Club Hearts Games
Jack Getschman shuffles the deck and doles out the cards in the lobby of Alexis Hall. Each player gets seven, including this reporter from Jackalope, who gets in on the game. Getschman draws a black card and reads a prompt, and the other players select an answer from their hands.
“Hey guys, I know this was my idea,” Getschman says, “but I’m having serious doubts about incest.”
To be clear, Getschman is reading the responses in a round of everyone’s favorite disturbing party game, Cards Against Humanity. Every other Tuesday since Oct. 22, the Tabletop Games club has met in Alexis Hall to engage in sessions of Risk, Monopoly, Settlers of Catan and Jenga, among others.
“I got into playing board games last year, because I met Jack,” says junior CMP major Jacinda Smith, who faces Getschman across the table. “I’d been interested in them, but I never had people to play with.”
Getschman got the idea to start the club last semester after the Writing Center held a game night in Alexis to increase awareness of the school’s revamped tutoring program. Between 20 to 30 students showed up for the event.
“There was Uno. Jenga was popular. There was Star Wars Monopoly,” says Writing Center director Hideki Nakazono. “We played Scrabble and Cards Against Humanity. That last one was in the back room. We had to announce it. ‘Do you know what’s happening in this game, before you play it?’ But it was really fun.”
Getschman met other students that night who enjoyed playing board games, and he said, “We should make a club.”
Getschman and Smith bring their own games to the bi-weekly meetings, but also supplement the collection with a few from the library, including a popular gamers favorite, Betrayal at House on the Hill.
“I would do board games with friends wherever I lived,” says Getschman, who moves around a lot because his dad is in the military. He prefers games of strategy like Risk, Settlers of Catan and an expansive fantasy game called War of the Ring, “which is a six-hour long game. Once it took me only four hours to play, but that was just because someone got lucky.”
Getschman even created his own game using the board from War of the Ring, soldiers from Risk, and buildings from Settlers of Catan.
“Out of the 10 people I’ve shown it to, I think only one person didn’t like it,” he says.
Smith prefers puzzle games.
“I like these games they have at Barnes and Noble,” she says. “It’s like a block thing, where you take it apart and put it back together again.”
She also downloads puzzle games on her phone when she gets bored, then immediately deletes them when she’s done.
“I like it when I get to use my head,” she says. “I enjoy problem solving.”
This fledgling club still struggles to gain new members. They hope to grow their numbers by switching their meeting night from every other Tuesday, to every other Friday, and moving the location from Alexis to Benildus Hall. They also plan to hold tournaments in the future for various games with prizes for winners.
“We might give out Uno decks or something,” Getschman says, “or candy.”
“I also have my baking stuff,” Smith says, who made Halloween cookies for the club’s first event in October.
Jackalope photographer Sasha Hill brings her 5-year old daughter Alethia to the game night. Alethia immediately proceeds to the stack of board games on the table. Maddy Sardina, a student worker waiting for students to tutor at the Writing Center, quickly becomes Alethia’s playmate. Getschman and Smith decide it might be time to switch to a more appropriate game considering present company. They bust out a deck of Uno and Smith explains variations on the rules (some people prefer to play a version in which participants can play doubles, placing duplicate cards on top of each other). Getschman stacks his hand for revenge, holding onto Skip, Draw Two and Draw Four cards.
“Her middle name is Wynne,” he says of his partner across the table. “But she’s not very competitive so it doesn’t really work.”
Smith says the only game she tends to win on a regular basis is Harry Potter Trivial Pursuit, which Sardina is currently playing with Alethia.
“There we go, blue,” Sardina says, indicating the color corresponding to the Hogwarts category of questions. “What does O.W.L.S. stand for?” she asks Alethia, who appears more interested in the game’s aesthetic than in actually following the rules. When asked what they are playing, Sardina replies, “Like, five games. It’s exciting. We played checkers with chess pieces, then this game, and now we’re going to play Jenga.”
You don’t have to be a child to get lost in the fun and camaraderie of the Tabletop Games club. Smith appreciates the opportunity to socialize. She’s not very concerned with winning.
“I’m just enjoying playing,” she says.
Getschman acknowledges that people can get a little angry if they’re playing a more competitive game like Risk, but for the most part, the club maintains a relaxed atmosphere for friends to hang out and have fun together.
Somehow, as this reporter gets lost in interviewing his subjects, he puts down a duplicate card.
“You were supposed to draw four,” Smith says. “I drew four, and you were supposed to pick the color.”
“But he just put down a draw four,” Getschman replies.
“Oh, that’s why you were asking, ‘Can I put down a double?’”
“Wait,” I ask, “were we going clockwise?”
“No, we were going the other way,” Smith responds.
Nobody can figure out what is going on, but it doesn’t matter. Everyone is too lost in conversation, and enjoyment wins out over competition. After a few more rotations, this reporter won his third game of the night, just before a cascade of Jenga blocks came crashing to the floor behind us.
The Tabletop Games club moves to its new bi-weekly meeting time and location from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. starting Friday, Dec. 2, in Benildus 101.