First game night outta quarantine

As various stay-at-home orders are lifted across the country, now is the time to consider how to best adapt your virtual board game night into an actual, in-person board game night. (Remember those!?) Here’s a guide on how to return to a sense of normalcy without rushing right back into the fold:

Lean on engine-building games

There exists a category of games that, upon first glance, resembles Solitaire: Players take their turns largely interacting with themselves, earning points to ultimately defeat opponents doing the same thing. Think Dominion, Splendor, and 7 Wonders, to name only a few. Now is the time to dust those off because while folks may be jazzed to visit your home, they may not be all-in as far as touching the same pieces everyone else has. This way, everyone is in charge of their own cards and can rifle through them at will without fear of cross-contamination. Plus, many of these games work just as well sitting six feet apart from each other as they would with everyone all cramped on the same couch.

Come bearing gifts

Potlucks and snack trays are staples of board game nights, but this time consider bringing something a bit less edible. Welcome your friends back to the world of live gaming with a goody bag of essential supplies: dice, tokens, markers, meeples and cheat sheets. These items work with just about every game and, once gifted, can be used across multiple evenings, minimizing how much deep cleaning must happen each time (though it couldn’t hurt to wipe them down again). Now is a perfect time to claim your favorite color of pieces, too; present your friends with all the grimy ones and set aside the orange or green bag for yourself.


Not everyone has been toning their gaming muscles in quarantine. Many will emerge flabby, rusty and unmotivated, at best. Think long term by building up your friends’ confidence at this first gathering by throwing the game. Well, not entirely, but feel free to overlook a key decision or two. Memories of past victories have likely deteriorated after months of Netflix and Chinese food, and a significant loss right outta the gate could turn friends off to a reinvigorated game night schedule. After all, who wants to emerge from their cocoon for the first time since mid-March only to be humiliated? Take one for the team in the name of building friends’ confidence and therefore willingness to play again.

Play something you already know, with consensus reached beforehand

If this quarantine has taught us anything other than which songs we should sing while washing our hands, it’s that time with friends can feel fleeting. So don’t waste a single second going over the rules of a new game or debating what to play. Just get going and relish the time you are spending with friends again. After all, who knows when the next quarantine will hit?

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