It is a warm, sunny Saturday evening and the entire student body seems to be out on the streets of St Andrews. I, however, am heading to the top floor of the union to meet with Dice, the war-gaming society. What exactly incites a group of young people to spend their weekends not dancing the night away at 601, but hunched over tables two floors above? Every Saturday night, Dice meets here from 6pm-midnight, coming together to share in their mutual enjoyment of card games, board games, and RPGs. This week’s event is a special one, I’m told, as they’re painting and selling off some old Warhammer figures in order to fund new ones for the society.
I admit, before I enter the room I have quite heavy preconceptions about what to expect, yet I’m left pleasantly surprised; this is not some dank basement, but a well lit room, bustling with people. I’m quite happy to see a decent number of women in the room – this is one of the societies in St Andrews that should probably be worried about being dominated by men, but the mix is healthy tonight.
I’m greeted warmly by Jessy Stanley, the president, who tells me a little about the history of the society, explaining, “We used to be the war-gaming society, but changed our name to Dice years ago, to try and open the society up to more people.” He’s eager to portray the society as open, friendly, and a forum where like-minded people can get together and have fun.
Jessy passionately talks me through the various facets that Dice has to offer and directs me to a table where some society members are having a fast paced game of Magic: The Gathering, which describes itself as “a tradable card game (TCG) where you build your collection of cards by trading with your friends, assembling decks of cards, and battling against an opponent and their deck.” As someone with no experience of gaming, I find it all goes over my head a little bit, but I take the opportunity to speak to Bryant, a first year Maths student who acts as the Board Games Rep for the society.
Having set up a similar club at high school, Bryant has experience in organising the society’s existing store and acquiring new board games. At the minute, though, he is currently engrossed in the trading card game. When I ask him what it is that draws him to Dice, and this game in particular, he pauses for a second before answering. “It’s a game about thinking, planning, and finding strategies. It’s like poker, or chess; you have to find hidden information, not everything is always on display at once.” He enjoys the logic and levels of complexity behind the games, and tells me that the society is a great way to socialise with like-minded people, which is enthusiastically backed up by Robert, the Card Games Rep.
Before coming to this event, I had very little knowledge or understanding of the gaming community in St Andrews. Yet it is warming to see people coming together and speaking so passionately about what they enjoy. The society members seem eager to welcome new students, and share their enjoyment with as many people as possible.
For any more information on Dice please contact Jessy at [email protected].