Bob McEvoy, of Ferndale, and Chris Lawton, of Clawson, set up their “Warhammer 40,000” for a league event in the game room at GOB in Clawson.

Bob McEvoy, of Ferndale, and Chris Lawton, of Clawson, set up their “Warhammer 40,000” for a league event in the game room at GOB in Clawson.

Photo by Donna Dalziel

Two (or three or more) can play that game

If you’re burned out on bands and bars, break out a board game

By: Tiffany Esshaki | C&G Newspapers | Published February 25, 2020

METRO DETROIT — Board games are a staple of family basement rec rooms everywhere.

But they’re so much more.

Today’s games can range from wholesome fun with easy-to-grasp rules to complex adventures that require a bit of strategy and a lot of passion.

For every game, there’s a group of players waiting to welcome you into their world for an afternoon of dice-throwing, piece-hopping excitement.

Every day of the week, there’s a gaming group to be found inside Guild of Blades games and comic store in Clawson. The retail center boasts comic books and games, along with a huge event center on-site to host board game meetups, game tournaments and collector-themed mingling.  

“As the store that sells all these different games, we become uniquely situated to serve as a sort of community nexus for players of all these games,” Ryan Johnson said of the store, called GOB for short.

A quick online search can reveal a wide variety of game meetups, some at bars, some at community centers, some free, others not.

“‘Warhammer 40k’, ‘Magic: The Gathering,’ ‘Dungeons and Dragons’ or the ‘Pokemon’ trading card game have some more challenging requirements to get the groups together,” Johnson said. “‘Warhammer’ plays on larger tables that not everyone has available at their house. … ‘Dungeons and Dragons,’ I would say, is still mostly played at home like board games, but for all the same reasons benefits from having public meeting spaces.”

There are groups for die-hard players of certain games looking to sharpen their skills with like-minded fans and others who would just rather meet new friends around a game board instead of a barstool.

The underage-friendly environment most game groups cultivate is what drew Livonia residents Chelle Silas and Dave Green to the world of gaming meetups nearly 10 years ago. Now the married couple organizes their own gaming group at the Canton Public Library.

“I like that it’s family friendly,” Silas said. “It’s something we can do with our kids and it’s something my kids can participate in on their own, whether we’re there or not.”

Parents who cringe at the idea of sitting down to a round of “Shoots and Ladders” with the kiddo, fear not: The board games of today aren’t what you remember, according to Silas.

“A lot of the games really require quite a bit of thought,” she said. “I grew up playing Sorry and Scrabble and Monopoly. But (our family) is playing so many different games that require logical thinking and strategy in ways I didn’t have when I was a kid.”

Meetups are also a great way to try out a game, Silas said, which can be a pricey endeavor on your own.

“At a (general) meetup, there’s an opportunity to play a wide variety of games. It gives you the opportunity to try a game you might not have access to. Like, some of my favorite games are upward of $100,” she explained. “Some people in our group have brought in games that a company is beta testing. Or someone might bring in a game they contributed to on Kickstarter and isn’t available in stores yet.”

Another place to give games and groups a whirl is at the local library. Jeff Milo, a local writer and circulation specialist at the Ferndale Area District Library, said board game groups have been coming to play at the library for about eight years now. It’s another part of the evolution of libraries that has taken place over the decades. As more media materials go online, libraries serve as more of a community gathering place.

The game events are so popular that library officials decided to not just let groups use the space, but to actually host their own meetups and even lend games and puzzles as part of their collection.

“The groups are always pretty well attended. There’s always about five or six tables,” he said. “There was a demand, and I think other libraries around the country do it as well. … Here we are in this era where all of our interactions seem digital and our socializing is on social media. But a puzzle can give us quiet meditation time to ourselves, and board games give us that thrill of a friendly connection, even if it’s with strangers.”