My wife and I recently decided to dedicate ourselves to dancing again. We met in a Latin dance club and it has always been an activity that we share a passion for. Thanks to a foot injury that is entirely my fault, we had to give up dancing for most of last year. To get ourselves back into the groove we decided to go back to a dance studio to get refreshed and learn some new moves and styles. As luck would have it, the classes are only available on the night I had previously set aside for Commander. The other two local Magic nights also landed on days where we planned to go to the clubs to use our newly rediscovered love for dance. This left me with a large problem; how could I play Commander?
I am blessed to have been established in the Community for years now. Finding people to play with on any given night is not much of an issue. To make sure I could play, I decided to host some Commander nights at my place. For anyone who hasn’t hosted before or just wants some advice on how to make the experience as enjoyable as possible for your guests, I have some tips for turning your house into the local game store.
Unless you want to start the night after 6 or 7, food is crucial for a good game night. The tricky part is that people are coming over to play as a 1st priority and eat as a secondary thought, so they won’t be hungry at the same time. My favorite way to address this issue is a slow cooker. Large slow cookers can feed 6-8 people and keep food warm the entire night. Here is one of my absolute favorite recipes that is easy and can feed players throughout the night. It feeds about four, so you will usually want to double it. You can speed it up by setting it on high for an hour before switching to low.
Honey-Sriracha-Lime Chicken Tostadas
– 2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breast (about 4 breasts)
– 1 ⅛ cups honey (just over 1 cup – to taste)
– ⅞ cup Sriracha hot sauce (just under 1 cup – to taste)
– ¼ cup lime juice
– ½ bag frozen corn (8 oz.)
– ½ bag frozen bell pepper strips (5-8 oz.)
– 1 can crushed pineapple (8 oz.)
– ¼ chopped red onion
– ¼ cup chopped cilantro
– lime juice (to taste)
– fiesta-lime seasoning or chili powder (to taste)
-salt (to taste)
– queso fresco or mozzarella cheese
– shredded lettuce
– pineapple salsa (listed above)
– diced avocado
Place honey, sriracha, and lime juice in slow cooker on high just long enough to incorporate honey into sauce. Turn to low and add chicken breast and frozen corn. Cook on low for 4-6 hours. Add bell peppers 2 hours before serving. Prep salsa and other toppings. Serve and enjoy!!
*Honey-Sriracha ratio can be altered to taste. Make sure to keep 2 cups of sauce per 2 pounds of meat. J
Making sure the play area is comfortable is paramount for repeat game nights. Actual tables are probably the most important thing. When I lived in Kansas I always had people over and I can’t figure out for the life of me why they kept coming back. We used to play on my pool table sitting on folding chairs. That’s a terrible play surface. It comes up to people’s shoulders while seated. Don’t do that. Get a real table.
You also want more than one play area. You need room for people to play side game while Commander games are finishing off, or to eat away from the primary play surface.
Keep cats, children, and dogs away from the play area. I know we all love our animals and children. They pose a real risk of spilled drinks and bent cards, and it’s not worth putting the value of cards on the line just to not let them on that table. Having a separate room or area for our little loved ones can prevent unnecessary damage.
Clean before people come over. I hate cleaning, so I get that it sucks. I used to work on my miniature gaming in the living room and just leave my razor blades on the ground when I was through with them. Don’t be like young Sean. Young Sean was dumb Sean. In addition, a sticky play area is not a desirable play area for anyone. Take the time to make your place presentable.
Contrary to popular beliefs, you don’t need to keep alcohol on hand. However water and sodas are a comfort people rely on. Individual bottles of water and cans of soda are the best option both for yourself – easier cleanup and no dishes – and for hygienic reasons for your guests. Get more than you think you will ever need. I’ve tried the water filter and 2 Liter bottle thing. It works ok, but the ease of distribution and cleanup on cans and bottles just can’t be beat.
Recently, my friends and I started trying a no hard liqueur policy for hanging out. It may sound funny coming from someone who once wrote an article about which kind of whiskey goes best with different color identities. However, wine and beer tend to be easier to regulate and so you don’t go overboard without realizing. Driving drunk or even buzzed isn’t something you want to mess around with. Also, most of my game nights end up being on week nights and work is pretty difficult with a bad hangover.
This is one segment I have made huge mistakes on. There are a few people in Kansas who remember being forced to listen to the Wheatus station on Pandora for way to long. Even people who didn’t mind it wanted to kill me by the end. Music should either be off or something that doesn’t distract. Lately I have switched to Jazz and Classical in the background or just going without the music. I try and use the same music I work or paint too. It needs to be something that doesn’t prevent you from maintaining focus on more complicated things.
Predetermined Stop Time
I always feel awkward and guilty asking people to leave my home so that I can get some sleep. One of the biggest lessons I have learned is to be clear ahead of time and set up boundaries for when you expect people to show up and when you expect them to leave. It’s a much simpler conversation before Commander night than at 1AM.
Have you hosted? What have you found that works for you? Put your recommendations in the comments or send me a tweet @swordstoplow.