Playing Around is a series highlighting all the fun places to go and things to see that have anything to do with games.
Do you ever wish the pub had a better board game selection than a battered copy of Connect 4, Chess, and a Scrbbl set missing some vowels? Then Draughts, a board game cafe, might be just what you’re looking for. After achieving Kickstarter success, Draughts set up shop in Haggerston, becoming London’s first board game cafe.
For £5/person, you get to sit down and choose from their huge library of board games (around 700). The selection is great with everything from meaty thematic games to multiple copies of popular crowd pleasers and party games. Also, plenty of Euro games if you’re that way inclined. Everything is labelled and divided into sections with indications of the games, genre, player count, difficulty and play time. Board game gurus are on hand to offer recommendations as well as tutelage in the cardboard arts, making it really easy to get started with a new game.
The Cafe is situated in a railway arch under the overground. It’s filled with decently sized square tables with a handy shelf underneath keeping tables as clear as possible for maximum play space. Some of the largest boards will struggle for space depending on player numbers. For a large group, there is a comfy sofa area arranged around a coffee table. Draughts can get very busy and it’s best to book ahead if you plan to go in the evening. At peak times it can become very noisy making it difficult to hear even someone sat across from you, so I would recommend going during the day when it’s a bit quieter.
If you’re looking for a meal, food choices are limited to salad, mezze boards and a few sandwiches. There is no hot food as the kitchen has no ventilation to allow a cooker. It’s a shame as after a long play session salad doesn’t really hit the spot. That said, fewer greasy fingers on the games will help keep them in better nick. If you’re looking for coffee and cake though you won’t be disappointed, I particularly recommend one of their decadent brownies. If it’s something stronger you want, then there’s a decent selection of local craft beers and some great themed cocktails.
Draughts is a great place to visit, it’s a wonderful feeling to be surrounded by people enjoying a shared hobby. Looking across the room and seeing so many different games being enjoyed by so many different people is just a lovely sight. Draught’s selection makes it a great way to test out a game before buying it. However, if you’re looking for a quiet or chilled games sesh, best avoid peak times.