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BU Board Games Club: More Than Just a Roll of the Dice

Complex games test strategic thinking. And they’re fun.

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 Sorry, Risk, Monopoly, and Trouble. Think Letters from Whitechapel, Terra Mystica, and Sentinels of the Multiverse. Welcome to BU’s Board Games Club, one of more than 450 student clubs at Boston University.

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.”

Find more information about the Board Games Club here or contact Mason Challinor at maschall@bu.edu.

Devin Hahn, Producer/Editor, BU Today, Bostonia, Boston University
Devin Hahn

Devin Hahn can be reached at dhahn@bu.edu.

4 Comments on BU Board Games Club: More Than Just a Roll of the Dice

  • Boardgame Fan on 03.02.2017 at 9:53 pm

    Great video!

    Seem like the group is taking their own advice- enjoying the games and hanging out with other humans. Humans, as it turns out, are a lot of fun!

    We are in a golden age of board game design. There are a lot of great video games out there, so this generation of board game designers use that as a starting point, and make games that do things that video games can’t, or aren’t suited to, and the result is good times for everyone.

    Social games, strategy games, quick games, long games- there are all sorts of neat ideas being produced. I was pretty impressed by the great library of games they seem to have at the club- that and a built-in player base! Who could ask for more?

  • Some guy on 06.12.2017 at 12:53 pm

    Well done segment.
    I like how the students emphasize the social aspect of games, especially cooperation and learning to lose or win with some grace. Anyone who has played video-based games online recently, knows this crucial aspect can be pretty awful (name calling, people purposely acting super-annoying, the list goes on). Interesting topic, well presented.

    • Clarendon Street on 07.13.2017 at 12:00 pm

      Physical board games aren’t safe from unsavory players. For every good sport, there can be a bad one, or someone who acts petty or plays cynically to the detriment of everyone’s fun. Friendships can sour very easily over a boardgame!

  • Ernest Bergel on 03.18.2019 at 11:41 pm

    Modern board games are fine, but I have long wondered why BU does not have a chess club. Among the thousands of students from all over the world, I suspect there are a substantial number who would enjoy a regular opportunity to play chess on campus and perhaps even compete in intercollegiate tournaments.

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