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What Board Game Cafes Are & How They Work


Board game cafes have been becoming more popular over the past few years. The ones that I have been to draw in a decent size crowd so I wouldn’t be surprised to see more popping up.

Board game cafes offer a library of games that you can play for a small fee and as the name suggests they typically serve food and drinks. Much like your local board game shop, they offer board games for sale and have space where you can bring your own games and play with friends at one of their tables.

Board game cafes can be a great place to unwind and play a few games with friends and like-minded people. But how exactly do they work?

How Board Game Cafes Work

Board Game Café Fees

Nothing in this world is free and board game cafes are no exception. Most board game cafes are free to enter, but in order to play a game from their library then they will charge a fee.

Luckily the fee is usually quite small. Somewhere around $5 per person is normal and some places may even have a cap for larger groups.

Your local board game café may even offer an annual membership. Annual memberships can give you great benefits like:

  • Free access to the game library.
  • Discounted rates on food and drinks.
  • Discounted rates for friends.
  • Access to game demos.
  • Discounted rates on board game purchases.

If you plan on going to your local board game café frequently then an annual pass will pay for itself in no time. Of course, every board game café is different so I would do some research before purchasing one.

Games start to wear down after being played a few hundred times. So the fees that you pay help maintain and grow the board game café’s library.

Board Game Café Game Guru

It can be overwhelming when you walk up to the wall of board games at a board game café. There can be hundreds of board games to choose from and that can be quite intimidating. Looking at all of the boxes and trying to figure out which games you and your group can play is a tedious task. Luckily board game cafes have Game Gurus that can help you locate the perfect game.

Game Gurus are board game experts that know all of the games in that the board game café has to offer and can help you find a board game that you will like.

When you talk to the Game Guru they will ask you questions like:

  • Have you played many board games?
  • What are some of your favorite board games?
  • Are you looking for a quick game or something longer?
  • What kind of game are you looking for?
  • How many people are in your group?

This will give the Game Guru an idea of what games best fit your group.

Game Gurus will help you save time by not only suggesting the perfect game for you, but they can help explain the rules of the game for you. This way you don’t have to waste any time flipping through the rule book to get started. And if you ever need an answer to a question that you can’t find in the rulebook, then the Game Guru will be able to help clarify any rules.

Consulting with the Game Gurus is completely optional so if you already know what game you want to play then go for it. And if you ever find yourself in a situation where your group is arguing over a rule then the Game Guru will be there to help.

Board Game Café Food and Drinks

If you are anything like me then you like to eat and drink while you play your board games. Since you are at a café they will have someone there to take your order and bring you your food directly to your table. No need to get up and lose concentration. Just keep on gaming and they will bring the food directly to you.

These are a few items that you can expect to find at a board game café:

  • Burgers
  • Hot Dogs
  • Sandwiches
  • Brownies & Pastries
  • Smoothies
  • Coffee
  • Alcoholic Drinks

The board games you are playing with aren’t yours so be careful not to spill anything on them.

And remember, all board game cafes are different, so be sure to check out their website for their menus and services.

Why You Should Go To a Board Game Cafe

You might be wondering, why would I want to go to a board game café instead of a regular bar or even the comfort of my own home? There are many reasons why board game cafes are an excellent place for people to gather and play games there instead.

Playing New Games From the Board Game Library

Board game cafes have a library of hundreds of board games available for you to play. There are enough board games there to make even the most hard-core collector blush. The fees are extremely low and you can play as many board games as you would like for as long as you would like.

This is a great way to test out a new game that you have been wanting to play for a while, but maybe you were hesitant to buy for whatever reason. I can’t tell you how many games I have bought thinking that it would be something I would like, only to find that it just didn’t do it for me.

This can be a great way to save money and test board games before you buy them. You can’t judge a board game by its cover. Playing it is the only way to know if you like it or not. And if you wind up liking the game then there’s a good chance that they carry a copy that you can buy and take home.

What Kind Of Board Games Do They Have?

Every board game café is different so each one will have its own collection of games. I would check their website as some board game cafes have a list of their games available online for you to see. Most cafes have hundreds of titles so there’s a decent chance they will have something that will catch your eye.

No More Worrying About Hosting Duties

I don’t mind having people come over and play games. Still, it’s nice to change things up from time to time and board game cafes are a great place to do it. This way I don’t have to stress out about supplying any food or cleaning up the house before people arrive.

Dedicated Board Game Spot

A board game café is an excellent alternative to meeting at a local bar. I am not a fan of taking my board games out to regular bars. Bars can be too loud, have gross tables, and too many other distractions that just don’t mix well with gaming.

Board game cafes are the perfect place to play because:

  • Clean tables
  • Large enough tables for any game
  • No Loud Music
  • Few Distractions
  • Surrounded by like-minded people

Meet New People & Participate in Events

Board games are getting more and more popular and board game cafes are filled with like-minded people who love board games. This makes it a great place to meet new friends and possibly form a board game group. Talk to the Game Guru and see if they know any groups that are open to having someone new join in.

I mentioned earlier that board game cafes have a lot of events for those who have an annual membership, but not all events are members only. You can find all sorts of events like:

  • Tournaments
  • Fundraisers
  • Playtesting new games
  • D&D nights
  • Birthday events

Board Game Cafes for Kids

Board game cafes aren’t just for adults. There are many cafes that cater to a younger audience too. There is a need for after school activities that aren’t sports-related and board games are a great way for kids to develop social skills and have fun.

Not every board game café needs to be geared towards adults. There are plenty that are more family-focused and offer a wider selection of games that the whole family can enjoy while still being more challenging than something like Guess Who.

Have you been to a board game café before? Where do you prefer to play board games? Let me know in the comments down below and happy gaming!