Do you recall the cosy afternoons on Sunday when your family would gather round a Ludo board? As each member would tenaciously set their tokens as they sipped on chai and gorged on snacks, one would zealously roll the dice, praying for it to show six. All of us have bonded with our friends and family members over board games—Snakes and Ladders, The Game of Life, Monopoly, among others—through childhood. While many of us have lost our interest in tabletop games after the advent of the internet, there still remain a few old-school souls who have not given up on the charm of board games. Taking this passion up a notch, a few people have joined hands to launch Delhi’s Board Gaming Community (Board Gamers of Delhi on Facebook).
Talking to us about why they formed a community for board game enthusiasts, Brijesh Prasad, a member, shared, “It is a bunch of people who own board games or like board games and would like to get more people into the same. We open up our spaces, our homes or public places to play.
Break the ice
You are bound to relive nostalgia when you set foot in Whiz Cafe in GK II—the standard meeting spot for these board gamers—on a weekend. Small batches of people can be seen seated in circles; each group engrossed in a different board game. Talking about his interest in these games, Prasad shares, "I grew up playing games like Scrabble and Monopoly. I find it [playing board games] to be a good interactive space, an ice breaker; it gives time for your group, friends or family members to gel with each other." Another member, Nikhil Khanna (31), adds, “Board games are very inclusive. Modern [board] games are well designed—it is fun and can keep your mind sharp as well."
Playing board games together can also be a great way to digital detox as you spend time away from electronic screens. Phones are laid aside as these board gaming enthusiasts build novel connections with every throw of a dice. “I realised that this [board gaming] is something that you can just get involved in for a couple of hours and forget about everything else,” adds Manasi (31), who also hosts board game sessions with her husband, Khanna, in their home.
Ready, set, bond
During the pandemic-induced lockdown—when meeting friends or socialising was almost nil—there were many people who felt lonely. The board gaming community, in a way, also opens up a space to meet like-minded people and forge authentic connections. When we visited the community on a Sunday evening, Akshay Nambeesan (23) was moderating a game of Dungeons & Dragons (D&D)—a fantasy tabletop role-playing game. On being asked why he joined this community, Nambeesan chuckled, “I don't have friends." This is when the other players—Iqram Singh (33), Blessen Mohan (27), and Josily (25)—burst out laughing. For individuals like Nambeesan, these board gaming sessions are a great place to meet new people. “The best part about playing D&D or anything of this sort is that we can connect with people and create memories,” added Mohan.
A game of D&D usually lasts between five and seven hours. All that time is spent cracking jokes, responding to fantastical situations, and snacking. This bond deepens as players spend more time together. “Board games, and particularly D&D, require camaraderie between members because you are interacting with people. It is important that every player has a safe space since you often end up showing your vulnerabilities,” shares Iqram. “I am glad I was able to find that with these guys,” adds Mohan.
Both Khanna and Manasi also affirm that their friend circle, now, mostly comprises other board gamers. “I can’t think of one person who I have played with and I am not friends with,” mentions Khanna.
Beyond the basics
While most of us may have only played simple games such as Monopoly or Ludo, the world of board games has become far more nuanced than ever. There are games that are theme oriented and require a lot more planning and execution. A few challenging games that board gamers have explored include Brass Birmingham, Spirit Island, Viticulture, and many others. “There is something for everybody, that’s the best part about board games. There are a lot of themes, from wine making to creating dams. There is a different level of complexity with each game,” shares Manasi.
The community is open for everyone. One can simply message them on Facebook and join a session. Midhun, a resident of East Delhi, who joined the group a month ago, concluded, "I am pretty new to board gaming, everytime I come, I play a new game. Other board gamers explain how it's played. It's a great way to unwind, network and just have a good time."
GIVE IT A SHOT
A few games that members of the board gaming community play:
The game tells the story of competing entrepreneurs in Birmingham during the industrial revolution, between the years of 1770-1870.
In Viticulture, players find themselves in the roles of people in rustic, pre-modern Tuscany, each working towards the goal of running the most successful winery.
3. Spirit Island
In this thematic cooperative game game, players go about defending their island home from colonising invaders.