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Hosting Game Night: Picking The Right Board Games And Card Games For Game Night

You’re about to host your first game night– your different groups of friends are coming together to spend a night nerding out with some board and card games (…and beer)–and people are counting on you to run this game night right.

The biggest way you can fail hosting game night is picking out the wrong games. Think about it: you have Settlers of Catan veterans mingling with well-intentioned noobs excited to tell you about this crazy new “Friends Against Humidity” game.
What are the right games to pick to ensure that everyone will have a good time?

First Game – Easy/Moderate – 30-60 Minutes
Some friends will show up late. Other people will want to catch up with one another for a while. Then there are the aforementioned people new to board games and card games.

As the host of game night, it’s your job to make sure everyone is comfortable and having a good time. Despite what some people would argue (usually as they flip a scrabble board), the point of game night isn’t to dominate–it’s to have a good time.
With that in mind, your first pick should be:

  • A game that people can join at any time
  • A game that doesn’t require too much concentration
  • A game with minimal rules that’s quick and easy to learn

Break out Cards Against Humanity and Crabs Adjust Humidity. Apart from being easy to learn and join at any time, these games are great at breaking the ice–there’s no better socially-acceptable way to show everyone that you’re a deviant with a great sense of humor.
After an hour, all of the stragglers will arrive, and the rest of the party will be ready for a more-involved board game or card game.

Second Game – Moderate/Difficult – 1.5-2 Hours
Alright, the crowd is done with the dick jokes and they’re ready for a game with more substance.

This is where you need to gauge the crowd. How many people are at game night? Are they mostly hardcore or casual gamers? Whatever is going to keep your friends engaged, go with that.

This is when you take out the Settlers Of Catan. Acquire. Dominion. Your goal is to pick a game that has at least a semi-complicated set of rules and which involves some level of concentration.

Third Game – Easy/Difficult – 0.5-2 Hours
Again, read the crowd at this point. Did you convert some casual gamers to hardcore gaming enthusiasts? Or were there multiple lifelong friendships ruined over accusations of backstabbing and cheating?

If everyone is distracted and not feeling a serious game, break out the Crabs Adjust Humidity and Crabs Adjust Humanity.

If the crowd is loving the board game and card game life, then pick another hardcore game (Diplomacy, anyone?) and hope for the best.

Wild Card Games – Easy/Medium/Difficult – Throughout The Night
As game night continues throughout the night, you’re bound to find small groups splinter off from the main games. Maybe they lost the game they were playing, maybe they just lost interest in the game that they were playing. Regardless, you still need to accommodate and involve them in game night.

Lay out a deck of cards. Take out the Scrabble. What you want is four to eight casual games that anyone can pick up, that are easy, fun, and that can take as quick or long to play as you choose.

Any suggestions for picking out the right game for game night? Is there a favorite that your group always goes to? Help everyone elevate game night to the next level and comment below.

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