On alternate Thursdays, the Marten Library is transformed into a vibrant space bustling with energy. The resident Historians are nowhere to be seen and three rooms are awash with rattling dice, wooden counters, and bits of paper with indecipherable handwriting. This week was only the second meeting of the newly re-formed Board Games Society, but it was clearly a welcome event for the 40 or so pupils and staff who pitched up. Press Officer Oscar L went along to see what makes this club so special.
With 15 games on offer, ranging from Bananagrams and Photosynthesis to Settlers of Catan and the ever popular Dungeons and Dragons (or D&D as I learnt), the three secretaries make sure their society caters to all age groups and interests.
After a nearly three year hiatus due to the pandemic there was evident enthusiasm for its return to the societies schedule. I spoke to Kit R, one of the secretaries, who made it clear that “board game society isn’t like any other society, and it’s that informality and relaxed atmosphere that I think people really like.”
One of the more active members, Fursey F in Year 12, enjoys relaxing with a bit of D&D once a fortnight. He told me “towards the end of the week it’s really nice to switch off from school work and do something fun. I get to chill and chat to people I might not usually see.”
The youngest attendees like the fact that they can stay up later and hang out with their friends outside of lessons and sport. D&D attracts nearly half of the boys turning up, as the boys told me it is hard to find the time to play and learn such a complex and lengthy game. This week one of the older pupils provided a history of the different characters in the game, to introduce newcomers to the terminology and strategies. The youngest players are really taken with this whole new world they can interact with, and the older secretaries clearly enjoy imparting their extensive knowledge.
It’s not just pupils who turn up, teachers were also relaxing after a tough week with a quick game of Odin’s Ravens, chatting cross-departmentally and, by the looks of things, having great fun.
Mr Shields (SPS), Master-in-Charge of the society, said that the three secretaries approached him with an idea and he was really taken by it. He told me “I honestly didn’t expect it to be this popular – I thought it would be five boys playing a game, but instead I’m rushed off my feet helping different groups with their games!”
He is clearly knowledgeable about the world of board games as, during our short talk, two pupils interrupted to ask about strategy for their characters. Mr Shields, who told me his personal favourite games are “Catan, Photosynthesis [a good choice for a biologist], and D&D”, also mentioned how ninety minutes every two weeks wasn’t quite enough for some.
The society is already “hoping to move to weekly sessions” and perhaps a larger space than the cosy Marten Library now that School Library has reopened. Those I spoke to are definitely in favour of expansion, and have a strong community across different boarding houses and year groups already.
It is wonderful to see such enthusiasm in a society where pupils are able to take an idea and run with it, gathering increasingly large crowds. So, come along and join in!