Experience a New Twist on Board Games
In case you didn’t know, April 13 is National Scrabble Day.
But if you don’t own a Scrabble board, there are plenty of places to go to play it or many other board games – even ones you didn’t know existed.
Over the past few years, board game cafes have started popping up in most cities. Two can be found in the Cleveland area alone, with another between Cleveland and Akron in Hudson. The concept is simple enough: Go to one, pay a small fee, and play board games. The idea is in keeping with the theory that people are willing to pay for experiences more than items, and playing board games allows the type of human interaction people just don’t have in an age of smartphones.
We visited the TableTop Café on West 25th Street in the Cleveland’s trendy Ohio City neighborhood. It bills itself as having around 1,000 games (we didn’t count; we took their word for it), with everything from children’s games to decidedly not kid-friendly games like Cards Against Humanity. In between are traditional games like Monopoly (and its less popular 50th anniversary spinoff, Advance to Boardwalk), Risk and Clue. There's even an abundance of trivia games and some games that were product tie-ins from decades past.
If you're intimidated by the large number of options, the staff will help you select a game. We decided on the Mad Magazine game, because my brother and I both read the magazine in our youth, and the guy behind the counter said the café had been open for nearly two years, and in that time nobody had played it.
The game keeps entirely in character with the magazine. The object is to lose all your money, and the cards and game (with artwork by the magazine’s creative staff, nicknamed “The Usual Gang of Idiots”) are nothing shy of absurd. (Here's a commercial for the game.) We had a lot of fun playing it. I got to boo my brother, we regularly had to switch seats (these are all instructions in the game), and at one point we took a vote on whether his girlfriend was magnificent (The rules say any time you can’t agree on something, you have to put it to a vote).
The café has a menu and sells drinks as well, so it’s possible to make a night of it. It’s also in the heart of a neighborhood full of restaurants, bars and microbreweries, so there are plenty of options. We went earlier in the evening, but by 8 or 9 p.m., the place was filled up. These game cafés put a new spin on family game night and give you a chance to connect with loved ones over familiar games in a fun, new setting.
Header image courtesy of the Tabletop Café Facebook page.