Game Choice Deadlock

We’ve all been there. It’s game night. People have arrived. Everyone is staring at a wall / Kallax full of games. Here comes the dreaded question: “What should we play?”

Sometimes, a game or two have been planned ahead of time. Like “Hey we got together to play Dune / Twilight Imperium / Gloomhaven” but what if I didn’t do that and wanted to give my friends the opportunity to choose something they are interested in?

How to avoid the ensuing deadlock? What is a good strategy? Because sometimes I just want to have people over for a game or two and not make elaborate plans on how to coax them into playing Spirit Island with me (no longer necessary, I got someone hooked on the game).

Any creative things you do?

Just something I’ve been thinking about, now that I plan on having more in person gaming again.

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Use the board game caddie to narrow down the list of games, then give everyone a single veto. Ultimately, even if most of the group REALLY wants to play a particular game, you don’t want anyone sitting there actively hating it.

In a hypothetical world, I would STV it.


One club I go to puts games on the table, do a veto from each table member and do a random one if there are remaining ones

Who are you? Who are so wise in the ways of Science?

Another rule when we are about in town and need to decide where to eat, we go in front of the place, aak for veto; if none, we eat. Can translate to board games but I like the rules I written above


There ought to be an app that handles complicated voting. Hmm, says the person who’s written code to handle complicated voting.

The people I game with are mostly very polite and deferential, so the problem is less getting sucked into a game you didn’t want and more nobody being willing to make a decision. At that point I just make a decision.

When I’m hosting a game day I often get out three or four games that I feel vaguely like playing and have them on the table rather than next door on the games shelves.

(There’s always the coin-toss method: if you toss a coin for the answer and find yourself saying “hmm, best of three” you’ve made the decision.)


Is it a small enough group that you could take it in turns to choose? That’s what we’ve been doing recently.


What often happens here is my wife has me pull out five games, to limit the choices, then she may veto one or two, and we all decide from there. Works pretty well, and usually means a game I have been wanting to play gets to the table.


I like challenges, we used them a while ago in our Guild. I think I have a list from a couple of years ago.

You set little challenges that help the variety, with the list printed pegged on the wall by the shelf. You can do them as fancy as you want. But things like play a Cthulhu background game, play a coop, play a game from such designer, play a game from the year you finished your studies, or play a race game can put you in the right direction.

And I would suggest two things: colour coded pins/stickers, so you tally who’s done what (for when more than one game goes on) and second, to split it monthly or quarterly, so you don’t get the rush rush at the end of the year.

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If I had the ability to do so, I would get people to agree to play the same game every month for a year each time we meet, and largely avoid the game choice indecision entirely. I don’t care too much which game (as long as it is sufficiently involved to merit such a schedule), as long as we commit to getting past the initial teaching/discovery phase.

Sadly, I have not been able to pull this off for a very long time. (I think the last two were Gloomhaven and Root, 2+ years ago, and Root got cut short by the pandemic and couldn’t be restarted now even if things do get better.)

Now you are reminding me how long I have not played my copy of Root for, guess what I am pushing for next… whenever we can meet again here in NZ (Omicron has gone rampant this weekend)