What to Do in a Board Game with Lots of Players
Some people don’t like big multiplayer board games. There’s too much down time. What do you do while all the other players are doing their turns? You sit around being bored.
This is a HUGE mistake! The trouble isn’t that the game is boring. You just don’t know what you’re supposed to be doing. They don’t tell you this in the rule book. You’re just supposed to know.
Here are 5 Tips: While you’re waiting to move.
We’re using Supremacy here as an example but these same principles apply to most big multiplayer board games.
What to Do While You’re Waiting to Move?
First of all, silence or turn off your cell phone. Our standing House Rule for board game night is: No Cell Phones! This is a great rule to adopt. If you just want to sit by yourself and check your posts, messages, etc. then go do that. You’re here to play a game right? Then play!
We think we ‘multi-task’ but we really don’t. Scientific studies show that we can really only focus on 1 thing at a time.
Besides being rude, it also hurts your play! There are a ton of things you’re supposed to be doing. In a FPS video game, this is obvious. How well would you do in Call of Duty if you spent 30% of the time on your cell phone? Just because it’s not your turn, doesn’t mean there isn’t anything to do. The game is afoot!
If you don’t have a House Rule for no cell phones, watch for players on their phone. Target them. They will be easy prey. They will always be surprised and unprepared.
How do you defeat your enemies? You attack their weakness. Avoid their strength. Great but how do you know what that is? You watch! This is your Intell operation. While they are moving, you should be watching them like a hawk. Every move. What does that mean? How can you best exploit that? In most games, there are pros and cons to every action. This is especially true in Supremacy. Here are a few specific examples:
1 Let’s say Japan moves first. The Market prices are high. They sell off all their resources. Ok, what does that mean? It means they just made a TON of cash. You’re not going to be bankrupting them anytime soon. (their strength) Economic pressure won’t have any immediate effect, but without resources, they won’t be able to build! THAT’S their weakness. They won’t be able to move and fire in a conventional fight. Now is your time to strike!! Invade. Seize their key factories. It will be several turns before they can respond. By then, it may be too late. Start planning your attacks now, while waiting to make your trades. How many resources will you need to launch these attacks? Will your production be short? How many extra will you need to buy? NOW is your time to think and plan all of this!
2 China builds. Fine but what do they build? A bunch of Navies! That is unusual for a land power. What does that mean? It means that they must have worked out some sort of diplomatic agreement with Russia and the Commonwealth. China trusts them. It means that they are about to project their power out across the sea, but to where? Watch their eyes. When they look at the map, what part of the map do that look at the most? All these clues telegraph their next intentions. Prepare now. Note also that if they built lots of Navies, that means they will be weaker as a ground force on land. That is a vulnerability. How can you take advantage of that?
If you get a chance, try to spend some time thinking about and planning your next move. This will speed up the game. It also minimizes the intell other players can pick up on YOU! While you’re moving, you won’t need to be looking at the area of the map you are going to be invading next. You already did that while they were distracted making their move. You won’t have to think.
What resources are you going to buy? Which ones to sell? How many? If you work out what you will do ahead of time, you will execute it quick. In a flash your turn will be over. Out of sight, out of mind. The less time they will all have to carefully watch you during YOUR turn.
As with planning, you can also conduct diplomatic efforts while other players are moving. This can help to speed up the game. It gives you something to do while you ‘wait’ for your turn. It can also be a huge advantage.
Coalition and Alliance building is key in Supremacy. This is also true with most multiplayer games. While certain players are distracted moving, now is a great time to launch sneaky diplomatic efforts. Build new allies! Point out to neutral players the ‘aggressive’ actions of the player that is moving. While distracted, they likely won’t hear or be able to defend themselves.
This is also a good time to chip away at their alliances. Sew doubt in the minds of their partners. “Are you sure you can trust them? Do you see what they just did? I hope they don’t double cross you! That looks exactly like something a player would do before they attack you!”, etc.
Can you influence and alter a player’s move? You bet! What are they doing? Is that what YOU want them to do? What exactly do you want them to do? You know what your plan is now right? Ok, so what would be the best thing for them to do for YOUR plan? What would make your job easier? Yep, add this to your planning mission. After you have your own plan, you need to have a good plan for all the other players too! Friends and foes.
You’re getting ready to launch an attack on the EU this turn, right? Well that attack would go a lot easier for you if they were short on minerals and couldn’t supply a committed defense right? Can you encourage them to sell more when they trade?
“Oh no. They are very stubborn. They would never do anything I suggest.” Good, then push them to do the opposite. Suggest that they buy lots of extra resources! “You never know when you might need them for a rainy day! You better not sell so much.”
–“Oh yeah? What are you trying to do? Make sure I miss out on lots of great windfall profits like everybody else? I’ll show you!”
Yep, they sure did, didn’t they?
See? Now you have so much to do during other player’s turns, that you’ll be hoping they take even longer! Soon you’ll wonder how you were ever bored while everybody else was moving.