Recently my wife and I went to Nottingham for a day out (Yes she is real!) We went round the caves under the shopping centre and then had a few hours to kill before our movie. I suggested we try The Dice Cup Cafe, a board game cafe that id heard about on Facebook. Gav Thorpe is always raving about it and I confess I looked on with no small amount of jealousy.
I often forget how lucky I am to live so close to the spiritual home of games workshop and warhammer world. Living within an hours drive when many live more than a plane flight away is something I take for granted! Nottingham has a rich heritage in gaming terms, for example warlord games seem to have a big presence there (the caves tour was selling a Robin Hood model of theirs, and I've seen bolt action on sale at the castle). Because of this I was hopeful that the place would be of good quality, and I was not disappointed.
The basic premise of the place is that you can pay to play games for as long as you like. It's £5 pp, and in busy times they limit you to four hours. So £1.25 pp/ph. I imagine that's more of a weekend thing though. For this cover charge you get free use of as many board games as you can manage to play in that time!
We picked out the following selection, and over the course of about 2.5 hours worked our way thru. Although we couldn't play the friends game because it's minimum 4 people! There is a real mix of games,
(helpfully provided here!) and they are helpfully organised into catagories, such as light strategy or party games right up to carcassone or transformers risk. The real benefit for us is that it allowed us to play games we've not got, almost to test them out. If we didn't enjoy it, no loss!
Of the games we played, "zombies" was a hit. This is a shot of Tabz combining a couple of cards (I don't move, she moves 10 spaces) to fly past me and escape on the helicopter. Totally though I had it! In my opinion, the mark of a good game for us is that it holds both our interests, and that we both have fun. Zombies did that, and is potentially something that we might look at getting at some point.
As I mentioned, the massive benefit was testing games out, and we played sushi go to see what all the fuss was about. Following that, we actually bought it as well! So proof that thier business model works! I'm actually really pumped about it as wel, it's a lot of fun! I will review it at some point in the near future In detail. We also played best treehouse ever, which is slightly more complicated version of sushi go, using some similar mechanics to build a better treehouse than your oppenants!
So, that's a broad narrative account of what we did, how did I rate the dice cup overall?
- It's clean, well ventilated and full of natural light. Only a couple of nerd places I know are like that!
- Friendly staff, helpful and the right amount of welcoming. I've been to nerd places where the shopkeeper shouts across the store to prospective customers, so it was really good to be welcomed properly.
- Decent clean toilets. Again, for some reason not always a given. But the ones in this place were good.
- Vast selection of boards games. Obvious for a cafe of this nature I'm sure, but there was a lot of choice. And lots of possible styles as well, from cash and guns to games that are gonna take all afternoon.
- My wife liked it. At least enough to stay for afternoon! She's not a nerd, but enjoys board games. There are places I've gamed that I wouldn't take her into, but this place was a safe bet.
- Nice cafe. A really good combination of the two, with a proper barista machine to make coffee and the possibility of other things such as milkshakes (if they have ice cream in!)
- Fully wheelchair accessible, not a step in the place that I could see! Ramps galore!
- No music. It was mid afternoon, and things did liven up by the time we left but there wasn't any background music. I didn't ask about it so it may just have been broken, but i think that would have added to the atmosphere. That was something Tabz brought up actually.
Probably the thing that deserves most discussion is the cover charge for playing. I don't think it's that unusual to charge for use of tables, although I'm blessed with a local flgs that doesn't charge, and the membership fee for my club is £10 p/a. In that regard, I paid as much for my whole year as I did for one afternoon. However this is an unfair comparison as I go to uni society gaming club (even thou I never went to that uni and I'm nearly 30!) and this was a functioning high street business in the middle of the city.
I think it's quite normal to charge per attendance at clubs, and I did see that they do discounted rates if you're a member that save you money over the year. When in off peak periods that charge could be for half the day (they open until 11) it's actually quite a reasonable charge I think. I can easily see that if I lived in Nottingham I'd be spending time there regularly. I think the key to getting the most out of it is to plan to spend at least 2-3 hours there. That way the cover charge doesn't seem like that much. If you're just popping in for an hour you won't get your monies worth.
Overall, I'm very pro this place. It not kept me happy but also was somewhere my wife felt comfortable, something that's very important! I wish there were one in Leicester. If you're in Nottingham and want somewhere to spend a few hours then I'd reccomend popping in.