gaming

The best UK board game shops to visit now lockdown is over


The reality of pandemic tabletop gaming at The Geek Retreat (pic: Lucy Orr)

Lockdown is over and board game and tabletop role-playing shops have started a prize draw promotion to encourage players back into stores.

With the reopening of non-essential shops in the UK this week, the chance to play tabletop games face-to-face once again takes a step closer. And while you can’t yet sit down and play, you can support your local board game shop by purchasing a game and learning the rules for when they do fully open. Gaming communities are chomping at the bit to show off newly painted armies, and recruit new opponents, so there’s no better time to find a friendly local game shop near you and discover what events they have planned for the summer.

To coincide with board game shops re-opening, Asmodee, the board game publisher, has created the Love Your Game Store campaign, aimed at encouraging consumers back through the door of game shops.

As such, from April 12 to May 31, anyone who makes an in-person purchase in a participating independent retailer can enter themselves into a random draw, from which one lucky winner will receive a £1,000 cash prize and 10 others will win £50 of in-store credit. You can use the hashtag #loveyourgamestore to see what your local game shop is offering.

Whether you’ve been painting up an orc army, perfecting a new Dungeons & Dragons campaign, or just getting far too good at Dobble here’s some of our favourite shops across the UK, who are hoping to welcome players back to show off whatever they’ve been working on during lockdown.

It’s hoped that shops and venues will be able to host face-to-face games from May 17 but that isn’t guaranteed and most are counting on things not returning to normal until later this summer.

Plenty of room to play (pic: Lucy Orr)

Bad Moon Café has a great central location and is very easy to get to, as it’s located minutes away from Borough Station in Central London. Warhammer 40K and Age Of Sigmar are favourites here and they certainly have the space for some sprawling miniatures tables, in this huge well light modern space. The sheer size of the Bad Moon makes it comfortable for long gaming events and they also provide some of the best cakes we’ve had at a game shop. The friendly staff always go the extra mile and always write you cute, personalised messages when you buy from their online shop.

Food, drink, and gaming (pic: Lucy Orr)

Geek Retreat is a destination where every inch of geek culture, from trading card games to sci-fi to Comicon is celebrated. Their several locations welcome all geeks, no matter the fandom and game preference, and pride themselves on being inclusive. Geek Retreat opened its first store in Glasgow in 2013, as a place to meet, eat, shop, and game. They are now working to open 50 new Geek Retreat locations throughout the UK and should be done by the end of this year, so watch your high street as you might have a new venue to show off your updated Pokémon card collection. All of their shops are reopening on 12 April for retail and milkshakes – or as they say ‘Shop and Shakes’.

Get a pizza the action (pic: Lucy Orr)

Ludoquist – Croydon, London

The Ludoquist is a board game café in central Croydon, South London. They have recently expanded their range of games and now have shelf after shelf of kids’ games, role-playing, family, party, and euro games. They also have demo tables to showcase and encourage players to pick up some of their favourites. The Ludoquist is always buzzing and their helpful staff are always on hand to explain the rules to overly ambitious players who grabbed Gloomhaven off the shelf by mistake. Also, there’s enough cheese on just one of their pizzas to feed the nine players needed for a game of Werewolf.

That’s a lot of games (pic: Lucy Orr)

This popular games shop has been around for six years and is one of the UK’s first and largest centres for tabletop fans. They have a strong, well established community and encourage face-to-face gaming with friends, so they are much more than just your traditional retail store. They have just committed to a new venue, a conversion of a remodelled old church, and are eager for players to return to check out this impressively unique new gaming space. The God Emperor would approve! Check out their Twitch channel to watch them build and paint miniatures.

The good kind of troll (pic: Lucy Orr)

There’s always some impressive tables set up for alien spaceship miniatures game Drop Zone Commander at Troll Trader. You’ll also find Troll Trader has some unique offerings in the form of fantasy wrestling rings for Rumbleslam and elaborately painted canals for Lovecraftian inspired Venetian horror game Carnevale. Troll Trader has a huge selection of laser-cut scenery to suit most miniatures games and has something for those who are looking for something different from the usual Warhammer fare.

Will you be in your element? (pic: Lucy Orr)

Looking for an elusive copy of Warhammer Quest: Cursed City? Element Games is a one-of-a-kind hobby treasure trove tucked away in a sleepy unassuming Stockport suburb. Inside old Hallam Mill is a cornucopia of games, paints, and everything else you need to fulfil your heart’s tabletop desires. As well as all the goodies inside there is also one of the nation’s largest gaming centres, where regular largescale events and tournaments are held. The friendly staff, absolute hoard of products, and licensed bar makes Element Games a must visit for all tabletop lovers. Element’s online shop is also a great place to buy brushes and Cult of Paint airbrush supplies.

Open for business (pic: Lucy Orr)

Tanuki Gaming is a relatively new board games shop, games library, and events space on Deptford High Street, next to the station and just around the corner from the Market Yard. They have a wide range of modern board games in the shop and a library for all experience levels. They have just expanded the shop and are excited to reopen this week, although their board game library service will have to wait a bit longer. The pub next door, Badger Badger, will also be reopening in May, for gaming food and drinks delivered to your table. They are preparing to start running all sorts of gaming events once things start getting back to normal.

Room to play (pic: Jason Staerck)

Steamforged Games not only make games but have, over the past few years, provided a large accommodating space to play, called The Forge. On trips to Manchester Punk Festival I’d make sure to drop in for a Guild Ball Tournament, but due to the North West weather’s assault on the building, unfortunately this space needs a revamp. Hopefully it will be back in action soon though, so everyone can play some Blood Bowl Season 3. The Forge is mainly used for Dungeons & Dragons and product launches but also Godtear battles and Guild Ball championships.

By Lucy Orr

Email gamecentral@metro.co.uk, leave a comment below, and follow us on Twitter.


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