Let's talk about board game cafes
Updated: Mar 5
While it can be an amazing experience to have a few friends over with their boxes of cardboard in tow, sometimes you just need a change of scenery. Whether it's because the usual game night host is having their home remodeled, their in-laws are in town or they are just getting tired of hosting their free loading buddies, going somewhere with a large selection of games where coffee, food and drinks are brought to the table can seem like an evening of opulent extravagance.
Board game cafe can mean quite a few things. It can be as simple as a your friendly local game store offering soft drinks and chips by the counter, a little coffee shop with a few well-worn games tucked in a corner or it can be a full service bar and restaurant with thousands of games to choose from.
The fast growing popularity of tabletop games has lead to over 800 board game cafes and bars across the world. Places like these allow for people who may not have the table space or game selection at home to join their friends for a night of fun. Sitting around the table having a few beers while deciding which new possibility your group wants to dive into is an exciting experience. It can be a great way to play new games and foster community with people who love gaming. For those that don't have a regular group but love to get to the tabletop, bars and cafes that cater to this experience can also be a great place for meeting up with others that share your passion for games.
The best of these cafes make games the focus, provide great food/drink selections, appeal to people of all ages and staff the joint with people who know, play and love the games that adorn their walls. Usually there is an up front cost like a cover charge for all-you-can-play board games. You can place an order and while you wait, you can pick up an old favorite or ask the staff to teach you a new game that strikes your fancy.
If you have been into the hobby for a while and are looking to purchase a new game, you know how hard it can be to narrow down choices with the myriad of options on the market. Board game cafes allow you to play different games for the cost of a typical night out so you can try before you buy. In some cases, these bars and cafes even sell the games so you can take home your favorite with you. Snakes & Lattes in Tempe, AZ happens to be the closest to where I live and I have thoroughly enjoyed the excellent service while being taught new games by the attentive staff. If you happen to be in the area I'd highly recommend stopping by or finding a board gaming bar/cafe establishment convenient for you and your group.
If you'd like to share your experience of board gaming cafes, we'd love to hear about it in the comments.