As someone with a board game review website, and a collection of games which would crush most people to death if it fell on them, I’m often seen as an “expert” in gaming among my friends. And while it’s flattering (my head won’t fit in most hats due to its size now) it comes with a particularly frustrating side effect.
People gang up on me repeatedly in games.
It’s so frustrating. Makes you wanna flip the table… with them under it.
And look, I’m not talking about a turn of events which requires several of you to put aside your differences and take down the reigning winner until equilibrium has been re-obtained. The problem is once someone is perceived as a threat it’s hard to shake the perception regardless of the change in circumstances.
What I’m talking about here is the constant beatdown of a single player over the course of the game.
I hear you. “But what if…”- look, I’m gonna stop you right there. Let me cover these what ifs with you.
- What if it’s in my best interest?
If you’re playing a game where strategy wise it’s beneficial to pile on a player and beat them even more while they’re losing, the game you’re playing is terribly designed. So the solution here would be to play a better game.
2. What if they’re winning?
If you’ve been ganging up on a player and they’re still winning, they are a Board Game God and can probably handle it. But in reality if you’ve been consistently picking on someone maybe your perception of how well they are actually doing is less than accurate.
3. What if you want to?
Well, you’re a douchebag. Maybe reevaluate your life choices.
4. What if you don’t want to target someone else because they’re new/sensitive/your romantic partner?
Part of board gaming is conflict (unless you’re playing a cooperative game which isn’t really the point of this list). If you’re going to play a game which involves a level of conflict then you have to appreciate you’re going to be targeted every now and then when it strategically benefits another player. So warn them about what type of game you’re playing. And if they don’t seem to think they’d enjoy it, try something a little less confrontational.
Having said this, can I emphasize I HATE playing with couples who refuse to target each other because they’re “so in love” they “couldn’t possibly hurt my dear sweet darling…” NO! Go be romantic somewhere else. THIS IS WAR YOU STARRY EYED NOBHEADS! Stop ruining my game. Bah. Gets me so cranky. Part of the reason I love Charlotte so much. She’d just as soon crush my kingdom beneath her feet as kiss me.
5. What if a player wins every time?
The answer here is kinda twofold. Firstly, in order to increase your own chances of success you sorta need to leave this kind of thinking behind. I know, it sounds counter-intuitive. But hear me out.
If you carry a grudge from game to game then you’re not going to be in the moment. Gaming is all about assessing your current situation, and planning for how to better it. I’m not saying don’t attempt to accurately assess the level of threat each player at the table represents. But don’t allow your focus to become so much about beating one person down you miss key moves against other players.
Secondly, if someone is trying to get you to gang up against someone because they “win every time”, DO NOT TRUST THEM! The object of the game (besides having fun) is to win. Not just do better than last time or come second. If a person is trying to maneuver you into helping them I guarantee you this person is still trying to win. Which means at some point they are going to turn on you. Sure, you could attempt to outplay them but at this point you’re only pretending to gang up on one person instead of actually doing so. Which I feel might walk a fine line but it’s generally kosher.
Look. No one likes to feel ganged up on. It can really take the fun out of a game for you not to have any chance because the two people you’re sitting across from are in cahoots for whatever reason. So don’t do it. Because while the object of the game is to win, the reason we game is to have a good time.
Thank you to Amy and Josh of Tabletop Wonderland for being available to be in my photos. And for letting me flip a table on you.
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