WINDSOR, N.S. — Andrew Turpin, now out of his RCMP uniform and wearing comfy jeans and a hoodie, relaxes, picking from a growing pile of colourful board game boxes at the Windsor Regional Library.
A small crowd of five players are already starting their first round of BANG! The Dice Game; laughing and helping each other with the rules.
For Turpin, Valley Game Night, which he and his wife started in 2013, is about interacting with people and taking a break from stresses in life.
He also loves getting new people into board games — finding out what people are interested in and tailoring games that would fit their play style.
“My reward is seeing people get really into a game,” he said. “Whether it’s competitive or co-operative, there’s lots of them to try.”
Many of the participants interact through Facebook or use online meet-up tools to plan what they’re going to play in advance. But once everyone’s inside the library, the phones are off.
“The internet done right, in my opinion, is using it to bring people together, rather than staying home and checking your Facebook account,” he said. “Here, people’s phones go away. You wouldn’t be able to succeed or participate at your best if you were on your phone.”
Although he uses this hobby to relax, not all of the games being played are exactly easy, with some containing massive rule books to go over.
“I was literally studying last night — had four rule books in front of me, trying to parse them,” he said. “Some are as complicated or more than the Criminal Code of Canada, I’m not kidding.”
Bringing games to the Valley
Turpin was going to Halifax to play games several times a week, due to a lack of a local scene in Windsor, to get his board game fix.
“I thought it was silly, because the only thing you need to play games is a table and a backpack full of board games,” he said. “The only thing I didn’t have was the people.”
Turpin picked up a few tips and tricks from the staff and members of the Board Room Game Café in Halifax, which specializes in board games.
“It was pretty successful, and it turns out that at the same time there was also a board game group trying to set up in Wolfville, and weren’t having a lot of success,” he said. “So we collaborated and advertised through the libraries, and we were able to get established.”
Turpin says there’s between 30 or 40 regulars who may come out once a month, and a diehard core of approximately 10 who come out every week.
New players also drop in frequently as well. It’s free and Turpin wants it to be as open and as welcoming as possible.
“One of the byproducts of a public meet-up like this is that people meet and develop more focused interests and branch off,” he said. “They might meet here, form an RPG (role-playing game) group, like Dungeons and Dragons, and then just go off and do that on their own, which is fantastic.”
Board gamers enthusiastic
Jack Friars, 11, was enjoying a game of BANG! The Dice Game. He’s only been to Valley Game Night a few times so far, sticking mainly to card games.
“You get a card, and you can’t show it to the others, it’s your secret identity,” Friars said with enthusiasm. “I like secret games.”
Stephen Wolfe was also playing BANG! The Dice Game. He’s been coming to Valley Game Night for more than two years.
He keeps coming back, because it gives him a chance to play these types of games with multiple people.
“It’s just fun,” Wolfe said.
Allison Friars said she was pleasantly surprised with what Valley Games Night turned out to be.
“It wasn’t what I thought it would be when I first came here; I thought it would be more like Dungeons and Dragons, which sometimes does happen,” she said. “But there really is such a variety of games and Andrew is amazing because he’ll have a selection of games that fit your style.”
“I’ve ended up learning games I never thought I would try,” she said.
When to go
Valley Game Night happens every week; Mondays at the Windsor Regional Library at 6 p.m. and Fridays at the Wolfville Memorial Library at 7 p.m.
Andrew Turpin’s Top 5 board game recommendations
King of Tokyo
Ticket to Ride