CAMPUS CLUBS: It’s a ‘very big time for board games’

Michael Miljanovic, president of the Ontario Tech Board Games Club. Photo credit: William Black

There is a boom in board games right now.

That’s the word from the current president of the Ontario Tech Board Games Club, Michael Miljanovic, who says the popularity is reflected in both the number of players and the creativity of the games being released.

“Right now is in particular a very big time for board games. They’re making I would say a huge comeback,” says Miljanovic. “Personally, I’ve found that there has been great innovation in the making some of these board games.”

The Board Games Club is supported by the Ontario Tech Student Union (OTSU). They have about 30 members who play all kinds of board games from the old classics to unique, niche games, says Miljanovic.

The club has more than 70 board and card games. Club members meet three times a week and have been operating for 10 years.

At the end of the year they expand their collection of games with any leftover money they get from the OTSU.

The club’s roots are actually in a single board game, says Miljanovic.

Ten years ago this club was known as the Settlers of Catan Club. Members would play Settlers of Catan most of the time. Miljanovic says around 2013 they began playing many other board games.

The Ontario Tech Board Game Club has many copies of Settlers of Catan with lots more expansions, variants and add-ons.
The Ontario Tech Board Game Club has many copies of Settlers of Catan with lots more expansions, variants and add-ons. Photo credit: William Black

“When they come here it’s very realistic for them to play a game they’ve never even seen or heard of before,” says Miljanovic.

While board games can be strategic and complicated, Miljanovic says the appeal to him is more about social interaction.

“I think that the reason I like board games so much is because of that social aspect and that’s what brought it to me,” he says.

Miljanovic prefers games which allow players to outwit and bluff their opponents, as opposed to the traditionally popular games such as Risk, Scrabble and Monopoly.

“Some of the heavier strategy board games can feel like you’re playing a bit of solitaire. You’re just there moving pieces and what other people are doing isn’t really a big deal to you. I don’t find that to be the best way to play.”

Miljanovic likes the social aspect of board games. The club was constantly teaching people how to play interesting and niche games that are the sleeper hit in the community.

Miljanovic says Shadow Hunters is one of the most common board games played. It includes social interaction, players have to talk to the other members of the game to weasel information out of them. Players might also have to do some bluffing in order to win.

Miljanovic also likes this board game because it supports many players. The club can sometimes have up to seven or eight people attending and Miljanovic says members would rather play one large board game than many smaller ones.

Arseny Moshkin attends the club around once a week when he’s not busy with school work and says he has fun when he attends.

The increasing popularity of board games is supported by internet forums seeing a surge in subscribers. Below is a graph showing the number of subscribers on a popular forum for board games. According to a subforum on board games grew to more than two million subscribers from around a million in 2019.

The board games club has many group events with other clubs and societies, says Miljanovic.

Recently, the Ontario Tech Science Council held an event and asked the board games club to bring popular and interesting board games.

Fletcher Yung, a chemical laboratory technician at Durham College, came to one of these events despite not being a part of the Ontario Tech Science Council or the board games club. After that experience, Yung says she is considering joining the board games club.