Where Everybody Knows Your Game

I want to talk about sitcoms for just a second, but it leads back to board games so stick with me.

If you go back and look at any major sitcom, there’s always a communal space out in public that the characters meet at so that they aren’t either at work or at home. Friends had Central Perk. Frasier had Café Nervosa. Cheers had a bar, I think.

 I think it was called "Bottoms Up" or something

I think it was called "Bottoms Up" or something

They have these because sitcoms are meant, generally, to make you feel welcome, happy, and part of this group of fun. It’s nice to recognize them every week, to feel the familiarity. That’s why in real life we like to have places where we are regulars as well. You want to get out of your house, but still feel at home.

With that in mind, and with no hyperbole whatsoever, board game cafes are the single best public community space in the world today.

Let me count the ways.

 

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1.New Friends

How do you make new friends after you’re out of school? Talk to a stranger at the grocery store? Insert yourself into a group at a local bar? You absolutely can do that, but it is HARD and takes a lot of social courage. Game Café’s build in a structure to make friends – playing a game. Join a tournament, an open table night, etc. and you get to start talking to people about a shared interest immediately.

 

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2.First Dates

 Go to a movie, and you sit quietly for two hours. Go to a restaurant and you have to navigate that awkward, nervous first date small talk. Go to a board game café, though… well you play a game. That’s the conversation piece. It’s something to talk about other than “what did you go to school for/what’s your job”. Cuts down the pressure for everyone. Win-win.

 

 

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3.Not-First Dates

Want to see someone in a new light? Put them in a new situation! Play a game about negotiation, tactics, reflexes. There are more games types, themes, and experiences than you’ll need for a lifetime of date nights, and each one can illuminate a new facet of your loved ones..

 

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4.Kids

This one... well it's kind of obvious, right?

 

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5.Office Mates

Much like a first date, talking to a coworker (outside of the office) can be an awkward stretch of social landmines. Put them in front of a game board, and you are suddenly on an adventure with them that doesn’t involve TPS reports OR stories about their cat.

I could go on, and I will in another post in the future. The board game café is a relatively new site in most towns and cities, but expect to see more of them. As people realize that being with each other in person is the best way to socialize, and as they want to do so without being in a loud, crowded bar, or in a house that they need to clean up before and after each get together, you’ll find them coming again and again to their local board game café. And they’ll always be welcome.

Board Game Snap Shot: Monopoly Gamer

I grew up playing games.  I grew up playing Nintendo games, and I grew up playing Monopoly.

Basically nothing has changed.

 33 years old.

33 years old.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So now as an adult, I'm tickled at the idea of playing a proper Nintendo game based on Monopoly, especially because, and this is very important:

This is not just Monopoly with Nintendo characters pasted on it!

What they've instead done is taken the extremely familiar shell of monopoly and changed it to be a) shorter and b) less aggravating.

The idea is basically to turn Monopoly into a physical verson of Mario Party, which was already basically a board game inside a video game to start with. Instead of just going around and buying property you get Maro-Kart like powers that affect the board or your opponents as you move around the board. You collect coins (sometimes stealing them from other players) as you go around the board, and then You take on Bosses when you pass Go. The game ends when you beat enough bosses.  

The game is made to take about half an hour, which is a pretty sweet spot for game length. You can get a few games in one sitting without having a marathon session, which is great. 

Here's Hasbro's promo video if, you want to see the game in action

I'm excited to try the game out, and am happy to see that Nintendo is bringing their Amiibo success to bear here as well: In addition to the game, you can buy an "expansion" of 8 extra player figurines, each with their own special power to affect play.

At $4, It's not that pricey, and appeals to the collecter in all of us who needs all of the cute plastic we can fit into our house before being featured on Hoarders.

I'm excited to sit down with this game. Hasbro and Nintendo are two companies I have thrown my money at for decades, and it looks like they've worked on something substantive here that could be a TON of fun.

 

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Putting Hawkwood Games on the Map!

I've been a bit radio silent over the last few months as we've been wading through the planning stages of opening the cafe, but now I've got some concrete facts to share, so expect more updates here!

For today, our big news is that we've finalized our location! We're going to be at 50 Broad Street, in Spinnaker Square in downtown Milford.

It's VERY exciting to be joining the vibrant downtown community. There are already a ton of great places to visit and I think we'll add another great reason for you to come to the Milford Green. 

We are situated just at the entrance to the large municipal parking lot, which offers free parking for 2 hours, so you should hopefully be able to come right to our doorstep.

There are roughly 8 million things left to do before we open. Keep checking in for updates, insights into the process, and other fun news here!

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What to Expect at a Board Game Cafe

 

If you’ve made it to this blog, you’ve probably already seen that Hawkwood Games is a Board Game Café that will be opening this Spring in Milford, CT. But board game cafes aren’t exactly common, so you could rightly have some questions about what one is. Let’s take a moment to talk about board games cafes and what you can expect.

Games

This is actually the first question I get when I talk a lot of people. Do I mean, like Jenga? I do! But I mean quite a bit more. Most of us had at least one game in our house as kids. We played Candy Land, Life, Monopoly, or Scrabble. Those games are still around, and are still VERY fun to play.

                                                             The Usual Suspects

                                                            The Usual Suspects

              

 

Most board game cafes have a library of hundreds of games, and a lot of those are newer games published for the first time in the last ten years. These days there are board game versions of popular movies and TV shows, like Game of Thrones, the walking dead, and Star Wars. If you have a pop culture interest, someone probably has, or is about to, make a board game about it.

 

           Seriously, pretty much any tv show.

          Seriously, pretty much any tv show.

 

 

You can also find TONS of great indie board games made by small publishers these days, may backed by Kickstarter campaigns to great effect. Breakout hits like Cards Against Humanity got their start in crowd funding and have become household names.

 

You’ll also find a number of tabletop games being played that aren’t strictly board games. Tabletop RPG’s like Dungeons and Dragons are wildly popular, as are card games like Magic: The Gathering and the Pokémon collectible trading card game. I could devote a whole article just to game variations, and I just may, in the future. Hawkwood Games is shooting for a library of 300 games, so you can bet that there will be something for everyone. And while that’s part of the equation, we still have other things to talk about.

 

That Café part

The average tabletop game these days is going to keep you in a seat for at least 30 minutes. Some games will keep you there for hours. That’s great! Hours of fun. But if you’re a caffeine addict like me, or just someone with basic biological needs, you don’t go hours and hours without having a drink, maybe having a snack or a meal. It’s why Chucky Cheese has pizza, or why most bowling alleys also serve bar food. Board game cafes vary pretty widely in what they offer. Some have full bars, some have fill kitchens. Most simply want to have coffee on hand and some finger food to keep your stomach from rumbling you away from your game of Carcassonne. At Hawkwood games you’ll find things like movie theater popcorn, fresh baked cookies, hummus plates, chips and salsa, and for longer game sessions, maybe a hot panini sandwich.

                                       Not exactly what we had in mind, but pretty close. 

                                      Not exactly what we had in mind, but pretty close. 

 

One thing you’ll want to know before you go to a board game café, though, is that it isn’t a place to grab a coffee and set up with your laptop. Every board game café in the world charges you for your table. It’s just like how a bowling alley charges you for your lane. Table fees are usually pretty small, $5 per person with no time limit seems to be the norm. 

What it’s good for

The easy answer is “gaming”, but board game cafes are great event spaces for a wide array of uses.

  • It’s a great place to take a date
  • Birthday parties
  • Company team building events
  • Family night
  • Fundraising events
  • Those times when you want to get together but don’t want to host (i.e. clean)
  • Trying out expensive games before you commit to buying them.
  • Tournaments for your favorite game

If you ask people who frequent a board game café, though, they’ll likely tell you something like this: It’s about community. Finding a place that can become a part of our home town, part of the fabric of our social lives, has immense personal value. I’m not one of those that would say something like “the digital age is making us more isolated”. There’s a whole debate to be had there, for sure, but I don’t think that’s the case. I do think, though, that there’s something special about spending time with people in person. Sharing food together. Competing or working together in a game. These are fruitful for us in a unique way. If you’re an avid gamer or just someone who played Uno as a kid – I highly recommend grabbing a friend and trying it out.

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First post, best post

Hello! I'm Ryan, the owner of Hawkwood Games Cafe, a board game cafe that will be opening this Spring in Milford, Connecticut. We'll get to what that is in our next post. For now, I want to take a moment to explain the goals of this blog.

  • Gaming news: Gaming is a passion of mine. That's why I'm here. I I read about it all over the place formy personal interest, as well as my new professional interest. As I gather information, I'll share it here. I don't know that I'll be breaking anything new, but I can at least be a repository for gaming news, especially...
  • Gaming news specific to Connecticut: Events, conventions, tournaments, local groups looking for members. If it's local to southern CT, I'll put it here.
  • Discussions about gaming: I'll be doing game reviews, book reviews , and hopefully start some discussions about the things we all love.
  • The content that you request: Hawkwood Games is a part of a community, so its blog should be as well. Let me know if there's something you would like to see covered, an event you'd like me to feature, etc. 

Those are the major goals. More to come soon. Thank you so much for checking it out! We're going to get a regular schedule started soon, with regular, hopefully Interesting content. 

Thanks for reading!

Ryan

 

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