LAN-Party Basics

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How-To give one – good tips – Karl Williams


Ahh, the LAN party! That Mecca of geekdom that separates the men from the boys. You’ve read all about them from websites like, but now you want to hold one yourself. Well, slow down there, my friend, because there is actually quite a bit involved in setting up a successful LAN party.

I plan on laying out most (if not all) of my secrets to planning, arranging, and participating in a world-class LAN party just for you! ^_^

What’s this wire do, Dad?

OK, so you’ve decided you want to hold a LAN party. That’s great! Fabulous! Wonderful! Now, the first question you have to ask yourself is:


Where are you going to hold this? In your house, in a rented room like a local Legion hall, or Gymnasium? (For the most part, I’m going to be referring to holding it in your own home). If you’re going to hold it in your own house, make sure it’s cool with your Domestic Overseers first. If you own the house, great!

If you’re going to be using a rented room, then you’ll wanna’ see how many people it can hold, and what it will cost to rent the place for however many nights you plan on holding your LAN. Also, no matter where you hold it, you’re going to want to make sure you know the power layout.

If you’re going to be having 6+ rigs and monitors going, you’ll wanna make sure that the fuses will be able to hold the load you’re going to be putting on them. Extension cords are your friends. If you need to, plug into another wall socket that’s not on the same fuse as all the other systems and drag it out to where you’re located in your house.

If you do end up blowing a fuse, do not just replace the fuse and fire all the systems back up – that’ll just end up blowing the fuse again. Distribute a bit of the load between different fuses – that’ll solve that problem.

Prime Real Estate

OK. You’ve got permission from your parents and you’ve got all of your power troubles figured out. You know the power layout of your house (if you don’t, ask one of your parents. One of them is bound to know what’s what when it comes to the internal power grid and you know if you need extension cords and whatnot. Now that you’ve got all of this figured out. The next question you have to ask yourself is:

“Where am I going to put everybody?”

Big rooms like living rooms are great. Basements are also usually solid gold real-estate when it comes to LAN parties. For me, after much experimentation and people having uncomfortable experiences, I chose the kitchen. I chose it for two reasons:

  1. We have one of those kitchens that has an attached dining area, so I have the dining room table for setup, and
  2. It’s really big and I can fit another collapsible table in there.

Once you’ve chosen your room, you’re gunna’ need a place to set monitors, systems, keyboards, mice, switches/hubs/routers, surge protectors (a must) and speakers (headphones is the easy answer to that, but somebody will bring speakers. Count on it, and adapt).

Talk to your friends, and see if they have any folding tables (like yard sale tables) you can use. If not, take a trip to Canadian Tire or Home Depot and see if they have something you can use. I’m sure they will. It might set you back a bit, however.

Please, sir. May I have some more?

Now that you’ve got your table(s) set up, you can get down to the smaller things:


How are you going to pay for it? What I’ve done is request that everybody bring at least $5.00 for food costs for later in the LAN party. I also state that no money equals no play. I’ve had friends come over for LAN parties and promise that they will ‘go downtown and hit an ATM’, but they get gaming, and no money shows up. No help for food costs later.

The straw that broke the camel’s back was when a friend and I payed $30 dollars for pizza and nobody else paid (there were 5 other people). I instigated this policy for the next LAN I held, and it worked out very well. People understood why I did it, so it was all good. Don’t be afraid to ask for money for food! I mean, everybody eats pizza, right?

As for snacks, a few bags of chips are alright, if you need them (we never have – eating takes away from gaming).


You have a decision to make here: alcohol or no alcohol.

Personally, I don’t like booze to interrupt my LAN parties. It can also create problems if people get a little too . . . um . . . festive with the booze. It can end up causing more accidents than anything, so I don’t like it at my LAN parties.

As for pop and stuff, make sure to get a variety. Pepsi, Coke, Dew, Mellow Yellow, and Iced Tea usually make up a good mix. Keep them in the fridge for optimum coldness ^_^. I usually don’t charge for pop or anything. That’s all on me.

Step right up!! Step right up!!

Now that food and drink is settled, you’ll need people to show up, won’t you? Well, get on the horn and tell your friends. E-mail them, or IM them, too. What I like to do is set up a small web page, informing people of where it is, what to bring, and how to behave.

I usually email or IM this web page URL to them and they can mail me back as to whether or not they’re coming and ask any questions they may have. It works out surprisingly well and I’ve done it with the last 2 or 3 LANs I’ve held.

On this page, you can tell people what games they’ll need to install and update, any protocols they’ll need and how to have them configured. Regarding game patches, there will usually be somebody who doesn’t read your little page that you spent so much time setting up, so they won’t know what to install or anything. Keep the patches on your HD in a shared folder, so if somebody doesn’t have the required patch, they can pull it off of your box.

Usually, just before people show up, I’ll put on some good, energetic music. Usually electronica or something, so people really get in the mood to frag! I’ve also been known to put on some goofy anime, like Dirty Pair Flash or Tenchi Muyo!. People usually always get a kick out of that kind of stuff and it helps them relax and get into the game.

Once the people show up, you’ll have to get them plugged in. Remember, you only have a bit of a footprint on each table for a monitor and whatnot. Push comes to shove, all rigs on the floor and tell people to be very careful when getting up, so as not to kick somebody else’s rig.

Karl Williams – Nick on OC forums: Oni

Creating and maintaining a Network Infrastructure

The eternal battle ensues: Switch, Hub, or Router.

How will you connect your people on the network? I prefer a Switch over anything else. Less fuss this way. A Switch is just like a Hub but about a million times better! Traffic will run faster between systems, because packets are going to the system they’re supposed to be going to, not to everybody, like with a Hub.

Routers are alright, but might require a bit more configuring than a Switch. I’m not exactly sure, however, because I’ve never used one at a LAN party.

The network.

There will always be somebody who has their settings hosed. It never fails, ever! ^_^ What I do is get everybody else set up and then get to work on the person who’s having trouble. It might also be beneficial to designate a ‘Helper Person’, who’s job it will be to help people w/ hardware and configuration problems (that’ll pro’lly always end up being you, however ^_^;;).


Make sure you specify the IPs people will be using when they get there. I usually go with something local, like 192.168.0.x. With ‘x’ being the number assigned when a person shows up. Just make sure you make yourself as number 1, and assign everybody else numbers as they arrive.

Sometimes, you’ll get a friend who just has to be different, and want a final octet of 164 or something. I normally don’t mind this. If they wanna be a little bit more difficult to find and ping, that’s their thing. Just make sure everybody else goes by the number assigned, and make sure they’re all on subnet

You’ll also want them all on the same workgroup. It makes systems easier to find on the network. I usually go w/ @Home, ’cause I use it with my cable anyway.


Lay this one down as soon as you can. I usually end up setting very strict ground rules when it comes to this. There is absolutely NO grabbing files off of somebody’s box if that person is in a game, and no grabbing files from multiple boxes at once. It just tangles up the network, and slows down more boxes than necessary, Switch or no Switch.

Make sure that they know this. Best way to stop this is to disable your guest account when you’re going to be gaming. Make sure your people know this.

Where it’s at

Once everybody gets on, lay down some ground rules. Tell them where the recycle bin is (for cans, not on the desktop – Ha ha!), and where the garbage can is (empty the can before everybody comes – I cannot stress that enough). Tell them where the bathroom is.

Also inform them of the proper conduct. Pissing and moaning and cursing when you get fragged is great if there are no parents around, but you might wanna’ tone it back a bit when they’re in the next room, considering that you and your friends are in their house.

It’s time to kick ass and chew bubble gum!

Getting to the gaming

This is what you’re all here for. A good, friendly, no lag game of Quake 3 A/TA, or CS, or Warcraft 3. Make sure they know your policy on hackers/cheaters. And that policy should be ‘cheaters get kicked, no exceptions’. Remember that little video from the Million Man LAN where they tossed that old AT box on the ground? Make it like that, but don’t destroy his box.

Make it known that if caught cheating, they probably won’t be invited back for another LAN. It probably won’t be a problem, but y’never know, y’know?

Some of our LAN party favourites are Quake 3 Capture the Flag, One Flag CTF, 2v2 games of CS on smallish maps like Assault and Dust. Try your best to get your friends competing against each other. Nothing beats a 6 person FFA in Starcraft or Warcraft 3.

Just don’t go overboard if you beat somebody. Yeah, rub their face in it a bit, but don’t go around all night saying stuff like ‘I 0wn j00, f00l!’, or they’ll just get upset at you, and that’ll ruin the mood for everybody.

For some games, you might even wanna’ set up some 1v1 tourneys in Quake or Warcraft. If you have enough people (6 is usually enough, but more is better), this can be really fun! You can give the winner something like a bag of chips or something, or maybe first choice in the next game played. This will usually go over pretty good.

Just make sure if there are spectators, that they don’t divulge anything the other person is doing in a game like Starcraft, where doing so can inadvertently screw one player or the other. Also, limit transfers over the network, as this could possibly spell lag for somebody and lose them a round.

Don’t worry, eventually you’ll prick yourself with the antidote!

The final cleanup

When everybody is all gamed out and the sun is just starting its slow climb up the eastern horizon, it’s time for one last thing: cleanup.

Inform everybody of the locations of the dishwasher (if you have one) or the sink, the recycle bin and the garbage can. Kindly ask them to deposit anything they might have acquired over the night into them. Help everybody pack up. Wrap up cords for them, and help them carry out software, boxes and monitors to their cars. See them all off.

When everybody is gone, it’s time for your final part. Collapse any tables and store them. Move anything that had been moved back to where it came from. Take out the trash and the recycling again. Break up pizza boxes and put them in the trash, too. Make sure there are no crusts in them or anything, to deter critters from tearing apart your garbage.

If there are dirty dishes, pile them neatly in the sink or dishwasher, and if the dishwasher is full, for the love of all things holy, run it! Don’t just leave it for your parents when they wake up. Sweep the floor and/or vacuum the rug (you might wanna leave vacuuming the rug for the morning, as vacuum cleaners are quite loud) and dispose of the crusties on the floor in the proper receptacle.

Say ‘good morning’ to your parents when they come upstairs and you’re still awake, then go to bed.

Coyote Ugly

When you regain consciousness, get on the phone and call everybody who attended. Ask them if they had a good time, how the setup was, and if they want anything different for the next one you hold. Some people find this kinda difficult to do, but it is really essential to get feedback from your people. You can build on your success this way, and make the next one even better!

I hope everybody who read this enjoyed it and I hope it gave you ideas for your next LAN party. Any questions, comments and constructive criticisms can be mailed to me by the addy at the bottom of the page. Any flames can be mailed to If they are mailed to the address at the bottom of the page, however, they will be read, violently ignored, and thrown into the trash! ^_^.

Karl Williams – Nick on OC forums: Oni

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