I was listening to Dice Tower Podcast Episode 324 the other day, and there was a contributor, Barry, who was discussing the failings he had with his own game group. In response, Tom and Eric each gave helpful advice for anyone running a game group. The piece of advice that stuck with me boiled down to knowing your audience. Simple things like not bringing Twilight Imperium 3 to a church game night, or a New Years Eve party, not bringing party games to a strategic gamers meeting. The advice seems obvious at first, but I realized how many times I've messed that up, and seen others mess it up.
I am the lead organizer for a game group that meets in a card and comic shop. As such, the typical patron isn't a hardcore boardgamer. If they're a boardgamer at all, they're looking for something with a lot of theme, and relatively light - think Marvel Legendary, DC deckbuilding game, King of Tokyo, etc. There's nothing wrong with these games, in fact there are many good games in this area, but I have to know my audience. There are times I want to play something meatier, but I have to pick and choose. Now, a lot of the regulars to gamenight are happy to try out just about anything, which is a great dynamic. Still, I find myself bringing a lot of the same games each week. At some point it becomes easier to play something everyone knows rather than teach something new. The store environment lends itself to the lighter games, easy to teach, accommodates a good number of people. There will always be room to try to add something new into the mix, even a deep Euro, but for the most part, the games played will be on the lighter side of things.
I also attend a bi-weekly gaming group that started out solely playing Settlers of Catan. Now, I like Settlers, but I needed more variety, so I started bringing other games. They didn't catch on at first, but eventually they did, and now Settlers hasn't even been opened up in 3 months. It'll come back, but it's nice to have the variety. The group perplexes me sometimes, because they like to keep things fairly light, yet there are several who really like Imperial which is a very deep game. I think the group is willing to go for just about anything, and it's nice to have a game that pushes you from time to time, but you also have to have a comfort zone. The great thing about this group is that it's growing, so hopefully we'll be splitting into multiple games so people can choose if they want something a little lighter or heavier. All that to say, that group started as one where I thought along the lines of party games and light fillers like Incan Gold, For Sale, etc. We still play those games, but we've also grown to love Resistance: Avalon, Article 27, and a whole slew of other games. At this point I think I could bring just about any game to this group and they'd give it a go.
Know your audience. If you're in a public place, and you want to get new people in, have games that will work for them. If you really want to find the deep strategic gamers, they're out there too. All kinds of game groups exist, because all kinds of different people like different styles and complexity levels of games. It's important to know who you're looking to interact with and what kinds of games you want to play. If you love strategy, you don't want to get stuck playing Munchkin or Wits and Wagers for the 20th time. If you love party games, you don't want to be roped into Agricola or Puerto Rico. There's nothing wrong with exploring new games, but don't torment yourself by repeatedly playing games you will never love just because other people do.