I grew up in a game-playing family: Candyland, crazy eights and The Game of Life were some of my favourites.

During rainy nights at the cottage, I would sit on my mum’s lap as my family played rounds and rounds of euchre or gin rummy.

Today, I’m a huge fan of Settlers of Catan, Wizard and most varieties of poker. And I never turn down a game of euchre.

Apparently others in Waterloo Region feel the same way. There are currently three board game cafés located here: The Adventurers Guild in downtown Kitchener; Games on Tap in north Waterloo; and Crossroads Board Game Café near Wilfrid Laurier University.

Joanna Woo, an HR Programs and Data Specialist at D2L (Desire 2 Learn), is another avid game lover. She, too, grew up playing cards and kid-friendly board games. Woo didn’t discover adult board games, however, until she was in university.

One night, instead of going out, she played Dominion, a deck-building strategy game where players create kingdoms and earn victory points

Woo was hooked.

“I went from not playing at all to living in a house with over 200 games,” Woo said. “We held weekly game nights with my friends, and everyone had a blast.”

Today, Woo estimates she has 40 games in her house. And she runs a monthly board game night at D2L that usually draws about 30-40 staff and guests.

Saturday, April 11, 2015, is International TableTop Day, and Woo and D2L are opening their doors for the public to come and play. D2L is in the Tannery building on Charles Street, Kitchener, between Victoria and Francis streets.

The day kicks off at 10 a.m. and runs until 6 p.m. The event is open to the public, but registration is required. Thanks to sponsors, snacks and drinks will be available, as well as a huge variety of card, board, dice and tile games.

Games will be separated based on length of play. There will be a room for short games and bring-your-own games lasting up to three hours.

There will also be a room for those intense three-hour-plus games. (I’m looking at you, Risk).

D2L volunteers will be around to help if there’s a new game you want to learn.

While most of the games will be drop-in, and you can come and go as you please throughout the day, there will be two games that starts promptly at 10:15 a.m. and require separate registration: a hosted Dungeons & Dragons tournament, and a Magic the Gathering tournament, both which Woo expects to be very popular.

“Be ready to play until the game ends,” she said. “I’m expecting the tournaments to last the entire eight hours.”

Woo is also looking forward to some board games that are aimed at young players and combine two of her favourite activities –– board games and programming.

Robot Turtles and Code Monkey Island are two really neat board games,” Woo said. “Players as young as five years old can play them, and they introduce pattern recognition and basic programming to (the players).”

Both games were supported by Kickstarter campaigns. Another Kickstarter game that Woo is bringing out for the day is Pretense, a metagame that sees everyone who wants to play receive a role card when they arrive.

To play, you need to complete the task on your card while you play your game of choice. For example, you may get the “Glutton” card and have to convince another player to pass you food or drink. You win points as you complete your tasks.

Why is Woo so passionate about board games?

“You learn a lot about someone when you sit and play a game,” she said. “You see their personality and also how their logic works.”

Because games tend to be at least an hour long, you see how people deal with stress, distractions and the lengths they’ll go to win a game, she added.

For myself, I know I’m a terrible table-talker, especially in euchre. You’ve been warned.


International TableTop Day isn’t until Saturday, April 11. You still have time to brush up on your favourite games over the long weekend. I see and hear that . . . Head to the Huether Hotel tonight, Wednesday, April 1 at 8 p.m. for some laughs. Opening Act Comedy is taking over The Jazz Room (inside the Huether Hotel at 59 King St. N. in Waterloo) for it’s first Pro-Am Comedy Night. The event is no cost. It may be April fools today, but this is no joke!  . . . Head back to The Jazz Room on Friday, April 3, for an evening of jazz with the HWO trio and special guest Dave Thompson. The show starts at 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $15 and can be bought online, or paid at the door… Tia from downtown Kitchener’s knitting boutique, Woolverine, is hosting a Knit n’ Lit at the Central Library, 85 Queen St. N., Kitchener, on Tuesday, April 7. Starting at 6:30 p.m. Tia will walk knitters of all skill levels through making a coffee-mug cosy. You’ll need to bring your own knitting needles, and worsted weight wool. The event is free but registration is required.

Photo: Snakes and Ladders by Jacqui Brown is licensed under CC BY 2.0.