Life & Style

The 'Game of Thrones' boardgame finds a new venue in Chennai

It takes Varun Devanathan a good 40 minutes to explain the mechanics of the game. Even for a Game of Thrones enthusiast, well-versed with the intricacies of the Seven Kingdoms, it’s a lot to take. You command an army of troops, cavalry, ships and more; have to account for them and for your battle strategies; keep an eye on the wildlings beyond the wall; and fight for supremacy over fiefdoms that have long been defeated, at least in the television show.

“This version of the game pre-dates the TV series,” says Varun, “Fantasy Flight Games (a US-based game company) first released it in 2013.” And yet, it is the global television phenomenon that decided the launch date of Varun, Sriram Mahalingam and and Shaunak Santosh’s The Board Room. Doors of the boardgame venue and cafe had been thrown open to coincide with the first episode of Game of Thrones’ final season. “But we formally began operating, and charging for games, food and drinks, just this past Saturday,” says Sriram.

The 'Game of Thrones' boardgame finds a new venue in Chennai

Food is prepared at the cafe (note: give their mango pulp ice tea a try), which takes up the ground floor of the three-storey building. But you also have the option of having it brought up to the first floor, which is where all the gaming action happens. Up a flight of stairs, and through a glass door, sits the L-shaped room flanked with clear windows overlooking some dense Mylapore greenery. “The top floor is being used as storage for now, but we plan to turn it into a space exclusively for the Dungeons and Dragons role playing game,” says Shaunak.

An entire floor dedicated just to one game? “It can get pretty intense,” explains Shaunak. It’s hard to refute him, because he has to raise his voice ever so slightly, to be heard over the raucous laughs, jabs and instructions yelled-out from every table. And these are just people trying out the lighter, simpler games. The trio’s total collection at the cafe comes up to nearly 200 games, including role playing, strategic, tile laying, card stack building, area control and other formats. Often a mix of two or more. There are complex games that hardcore gamers swear by; detailed games that are offshoots of fictional universes (like Harry Potter and Game of Thrones); award-winning games of strategy and teamwork, and seemingly simple games that require silent eye contact and the laying down of a single card at a time.

So how much of an expert do you have to be, before you can step into this venue? Sriram quotes two examples. Firstly, he points to his 11-year-old daughter who is seated at a far table, quietly decimating her 20-year-old and 30-year-old opponents in one game after the other. “She has been playing with my game collection at home, with her friends, for quite some time now. We are thinking of bringing them all here after school for an hour or so. There are a number of games that can build their strategic thinking, creativity and more,” he says.

Secondly, Sriram recalls a certain retired gentleman who had walked in with his daughter to try out some games a few days ago. “He picked up a game he had never played before, and created a whole new high score,” recalls Sriram, whose scores — the results of four or five attempts — fell far short of the elderly client’s.

In fact, the team has noticed a marked enthusiasm and talent among retirees, for a number of games in the collection. So much so, that they are currently thinking of some plans that would focus solely on that demographic.

But for now, their focus is on the Game of Thrones fandom. “Our tournament has begun. We’ll be playing in leagues, shuffling the dates and times around to suit everyone’s work schedules,” says Varun. This might be a tad difficult, since the game takes about three hours to complete. But the team feels it’s worth it, and they have till May 19 to get the rounds cleared for the final battle, which will happen on the day the show’s final episode airs. And what do the players get for their weeks of dedication? “They get to inaugurate the latest edition of the game,” says Varun, “That we have been saving for this ocassion.”

The Board Room is located at 3, Bheema Sena Garden St, Nagarathinam Colony, Mylapore. It is open from 11 am to 11 pm throughout the week. For details, call 7358444029.


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Printable version | Jun 17, 2021 7:57:45 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/theres-a-universe-for-everyone/article26919506.ece

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