By Foster Nicholas | Reporter
The Baylor Tabletop Club has successfully rebuilt itself after the pandemic and is back to being a place where students can play board games in a community with similar interests.
Oro Vellay, Ariz., senior and club vice president Charles Remien has helped grow the club and found a home with the friends he has made throughout the process.
“Really, it’s snowballed into probably my favorite part of being at Baylor,” Remien said. “I’ve made all my friends in this club. It really was a good, wholesome experience in an otherwise tumultuous time. It is the fire and fuel in my life. After every Friday, I spent the weekend just really happy and content with life, and it makes the schoolwork much easier knowing that at the end of the week, I’m going to hang out with all my friends and just have a break from the school stress.”
Houston junior and club president Daniel Airola said he has grown with the club and continues to grow the club into an environment where gamers can go and have a great time.
“Everything that’s played on a table, we play,” Airola said. “We have Warhammer — which is the major game — Dungeons and Dragons, Magic, and a huge board game community. Basically, if it’s on a table, it’s in our club.”
At the start of the pandemic, many of the former staff members of the club had graduated, and the club was in a vulnerable position. Remien and Airola eagerly jumped into leadership roles and built the club back up from the ground.
“Face masks, hand sanitizer and leadership — basically, whenever you want to schedule a meeting, you have to go through risk management, just read over rules, be very adept at handling big crowds and keep people safe and clean from COVID-19,” Airola said. “We did everything we could to prevent people from catching it.”
By February 2021, the group had resumed gaming under strict precautions, but it is now running cleanly after nearly a year of rebuilding.
New Braunfels senior and club treasurer Kathryne Hartung has been a part of the club since she was a freshman. She said she has met several friends who she has continued to play games with for the past four years.
“There’s a real physical aspect to it. So you know, sometimes just showing people what exactly is going on and explaining it, sometimes they realize that this sounds kind of cool and you’d like to get more into it,” Hartung said. “I think there is something special about having all your friends around the table and actually being able to physically touch stuff.”
Hartung is the only current member who was around when the club began, and she said the club’s growth has been exciting.
“There’s definitely been a lot of growth overall in the course of the club,” Hartung said. “I was here, and I’m a senior now. I was here during some of the baby steps of the club, and we went from maybe five or six people to having to be off campus just so we can get everyone in the same room.”
The club meets six to eight times per semester at The Game Closet in downtown Waco. However, the club thrives from its Discord, which now has over 100 people who plan their own meetups to play games and share their game ideas, painted miniatures and passion for board games with each other. While there aren’t many scheduled meetings with the club, many people in online chats have been able to make several friends who they now play games with multiple times a week.
“People who join up often find an outlet that they normally don’t have in their daily lives,” Remien said. “I like the community aspect but also the relaxed nature. In our club, you can be part of the community.