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How to host an atmospheric board game night (Sponsored)

Wow your friends and family.

A promo image of Jurassic World: Legacy of Isla Nublar.
Image credit: Funko Games

This article is sponsored by Funko Games, publisher of board games including Jurassic World: The Legacy of Isla Nublar, Rear Window and the new Five Nights at Freddy’s – Scare in the Box.

There’s a board game night and there’s an atmospheric board game night. One is a very standard social gathering and the other is an experience that your guests are unlikely to forget. By drawing upon the themes and stories that board games want to tell, you can organise an evening of tabletop gaming that inspires your players and draws them into entirely new worlds.

There are many ways to do this, both big and small – how far you go is really up to you. Which board games you decide to play will affect this, we recommend you choose something like an adventure game or thriller title, rather than a game with a very dry theme. Obviously the grander the world and theme, the more ambitious a project you might be taking on, but you’ll also have plenty of ideas as to how you can represent it during your atmospheric board game night.

From how you invite your guests to what you serve them throughout the evening, here’s how you can host an atmospheric board game night that will absolutely wow friends and family.

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1.Send themed invitations

A promo image for Jurassic World: Legacy of Isla Nublar.
Jurassic World Legacy takes place in a detailed universe filled with lots of great ideas for an atmospheric board game night. Image: Funko Games.

The first step to any event is inviting people to it. WhatsApp might seem like the most obvious and convenient method of doing this, but it’s not necessarily the most exciting. If you really want to get your guests in the mood for an atmospheric game night as soon as possible then consider making and sending some appropriately themed invitations.

Imagine you’re planning to host a board game night wherein you’re playing a board game set during a certain time period, such as the Rear Window Board Game – which is based on a classic Hitchcock movie that was released during the 1950s – you could do some research into design from that era and create some physical invitations that emulate that. Alternatively, you could do something a little out of the box like sending a video message as a character from the world of the board game you’re playing, such as John Hammond from Jurassic World: The Legacy of Isla Nublar.

However, you choose to send or present your invitations, giving them a strong theme will get your guests immersed in the atmosphere of the entire evening before they’ve even walked through the door.

2. Decorate your home

A promo image for Funkoverse: Universal Monsters
A haunted house could be the perfect location for a playthrough of Funkoverse: Universal Monsters. Image: Funko Games.

Once you have your guests in hand, it’s time to get things ready for their arrival. One great way to create an effective atmosphere is to decorate your house. Getting your guests in the mood as soon as they arrive will make for a fantastic start to your board game night. How you decide to decorate your house will depend on the tabletop titles you decide to play. Pick something like Funkoverse: Universal Monsters and you’ll obviously want to deck your halls with something suitably spooky for the horror board game. Alternatively, if you’re playing Jurassic World Legacy you could invest in some shrubbery, fake tropical trees and dinosaur-related paraphernalia. Even just having the right kind of lighting could make a difference to the atmosphere.

3. Wear costumes

A layout image for the Rear Window board game.
If you're playing the Rear Window Board Game, why not dress up in '50-inspired clothing?

Though roleplaying isn’t an essential part of most board games – depending on what you’re playing – it is a fun element that you can introduce into your atmospheric board game night. One really effective way of getting people into character is by getting them to dress up. Wearing costumes can help your guests to embrace the theme of your evening and ease themselves into the roleplaying part of the experience.

Whether you’re donning stylish ‘50s clothing inspired by the Rear Window Board Game, or even more specific costumes such as the terrifying animatronics found in Five Nights at Freddy’s - Scare in the Box, wearing themed outfits can get players into the right mood for the evening. You don’t have to do anything too intense, sometimes homemade-style costumes are more fun than something professional, but it’s still worth a go.

4. Play atmospheric music

An image of FNAF: Scare in a Box
The music of the Five Nights at Freddy's series is perfect for a creepy evening. Image: Funko Games.

Once you’re sat down and actually playing the board games themselves, it’s time to consider what kind of audio experience to give your guests. Playing some chilled music is nice but it doesn’t necessarily invoke an immersive atmosphere. Many of the best board games out there have their own soundtracks that fans have curated themselves through streaming services like Spotify, which often provide the perfect ambience for their associated title.

Alternatively, you could make your own playlists by taking inspiration from the board games you’re playing. For example, you'll likely want to create a scary playlist for a game like Five Night’s at Freddy’s - Scare in a Box and could even use tracks from the video game series’ original soundtrack. Another example could be employing music from John William's epic Jurassic Park score for Jurassic World Legacy, alongside plenty of dinosaur noises, of course.

5. Serve thematic drinks and snacks

A promo image for Jurassic World: Legacy of Isla Nublar.
A night of playing Jurassic World: Legacy would be made that much more enjoyable with delicious dino snacks. Image: Funko Games.

All that tabletop gaming is inevitably going to make you and your guests hungry and/or thirsty, meaning that you better have some refreshments on hand. Serving thematic snacks and drinks will impress your friends and make your atmospheric board game night that much more memorable. Bags of crisps and cans of coke are just fine, however, offering fun little treats that fit a theme can be delicious and fun.

Playing Jurassic World Legacy - why not cook up some turkey dinosaurs or offering some little cupcakes with dino-shaped edible treats on top? If you’re playing a fantasy board game like The Goonies: Never Say Die you could serve ‘80s appropriate drinks and snacks, possibly some chocolate coins.There are loads of yummy and relatively easy drink and snack options to give to your guests that will enhance the atmospheric nature of your board game evening.

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