At Sunday’s gathering of game enthusiasts, Codenames was one of several mind teasers. Left to right are TammyCox, Paul Millunzi, Janet Bizar, Brian Murphy and George Nichols. (Photos by Patricia Guthrie/Whidbey News-Group)

At Sunday’s gathering of game enthusiasts, Codenames was one of several mind teasers. Left to right are TammyCox, Paul Millunzi, Janet Bizar, Brian Murphy and George Nichols. (Photos by Patricia Guthrie/Whidbey News-Group)

Club for board game ‘nerds’ of all ages forms in South Whidbey

“When you’re working on a computer all day, it’s nice to get off the screen.”

Got game, will travel, let’s meet.

That could be the Twitter tagline for a group of South Whidbey board game enthusiasts looking for like-minded players to join their new casual club for face to face fun at least once a month.

They are game to play any game — the classics, such as dominoes, checkers, chess and the trendy, such as Pandemic, The Stars are Right, Azul and Settlers of Catan.

Well, maybe not every game. Monopoly is too long, poker too hard and strip poker, not a chance.

“If it takes less than five minutes to explain, we’ll try it,” said Brian Murphy, one of five people who met Sunday afternoon at the Bayview Cash Store for the first round of the South Whidbey Board/Card Game Club.

“You bring it, we’ll play it.”

Long games, complicated games and games with too many rules to remember should start their own club because this one is geared toward inclusion.

“They don’t have to worry about rules to play,” said Paul Millunzi of Clinton who arrived with boxes and boxes of games for all ages stuffed in a shopping bag.

“We don’t want people to be intimidated, they can learn as they play.”

Some people may be big on games but short on chit chat.

“With introverted people, it’s not so easy to show up and meet with a group of strangers,” observed Janet Bizar of Freeland. “We don’t want people thinking, ‘Will I know the rules? Are they fun to play with?’ They don’t have to worry about making small talk.”

Murphy and his wife, Tammy Cox, who live in Langley, put out a Facebook call looking for gamers — not the virtual kind – but the real version, in the flesh, face to face, eyeball to eyeball, hand to dice.

“A club like this has been missing on the island,” Cox said. “I wanted to see if people would be interested in getting together once a month.”

“I just love the interaction,” she said.

Cox said she’s looking for other venues where the group could meet that serves food but doesn’t play loud music. Players need to be able to actually talk — not text — to one another.

A few around the table admitted to being bonkers about participating in role-playing games online with complete strangers half a world away.

Others said they were going bonkers from too much time staring at computers for work and play.

“When you’re working on a computer all day, it’s nice to get off the screen,” said Millunzi, a computer programmer. “It’s also nice to celebrate winning a game with a person sitting right next to you.”

George Nichols, an admitted DM (dungeon master) of an interminable Dungeons & Dragons game that rotates being played from house to house among friends every week, said he knows geeks.

Nichols attended the recent Whidbey Island Comicon and said he was floored by the number of people spilling out the Oak Harbor Library.

“I didn’t know we had so many nerds on the island,” he said.

Board games have come a long way since the blander days of Clue, Monopoly and Trivial Pursuit.

Today’s games pit players not against one another but a common enemy, such as Pandemic.

‘It’s a cooperative game,” explained Millunzi. “You’re competing against the game so if someone wins, everyone wins.

All the players are working against disease outbreaks to save humanity.

“It’s a wonderful change of pace to play together with people around the table than against them.”

Then there’s the fantastical, fantastically popular game, Settlers of Catan, that started in Germany in 1995 and has gradually taken over the world — some 25 million copies sold in 30 languages. Players represent settlers establishing colonies on the island of Catan, trading resources — brick, wood, wool, ore, grain — to build homes, cities and connect roads. There’ are armies to build and robbers to fight and civilization to achieve — which, for some, many seem too much like the game of life.

Uncle Wiggily, anyone?

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This story originally appeared in the South Whidbey Record, a sibling paper to the Herald.

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