Forget attempting to play a game of Scrabble in the pub with your mates on a battered board with all of the vowels missing. These days dedicated board game cafes are popping up in cities all across the UK, and it looks like Bristol will be next as soon as March.
Chance & Counters board game cafe is the brainchild of three local board game lovers – Steve Cownie, Luke Neal and Richard Scarsbrook. The trio are currently attempting to fund the cafe through Kickstarter and have (rather impressively) already received pledges for more than £9,000 of their £10 grand goal.
— Kickstarter (@kickstarter) January 19, 2016
The idea is that the cafe will stock a library of more than two hundred different games, welcoming everyone from families of beginners to teams of seasoned pros to play face to face and away from the internet and social media.
Chance & Counters are also planning to host various tournaments and events that will bring Bristol’s board gaming community closer together and spark friendships between gamers.
While the premises haven’t yet been confirmed, it looks like the cafe will probably find a home at the base of the Christmas Steps in historic Bristol.
With only 15 days to go at the time of writing, the Chance & Counters gang still have a way to go before reaching their final target, but things are looking good.
We caught up with Steve to find out a little more about the venture.
Hi Steve. When did the idea for Chance & Counters first come around?
“Luke got me into board games via the classic gateway game Settlers of Catan on holiday a few years ago. Back then he had the idea of a dedicated space for tabletop gaming, essentially somewhere to try new games with a beer in-hand, or cider in his cas). It’s an idea that we kept coming back to over the years since, but didn’t really get serious about until last year. A good friend of ours, Alex, had started a bespoke furniture business earlier in the year and offered to invest in us, at which point we started seriously considering how feasible it might be.
“A few months of planning later, Luke came across Richard on Reddit. At the time, Richard was finishing an MBA in China with a view to doing something similar to us in the long-run. So we met up in Bristol, hit it off pretty quickly and brought him on board as our third director.”
Were you inspired by any other board game cafes you’ve visited before?
“When we first looked into it we came across Snakes and Lattes in Toronto, which was doing incredibly well and seemingly opening new venues every year. They were arguably the first to prove that the concept worked, which was really encouraging.
“The next couple of years saw Thirsty Meeples (Oxford) and Draughts (London) open in the UK, at which point it felt like we might’ve missed the boat. Since then we’ve been to both, and each time they’ve been packed to the rafters.”
Which board games are you personally looking forward to playing once Chance & Counters is up and running?
“There are a few dexterity games I’ve been dying to play, like Catacombs and Terror in Meeple City. Essentially lots of flicking counters around and shouting at bits of card.”
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Main image: Randy Robertson / Flickr / CC