Café Review: Roll Play Café, Toronto, ON

The place we played: Roll Play Café, Toronto, ON

Played in: October 2014

Our Thoughts:
We weren’t exactly sure what to expect when we first walked into Roll Play, but at the end of a dark staircase we were greeted with an awesome full wall mural featuring the familiar sight of Rich Uncle Pennybags being mauled by the King of Tokyo during a routine settlement of Catan. We knew then that we had found a place where we belonged.

rollplayThe atmosphere at Roll Play was more like a party than a quiet café. Maybe this had to do with the prime location for tourists and passer-bys (right in the heart of downtown, off of Nathan Phillips Square), or maybe it had to do with the 1998s greatest hits Sirius channel they were pumping, but either way the vibe was different from a lot of the cafes we’ve visited so far. The games reflected that as well. They had a reasonable selection of games, from our point of view, yet this was the place where we saw, by far, the most people playing Jenga (obviously they need to start reconsidering their game choices). They also had a large TV with video game consoles available, though it wasn’t being used much the night we were there. We thought it was a cool idea but wondered if it might be distracting to some people playing more serious games.

Other than the crashing of Jenga tiles, Roll Play has a beautiful space. Bright and open, big huge shelves (giving them lots of room to grow!) and lovely booths that seemed designed with gamers in mind. They left lots of room on the window sills, and built in shelves between the booths to store the box tops, rule sheets, winter coats, bags and all other accoutrements that get in the way of rolling up your sleeves and gaming.

We spent more hours than we had intended to at Roll Play, as tends to happen when we get together for gaming, so we had a chance to sample many of their beers and menu items during that time. The pizza was the highlight, and they had a couple of beer options on tap that were local and also delicious, so we were happy to settle in.

They didn’t have a guru on staff, though our server was happy to offer suggestions (her favourite was Ghost Blitz) and talked to us a lot about what we were playing and what we thought. She mentioned they were building up their game library, which would explain the mostly empty shelves. As usual, we would definitely do a return visit to Roll Play. Overall, we enjoyed our time there with great games, good food and beer, and of course, a good excuse to exercise the competitive drive that fuels our friendship.

PWP Ranking:
Space: A
Collection: C
Food: C+
Drink: B+
Staff: C+
Look and Feel: A-
Overall Score: B

Other Stuff we like:
Retail: Yep!
Flat Fee: Yep!
Events: Yep!

Great for: Casual gamers looking for a beautiful place to sit and play a game – for a first date maybe? – as long as you can tolerate Jenga (AKA not Hogarth)

What we played: Kingdoms, 7 Wonders, Small World Underground

PS: Looking for a cafe near you? Want to see all our other reviews? Check out our List of Board Game Cafés in Canada
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Ellie Frederickson is an experienced player of many board games and has cred as a purveyor of games from a time working in a game store. She has an inclination towards Euro-style games, but isn’t especially picky. Reading rules is a particular skill of hers (and a source of enjoyment, oddly enough) and she usually gets a game right the first time she plays it. She has a keen eye for good designs; in art, cafés and games; and an aversion to sub-standard food and drink

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