This past January, Places We Play visited Strategies Board Game Café in Kingston ON during their Grand Opening weekend. It was an exciting and chaotic day for them. We hadn’t posted an assessment of Strategies to our blog because: a) we only spent a few hours there; and b) it was their grand opening and, therefore, somewhat crazy, so we thought conditions might be a little exceptional. We had planned to re-visit.
Unfortunately, we were saddened this week to learn that Strategies has closed.
We’ve decided to give them a quick review to acknowledge their existence and to continue to contribute to the goal of encouraging more successful game cafés in Canada.
Strategies Café got several things right: they had gurus, they were licensed, they had some good games, and they seemed to be developing a good tabletop culture. However, keeping in mind that our initial visit was during the grand opening, we found a number of shortcomings. The café space was not comfortable; the lighting was sterile, and the space, although spacious, felt more like a cafeteria rather than a café. The food that we tried was not quite adequate and, although they were licensed (an important feature that some cafés lack), their beer selection was only ordinary mass-produced products. Finally, their game selection was relatively small and their gurus were inexperienced (but enthusiastic), but these latter two assessments are typical of ‘young’ cafés and we were confident that both of would improve.
Opening a game café is a challenging and risky; requiring a substantial personal and economic investment in a young and specialized business-field. We want to see more successful game cafés in Canada. This is what our blog is all about!
We’ve been lucky enough to visit several amazing game cafes across Canada, and it seems the café owners that really get it right are the ones that don’t forget they are a café and a game room. To succeed you must be good at both, not just one.
As part of the tabletop community it’s up to us to help our local game cafes succeed. Go to your local game café and support them! Regularly. You will be surprised by what they have to offer. And you will be disappointed when you discover what you miss out on when they are gone.
We regret the loss of Strategies and we wish the best for the owners.
What we played: Istanbul, Takenoko.