Playing Around is a series exploring great places to visit if you love games.
Quirky feels like a bit of an understatement when it comes to The Library Pot. Based in Richmond, this is London’s second board game cafe, as these dens of cardboard iniquity spread across the country.
Walking in, the first thing you’ll notice is the erratic decor. An eccentric blend of Japanese accents, seating booths covered by an ivy-clad trellis, a basement room that includes a small ball pit and of course, a nook crammed to the gunnels with board games. A five-pound cover charge gets you access to the full library from which you book out games during your session. The Library is a decent size, though it’s worth checking the website if you’re looking to try a specific game. Alongside hobby staples, there’s a selection of “nostalgia” games if you’re with a group desperate to remember just how tedious Trivial Pursuit can be.
Having spent a few afternoons there, it is a lovely place to play board games. There are some quirks – primarily the high food prices, though beer is pretty reasonable (👍). You’ll enjoy an eclectic playlist of background music that features everything from a remix of the Doctor Who theme, to K-pop and AC/DC. Luckily the music isn’t too loud so it won’t interfere with your gaming. The hosts are enthusiastic and happy to help with rules explanations if they know them.
It’s a very friendly and positive atmosphere; a great place to take people not very familiar with board games for a light afternoon. The café organises lots of community nights and events, from intro classes for learning Japanese, retro game nights, D&D and even 10 mile walks. These are all organised via their Meetup Page where you can find the full details.
It’s wonderful to see board game cafés springing up, and importantly, staying open. The Library Pot offers quaint family charm in contrast with the “Shoreditch chic” of Draughts. Their extensive range of board games are great for bringing people into the hobby. Friendly appearance spaces like The Library Pot are far more enticing than some of the more enthusiast shops. If I tried to take my Dad to anywhere with an Orc in the window, he’d roll his eyes. Yet the offer of going for a drink was far more palatable to him and led to an enjoyable game of Memoir ’44. Board game cafés are doing a wonderful job of shaking off the nerdy stigma people might associate with the hobby.
If you’re ever at a loss for what to do on a rainy London weekend, hop on the district line to Richmond and head to The Library Pot.