Age Of Play

Chewsday Challenge brings the board game renaissance to Regina

GAMES by Megan Roth

Matt Robertson - photo by Darrol Hofmeister

Chewsday Challenge
Every Tuesday
Boston Pizza North

If you’re looking for fun on regularly boring Tuesday nights and think games are next to godliness, then Chewsday Challenge is probably for you.

Chewsday Challenge — named partly because it takes place every Tuesday and partly because it’s held at Boston Pizza north, a place that sells food — was created by three friends on a sunny Canada Day long weekend in 2012. Board game freaks Matt Robertson, Mac Grassick and Dana Tillusz were having beers and had this amazing idea to create an ongoing event based around their addiction. Thus began Chewsday.

And good timing, too. We’re in the midst of a full-on nerd-game renaissance, as imported offerings designed by Europeans (apparently way cooler than North Americans) connect with people who need a break from joysticks and monitors or just want lo-fi entertainment they can share with friends and family. Games like Ticket To Ride (about train travel), Settlers Of Catan (developing a society) Dominion (a card deck building game) and Love Letter (about court intrigue) fit the bill.

Of course, there are also some break-out hits non-gamers have probably heard about, like Magic: The Gathering and the hilarious Cards Against Humanity (best only played by good friends, since it’s pure evil).

At Chewsday Challenge, games vary from role-playing games (think Dungeons & Dragons) to card games to board games.

Many games can easily be played by families.

Robertson says that while there was some organized game activity before Chewsday, it didn’t go far enough. “We felt none of the established events were doing the hobby any credit and weren’t doing any outreach to make everyone feel welcome,” he says.

The main focus on Chewsdays is making everyone feel welcome, no matter their gaming skill level or experience. Robertson wants to build a community, and the juvenile behaviour and casual misogyny sometimes associated with nerd culture isn’t welcome.

“Board games are about social interactions. There is a lot of magic in getting people to turn off their TV and just be with people,” he says.

Case in point: two years ago, Edmonton transplant Roxanne Stankievech moved to Regina. She didn’t know anyone. Then she stumbled upon Chewsday Challenge.

“It can be really intimidating meeting new people but I found the people here to be really warm and welcoming,” says Stankievech, who says she’s met most of her Regina friends through the weekly event.

“Really, most of my social circle has [expanded] from here,” Stankievech says.

The best part of Chewsday Challenge, other than tons of games you can play for free, is you don’t have to be experienced to have fun. Someone’s always available to teach a newbie how to play a great game.

“[Games have] been stigmatized by Monopoly or other really long games people might have bad memories of,” says Robertson. And it’s true: many of the games people played growing up are too boring, too dumb and too dependent on luck, whereas today’s more sophisticated games often avoid dice completely.

They’re also expensive, often costing over 50 bucks. Sometimes WELL over. At Chewsday Challenge, though, people can play new games for free. It can be a great “try before you buy” deal.

Every Chewsday has an appointed ambassador to help new people. His or her job, for the first two hours of the event, is to help all newcomers find a game and a group of people to interact with. To help with that, everyone gets a name tag.

The atmosphere is non-competitive. There are scheduled games, run by volunteers who are happy to teach the game mechanics before the fun gets started.

Many regulars bring their own games, too, which Murray Bennett, the April 7 ambassador, says is a good idea: “If [players] bring their own games it ensures that everyone who comes can play, especially if the scheduled games fill up,” Bennett said.

Some popular Chewsday Challenge games include Dead of Winter, a zombie survival game, Arcadia Quest, a role-playing game where you fight a vampire army, and Mysterium, a game where you try to talk to a ghost played by one of the players who isn’t allowed to speak.

The creators of Chewsday Challenge also run the annual gaming fundraiser Play with Your Food, which will take place on Oct. 24. All proceeds go to Souls Harbour; registration is open to everyone and can be done on the Play With Your Food website, www.pwyf.ca.

Chewsday Challenge runs every Tuesday at 6 p.m. at the north Albert Boston Pizza.

“Every Tuesday is game night, so you never have to ask ‘what do you want to do tonight’,” Robertson says.

2015-04-16

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