The 5 People You Don’t Want to Play Board Games With
Playing tabletop games is one of my favourite social activities. I loved them as a kid and have been embracing the current renaissance brought about by the influx of European style games like ‘Settlers of Catan’ and the indie Kickstarter market producing hits like ‘Heroes Wanted’ and ‘Exploding Kittens’. With so many genres and styles to choose from there’s something for every group to choose from, especially with pop culture hits like Firefly getting the board and miniatures treatment.
But there’s nothing like one of the following people to ruin your day. Avoid at all costs.
The House Ruler
I like to give professional game designers the benefit of the doubt in terms of developing their product. After they’ve designed the game they put it through a strenuous period of play testing through which they iron out the rules and balance issues. On occasion players come up with variations of the rules to suit their own needs or to raise the stakes, like paying fines into Free Parking in ‘Monopoly’ as a lottery bonus. That’s all fine.
But then there’s the people who start coming up with House Rules after one play. Or before the first play. Or because they just don’t like the rules. Seen all three from one person, and it can be very frustrating. You may encounter players who insist on coming up with house rules for absolutely every game available because they think it’s up to them to ‘fix’ the game, but the reality is they want to take the challenge or risk out of the game thus making it easier for them. The most egregious example I’ve encountered is a player who, after one round of play, wanted to change the rules of ‘Kremlin’ to take out the mechanic allowing players to announce their influence points at any time in favour of taking it in turns to claim characters.If you’re not familiar with ‘Kremlin’ imagine taking the money out of ‘Monopoly’ and taking it in turns to pick the property you want to have, or taking the dice out of ‘Catan’ and taking it in turns to choose the resource you want. In other words, taking out the actual gameplay out of the game.
The Sulk Quitter
You’ve all heard of a Rage Quit before. It’s a term that entered the lexicon with the rise in video game popularity but it absolutely applies to tabletop. Thrown controllers becomes flipped tables – an especially despicable action because games are expensive and you’re never getting an invite back. We don’t like rage quitters but it doesn’t happen often to be honest. Sulk Quitters though…we see that more often. The person who, if they aren’t clearly winning from the the first round, will spend the rest of the game huffing and bringing everyone else down, complaining under their breath and listlessly chucking around game pieces. “What’s the point? I’m not going to win anyway,” you’ll hear them mutter when you remind them that they need to take their turn. You can suggest that they leave the game if they’re not enjoying it, but they don’t want to quit – just ruin it for everyone else.
You can also expect plenty of deflection with the Sulk Quitter, because it’s not their fault or random chance that they’re losing. Expect to get accusations of everyone ‘picking on them’ instead of just playing the game or, my favourite, the complaint that everyone has ruined the game by being to competitive instead of just having fun. That leads us to…
The Double Stander
Unless they’re winning, of course. That’s just down to talent. You just know that for all the excuses they have for losing…being unfairly targeted, not getting the right cards, the rules being unbalanced…if they’re doing well it’s because of how singularly awesome they are. If they are winning you’re never going to hear the end of it. It’ll be splashed all over social media and it’ll be the talk of the day, just how great that game was. Heaven forbid you celebrate your own victory though, as you’ll be quickly reminded that there’s such a thing as a ‘poor winner’. You might be tempted to point of the obvious contradiction, but purse your lips and make a mental note not to play with them again, unless you want to be informed in no uncertain terms that you’re ‘one to talk’ and you really should stop being so competitive.
The Quick Judge
Here’s the thing about any new game: it’s a learning experience. Break open ‘Game of Thrones’ or ‘Android Netrunner’ and try telling me you got all the rules right the first time. Many modern games, especially those with strategic or role playing elements, are complex and features multiple mechanics. It can take a few rounds to really get your head around it. Even some easy to learn games like ‘Legendary’ takes time to really learn because you have to experience different character types to be able to plan your moves. ‘Betrayal at the House of the Hill’ can be picked up really quickly, but with 50 different story scenarios you better believe you won’t encounter everything on offer the first time.
What I’m saying is that you want to spend a bit of time with a game before making a judgement on it. I didn’t like ‘Sushi Go’ the first time I played it but after a couple of games I’d warmed up to it. Board games, more than most forms of modern entertainment, requires a bit of effort from the players. In spite of this you’ll going to meet some people who will dismiss a game outright while you’re still working out the rules. It’s like deciding whether or not you like football by watching a team do their warm-ups. Often the motivation behind this is getting to the games they want to play but it also stems from a sense of elitism and stubbornness. So when someone declares ‘Firefly’ a poor game and very vocally insists they don’t want to play it again, take that as a cue not to invite them back (although they’ll spit the dummy when they find out you played without them).
Social media and the internet has gone a long way to bringing back the popularity of table top gaming. Shows like Tabletop and The Dice Tower on youtube, guilds on Board Game Geek and global game day events have seen networks of people come to together to share their hobby. Some of the most noteworthy games of the past decade have risen out of Kickstarter (btw, if anyone knows where I can get the Kickstarter game ‘Study in Emerald’, hit me up!) crowd funding projects. If you follow House of Geekery on Twitter you’ll usually get pictures of the games we’re playing as they happen. Maybe one or two pics from each game though, because we’re usually busy playing the game rather than documenting the entire experience online.
Seriously, we do not want to remind you again and again to take your turn because you’re busy trying to take dynamic photos of the game board and post them to Instagram for your meagre number of followers. Things get delayed when we have to explain what’s been happening in the game while you’ve been staring at your phone. If you’ve come to play the game, play the game. Post it to Twitter later.