It’s August 2015, and Lea and I are gathered with friends and family to celebrate our wedding in Devon. As the house we have hired is located off the beaten track, and the internet still seems like the promise of science fiction, we have come prepared and brought with us a small selection of modern boardgames to entertain our guests.
These games are completely new to us: Pandemic, Ticket to Ride: Europe, Dead of Winter and The Werewolves of Millers Hollow. It’s an eclectic mix that is largely the result of me binge watching Wil Wheaton’s YouTube show, Tabletop, within dangerously easy access of my tablet. Click. In the basket. Click. That one too!Now it’s the night after the wedding, and Lea and I are gathered together in a large country house surrounded by our friends and some family members from England and Germany. Most of our guests are new to one another. Surprisingly, the genial small talk has lasted a impressively long time (thanks to the charismatic efforts of our friends Gavin and Ben, and a few choice glasses of gin) but now it’s time to bring out a game... The Werewolves of Millers Hollow.
Soon we are pointing fingers, making accusations, laughing and yelling and having a remarkable evening. Lea and her brother Wolf (you can’t make that stuff up!) eat me twice in a row, making me realise how vulnerable I am to my wife’s innocent smile; Ben has grinned so broadly on drawing a wolf card that he’s killed immediately by the village on the very next morning (much to his frustration); I’ve invented bizarre narratives of remote Devon villages beset by dodgy, doggy-smelling tourists... It’s a hoot. Where there was a room of near strangers, soon there is a room of friends. And it’s at this moment that I realise something... I love modern hobby games.
Fast forward to 2016 and Lea and I have a collection of nearly 30 games, but not enough people to play them. So with some nervousness and uncertainty, we launch Grantham Friendly Gamers and set about finding a free venue to host a monthly games meetup. With the generous support of the Grantham Library, a Facebook Group page, and a crash-course in the arcane and seemingly archaic web-design of Board Game Geek, we have the genesis of a games group on our doorstep.
The first meetup at the library is attended by six people, including Lea and myself. It’s more than I could have hoped for... What’s more, those four other people - Luke, Sarah, Jake and Rob - go on to become some of our closest friends here in Grantham, not to mention our regular gaming buddies.
And now we know something for certain... Modern hobby games can do so much more than entertain for a few hours. They can create communities. They can bring friends into our lives. And they can change the way we see our lives.
And after running GFG for a couple of years, we realise we want more. Meeple and more.