Board game nights can be a great way to meet new people and make new friends, but it’s important to watch out for people who like to cheat.
When playing games with close friends, cheating is almost never a problem. If a friend is cheating at a board game, there may be something deeper at play that a series of tips can’t solve. But board game nights at local game stores or community groups often involve playing with complete strangers. It can be a very fun and rewarding way to make new friends, but it can also be a daunting prospect.
Unfortunately, there are bad actors in every hobby, and board games are no exception. Cheaters pop up from time to time for a number of reasons. Having an active player at a board game night can be very detrimental to everyone’s enjoyment, so it’s important to nip things in the bud.
seven Organize the group to keep things familiar
A great way to avoid cheating is to be selective about who gets invited to the board game night. Being proactive and only inviting people you trust helps create an atmosphere of trust. This doesn’t mean that the organizer has to screen every attendee, but ensuring that each new guest can be verified by an existing member can be a good solution. This approach closes the group somewhat, which is not a decision to be taken lightly. Board game groups can be a fantastic way to meet new people, so being too strict about who gets invited isn’t very conducive to community building.
6 Explain all the rules to reduce errors
One of the most common ways board game players cheat is by accident. Attending a board game night often involves playing a new game every week, sometimes even several. Learning these many different rules can be overwhelming and mistakes always happen. Being very clear and concise when explaining the rules is a great way to make sure everyone can follow them and doesn’t accidentally cheat. Not only does this prevent cheating in the initial playthrough, but it also helps people avoid breaking the rules by mistake if they play this game again with another group of people.
5 Ask everyone to explain all of their moves
In board games with many moving parts, it is extremely important that everyone clearly declares their moves. This helps new players learn the game and allows experienced players to track every move to make sure everything is within the rules. Along with the practical use of showing all the moves, maintaining a level of transparency helps set the tone for the whole band.
If it can be clear that everyone is doing their best to win only by the rules of the game, it sends a clear message that playing well is the group’s priority. Demonstrating that everyone is there to play fair and open should make cheaters uncomfortable, because they will be doing something very different.
4 Play hard to cheat games
By virtue of their rules, some games are simply easier to cheat. Any game involving hidden roles that are never revealed is a great example of this, because players can just lie. Most hidden RPGs also involve players closing their eyes, which is very easy to fake. If a group has a cheating problem, it might be a good idea to move on to games where cheating is much more difficult. This could mean playing more casual games like Said Where code names, games where everyone has access to all the information at all times like Chess, or cooperative games like Pandemic.
3 Promote a sporting atmosphere
There are many reasons why people feel the need to cheat at board games, but ultimately it comes down to wanting to win. Some players, for whatever reason, are willing to break the rules to pursue the feeling of victory. Fostering an environment of friendly competition can help put players’ natural desire to win in a healthier light.
Ensuring everyone is graceful in both victory and loss will ensure that every player has a good time whether they win or lose, negating the need to cheat. Creating an atmosphere like this is all about modeling and encouraging good behavior while gently correcting players who go off course. If prizes are to be involved in games, it may be a good idea to keep them low stakes and fun rather than genuinely valuable.
2 Establish consequences and apply them
Setting group policy on cheating can deter cheating in the first place. This could be something posted on a social media page or posted in the play area, or announced at the start of every board game night. The exact specifics of a policy vary from group to group. Some might prefer a no tolerance approach, kicking out any players found cheating. However, most groups will probably want to leave some wiggle room. Something like a three strike rule is a good way to encourage reform while keeping the group healthy. Implementing any kind of policy requires the group to have someone, or a group of people, willing to enforce the rules, which may not be a dynamic that everyone is comfortable with.
1 leave a bad situation
One of the best ways to avoid being exposed to cheaters is to leave a group where cheaters are known to hang out. There are thousands of board game groups out there, and not every one will be a perfect fit for every player. It’s almost always better to leave a bad situation, take a few weeks off, and possibly find a new band than to stay in an uncomfortable place. It doesn’t always have to be a judgment call. People play board games in different ways for many different reasons, and it’s normal that sometimes they don’t line up.
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