I used to think along the lines of “have fun.”

Yet tabletop games, even ones which are fun, can be frustrating. The fun comes after you’ve overcome certain obstacles or certain objectives. And if measure your involvement by “have fun” then it might set your expectations too high.

I’m being very broad here. The #1 rule might vary according to the tabletop game. For RPGs, it could be: “The Game Master is always right.”

For Magic: The Gathering it might be: “Make sure you have enough land cards.”

For game like Poker, it could be: “Keep your poker face and learn how to count cards.”

For miniature wargames, one could argue: “Paint your miniatures” or “Let your opponent have the benefit of the doubt.”

For straight-up Monopoly and RISK: “You can always find new friends.” 😉

Some tabletop games aren’t meant to be fun. Chess can be an intense battle of wits. The Quiet Year can be downright depressing.

Any sort of tournament game skews the notion of “having fun” even further. Ever witness a Warhammer 40k tournament? I’m not sure if they’re having fun or not (but that’s just my experience.

Wheaton’s Law, don’t be a dick, originally addressed the online gaming community and has since spread to other aspects of gaming, and definitely applies here. But after more consideration, while I believe it’s in the top 5, but not #1.

So, what’s the number #1 rule when playing a tabletop game?

I already have an idea of what it might be. Indeed, it may appear in an upcoming supplement or two I plan posting on One Book Shelf.

Yet I like to get some feedback before I do so, and I’ll share the findings in an upcoming post.