Sunday, May 06, 2007

Dragons Lair vs. Private Hosting on Saturdays

Yesterday we tried the Saturday SABG session at Dragon's Lair rather than at someone's house. I've been thinking about the pro's and con's of doing so in the future. Here are my brainstormed thoughts.

Playing at Dragon's Lair


  • Game store environment (lots of geek stuff around to look at)
  • Potential to recruit new members
  • Zero logistics for a host (i.e., no set up or clean up involved)
  • Doesn't impose upon host's family
  • Usually lots of table space
  • Centrally located
  • No discomfort associated with inviting new people into your home / going to stranger's house
  • Provides some support to a FLGS


  • Game store environment (noise, smell, crowd)
  • Store doesn’t open until 10:00 AM
  • Saturdays are a very busy day at Dragon’s Lair
  • Interruptions by random geeks asking questions. The geeks that proceed without asking to pick up and examine components of your game can be particularly distracting.
  • People seem a little less likely to show up on time or at all. Game play typically doesn't start until 30-45 minutes after posted arrival time.
  • Packing a load of games into your car
  • Taking games with lots of components outside the house... greater likelihood of component loss.

Playing at a Privately Hosted Location (usually a home)


  • Usually more quiet with less distractions
  • Greater security for games
  • Games can be pre-set up by host
  • Coffee pot, refrigerator, pizza delivery
  • The host, at least, doesn’t need to pack games
  • Early start time possible


  • Can be weird with new people to group (both for them and host)
  • Host logistics involved
  • Table space and overall size limited
  • Family issues
  • Location potentially not as central
My conclusions: This is a tough one. On the one hand, I am tremendously pleased we have 6 or more people showing up for Saturday gaming, but on the other hand I know its a lot to ask someone to host five buddies in their home during the weekend. I have a guest apartment to host in (aka the dog house), but even the dog house gets crowded with more than 4 players.

At least for me, I view Saturdays as an opportunity to play games on the longer and more complicated side. Since we've been playing on Saturdays, I've lost count of the number of times I've played War of the Ring and other long games like World of Warcraft, Civilization, and Conquest of the Empire have also appeared. These are games which rarely make an appearance at a weeknight game event. These are also games which seem less suited to the FLGS game environment. An early start time and less distractions helps get these games played before other life concerns intrude.

As long as we have a willing host and willing attendees, I'm leaning towards suggesting private hosting for Saturdays most of the time if possible, though I'm not convinced this is the way to go. What do you all think?



At 2:18 PM, May 06, 2007, Blogger Brian said...

In general, as long as we show up at a set time once/week (which is Mondays right now) at DL, then I think we'll get all the recruiting we need. Hosting depends on the individual situation, but as long as people keep hosting, that's great. We're not quite at the point where we could game every night of the week, but that's pretty rare outside of a few huge cities (DC, NYC, Boston, CA). As it stands, we've got about 3 days most week (Monday, Saturday, and usually Fridays). That's good, especially considering the situation even a year ago.

At 2:27 PM, May 06, 2007, Blogger Jeff said...

We haven't attended Saturday morning gaming so frequently as of late because long games don't appeal to us as much as the mid-length Euros. The allure of long games is not strong enough to overcome the desire to keep sleeping.

We live only a few blocks from DL and have plenty of table space. We'd be willing to host most Saturdays if a portion of the Saturday group wanted to play a long game (and I'm refraining from using That Word) on the big table, while mid-length strategy games, War of the Ring, or a CCG were being played on the other table -- that'd be awesome.

I'd be more prone to play the longer games if I were hosting, assuming that was all that was going on. Is there anyone who would attend Saturday mornings but doesn't because of the choice of games proposed?

At 2:41 PM, May 06, 2007, Blogger Rob said...

For me, it had been a wife or work issue: If I'm not working on a Sat, I have to gauge my wife's tolerance for gaming on a Sat. When she's cool with it, I have 4-5 hrs. When she's working, more than that. When I don't care what she thinks, as the latter.... but with the caveat of sleeping on the couch.

Game length? I can go either way.

Hopefully I can make it to the occasional Sat morning game session once I've moved.

At 3:31 PM, May 06, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's funny, but I was thinking the same stuff as Ben was while we were playing. Don't get me wrong, I'm glad I got a chance to meet everyone at DL last week--you guys (men and women) are just the kind of people I'd love to keep playing with and I wouldn't have met everyone if I hadn't been browsing DL. That being said, I too found it a bit distracting with what seemed like a rather large Saturday non-gaming crowd milling about.

I think Brian is right: Mondays are probably a good recruiting time at DL because it is a bit quieter (in my limited experience comparing one Monday and one Saturday) and playing a higher number of shorter games provides more opportunities for new people to join if they so desire.

I'd love to host at some point. I have a decent amount of room but I'm a little short on tables and chairs (read: bachelor pad) and games. But I am working on both and will hopefully be able to host soon.

By the way, thanks to everyone for making me feel welcome and pulling me in to my first game last Monday, especially when responding to my "Oh, I'll just watch" by saying "Playing is fun, watching sucks." That was MUCH appreciated.

At 4:33 PM, May 06, 2007, Blogger Ben said...

Great feedback!

If you've stayed away from Saturdays because of agenda, you may want to reconsider. The longest game we've played was Civilization, and we didn't decide to play that until we were congregated. Besides, its essentially a pseudo-Euro anyway. Other than that, the longest game we've played is War of the Ring, which you list as mid-length. here's been a lot of Ameritrash (That Word?) played, but also a number of Euros.

More importantly, if there's something you want to play, please just suggest it. Chances are everyone will want to play as well.

At 6:53 PM, May 06, 2007, Blogger Jeff said...

I guess I should read session reports **before** claiming that games being played on a particular day don't match my preferences.

:hangs head:

...and I'd been wanting to play Cave Troll.

At 6:56 PM, May 06, 2007, Blogger Brian said...

"I've always wanted to play Cave Troll."

Such interesting euphemisms around here.

At 9:35 PM, May 06, 2007, Blogger Mark said...

The earlier start time and ability to game without FLGS noise and interuptions make Private Hosting on Saturdays the preferred choice in my view.

I agree with Brian, that Monday sessions at DL are sufficient for recruiting purposes. Playing longer games with lots of components appeals to me and the private home environment seems more conducive to those types of games.

At 7:21 AM, May 07, 2007, Blogger Jeff said...

Ben missed a pro for Private Hosting: Cleaner Restrooms

The Dragon's Lair john is *remarkably* cleaner than many game store facilities, but still falls short of the high standard we each hold for our home bathrooms.

You guys do realize that this past Saturday was Free Comic Book Day and there was probably a bit more traffic than would normally be there? I can't believe I missed both a great gaming session *and* FCBD. Still, put my vote in for Mondays at DL, Saturdays at a private venue.

Brian - Since when is CA a 'huge city'?

At 7:54 PM, May 07, 2007, Blogger Ben said...

I did pick up a nice FCBD copy of Fantagraphics "Lost Peanuts" strips by Charles Schultz.


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