“I don’t know, what do you want to play?”

When you’ve got your friends over for a fun game night and it’s time to pick the next game, it usually goes like this:

Person 1: “What do you guys want to play?”
Group: *shrug*
Person 2: “What about [game X]…I mean we don’t have to…if people don’t want to…”
Person 3″ “Yeah that sounds fine.”
Person 4: “Or we have [game Y]…I mean , I don’t care, we can play [game X]…”
Group: *shrug*

And so on and so forth. Sometimes you get together to play a specific game or two and you don’t have this issue, but this is usually what happens. Here I’m going to present a couple ideas for alleviating this problem, hopefully they’ll help you and your indecisive friends pick a game to play too.

The first one is something I read on Gameboard Geek a while ago, tried it on our group, and ended up really liking it. Everybody writes down a game, you throw the papers in a hat, draw one out, and that’s what you play next. One additional twist is that whoever lost the previous game gets to throw in an extra vote (it can be an additional vote for the same game or one for a different game). It makes for a funny dynamic where if people can’t win they start thinking about losing just to get that extra vote 😉

It’s a really simple system, but it’s great for a few reasons:

  • You don’t waste all that time trying to figure out a game to play; everyone writes it down, you draw, and you go.
  • Everyone knows the system and it’s totally democratic; sometimes my wife and I felt like we were picking all the games because no one else would and we didn’t really want to do that but we had to since people wouldn’t speak up.
  • The first time we did this we were very surprised at some of the games people picked. Stuff that they wouldn’t have suggested out loud but weren’t afraid to put in the hat. And that’s the best part: there’s no pressure on anyone to “justify” your pick, and you don’t have to face everyone’s apathetic (or worse) reaction if you pick a game they’re not enthused about. So people just write down what they want to play instead of trying to negotiate something everyone will be OK with.
  • People get totally hyped to pick and write down the next game to vote for, which is fun.

At first we were reusing the pieces of paper, since there’s plenty of room to use them more than once, but we decided we didn’t like seeing what other people had picked previously. So I bought a pack of 200 notecards at the dollar store, cut them in quarters, and now we have plenty of slips to use for future game nights.

The second idea is something my wife and I have started doing for 2 player games, but could easily be adapted to a group. I printed out a list of numbers 1-100 and assigned a game to each number, so when we want to play a game we just roll the dice and see what comes up. This is pretty cool for a few reasons:

  • You can tailor the list so it comes up with the games you like more often by assigning a game to more than 1 number. For us that means Cribbage and Cassino get 8 slots each, Patchwork and Lost Cities get 5 each, etc.
  • The games that you just want to play once in a while can be given only 1 or 2 slots so they’re on there but not showing up often.
  • One of the best things is it’s easy to forget about a game you own and not play it for a long time, but if it’s on the list it will come up once in a while and not be buried on the game shelf for months. We have a few games like Set, Quiddler, Iota, etc. that we hadn’t played in a long time, so it’s nice to see those pop up once in a while.

I used 1-100 because it’s easy to roll with 2D10, but if you have more games you could use a list with more numbers and just generate a number on random.org or whatever. We may end up doing that as the collection grows and when we pull my extra games out of storage…

Hopefully these two ideas will help you pick out games in the future, let me know what you think in the comments and thanks for reading!




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10 responses to ““I don’t know, what do you want to play?”

  1. Laura

    Oh, casino – haven’t played that for a million years! I like these ideas. When I played with a random group of strangers at a game store, somebody always brought something they were willing to teach, or had just gotten…. And there was always one guy (you know that guy) that brought a train game!

    • dantherpgman

      Well Jessica and I love Cassino, so we’re always up for that (me a little more than her, but she likes it too).

      Game stores have their own dynamic, since most people don’t know each other and you’ve got different types of people…most of our game group is pretty laid-back and quiet so it makes it harder. Thanks for reading and commenting!

  2. Great post! I’m loving the way we’re choosing games these days! I like the mystery of rolling the dice. 🙂

  3. Those…are genius systems. I’m going to have to try that second one out with my partner. Great idea.

  4. Hmmm. Might want to come up with a version of this for deciding who goes first… rock paper scissors only gets us so far 🙂 Of course if the d100 and a list is opted for it could get weird… 73, Houston goes first… but wait he is not here… crap now we have to get him here to start the game 😉 heh But seriously…

  5. Pingback: Game Spotlight – Battle Line | Dan...on games!

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