How to schedule game night

I can’t be the only one who finds scheduling game night incredibly frustrating.

Getting a bunch of adults together to do anything is nearly impossible, but when it’s something like playing board games, wargames or RPGs (which may seem trivial to those outside the hobby), it can seem impossible.

Between work and family and life in general, it’s been tough for me to put together a D&D night, so I started thinking of ideas to help get this thing done.

Whoever can come gets to play. The organizer picks the night, and whomever from the group can make it gets to sit at the table. This works for board game nights and RPGs. To keep the story cohesive in one of our D&D groups, we’re going to use the same party of four or five PCs that will be played by whatever players are available.

Play the same night each week/month. One group of friends gets together every single Wednesday. Another gets together on the first Friday of every month. Keeping that on the calendar tends to keep everyone from clouding up their plans with other events.

Narrow it down. If you’re part of this hobby, it’s easy to amass a pile of board games, participate in multiple D&D campaigns and start assembling a Warhammer 40k army or two. It’s nearly impossible to dive head first into all of those games, so maybe try focusing on one. I’m currently in the middle of three D&D/Pathfinder campaigns (with an open invitation to sit down for a fourth), and I’m starting to wonder which one I should drop.

Go digital. One of the reasons services such as Roll20 and Fantasy Grounds are so popular is because it’s tough to get everyone in one physical spot. I play in a monthly Pathfinder game on Roll20, and it’s fantastic. (There’s also certain things you can do more easily online than you can do at a physical table.)

Rotate your games and locations. Each week/month/whatever, pick a new host. And the host gets to pick the game. That keeps things a little more exciting and puts more of the planning for each game night on the host (a rotating position) rather than on a single person acting as DM or organizer.

Play fewer campaigns and more one-offs. If you’re into D&D, maybe don’t worry so much about the long campaign. Make sure every session’s story is done in a single session. That way, each time you play you don’t have to worry about the story, having the same players or anything like that.

Play shorter games. I get the appeal of doing epic-scale Warmachine battles or the occasional 1,000-point X-Wing dogfight, but those games can take hours. It’s so much easier to do game night when it lasts an hour.

Arrange game night for a less traditional time. Game night doesn’t have to be an all-night Friday game session. We’re not teenagers, and we don’t all have nights free nor can we always stay up until 3 a.m. Anyway, I’ve played sessions of DiceMasters over lunch, and I’m playing a Pathfinder game this Sunday morning. You can game any time.

And I have to add: Cut your friends and gaming partners some slack. Sometimes things come up, and though you may feel that way, gaming isn’t the most important thing in many people’s lives, especially those who have families.

I’m lucky enough to play games with a large group of friends who are totally understanding when I have to miss planned game sessions (which is happening more than I’d like to admit lately).

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