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It’s a Thursday night and about 20 students are in a room on the second floor of the Sargent Activities Center. Over the next four hours, they’ll test their mettle and critical thinking skills playing board games. Forget Monopoly, Sorry, Risk, and Trouble. Think Letters from Whitechapel, Terra Mystica, and Sentinels of the Multiverse. Welcome to BU’s Board Games Club.
Many players found their way to the club as freshmen through Splash, the annual fall student activities fair. “I showed up for the first meeting my freshman year and I’ve been coming ever since,” says club president Mason Challinor (CAS’17). “I’ve probably only missed six or so meetings in the entire time I’ve been here.”
Each week, members choose the games they’ll play from a menu of about 50. And four or five games may be played simultaneously, so two teams of four may be trying to sink their opponents’ battleship during an intense round of Captain Sonar, while another team is deep in a round of Mysterium, the board game where one player must convey to the others who killed him—without speaking a word.
The club occasionally holds events in conjunction with residence hall associations. The group also tests prototype games for the Game Makers Guild, New England’s largest group of indie board game designers. Games that don’t see a lot of play are donated to the local Goodwill.
Members acknowledge that finding people who want to play board games is not always easy. “It’s a difficult itch to scratch,” says club treasurer Ryan Peters (ENG’17). “There’s nothing else you do in your day that replicates the emotion, the competition…nothing else is as much of a sit-down, intellectual activity, where you get to hang out with people and have some good-hearted competition.”
And the best part of getting together each week? According to many of the players, it’s not the chance to win, but the fun of sharing a common passion.
“I think a lot of us keep coming back and having a good time because we’re not focused on the winning,” says Peters. “We’re just focused on trying to figure out game systems and have a good time. Social interaction is the core of every good game experience.”
And once you’re hooked? Well, even alums have been known to stop by. “The reason I keep coming back is because this is my social group,” says Rachel Prosser (SED’16). “The people I’ve met in Board Games Club are the people I’ve really connected to and made deep, deep friendships with throughout my time at BU.”
Members do have some etiquette advice for those thinking of joining.
“You have to be pretty kind,” says Brandon Cox (ENG’20). “Be a good listener, so when somebody’s explaining the rules you don’t have to ask them to repeat themselves. Be willing to explain things and be accepting of people who maybe take a bit longer to learn.”
“People will come back to play with you more when you respond to them in a positive way,” Prosser advises. “So don’t be a sore winner or loser. Enjoy the game for what it is and have fun, because it is fun.”