CHENNAI: These are the games you can play today,” said Arjun Sukumaran, founder of Chennai Board Gamers, waving his hand in the general direction of about 40 colourful board games, which we had never seen or even heard of — you just don’t get these at your typical store. Our first game at Cafe Home Pitch, Adyar, which started around 12.30 pm, was a simple enough game of dice called Strike.
Having tasted victory in the very first game and getting all pumped up (unfortunately, the winning streak fizzled out right after that), this journalist then moved to Citadels, a game where the objective is to build the best city. You can assume eight roles, including an assassin, thief, magician, king, merchant... And you can build cities that have taverns, universities, fortresses and so on with gold coins. The gold coins resemble Hajmola or Alpenliebe candy, depending on your taste, says Naresh, another Chennai Board Gamer.
Having built the second-best city, we moved on to King of Tokyo. In this, you take the form of a Godzilla-ish monster and wreak unimaginable havoc in Tokyo (we chose Cyber Bunny, a small but menacing little rabbit in a monster’s body). The trouble is, other monsters like the Kraken and Alienoid too are battling to be the most bad-ass monster in the city. And the Cyber Bunny just didn’t make the cut. So the slain bunny then dragged itself to the next table, where it reincarnated as a legendary character called Rhino Hero.
The game had people taking turns to build a house of cards. The trickiest part was that a tiny rhino figurine had to be placed on top of the cards almost each time, throwing the entire structure off balance. Every time a card was placed on top, the tension around the table was palpable — it could slice ice. After skipping quite a few heart beats, this journalist then recuperated with a cup of coffee.
The time was 5.30 pm — five continuous hours of board gaming. Refreshed with a shot of caffeine, we moved to a game called Kolejka, about people queing up, fighting and cheating to get rations in communist Poland — the player who manages to get all the items on her shopping list wins the game. An interesting tidbit — the game was launched by the Polish government in 2011, and was recently banned in Russia for being anti-communist. When we got up from the last game (and losing, of course) and stretching our limbs, the clock read 8.45 pm — it had been one hell of an eight-hour roller-coaster ride.
How It Began
Arjun Sukumaran, who has been board-gaming for about four years, created the group in 2014. It started out as a small group of people who got together to play computer games. In August 2015, Chennai Board Gamers went public — there were about 30-odd gamers at that point.
“A lot of people have been gaming in their own little circles, within their families; it’s just that they’ve not played at public events. Chennai has a good board gaming base,” says the board gamer who has about 120 games. “I know a friend who has been playing since 2004 and has about 320 games!”
Print & Play
Some games allow you to pay a fraction of the price of the actual game. You can then get the computer files, go to any shop and get them printed. Files for many old games are also available on the internet. Arjun says it’s a useful avenue for people who are trying to expand their horizons, but if you’re starting out, it’s better to have the actual game, where you have all the rules and cards printed.