Game Night Survival Tips for Beginners

Are you new to gaming? Attending a game night for your first time? Or have you been to a couple game nights but you still feel generally lost and confused about what’s happening when you play games with your friends?

Never fear. We’ve all been there, and no one is judging you. I picked up gaming from a lot of people who were already immersed in the culture and I know first hand that some of it can be confusing. So that’s why I’m here: to explain some of the etiquette and offer some general survival tips to get you through.

Pre-Game Night: Find Out What You Can Bring

If someone else is hosting game night, it’s always polite to offer to bring snacks or drinks to share. It takes some of the burden off of the host, especially for larger groups. But try to be considerate in what snacks or foods you bring!

Cheetos might be tasty, but they will leave gunk on everyone’s fingertips, which could get onto the cards and other pieces. Non-messy finger foods are the best bet, or at least something that’s a bit easier to clean up after. Cinnamon almonds are delicious, as is puppy chow, and since they’re non-greasy, they wipe clean.

When my cousin hosts game night, we typically take a break to have dinner in between games, so we have an actual sit-down meal. That usually works for us because there are often toddlers in attendance, and, well, toddlers demand attention. And if everyone brings a side dish, it’s easier to get dinner on the table.

Drinks often go over well. I like a bottle of wine, but you can bring whatever your gaming group usually drinks. I’ve been to a lot of BYOB game nights, too.

Ultimately, you should ask the host what you can bring. And if they say “just bring yourself,” that’s perfectly fine! Sometimes people do actually have a handle on everything and they just want the pleasure of your company.

Game Night Survival Strategies

In my early gaming days, I was usually the confused one who needed a bit of help to get started and understand what was happening. And some times I had no idea what was happening and I just went along with it any way (I don’t recommend that strategy if you actually like winning, though…).

But here are a couple things

1. What’s Rolling for Initiative Anyway? And what about that D6?

Rolling for initiative is just rolling the die to determine who goes first. Unless your game specifies otherwise, typically you’ll use a single D6. (A D6 being a six-sided die; a D20 has twenty sides, a D12 has twelve sides).

2. What to Do About All Those Cards

This may seem obvious, but treat cards with care. Try not to bend them or damage the corners. Beyond that, here’s some standard etiquette for handling cards:

Any card that has been played goes into a “discard” pile, which is typically placed face up. Some games will let you draw from the discard pile in special circumstances, so that’s important to note.

3. Planning Your Moves in Advance

4. Be a Gracious Winner (Or Don’t Be a Sore Loser)

We all enjoy talking a bit of smack sometimes during game night. That’s all well and good, right up until someone carries it too far. Don’t be the person who gloats about winning. And if you don’t win, try not to be too sour about it. There’s always next time.

Other Considerations

It’s fun to document gaming shenanigans and share it via social media, but in general be considerate of how often you use your phone. If you’re paying more attention to your phone than your game, you could be missing out on something important or holding the entire game up. Keep your phone use to a minimum and have some fun with the people around you.