When you have a board game night, you might play a single game several times, or several, starting with quick icebreakers, and moving on to more involved play. Depends on the mood. But one thing I like to think about (and have done at least partly), is a thematic game night, using games that could be part of the same universe, their common theme acting as an umbrella or as a way to unify the evening into a sort of story. I'll give you a couple of examples...
Now, we've all played Clue, right? It's the best-known mystery-solving board game, but not the only one to use a Victorian mansion and suspicious characters to power its plot. Here are several that, in sequence, get you to solve murder mystery plots at different points in the murder sequence:
1. Save Doctor Lucky: In this first game, you must prevent the hated Dr. Lucky from going down with the Titanic. This is an ANTI-murder mystery, if you will, but you're really trying to make yourself look good, so when Scotland Yard comes knocking, you'll be above reproach in the murder of the absent-minded doctor.
2. Kill Doctor Lucky: Now's the time to commit murder, just make sure you don't get caught. I've talked about this game before, check it out.
3. Clue: Now that the murder has been committed, it's time to solve it. You know how this works.
4. Mysterium: Maybe the solution is lost to the ages, because years later, the ghost of Doctor Luck or Mister Body comes back from the grave to haunt a group of psychics who must solve the murder using surreal visions played by the ghost player.
Or try this. One game we really like is called Tokaido, which presents a road from the cities now known as Kyoto and Tokyo. The object of the game is to take a leisurely stroll, scoring points for taking it easy, painting vistas, shopping, meeting interesting people, and eating good food. It's an anti-race, if you will. On the road are three inns, obligatory rest stops. You'll need a second table top for this, but when players have all checked into an inn, move to the other table and play another (Feudal and leisurely) Japan-themed game. For example:
First inn: This is the starting line, so no need for a game here.
Second inn: Tsuro - The players relax drawing paths in a zen sand garden.
Third inn: Takenoko - Spend your stay growing bamboo and feeding the Emperor's prize Panda.
Fourth inn: Hanabi - The card game that tests players' ability to create beautiful fireworks displays.
Fifth inn (optional): Tsuro of the Seas - Get on a ship and navigate the currents to get to your true destination, but watch out for daikaiju!
For each side-game you win, give yourself 5 points in Tokaido. The fifth inn's game might change who the technical winner is!
And so it goes. If I had the games, I'd probably be able to think up more. Take on the roles of consulting generals involved in ever bigger conflicts in a series of war games. Or games which are variants of one another can be played in concert, like supposing the same company of explorers visits both Forbidden Island and the Forbidden Desert. Or all those games that ask you to judge each one another on card combinations, perhaps as a group of people who don't know wha Or train games; the different Ticket to Ride maps alone could drive an entire evening of gaming. Let us know what you'd do (or have done) with this concept in the comments!