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The Rebirth of Tabletop Gaming in Chicago and Beyond

March 26, 2013|Elliott Serrano, for Redeye

Today's guest-contributor is David Zoltan of Chicago Game Lovers, a group dedicated to supporting gaming geeks in our fine city. Having lunch with him a couple weeks ago, he explained how the key to winning at Risk was controlling Australia. In just a few minutes he had me bowing to his expertise and hoping that I never find myself on the opposite side of the table from him.

Since he schooled me so solidly, I asked David to fill readers of Geek To Me in on what Chicago Game Lovers was up to. He said that he'd gladly do so, and that he even had a very special announcement regarding TableTop Day and a very special event that CGL is hosting in the spring! I must admit that I'm very excited about what they've got planned! Read on:

The Rebirth of Tabletop - By David Zoltan

For some of us, tabletop gaming never went away. We bellied up to D&D games, played Magic: the Gathering at our Friendly Local Game Stores, and were trading wood for sheep over Settlers of Catan boards ever since first being introduced to this stuff way back in middle school or maybe earlier. Gaming hipsters, that’s us.

Others like my girlfriend and the vast majority of modern gaming geeks out there, either first picked up a d20 or your first Development Card in just the last few years. Maybe you remembered days of playing Monopoly or Risk fondly and had a geeky friend that always seemed to be having such fun at game nights that you popped in one night with him or went to a convention like GenCon to indulge in that secret nerddom that was just itching to come out.

Gaming has come a long way since you last pried Park Place out of your broke opponent’s hands. Dungeons & Dragons is approaching its 5th edition. There’s a whole set of board games, generally called Eurogames as they have their origins across the pond, that are designed to give you more options and different experiences every time you play. Whether you’re looking for games that let you build vast empires of wealth like in Power Grid or you want to let out your inner Cylon and kill all humans in the Battlestar Galactica board game, there’s a game out there for you.

You don’t need to open endless booster packs and invest your life's savings if you like card games. With options like Dominion, Netrunner, and Ascension you invest once or twice and can play forever. But even old reliable Magic: the Gathering is going stronger than ever with an all new player base and card designs that don't end the game with a turn 1 or 2 kill. There are even slightly more adult versions of card games out there like the extremely popular (and Chicago-based!) Cards Against Humanity.

Geeks are ascendant, here in Chicago and around the country. How I Met Your Mother is still near the top of the TV charts for a reason, even if most nerds will tell you that Community is way better. Gone are the days of the comedic geek sidekick as the only representation of geeks and gamers in pop culture. Screech from Saved By The Bell has been replaced by Sheldon from Big Bang Theory.

With those geeks come the games that we play. We're out in public now too. The largest board
gaming group in Chicago, Chicago Game Lovers, boasts over 1,300 members that meets 30-50 times a month at locations all around the Chicagoland area. If you haven’t jumped on the geek train yet, this is your invitation to get on board.

International TableTop Day is this Saturday, March 30th and Chicago Game Lovers will be
celebrating at locations all around town. In honor of the first anniversary of TableTop, the hit
YouTube show hosted by geek legend Wil Wheaton of Star Trek fame, we’re celebrating with
fantastic tournaments, giveaways and plenty of board gaming with your fellow Chicago nerds. New to gaming or old, we’ll make sure you celebrate this new geek holiday in style.

You can also find us in the giant gaming area at the Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo
(C2E2) at McCormick Place this April where we’ll be helping run tabletop gaming. With tons of
tournaments and an open game library, there will be people of all experience levels getting into the action. Get in on gaming at the same time you’re collecting all those signatures of your favorite comic artists, writers, and icons of geek culture.

The biggest news of all is Chicago Game Lovers' 10th anniversary this year. We're celebrating at a huge event of gamers and geeks we've dubbed the Dweebutante Ball on May 12th at the Public House Theatre, 3914 N. Clark Street. Imagine what would happen if we mashed-up a half-day mini-convention of gaming with a geek-costume prom. Put on your Spock ears and belly up to a day of true geekdom with proceeds benefiting Chicago Loot Drop, a geek charity that gets games to hospitalized children at Comer Children’s Hospital on the South Side. If you think you might have an inner geek waiting to come out, when will there be a better cause?

Tabletop is back. In stores and living rooms and in bars all over, you'll find burgeoning crowds
of no-longer-afraid gamers flying their geek flags high. We're among you. We're your co-workers
and your bosses, your siblings and parents. All gamers, all united in our love for dice, dragons, and dorktitude. Chicago is the geek capital of the world, and you owe it to yourself to give tabletop gaming a try.

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