London On Board
Like nearly every gamer I know, I’ve struggled to find a regular group of players. My capacity & urge to buy the latest shiny game filled with little cardboard pieces of joy, will always out-pace my chances to play the damn things. My wife is very understanding, she’s lived with my geekiness for long enough to put up with all my foibles. She’s even partial to the odd game of Carcassone or Dominion. However getting her to endure a 4-5 hour game of Arkham Horror or Mage Knight on a regular basis would likely result in divorce.
This means my local board gaming group – London On Board, has been a real life saver. London On Board is a regular board gaming night (I dislike the term club, as I think it’s a bit misleading, there’s no membership) held, yup you guessed it – in London. It’s arranged via Meetup.com which is a great site for any group to arrange meetings of any kind. There’s a little forum for discussion and they post up the details of upcoming meetings, which I get through as emails – which serve as a good reminder to pop along. Some nights are themed, some are play what you like, some are “newbie” nights to encourage new players.
I was first told about the place from a friend several years ago, “Oh wow that sounds cool, I’ll definitely pop along”. Weeks pass… I don’t go, months pass… I still haven’t gone. In the end I reckon it might have been around a year before I mustered up the courage to go along. It turned out the pub they meet in was literally 30 seconds over the road from my company’s office in The City, so getting there wasn’t exactly an excuse! I’m not exactly shy, my job involves getting up in front of strangers and talking & presenting, but there’s no denying it’s unsettling walking into a pub to meet a group of total strangers. They were fairly welcoming, well as welcome as a bunch of people that meet in a basement of a pub to play boardgames can be! I can’t pretend my first visit wasn’t a bit socially awkward, I hung about – not sure of the etiquette before a couple of guys playing Ticket To Ride spotted me aimlessly looking round the room and invited me to join them. Relief! I was in!
Now I’ve probably made the place sound rather unwelcoming – it really isn’t! I’ve been back many times since and it’s such a nice place to go along and play. It’s been invaluable when I’ve bought a new game and I’ve been itching to play it. There’s always a variety of games being played, from big theme heavy dungeon crawls, to clever eurogames, to quick simple card games, people are always happy to explain the rules and let you join their games. It’s certainly broadened my gaming tastes too, as I often find myself playing a game I’ve never heard of, or wouldn’t normally give a second glance, let alone play – yet invariably I’ll come away loving the game, and start hankering after my own copy!
One thing I’ve noticed is that LoB seems to be rather rapidly gaining popularity, going from one night per week when I first started and the occasional Sunday gaming session (all day, for longer games) to now having three nights a week plus the Sundays. And it’s often packed out with 40-50 odd people. It’s rather pleasing to see so many gamers getting together, and to me highlights the resuragnce in popularity of board games.
So if there’s a local board game night near you and haven’t been along yet, please take the time to check it out, you won’t regret it. And if you’re in London can and pop along to LoB, please do, and don’t forget to say hi to the spiky haired, bearded bloke (that’s me BTW!) and we can have a beer and a game or two. Look forward to seeing you!