Welcome to The Game Shelf!

After getting into the board game hobby at the end of 2014, we've decided to share our thoughts on the games we're collecting on our shelves. The collection has certainly expanded over the last few years and we've been making up for lost time!

Sometimes our opinions differ, so Amy will be posting reviews every Tuesday and Fi will post on Thursdays. We hope you enjoy reading some of our opinions on board games - especially those for two players.

Get in touch by emailing thegameshelfblog@gmail.com

Monday, 26 March 2018

The Game Shelf's Definitive List of UK Board Game Cafes


We love board game cafes! 

I know that the board gaming community can sometimes be split on this issue. We have a big board game collection, we have each other and other friends to play with, so why would we pay money to go to a cafe and play games, as well as probably spending extra money of food and drink?

My main motivation is for visiting cafes that have large board game libraries and have games that I want to try before I by. This means that I'm way more likely to visit a cafe if they list their game collection online. It also means I'm way more likely to play shorter games at cafes that charge a cover charge for a limited length of gaming time, so that I can get the most 'value for money' out of the games I play. 

Besides our 'work' visits where I'm on a mission to try new games, we also use board game cafes as a place to meet friends to catch-up over a few drinks or a snack and we often visit cafes whilst we're travelling around the UK or elsewhere when our board game collection is not at hand. And that's the reason I want to start this list. As we visit more cafes here in the UK I'm going to record some of our thoughts but otherwise I just want to keep this as a list and resource for gamers.

Draughts
(Haggerston, London & Waterloo, London)
Cover charge of £5 for 4 hours. Reservations on weekdays only.

I believe Draughts was the second board game cafe I visited. Located under the railway arches in Haggerston, London, it can certainly be a noisy environment with echoing laughter and the rumbling trains. However, there's no denying that it's a popular place to be with a great game selection as well as beers and very tasty food. Draughts is definitely making board gaming cool in East London and at least 50% of people there probably wouldn't call themselves 'gamers' but Guess Who is happily played alongside Caverna or even X-Wing miniatures, next to the UK Playtesting group.

In 2018 Draughts opened a second venue near Waterloo Station. This is a much more convenient venue for us and we can't wait to check it out!

DICE Portsmouth
(Portsmouth)

DICE is hands down one of the best board game cafe experiences we have had. Their space is large, with lots of tables, but it still feels airy and spacious. They say that their game library is a work in progress, but it's already huge - probably at least 600 games - but very focused on gamers. It's perfect for us, but perhaps has less mainstream games that some cafes. They have simple, but good food and a great selection of drinks, including craft beer. Unlike many cafes, Dice has table service, as well as game gurus on hand to help with many of the titles in the library. All of this makes for a really relaxing experience and I only wish that DICE was closer to home!

Thirsty Meeples
(Oxford)
Cover charge of £5 for 3 hours.

Thirsty Meeples is the first board game cafe we ever visited and I believe it has the biggest library of any cafe in the UK. The library is so big that many of the games are now stored off-site, so be careful if you're looking to play a rare, unpopular gem! Thirsty Meeples has a great atmosphere, good beer and tasty snacks, although you probably couldn't eat an evening meal. We were also lucky to take advantage of their mobile library and game gurus for our wedding! Do get in touch with them if you want to organise a board gaming event!

FanBoy3
(Manchester)
Cover charge of £3 for unlimited play.

Although not strictly a cafe, Fan Boy 3 does have a gaming library and you can pay to play at any time of day. They also have a cafe, with drinks and snacks, available at certain popular times. We really like the system they have in place where your game library fee can be used as a discount towards a purchase in the shop.

Dice Saloon
(Brighton)

Dice Saloon is not quite what I think of as a board game cafe, but it does have some snacks available, as well as tables to play at and a games library that you can pay a small charge to use. It also has a significant amount of war gaming happening, but there are board game clubs that run events there too. Aside from this it's also a great board game store.

Loading Bar
(Dalston, London)

I'm hesitant to include Loading Bar on my list of board game cafes because it's primary focus is console gaming. However, we've been there and played board games from their growing collection, which is probably at least 150 games at this point. Lots of other people seem to only visit for board games too. I'm not sure that Loading Bar serves food, but they do make some very exciting video game themed cocktails. It's great location to take some of your geeky or video game friends to introduce some board games to the table. Loading Bar also have a Stratford location which we haven't visited.

Proceed Clockwise
(London)

Proceed Clockwise is located in Shoreditch, London. It's a really large location with two floors, where the downstairs is available for private events. When we visited, the cafe was still new, but their library is already quite impressive. I'd estimate around 300 games, ranging from party games, through to longer mid-weight euro games, which is a great selection to suit every taste. The game tables are large and have the under table storage shelf, which I love! The beer selection is good, with a guest tap, as well as Camden Town Brewery on tap and they have tasty pizzas, sharing boards and salads. The staff are super friendly too!

The Library Pot
(Richmond, London)

I would describe The Library Pot as an eclectic venue in Richmond. It has a game library of around 500 games and a very homely atmosphere. They run lots of gaming events including introductions to some classic games, as well as meetups and some new game launches. It also has a ball pool downstairs, if that's what you're into.

The Ludoquist 
(Croydon)
Cover charge of £3 for unlimited play.

The Ludoquist opened during Autumn 2017 in Croydon. With a collection of over 1200 games, great coffee, beer and cocktails, as well as a good lunchtime and evening menu, it's become a very popular venue at evenings and weekends. It brings in both a family crowd and seasoned gamers and caters for both with the games and great games gurus to teach you games or recommend something you might like from the shelves.
Opening Night at The Ludoquist
Board in the City
(Southampton)

Board in the City is run as a community interest company which invests heavily in public outreach with schools, the elderly and similar groups. They have a big space and a good games collection, as well as being able to cater for war-gaming in some of their separate spaces.

Coffee & Dice
(Bournemouth)

Coffee & Dice are in Boscombe, near Bournemouth. They have a great, modern space, with big tables, as well as a great board game library that they are always expanding, including bringing back games from the Essen fair in 2017, which makes it a great cafe for us to visit to play new titles. They have great food and drinks on offer too

Random Encounter
(York)

Random Encounter calls itself a 'pop culture cafe'. They have a small location just outside the city walls of York with video game consoles and a respectable board game collection, ranging from traditional games to mid-weight modern board games. The cafe is pretty basic and definitely has a 'cafe on a shoestring' approach. The food and drinks are limited, but tasty and the game selection was enough to keep us occupied for a few hours. There's also a vintage video game store next door if that's your thing too!

Slice & Dice
(Bolton, Greater Manchester)

We haven't visited Slice & Dice, but we almost did once. We gave them a quick call before we made the journey, to ask about their setup and board game library. We were told they had a library of 10 games, so we decided not to make the journey. Maybe Slice & Dice is more of a venue for gaming with pizza, rather than a traditional board game cafe? Please let us know if you have visited.

Geek Retreat
(Glasgow, Newcastle & Birmingham)

We have not visited any Geek Retreat locations, but they appear to be a franchise and have three current locations as well as a fourth opening soon in Leeds. The venue looks more like a game store with some snacks and drinks available, but there also seems to be plenty of gaming space.

West End Games
(Glasgow)

Cakes and Ladders
(London)

Unboxed Gaming Cafe
(Ayr, Scotland)

Common Ground Games
(Stirling)

Settlers
(Hamilton, Scotland)

Games Hub
(Edinburgh)

Noughts and Coffees
(Edinburgh)

Dice and Slice
(Colchester)

Bean Gaming
(Leicester)

Warboar Games
(Bromley)

Playopolis UK
(Rochester)

The Mug and Meeple
(Gravesend)

D20
(Watford)

The Board Room
(Hull)

Board
(Exeter)

The Dice Box
Leamington Spa

Max Xp Gaming
(Glasgow)

Tea@Hart
(Hartlepool)

Dark Matter
(Durham)

Sugar & Dice
(Liverpool)

Tiny Ricks
(Liverpool)

Critical Hit Games Cafe
(Liverpool)

The Treehouse
(Sheffield)

Meeple Perk
(Newcastle)

Players Paradice
(Milton Keynes)

Game Knight
(Derby)

Meeple Mayhem
(Birmingham)

The Dice Cup
(Nottingham)

Ludorati Cafe
(Nottingham)

Heaxagon Board Game Cafe
(Taunton)

Ready Steady Roll
(Bedford)

Chance & Counters
(Bristol & Cardiff)

Playground Coffee House
(Bristol)

Jack Straws
(Belfast)

If you know a cafe that isn't on the list or are opening a cafe that you want to be included, then please leave a comment below and we'll add you to the list and even try to come and visit!

9 comments:

  1. How about The Games Den - Leamington Spa https://www.facebook.com/TheGamesDenLeamington/

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi,

    I've recently opened a Board Game Cafe in Bedford - www.readysteadyroll.co.uk

    :)

    ReplyDelete
  3. It's kind of a dodge, but Reading has Eclectic Games, a board game shop with play space and food and drinks shops either side that they partner with.

    ReplyDelete
  4. We're in the middle of opening a cross between a board game cafe and shop (no actual cafe bit, but snacks and hot & cold drinks are available, plus there are plenty of takeaways within about 50 metres. Taylored Games in Kingsbridge, Devon.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Hi, we're opening a board game cafe called 'Dice & a Slice' in Colchester, Essex in around a month's time, and would love to be included on the list. We have a full list of the board games available on our site: www.diceandaslice.co.uk

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Cool, we've followed you on Twitter and will add you to the list once you're open (we don't want to be responsible for sending people to your front door before you're ready!)

      Delete
  6. Hi! Cakes and Ladders will be opening in Wood Green, North London this summer - www.cakesandladders.co.uk

    ReplyDelete
  7. We are opening on Monday 10th September and are called Dice and a Slice Ilfracombe. We are in Ilfracombe, which is in north Devon and have plenty of different home baked cakes, plus snacks and limited other food until we have feedback from customers, as to what they would like to see on the menu. Excellent coffee, specialist loose leaf Tea and locally produce cold drinks. Catch up with what we are doing on facebook or diceandasliceilfracombe@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete