Breaking the Ice with Board Games

by Steve L on July 03, 2015

Have you been in a situation where you want to talk to people and make new friends, but can't seem to find a common topic to strike up a conversation with total strangers?

I've had my fair share of struggles with this in the past, as I was pretty shy and introverted as a kid. However, since Nate and I started regular gaming sessions with WoodForSheep, introducing and teaching various games has become a way for us to begin a dialogue with people (or "break the ice") and make new friends in the process.

Here at WoodForSheep, the games we teach, especially to those new to the concept of modern games, fall into the following guidelines:

  • Short play time (under 60 minutes) - Keep the audience’s interest with the opportunity to try multiple games in a short time span.
  • Simple, straightforward rules (teachable within 5-10 minutes) – Getting them into the game keeps them excited and prevents people's attention from wandering to other things.
  • Few moving components, minimal options – Allow players to focus on the game, and avoids confusion and the dreaded “analysis paralysis”
  • Can accommodate 4 or more players - The more the merrier!

With the above guidelines, here are additional “ice breaker” games we recommend (since we’ve already mentioned games like Tsuro, Anomia and Spot It in past articles):

  • Camel Up – A humorous spin on the racing genre. Players take on the roles of spectators and wager on the results. Plays up to 8!
  • Aztak – Build a pyramid of tiles in this game for up to 4 players.
  • Say Anything – A different take on topic/word association games; here players come up with their own choice words or phrases that fit the judge’s topic. Often leads to moments of hilarity and gives glimpses into the personality and mindset of each individual.
  • Love Letter – A quick and easy introduction to deduction games. Comes in a variety of flavours.
  • Telestrations – A cross between Pictionary and Broken Telephone. There is a point system to the game, but often gets lost in the laughs as players review each other’s artistic abilities (or lack thereof).

From personal experience, the above games are examples that are accessible and fun. They are avenues that allow people to gather and sit, play and have fun. Of course, one still has to take the initiative and ask, “Hi, would you like to play a game?”

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