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.
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.
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:
- Faster decision making means more time for playing
- Focus on getting unplayed games to the table
- Someone has already read the rules and is ready to teach
- 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?