Since birth, you’ve been competing, and you own the hardware to prove it. Company Softball league, dominated. Pool with the guys at the pub, hustled. Guitar Hero on Saturday mornings, pwned. Unfortunately, these conquests do little to impress the harshest of critics, your girlfriend’s friends. To win over that impossible crowd, you’re going to need to perform on Game Night. Yes, board games. Monopoly, Jenga, Pictionary, etc. Tests of strategy, cunning, and some times, will power (it can be a lot to put up with), rather than strength, speed and dexterity. Don’t worry though, we’ve got some tips to make sure your winning streak remains intact.

Show no mercy 

Entering the gaming situation, take note of who is playing and the mood of the group. As the entertaining coach Herm Edwards once taught us, “You play to win the game!” Board games are no different and thus, to ensure victory, you must not take it easy on any competitor. The level at which you unleash your ruthlessness may be dampened, though, based on the presence of, say, your mother-in-law. Regardless of the game, when you have a chance to eliminate someone, take it. How nice you are about it is up to you, but don’t feel bad about being skilled. Pretending not see that your girlfriend just landed on Boardwalk with a hotel, just prolongs a ridiculously long game and gives here a chance to come back and knock you out later. Would she offer the same kindness to you?

Understand how to score 

Some games are very straightforward, like Trivial Pursuit. You must simply answer more questions than the other team, with a little variable of the dice added. With a game like Scrabble, however, you wield more control over not only your own ability to rack up points, but other players as well. In this classic word game, the way to score big points is by playing high value tiles and words on the boards bonus squares. The manner in which can manipulate the scoring is to avoid place a word where you opponent would have an opportunity take advantage of the bonus areas. Likewise, when a bonus opens up, take it immediately. Even if your word is not the best, its value increases because your opponents will left with lower scoring words. A solid knowledge of the points system will allow you to stays 2 steps ahead of the competition, whichever game they test you with.

Know the odds 

If you cannot manipulate the scoring system, at least stack the odds in your favor. Most board games require a little luck, if not a lot. Instead of waiting for the dice to roll your way, learn what is most likely to happen before it does, and capitalize. Consider yourself a Vegas casino owner; eventually all of your customers lose, and so must your competitors. In Monopoly, for example, Illinois Ave is the most landed on property. If you get there first, do what you can to build on it and jack the rent. The same goes for strategy games like Risk. Of course, you don’t not know the outcome of your roll, but you can play the odds by only attacking with x numbers of defenders, for example. Many math articles have been written discussing the classic board game and its odds. Bone up on your stats and dominate.

Do a little “research” 

To avoid the element of surprise, if you know you are going into a game night, find out what you will actually be playing. If the game is a partner game, casually ask if you can bring your best male friend along. Note – you may need to promise your buddy copious amounts of alcohol and that at least one of the other attendees will be female, attractive, and available. If your request is granted, you’ll instantly have a tremendous advantage. You and your buddy practically share a brain, so whether you are required to communicate viewing acting, drawing, modeling, etc., you cannot fail. If you have never heard of the proposed game, you could offer to bring one of your own. Regardless if the group allows, read up on the mystery game to prepare. Consider how you will apply the previous tips; don’t go rollin’ out naked, if you know what we mean.

When all is said and done, thank the host, hug the in-laws, and head home knowing the game night audience is just one more left impressed. You’re welcome Stockholm.