Buckaroo and beers: The BoardRoom on Newland Avenue

Published: Thursday 21st January 2016 by Rich Sutherland

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The Boardroom is a board game cafe that opened at 135 Newland Avenue last Saturday (January 16). Serving quality beverages, tasty snacks, cakes and craft beers, it immediately became a hotspot for fans of everything from chess to Mousetrap.

Offering the opportunity to get together over a non-digital game, it’s one of the few coffee shops you’ll visit where barely anyone is on their phone.

Owner Tom Sowerby speaks to HEY Today, explaining why board games? why Newland Avenue? and why now?

Let’s start off with the obvious one: You’re a fan of board games?

I am but haven’t been for as long as you may think. It was only four years ago that I really got into them, when a friend reintroduced me. There was this board game cafe in Sheffield, so we’d go there to play Ticket to Ride, which is one of our favourites. I then joined a Hull-based board game group.

How many games do you have on offer at The BoardRoom?

It’s close to 200. We’ve sourced them from all over, including charity shops and personal collections, whilst others have been bought specially. We’ll add even more over time.

What genres of board game are there?

Everyone knows about family games, which are great for sharing a laugh and not having to do anything too demanding. Next up are gateway games, which require strategy but on a level that’s easy for everyone to get used to. Eurogames are more dependent upon decisions and forethought, and the winner is left feeling like they’ve really achieved something.

Ameritrash are the kind with heavy combat, in-depth characters and so on, plus a roll of the dice can change the entire game, so it’s very much based on luck. Then we have “Take That!” types of games, which have no strategy and every move will either hinder or help other players.

With these, the gameplay includes attacks, life points and other factors that can cause a balance of power to swing wildly within seconds.

Do you have the type that are usually cracked out at parties?

Yes we do, such as Pictionary, Articulate, Boggle and other popular classics. We also have dexterity games that are great for groups, such as Jenga, Buckaroo and Operation. Plus the relatively new Cards Against Humanity [pictured] proves very popular with students.

Can you tell us more about the food and drink?

We serve proper coffee, locally baked cakes and high quality craft beer. Games go hand in hand with snacks and beverages, so we make sure to only serve the very best. A bottle of Brew Dog goes down especially well, plus most people drink quite slowly during board games, adding to the relaxed social experience.

If you were to sit down for a game, what are your personal favourites?

I love Power Grid, which is accessible yet complex and you really earn your win. Other top picks are Dead of Winter, which feels like you’re in The Walking Dead, and The Resistance, a game that’s very much about player interactions.

What about if people aren’t big on board games?

Anyone can visit us for a drink just like with any other cafe. However, don’t be afraid to try something new, as we’re very happy to recommend games and explain how to play them.

We’ve already had people come down who have never played a board game in their life, yet ended up staying for hours over a few rounds of Scrabble or Monopoly. Everyone is welcome and we’re always ready to offer suggestions and verbal instructions.

So why board games in the first place, especially in this digital age?

Board games are an amazing way to spend time with people face to face. You get to sit around a table talking with friends, and depending on the game you may also improve certain skills, such as observation, lateral thinking and patience.

When it comes to games that require a lot of planning, strategy and figuring out details, you get a proper brain workout too. It’s such good fun and absolutely anyone can get involved.

Sounds great. What time are you open?

We’re open 1pm till 11pm on weekdays and 10am till 11pm on weekends. Some people spend ages playing a game, so we plan to give you all the time you need to decide on a winner.

You can follow The BoardRoom on Facebook and Twitter.

Read more local and national news on HEY Today

Published: Thursday 21st January 2016 by Rich Sutherland

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