If the last board games you recall playing include the old stand-bys of Monopoly, Risk, and Candyland, it’s time to take a fresh look at the offerings.
Today’s games offer a myriad of settings (feudal Europe, turn of the century America, outer space, post apocalyptic survival, Lovecraftian tales, popular TV shows…) and mechanics (strategic, cooperative, deck building, role playing, who-done-its, storytelling…) sure to capture your attention.
If board games sounds more like “bored games” to your friends or if rounding up a group on the same night proves challenging, then you are in luck! As a town full of bright, nerdy people, Huntsville is prime territory for finding people to play these games with. There is an open game night almost every night of the week!
Gaming Groups In Huntsville
Straight to Ale Board Game Nights
Held in the large, open room behind the bar there is plenty of space for playing games, easy access to local craft brew, and usually a food truck on hand to make grabbing dinner simple. There is also a coinciding pinball tournament from 7 pm-9 pm each week.
Schedule: Tuesdays, starting at 6 pm, at the Straight to Ale Taproom
Location: 3200 Leeman Ferry Road Southwest, Huntsville
UAH e-Sports Game Night
Board games, card games, video games, this group embraces them all. In addition to weekly game nights, they also sponsor game specific tournaments for things like Magic The Gathering and Hearthstone.
Schedule: Wednesdays, 7 pm – midnight, in room 237 of the Charger Union
Location: Charger Union Room 237, 301 Sparkman Drive Northwest, Huntsville
North Alabama Board Gamers
The longest running open gaming group in the region, they welcome players of all ages, so feel free to bring the kids.
Schedule: Thursdays, starting at 6 pm, at the IHOP on University Drive
Sundays, 1 pm-6 pm, at the food court in the Parkway Place Mall (meet near Ben and Jerry’s)
Locations: (Thursday) 6151 University Drive Northwest, Huntsville
(Sunday) 2801 Memorial Park South, Huntsville
A local coffee shop in Madison, you can fuel your game night with on hand coffee and Piper and Leaf tea.
Mastermind, Models, and Minatures Monthly Meetup
Mastermind, Models, and Miniatures is a shop in Lowe Mill which offers custom painted miniatures, painting supplies, tabletop games, and strategic card games. In addition to the monthly game nights, the shop also host periodic tournaments.
Schedule: The first Sunday of each month, 2 pm – 10 pm, at Happy Tummy in Lowe Mill
Note: while the event is held in Happy Tummy’s space, this is not during their operating hours, so food is not available for purchase. Please plan accordingly.
Location: 2211 Seminole Drive Southwest, Huntsville
Website | Facebook
If you prefer something a little more spontaneous, check out Huntsville’s resident gaming shop for pick up games. They just moved into a larger space to allow even more room for on site gaming.
- Pay attention to the rules. One of the great advantages of joining an existing group is that there are likely to be people who will do a good job of explaining the rules quickly and concisely. Pay attention and ask question while the rules are being reviewed. This will help keep the game progressing evenly. (Not to mention give you a better shot at doing well!)
- Choose quickly. Tabletop games, especially some of the strategy games can seem overwhelming at first because there are lots of decisions to be made. Avoid analysis paralysis and, when unsure, just pick something and see how it goes. You can always play the game again later and nothing is more frustrating than an entire game stalled out because one player has spent the last 15 minutes agonizing over which card to draw. Instead, try to follow along with the game and plan your actions in advance. With practice and familiarity, you will be able to do this and still carry on a conversation.
- Lose gracefully. Especially when you are just learning the mechanics of the games, it’s highly likely that the more experiences players are going to do better than you do. Don’t expect them to go easy on you, instead, learn from what they are doing (you can always ask questions about why they chose a particular action) and roll with the punches. You’ll be up to speed and chalking up points sooner than you realize.
- Choose neat snacks. Often people will snack or eat while playing games, it just goes together. Be conscious that you will be handling game pieces/cards while you eat so stay away from things which are greasy or cover your hands with residue. Otherwise, eat first and then game.
- Don’t worry about bringing games. These open gaming events will have plenty of games so don’t stress out if you don’t have a game to share. The people who own the games are just delighted to have people to play with!
- Know your kids. Board games are great fun for a wide variety of ages but some of the strategy oriented games have recommended minimum ages as high as 13. Games can take from 1.5-3 hours depending on the complexity and how familiar the players are with the rules. Check the side of the boxes (and know that the run times will usually be longer for your first play through) and consider your own kid’s aptitudes/interests when selecting games. For a parent’s eye view of a wide range of games, I recommend this blog post.