(A selection of) Board Game Cafes in the East Midlands – By Lily

Lily is the lead designer on Build. She is currently 13.

As a business which designs games, we go into as many games shops and board game cafes as possible. We play games there to learn from other designers, we build relationships with the staff and clients and we love the community. As a result we’ve been in most of the ones close to us:  Here is a guide to some of the board games cafes we have been in.

Game Knight

The first games cafe is Game Knight in Derby.

6 The Spot, Osmaston Road, DE1 2JA.

Game Knight was recommended to us by a gaming friend. We rolled up one afternoon and it was very full. The clientele were a mix of young men gamers and a few families. As they were pretty full, we were offered the VR suite. That’s right, they’ve also got a VR video gaming room. The selection of games was good. We played Big Potato’s Weird Things Human Search For. The overall feel of the cafe is community-focused with competition events and evenings dedicated to certain games. Like many in the community they were very enthusiastic to help us out with play testing and publicising.

The Wall!

Ludorati

The second is Ludorati in Nottingham.

72 Maid Marian Way, Nottingham NG1 6BJ.

Ludorati is a big, open, modern-looking games cafe with the largest amount of games you have ever seen. They call it ‘The Wall’.  They also have an escape room behind a sealed glass room and they often host competitions and events. We did an escape room activity for my 13th birthday.  It was more like an ‘escape room in a box’ game than a fully physical escape room. It was very hard and we failed miserably.

They have nice food and drink. It also has a small shop attached where you can buy some of the more popular games on the market. They run a membership scheme too, which gives you a discount on games from the shop.

The serving staff did not seem very well-versed in games but there were a few gaming advisers circulating who really helped us to choose a game, set up and play.

The Treehouse

Beautiful, peaceful and welcoming: The Treehouse

The third is The Treehouse in Sheffield.

41 Boston Street, Sheffield, S2 4QF.

The Treehouse is a games cafe mostly aimed at the students at the university as it is located right in the middle of the student accommodation area.  It offers free/cheap gaming to students and not very expensive (but still really good) food. It also has a modern feel to it which is inviting and professional. Recently they have been doing up the shop so at the moment they don’t have a shop but soon there will be one attached to the cafe. Their selection of games is good, with a nice ‘taster menu’ to guide you through them. The Treehouse offer a neat selection of imaginative gaming alternatives lie their ‘Solken’ D&D campaign based on the evocative artwork of Katie Ponder or Bring Them Home – a retro Sci-Fi ‘megagame’. In their calender are events like ‘Rainbow Gaming’ for the LGBTQ community or ‘Burton on Board’ which works with a charity for disabled gamers aimed at involving a wider gaming community.

The staff were helpful and knowledgeable about the games. We really enjoyed their charming and quirky take on the business.

Acres of space in The Dice Cup. And there’s another room, even bigger!

The Dice Cup

Next is The Dice Cup in Nottingham

68-70, Mansfield Road, Nottingham.

Occupying a different niche to Ludorati, The Dice Cup is a fully vegan cafe with a dizzyingly large selection of games, with a full games shop on site as well. They also have nice gaming tables to play on. Initially funded by a Kickstarter campaign and defiantly DIY, the cafe fills a huge space in what was once a furniture store.

Jack in a Box

Finally, our first friendly local games store:  Jack in a Box in Ripley

7C Church Street, Ripley.

A hidden gem: Jack in a box

Jack in a box is hidden down an alley behind a gift shop. Squeeze past the potted plants and ornamental gifts and the shop blossoms out into a treasure trove of tabletop games. It is kind-of a games cafe because there is a great selection of games open and available in the cafe area. There is also a shop attached with a wide selection of games. The staff are warm and inviting and are willing to talk about the selection of games and help you pick one.