Gaming with Relatives

They say you can’t pick your family, and never is that more apparent than on Thanksgiving—a veritable debutante ball of oddballs and wackos you may simply share nothing in common with. But when they inevitably ask what you’ve been up to, take the opportunity to wow them all the same by regaling them with tales of your board game victories. And sure, it may not seem that impressive out of context, but now’s also a great opportunity to educate them on your hobby with some firsthand work on your part. Here’s more on how to let distant relatives know about board games in a way that makes sense to them:

Choose Your Words Wisely

Help distant relatives fully grasp your love of board games by putting it in terms they might understand. Presumably, these folks are way into sports—the kryptonite to board games’s super people—so consider words like “touchdown,” “fly ball” and “technical foul” when discussing scoring, setbacks and flagrantly personal attacks, respectively. Perhaps framing the action by comparing it to the story of David and Goliath will spark a few discussions with your relatives. Or, if your family is into politics, you can point out that voting in Avalon or other group games is just like voting in real life: Who you vote for is irrelevant if the act of voting itself furthers your political agenda. But, if all else fails, try food metaphors like stick-and-carrot. Everyone needs their daily dose of beta carotene!

Game Between Courses

Your relatives would be forgiven for thinking that game nights must take the form of all-encompassing, multiple hours-long affairs—pop culture depicts board games that way. But feel free to grab that extra folding table not being used (your weird cousins are a bit too weird to attend this year) and lay out a simple, rounds-based game in the other room. Set aside spots for yourself, any game-savvy relatives plus a few extra for any curious souls. Make a few moves while you wait for the turkey to be sliced, then walk away. How lovely, your relatives will think, that games can provide a bit of a respite without demanding your entire evening. Heck, let them cheat, if they want, by moving pieces while everyone else is devouring some pumpkin pie. There are many ways to game, and if their first instinct is to fudge the results, who’s to say it’s wrong? (Don’t loan those people money, though.)

Bring Props

Games are quite tactile, so grab a handful of pieces and bring them to dinner alongside your casseroles, pies and GasX. It’s one thing to talk about Meeples and how they are placed onto a board, it’s quite another to come face-to-”face” with one and note its stance and how it looms large over the action. They might begin to personify these Meeples—give them a backstory. Next thing you know, your relatives are super into role-playing and slinging character sheets like they’re gravy boats, rolling the dice you’ve brought along to determine what TV show to watch after dinner. Props to you for spreading the good word!

But, Above All, Have Fun!

Look, in a few hours, you’re not going to have to see most of these people again for an entire year. Get some jollies while you have the chance and take comfort knowing that next year’s Thanksgiving might contain a lot more merriment—and, hopefully, a deep understanding of your passion.

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