game day like that and even more awesome that you raise money for charity as well – If I lived closer to you I would love to attend!

  8. I think it’s a good idea to do theme days! I don’t know that everyone has enough games to do themes like you guys, but I think when you get a game library as big as you guys, it can be overwhelming to choose a game (esp. for a bunch of different people with a bunch of different preferences) without a theme. And I like that if someone is really craving a game, you don’t mind if they go off-theme, so it’s not a particularly restrictive policy 😉
    Planning ahead of time helps, too. Sometimes when we’re planning in the moment, people get annoyed at each other 😉

  9. Typically our game group is only 4-6 adults with a couple kids occasionally joining us (usually they wind up playing their own games or watching movies), so theme / choice paralysis isn’t as big of an issue. But several years ago we were in the realm of 10 adults most of the time and so we also chose the themed route – I remember fondly our Egyptian, Transportation, and other fun theme nights – we would also choose movies, activities, and food for the kids to follow our theme.

  10. Michael O'Connell

    These days my only game day is playtesting with other designers downtown. Wish we lived near you guys.

  11. i like to do themes to for some of our game nights.. some work well, others not so much. my friends are less into than i am.. but if i make the menu fit the theme they are more excited.

      1. • steam punk (because i have a LOT of genre games that are also good) (Steam Works; Steam Time; Professor Pugnatious; Noria; Imaginarium; Scythe…….)
        • japaneese (with sushi.. a great food for gaming) (king of tokyo; Tokaido; Ehre der Samurai..)
        • old school games night (classic board games and also themed menu including edible chess.. see pics on WoW)
        • englisch games night (i live in germany.. so.. i guess your version would be any foreign language you have a few games in and snacks from that region)
        • wild west (colt express; transamerica/ zug um zug; bohnanza; BANG!..)
        • espionage (inkognito; coup; panic station; saboteur… really any hidden identity styled game. there are some new ones i need to try next time)

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