This is a trend I welcome; board games are popular again. The return of board game somehow happened while missing the hipster trap and becoming an accepted mainstream thing. If you don’t believe me then you only need to start counting the number of gaming cafes that are popping up across the country.
Edinburgh has three, I think, starting with the Games Hub a few year ago, the Tabletop Café in Canongate, and the newest Noughts & Coffees on Morrison Street.
Morrison Street is a good location. People will see the café as they pass by. While I’ve been visiting the café they’ve benefited from random walk-ins – just people popping in off the street because they’ve spied some clean tables in a nice looking café. Some have been bemused by the battles against Cthulhu taking part in the deeper regions of the café, though.
None of my trips to Noughts & Coffees have taken me below ground level. They have space down there but it’s protected by a velvet rope and steps. I’m a geek with a limp, a walking stick and who struggles on stairs so that’s quite a defensive set up. It also gives Noughts & Coffees and advantage over Games Hub which has almost all of its space down some spiral stairs.
Noughts & Coffees is nice and big. You’ll be able to see the main areat from the large windows but what you can’t see from the street is that the café space winds around the back and into a second room. I think if you’re playing a noisier game then that’s the space you should head for.
The space is a big factor in Noughts & Coffees’ success but the presentation of the games is important too. There’s a good-sized menu of games, which range from family traditional games like Monopoly to more geeky games. The menu tells you how long a game typically takes to complete and suggests an age range. This is a big help.
I’m yet to open a game at Noughts & Coffees that was missing any of the pieces. This is another huge help. I’m sure it’ll happen, it’s human nature to be messy, and pieces go missing but great to see the games are in good condition. You can bring your own games too.
It costs £2.50 per person to sit at a table but you can stay there for as long as you like. I’ve never been hassled to buy food and drinks while I’m there but that’s clearly how the business model works. As it happens Noughts & Coffees is fairly priced – won’t compete with supermarket prices – but I’ll happily find 80p for a can of fizz to give me the sugar edge in the next game.
The vibe in Noughts & Coffees is surprisingly calm and its always been pleasantly quiet while I’ve been there. This is despite the cafe often having most tables completely full and people deep into card and board games. I’m yet to see people sitting down to engage in some traditional tabletop RPGs and that might be the big difference on the noise front.
Noughts & Coffees is an easy recommendation to make. It’s in a great location. It’s clean. It’s fairly priced. It’s a good place to gather and play games. What’s to say no too?