By Ryan Powers
Thursday evenings at 5 p.m., warlords, mages and adventurers fill Jefferson Library.
More precisely, they are created by students attending the weekly Bobcat Tabletop meeting and choose from dozens of board games, also known as tabletop games.
Bobcat Tabletop is a student organization, the goal of which is to create a fun environment in which to play board games. Weekly attendance is usually between one dozen to two dozen people, according to president and founder John Rawski.
Rob Rennich, Bobcat Tabletop’s adviser, hopes that number will quadruple on Saturday, Feb. 22. That date will host the first of two of the group’s large annual events. All students are invited to partake in free games, food and prizes.
“We’re going to spend $200 on games we’re just going to give away,” Rennich said. “We do drawings every couple of hours.”
The event will start at 10 a.m. and will continue until “everyone gets tired,” according to Rennich.
Rawski, while playing a game of Lords of Waterdeep with four others, expressed his happiness with the organization.
“The great thing about this organization is normally you’d have to go out and buy the games, find people to play them,” Rawski said. “Here, there are games you don’t have to pay a cent for. They’re owned by the club, and there’s people who want to play them.”
Rawski also explained why he prefers tabletop games to video games.
“Your social gaming (in video games) involves shouting at people over a microphone who are in a completely different time zone from you,” Rawski said. “That’s why here, not only are we playing games, but we’re socializing with each other, with friends.”
Rennich echoed this sentiment, stating that although he has made friends through video games, he prefers face-to-face communication.
“I think they’re more relational,” Rennich said. “A lot of the games we play require some sort of emotional intelligence—being able to read people.”
Rennich credited tabletop games for building his emotional intelligence and claimed the skills he learned from them translate into his everyday life.
“As a kid, I was kind of a nerd and a geek and didn’t have great social skills,” Rennich said. “I think Dungeons and Dragons was actually helpful for me in that because I was able to get outside of myself, and as a roleplaying game, it’s a performance you’re giving, and giving that performance helped me in real social situations.”
Building social skills may be a benefit of tabletop gaming, but the primary objective is always to have fun. Jacob Schwartz, an Ohio University junior, explained his opinion on the concept of good tabletop games.
“There’s a board game for whatever mood you’re in or real interest you have,” Schwartz said. “What you’re into determines what a good game is to you.”
Rennich said, on a basic level, all good games make the players think and make decisions.
Although the concept of a good game may be subjective, Bobcat Tabletop tends to gravitate toward European games.
“We don’t play the famous American games like Clue or Monopoly,” said Logan Conrad, an OU junior. “We play sort of more complicated, more nuanced games.”
Schwartz went so far as to dub American board games as “Ameritrash.”
If one is interested in exploring the world of tabletop games for the first time, Saturday’s event may be a good place to begin. Rennich urged newcomers to not let the games intimidate them and to embrace new experiences. Measures are taken to help new players learn how to play their games quickly and smoothly.
“We try to divvy up the veteran members with newer ones,” Rawski said. “More members are always welcome, whether you’re a novice or someone who has been board gaming all their life.”