Make Your Own Board Game Cafe

Entertainment Events Geek Culture Tabletop Games
Image: Peddhapati via Flickr
Image: Peddhapati via Flickr

A few weeks ago, the twins and I went to a board game cafe. For a flat fee of $5 per person, you got unlimited play of hundreds of board games. I introduced the twins to old favorites that we don’t own such as Clue, Life, and Trouble. We tried out a few new games. We ordered ice cream and coffee while we played.

Part of the allure is the fact that you have access to hundreds of games you don’t own, which means that they’re all new and exciting. The other allure is that you’re out and about, eating junk food while discovering that Professor Plum did it in the dining room with the candlestick.

But it would be easy enough to recreate the board game cafe with friends for free (or, at least, less than the $20 rate per 4 people).

Tell everyone to haul out their board games to centralized location. Hopefully someone has room in their home, or barring that, community centers will often rent space for a low cost.

Remind the participants to clearly label their board games ahead of time and make sure all the pieces are present and accounted for in the box. In fact, it helps to snap a picture of the contents of the box.

Have everyone contribute one snack or drink to the pop-up board game cafe–something that can be consumed easily during game play.

The only rule to the board game cafe (beyond not getting tortilla chip crumbs on someone else’s game board) is that a game must be cleaned up and put back on the pile before another game can be opened. This ensures that game pieces won’t get mixed up in the wrong box.

But just to be doubly sure that everyone goes home with their respective games and all their pieces, boxes should be checked before anyone leaves the pop-up cafe.

You can force a little extra socialization by blowing a whistle every half hour and encouraging people to form new game groups. Or, you can just let the play unfold as it will as everyone gets to test out the games. Who knows, you may even find a new favorite that you’ll want to get for home or to bring to the next pop-up board game cafe night.

So tell me: what board game would you contribute to board game night? What’s your favorite game?

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6 thoughts on “Make Your Own Board Game Cafe

  1. We have a game night most Wednesdays after work in our work conference room. I’m constantly playing new games, but I’m also buying them. I love it. But it doesn’t REALLY compete with a board game cafe. The Cafe near me has a similar model as the one you went to ($5/head cover), but their game selection is nearing 1,000 games, including many new games. Among my work colleagues, we probably have 50 games between us. That’s great and I certainly get a chance to play new things, but we meet weekly, and unless we keep purchasing, we will run out of new things to play/try out.

    I got to try out Tsuro and King of New York when I went to the Cafe with my son. Neither of those are in our combined collections at work… and my son doesn’t have access to my work game night — and none of my friends or family have much of a collection. So the Game Cafe is still very appealing to me.

    With that said, I would bring Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective. I’ve been dying to play it, but so far we haven’t played it at work game night yet.

  2. so.. basically just invite people over to play board games and ask them to bring a snack. Doing that existed before “board game cafes”. I think you’re trying a bit hard to make this a thing..

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