A few weeks ago, Alex and I decided for once and for all to go to Oxford and visit Thirsty Meeples. We wanted to geek out, play some board games, and meet properly the place that seemingly set the standards of board game cafes in the UK. Well folks, the reason why it has taken me so long to write this up, is because the experience was not what I was wanting or expecting. I didn’t want to write a mean review all hot headed so, I decided to give it some time and reflect back. So, without more hesitation, here is the final report, I guess.
Just to set the scene, we went at the end of June on a Saturday at midday, and it was pretty hot and busy in Oxford itself. The total crew was us two and 2 of our friends, seasoned geeks with knowledge of board game cafes here and abroad. In fact, one of our friends has been working as a games master for different projects since 2017 so, we’d like to think we had some pretty decent background.
The first thing that struck me was how uninviting the space was, although that’s not completely their fault. I understand rent prices in the city centre are demanding and you do the best you can with what you get. However, I had this issue as well when I went to Snakes & Ladders (Bristol). The games for sale are right there as you come in, the space left between them and the first set of gaming tables is of one person, and this is the only way in and out. Needless to say it is tight. In Bristol this is even worse: the playing games are right in front of the bar which is at the entrance and gaming area at the back so, if there’s a queue you have to go through people. If it’s busy, you can’t afford to take your time to have a look in either of these locations, not without getting in the way of the staff and the other customers. I could have got past it in Thirsty Meeples, but then, you ha e the same problem with the actual playing board games. The shelves run along the walls, okay, cool, but then there are playing tables, big ones as well, right by them. And the section that is most heavily impacted by this is strategy games so, what, 70% of the playing collection? If I wanted to play something as simple and iconic as ticket to ride or catan, or even long game like scythe, I would have had to disturb a table of 6. Not great. Never mind though, because there’s no chance I’d have liked to play a long game there. Not only is the gaming space on the tables limited – an issue we had addressed for other places like draughts, though, mind you at least the have the trays under the tables which is useful – it’s so bloody noisy!! Continue reading “A Sour Visit to Thirsty Meeples”