So hopefully you’ve had a look through the Board Game Selection Flowchart, and a few board game summaries, and found a handful of games that look pretty interesting. That’s great! However, this is only the first step in boardgaming, and the next step is often the hardest – finding people to play with.
Boardgaming is a social hobby first and foremost. While you can play online implementations of board games, these tend to distill the game down to its pure mechanics and lose the most important part – sitting down with people face-to-face and sharing an experience.
The easiest way to find people is to ask your friends. Arrange a board game day, get everyone to come round, set a time for lunch or dinner, and make sure there are snacks. If your own house isn’t big or clean enough, hold it at a quiet local pub! So long as you make sure to buy a few drinks and maybe a meal, they won’t mind. It’s basically what these places exist for – ‘pub’ is short for ‘public house’, after all. You’ll want the odd pub-friendly game, like Skull and Roses or Sushi Go if you’re taking this route; games that won’t take up too much table space or time.
However, your friends might not be all that into board games, or might not all be free at the same time. Or maybe you’re just looking to expand your pool of gaming partners! If so, your next best bet is to find a public boardgaming group. These are everywhere, and the best place to find one is on Meetup, Facebook or just in Google. I’ve come into a new city and done a Google search for “<city name> board game group”, and found a number to choose from. Make sure it’s active though – sometimes they’ll say ‘every Wednesday’ but haven’t actually met up for over a year.
When you do go to a public board game group, I cannot stress how important it is to show up on time. By showing up on time, you’ll get a bit of time to chat and meet the organisers, as well as getting the pick of games. Plus, it can be very difficult to find people to play with if you turn up late; everyone may already be in a game and you’ll need to sit and wait until a game finishes and hope there’s room for you in the next one, which can mean a bit of awkward sitting around.
Generally, the board games played at public groups are of moderate weight, usually averaging about 3 or 4 cups of tea on the Complexity Rating. If you’re a complete newcomer, you’ll always find people happy to accommodate you with a lighter game too, though. Don’t come along with a whole stash of your own personal games, at least not the first few times – you’re unlikely to get a chance to play more than one of them anyway. Bring two or three at most, and you don’t even need to bring any at all if you’re happy to play what others have on offer – this is often the best way to discover new games! I make it a goal to play at least one new game at each meetup, and it’s important to give others the chance to share something they love.
If there still doesn’t seem to be a group in your area, don’t lose hope! In these cases, I recommend getting a few light party-style games, like Concept and Dixit, and suggesting them at gatherings. You’ll be surprised how quickly people take to them, and you’re likely to discover that a few people are actually already keen boardgamers – if not, you may even convert a few!
Good luck, and happy gaming!