In the latest instalment of our series of pieces on board game nights, we head for the beating heart of our great nation, Birmingham. This time we here from Peter, one of the organisers at “Afternoon Play” that has been running for a whopping nine years! How has board gaming changed in that time and what had he learnt from the experience?
1) What is Afternoon Play, and what makes it unique?
Afternoon Play is a monthly event taking place in an open-plan bar in Birmingham city centre. We get 40 to 80 people attending, some for a game or two, some for the whole afternoon and on into the evening. With so many people and so many games, it’s easy to turn up and drop into the style of game that suits you.
2) 40-80 is a load of people, are you still able to be an active “host” with that many attendees, or does the night more or less run itself?
We try! I generally spend the first hour chatting and introducing people to games and each other. Occasionally you find yourself trying to teach three games at once, but that’s pretty rare since so many people bring games with them and are keen to teach and play them.
3) What got you into tabletop games?
Organising the event! I really didn’t know much about board games when we started, but my co-organisers and plenty of our attendees were only too happy to bring along and show off their favourites. It’s a great way to feel your way around the hobby and try a variety of games without having to make a big investment.
4) Nine years is a long time to be doing this, the hobby has grown a lot in that time. What changes have you noticed in that time? Have the type of game, or even the type of plater changed over the last nine years?
We’ve seen various trends come and go in board games. Big social deduction games were huge for a while, and ideal for an event such as ours. Then there were word games from Codenames to Just One. Roll-and-writes are the latest thing. I think our attendees are much the same as they’ve ever been, though. We’ve never been an event just for hardcore enthusiasts, and as board gaming has grown in popularity our size has slowly grown. I guess we were lucky to be in the right place at the right time.
5) What are the most popular games at the night and why do you think that is?
We like to encourage as wide a variety as we can, but:
- Telestrations is particularly popular with newcomers since it’s so accessible and so funny. It’s a drawing game, but the worse your drawing the better the outcome.
- There’s always a table or two trying out their latest Kickstater arrivals.
- Dexterity games are eye-catching and always draw a crowd. A big game of, say, Pitchcar makes a nice break from other, more sedate games.
- Quartermaster General. It’s a team game, which means it combines the camaraderie of a co-op with the rivalry of a competitive game and means new players can join a table of old hands without the certainty of being badly beaten. It looks like an interminable Risk-alike, but don’t let that put you off: it’s snappy.
6) Drawing on your experience what top tips would you give to someone thinking of starting their own games night?
Everyone has a slightly different idea of what makes the perfect event. Do those different things and put on the event you’d want to come to. It’s easier than you might think, so go for it!
Afternoon Play takes place from 2pm on the first Sunday of each month (except bank holidays). They are at Revolution, Broad Street, Birmingham. You can find out more at afternoonplay.co.uk, or on Twitter or Facebook.
We thank Peter for taking the time to answer our questions. Why not have a read of the other interviews in this series?