When I get a game out to play, I want to be able to start playing as quickly as possible. One of the best ways to facilitate a quick start is to take the time to prepare the game for the next play when you are cleaning up at the end. I think it’s proper gamer etiquette to not only help pack up a game once you are done playing, but to first ask the owner of the game, “How do you want this put away?” Avoid asking the question, “Where do you want me to stick this?” if you have just soundly defeated the game owner. You may not appreciate their response.
I think there are three important things you should do as you put your games away.
This covers everything from shuffling cards to mixing up tiles. Do this at the end and you can just deal cards or make stacks of tiles and get right into the game. My kids love to play Magic Labyrinth, which features a hidden maze that you can modify. I let them change the maze sometimes when I put the game away, so that by the time we play again, they have forgotten the maze that they built. Sure, I probably still shuffle again at the start of the game, but a little extra shuffling never hurt.
I suppose this is a matter of preference. Some folks would argue that it’s just as easy to pick out a white cube from a pile of mixed cubes as it is to pick it up from a pile of white cubes. Maybe they have a point, but I think it’s better to group your resources into individual bags so that when you play again, you have easy access to the game bits. I guess sorting your Dominion cards is another example of this type of preparation. I’m not much of a war gamer, but I do know that my buddy Mike uses plastic boxes with sections to organize all of the chits and markers for many of his games like Combat Commander. I did the same for my copy of Command and Colors: Ancients.
Prepare Individual Player Bags
If a game has a standard set up for each player, then put all of the things that player needs into a single bag. If you start with a certain set of cards or with five gold coins, then put all of that into a bag. Typically, you will want to include the following:
- Player wooden bits, dice, or plastic pieces of a certain color
- Starting money
- Starting resources
- Player aids
Did I miss anything? What do you do when you clean up your games? Share some examples of game preparation in the comments, and don’t forget to join my FaceBook page. It’s an easy way to stay connected.