A group of eight friends sit at a table; their voices silent, their faces stern. They are playing a very dangerous game—a game where defeat is not an option, as it means the rise of Hitler. Seven of the eight players are a mix of liberals and fascists. One player is Hitler. The liberals attempt to weed out the fascists and Hitler through questioning and intuition. Soon all the fascists are taken out, except two.
One suspect makes a fatal mistake. He is forced to vote for a fascist policy; his eyes dart left and his heart begins palpitating, revealing his fascist intentions.
The liberals take down the fascist, hoping that they are taking down Hitler. They are wrong.
The liberals have run out of ammo, allowing Hitler to rise to power, ultimately leading to the demise of the liberals.
There is a brief moment of silence afterwards.
This game, known as Secret Hitler, is one of the many games played by the Board Game Club. The original idea was to form a Dungeons and Dragons Club, but a club that solely focused on one game would have been too tedious to manage, and the idea was scrapped.
“This decision was much better since it expanded our horizons in what we could do. We didn’t want to go to a friend’s house to play board games all the time,” President Nam Dang said. “So [the] Board Game Club acted as a good place to meet up with friends to do something we all liked.”
However, a club just can’t be created overnight; so the soon-to-be co-founders of the club first had to pitch their club idea to members of Student Council. Before pitching an idea, they first had to find a sponsor. Dang and Vice President Dan Mai thought they would have to scour the school for the perfect sponsor—someone who not only had time to manage the club, but also shared their passion for board games. Luckily, they were easily able to find the perfect person: Social Studies teacher Evguenia Volkova.
According to Volkova, she was hypnotized into saying yes.
“The students responsible for organizing the club told me that they wanted to spend time in a technology-free environment where human interactions would prevail,” she said.
Now comes the hard part.
The next hurdle they had to leap was making the club official. Dang and Mai had to get a PowerPoint presentation ready explaining why the Board Game Club was worthy of becoming a club at school. However, that didn’t stop them from having a few unofficial meetings first to see if people were actually interested in joining.
At their first meeting in November, prospective members created the Board Game Club Constitution that outlined the purpose, membership requirements, meeting times, and officers of the club. Dang was made president and Mai vice president. Other officers include Secretary Liezl Faith Canlas and Publicist Eric Nguyen.
“[Sometimes] you just have to take a break from life and chill out,” Canlas said. “And honestly, I’ve come out of every single meeting feeling… more happy. I’m the ‘Mom’ of Board Game Club. I have to be there so that any official business is done, so that the other officers don’t slack off. So that we don’t get shushed by teachers at meetings. But the other members, they make me laugh until I cry. Making happy memories is really important to me. That’s why I stay.”
They also decided what games to play; instead of classics like Monopoly and Clue, they wanted to try less familiar games, like Sheriff of Nottingham, Settlers of Catan, Munchkin, and Pandemic. They’re always trying to get new games approved when members suggest them.
After six unofficial meetings, they finally put together a presentation, hoping that the Student Council would approve.
“We went to a Student Council meeting and played Hearthstone with each other while we waited,” Dang said. “Eventually they voted after our presentation. One guy shouted ‘no.’ Everyone else shouted ‘yes.’”
The Board Game Club generally meets twice a month on Thursdays after school in the Social Studies center. Anyone can join as long as they attend the meetings and are passing all their classes.
Volkova is pleased that she decided to sponsor the Board Game Club.
“I am truly enjoying the time with the club even though I am usually too busy to join them to play the games,” Volkova said. “I have always enjoyed playing board games, and I have a close group of friends who used to get together regularly to do just that when we were in high school and college. So I am reminded of good old times with my friends every time the club meets. It is a joy to watch my students interact during the game. They seem to have a good time, and it puts a smile on my face thinking that I have something to do with it.”
Currently, the club only has 12 members, mostly seniors. Dang and Mai fear the club will die off after they graduate and hope that the underclassmen will keep it running after they are gone.
“The club was created for the purpose of having fun, and I’m satisfied with the results it brought. But leaving the club to the next generation is a little worrying because I don’t believe they will have as much fun and bond together as much as we did when we started out the club,” Mai said. “We need underclassmen to keep the club alive for next year. We hope to find someone interested to hold the legacy that is Board Game Club for future generations.”
Dang also hopes the club continues.
“I feel like I just got started with the club and now I have to leave it. I barely got time to do everything that I wanted. I’m happy that I made it and I’m happy that it brought joy to those that joined it,” Dang said.
“Very few people play board games regularly. We aim to change that. Hopefully because of this club people will learn to love this niche hobby in our growing digital world.”