At the Beyond Monopoly! boardgame club, there is so much more on offer than the chance to buy Mayfair. Lindsay Jennings drops in for a game or two.

THE room at the top of the Railway Institute in York has already been set up. The long line of tables are covered in board games. There are games with cards to collect; games with gems to pick up along a fast-flowing river journey, and by the side of the room there is a cupboard stacked full of... more games. They have intriguing names - Carcassonne, I'm the Boss, Metromania.

It is here where members of the Beyond Monopoly! boardgame club meet twice a month. Game on, you might say. Its co-founder, Jon Power, is keen to know what my favourite games are - and he isn't too impressed when Monopoly is mentioned.

"There are people who enjoy playing it, but as a family game, it's not very good," he says. "Basically, you don't get to make a lot of choices and once you've bought all the properties that's it. I also think it's a hostile game - what you're trying to do is drive other people out of the game."

Fair enough, but aren't games supposed to be competitive?

"Yes. The games that we play are all very competitive, but the difference is you're competing but don't get eliminated from them. They're based on bartering or trading and trying to get your moves in before other people. There's much more player interaction so they're more engaging, whereas you don't get that with Monopoly."

Fellow gamer Paul Dawson chips in, smiling.

"You've got a thing about Monopoly haven't you?" he says.

"Well, we're called Beyond Monopoly! for a reason," laughs Jon.

We abandon this topic, before the conversation is truly monopolised.

Jon, 42, of Acomb, near York, explains that he got into board games in the mid 1990s when he grew bored of computer games.

"One of my friends said 'come and play this game'. It was called Settlers of Catan and for me it was like a revelation," he says. "As soon as we'd finished playing I wanted to play it again."

Jon began collecting games and turned to Germany for inspiration where playing board games is seen as more of a social pastime than nights in front of the television. The German games are known for their interactive elements and, according to Jon, you're more likely to avoid family arguments playing one of them.

"And if you like one designer's game their names are on the box, so you can have a look out for other games that they've done," he says.

Paul, 39, of York, "drifted down the model-making path" and then military gaming before board games.

Jon and Paul met at a trade show and Beyond Monopoly! was born more than two years ago. At their first meeting, about a dozen people turned up. Now, up to 30 people regularly attend from as far afield as Durham and Hull, including children from age eight onwards. "My son George (aged 12) has been coming since we started and he's quite happy to play for six hours," says Paul. "And he wins too. He also likes to say at home 'how does it feel to be beaten by a 12-year-old boy'?".

With such a happy environment, does anyone ever go against the spirit of the club and, dare we say it, cheat?

"Oh nooooo," says Jon, shaking his head.

Or take losing rather badly?

"Well I'm probably the worst," he laughs. "But one of the things about these games is that there are virtually no dice, so if you do lose it's generally because you're making bad decisions. I don't think people really get upset.

"A successful game for me is one that's quick, with easy rules, it's fun and there's lots of interaction. I like a game that you can put a strategy together and play in a different way the next time. I hate games where you have a long time between turns - games where people get into analysis paralysis, and you want to say 'get on with it'."

"Like chess," agrees Paul. "Where people sit there for about an hour going through every single permutation."

Jon, who works in insurance, now has around 1,400 games - filling most rooms in his house - most of which he's bought direct from Germany, downloading the rules online. It sounds like some kind of record, but apparently there's a chap in Scotland who owns 3,000.

"Some people come along to play a particularly long game for eight hours and they can do that or get through eight games in the same time," says Jon. "I think within the hobby you talk about people as gamers and non-gamers. You can tell a gamer fairly early on. They're more interested in what's going on in the game and how it's working rather than it just being about competitiveness. If you want to win, you have to understand how the game works and where the turning point is, and gamers latch onto that very quickly.

"I prefer games with a strong visual element, where you can look at the board and read the situation visually. I don't like games where you're having to think more than a couple of moves ahead."

Next, we have the chance to play one of the games called Heh, That's My Fish. It involves collecting fish, moving from square to square and trying to stop your opponent collecting more than you. There's something rather calming about playing it, and there's a feeling of gentle bonhomie around the table - the silence as moves are pondered, followed by the inward giggle as you cut off an opponent (or maybe that's just me). Paul wins. I am second and Jon is third.

"We're competitive but you're not attacking other people and you don't get forced out of the game," says Jon.

Unless, of course, you happen to be playing Monopoly.

Beyond Monopoly! meets on the first and third Saturdays of the month at the Railway Institute, Queen Street, York, from 10am to 6pm. The first visit is free and thereafter costs £3 for adults, £2 for unwaged and £1 for children aged from eight to 12. Log onto or contact 01904-793061 for more information. To learn more about boardgames generally log onto