Gamers@Hart Shop Closing FAQs

Gamers@Hart Shop Closing FAQs

Gamers@Hart Shop Closing FAQs – Updates 10/10/20

When are you closing the shop?

Our last day will be Friday 30th October

Why are you closing your shop?

A mix of Covid19 making businesses like ours unviable and uncertainty in the economy due to Brexit.

Is Gamers@Hart folding completely?

No, only the physical shop. We’ll still have our online shop – and if things change in the spring, who knows? Our passion for games hasn’t gone anywhere – and we were really, really excited about our new ventures helping families and young people get the best from games. Things affecting our ability to bounce back include: restrictions that limit socialising; the help from the government for businesses forced to close during the pandemic; the our online sales while our physical shop is closed.

Lockdown has been tough. 2021 will have people who have felt isolated looking for low-threat places to build new friendships and reconnect with others. We hope we can offer that, even if it looks a bit different.

Is the close permanent or temporary?

We honestly don’t know yet. We would love to bounce back in spring, but there’s too much uncertainty to say. We are, as they say, preparing for the worst but hoping for the best.

What happens to my membership?

Annual memberships will be refunded – you can still use your card until the day we close for discounts.

Monthly memberships will have no more payments taken – you get most of October free!

What happens to the library?

The library will be open as usual until 17th October. Then it will close to people taking games home, however it will remain open until the last day for playing games in the shop. To allow us to close the shop for a few months or more, we’ll need to pay various suppliers. To do this we will need to sell off much of our library. If we are able to bounce back, we’ll start again with the most popular games!

What about events?

All events will be happening as normal until the end. We hope to add a few more ‘farewell for now’ events in our final week, AND because we’d normally have to spread our prizes across several months you can expect improved prize pools!

In the future we hope to be able to offer events again regularly – this may even begin before we reopen a shop.

What about my preorders?

All preorders will still be honoured – and we’ll be offering more. We’re looking forward to using our website to take your orders in the future, and we’ll deliver free within Hartlepool.

How can I help?

Pop in, say hi, grab something to put aside for Christmas, book tables and play games, keep checking out our online shop… basically keep using us while we’re here 🙂

Who else uses tabletop games?

Who else uses tabletop games?

Tabletop games are are used successfully in education, therapeutic and social settings across the world. However, they require a rare blend of qualified professionals, avid gamers, and areas with low overheads to work effective and affordably. Hartlepool is one of the fortunate place in the centre of that Venn diagram.

This is a brief overview of other people who have used tabletop games to benefit others, and shows why we think tabletop gaming and Magic: The Gathering are ideal for helping young people to make friends, gain confidence, and learn. It’s all about socialising, strategising, and problem solving with others – these skills don’t develop by chance, but within the right environments.

This isn’t just us! Lots of other people are using games for educational and social benefits, for example: GametoGrow use games for mindfulness and therapeutic purposes; the Bodhana Group in Pennsylvania use games to rehearse social skills and build empathy; The Brooklyn Strategist was founded by a clinical psychologist and researcher to develop stategy and problem solving amongst young people; Imagination Gaming run lots of successful curriculum days using games in schools in Yorkshire (and beyond). Hartlepool has joined a relatively short list of places able to offer gaming as an educational and social tool run by trained professionals.

What does the research say?

Generally, the quality of the research is pretty average – not many people have invested the time and money into researching board games to have a full measure of their true potential. There are few randomised controlled trials that are able to prove changes are down to gaming, however there are some large-scale studies that offer good evidence alongside experienced practitioners that show gaming can have a positive effect.

Families that regularly engage in ‘common, low cost, relatively accessible, often home-based activities’ , including table top games, have higher family life satisfaction [1]. Role playing games (like Dungeons & Dragons) improves empathy [2]. Magic: The Gathering has been used successfully as a rich literacy tool that fosters it’s own discourse [3]. Introverted children have increased motivation to open up during table top games [4]. Carcassonne has been used to teach geography successfully [5], Monopoly used to simulate probability and risk amongst business students [6], and Apples to Apples is used to train language therapists in understanding different forms of support for clients [7]. In 55 to 91 year olds, playing card games improves working memory and reasoning [8] and reduces the risk of dementia [9].

There’s also myriad examples of researchers creating their own games for specific purposes including alleviating the effects of Alzheimer’s [10], improving family life [11], improving the teaching of pharmacology [12], biology [13], and physics [14] undergraduate students, and improve social skills of primary aged pupils [15]. Games teach algorithms and computational thinking to pupils across the school age [16].

What do we expect to happen?

Based on the experience of other people, the research above, and our own experiences, we expect children and young people who take part in The Geek Room to:

  • Make new friends, even if making friends is hard for them
  • Socialise during a shared experience, even if socialising feels unnatural to them
  • Develop deeper problem solving and strategising skills
  • Develop confidence in their own judgements and decision making
  • Feel safe, valued, and welcome.

[1] Agate, J.R. et al (2009) ‘Family Leisure Satisfaction and Satisfaction with Family Life’ Journal of Leisure Research 41:2 p205-223

[2] Rivers, A et al (2016) ‘Empathic Features and Absorption in Fantasy Role-Playing’ American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis 68:3 p286-294

[3] Dodge, A.M ‘Examining Literacy Practices in the Game Magic: The Gathering’ American Journal of Play 10:2

[4] Trajkovik, V et al (2018) ‘Traditional games in elementary school: Relationships of student’s personality traits, motivation and experience with learning outcomes’ PLoS One doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0202172

[5] Mewborn, M & Mitchell, J.T. (2019) ‘Carcassonne: Using a Tabletop Game to Teach Geographic Concepts’ The Theography Teacher 16:2, p57-67

[6] Gazdula, J & Farr, R (2019) ‘Teaching Risk and Probability: Building the Monopoly Board Game Into a Probability Simulator’ Management Teaching Review DOI 10.1177/2379298119845090

[7] Scharp, K.M, Seiter J.S., Curran, T (2019) ‘Learning supportive communication through an adaptation of the board game Apples to Apples’ Communication Teacher 33:1 p5-10

[8] Clarkson-Smith, L & Hartley, A.A. (1990) ‘The Game of Bridge as an Exercise in Working Memory and Reasoning’ Journal of Gerontology 45:6 p233-238

[9] Dartigues, J.F. et al (2013) ‘Playing board games, cognitive decline and dementia: a French population-based cohort study’ BMJ Open doi: 10.1136/

[10] Cohen, G.D et al (2009) ‘The First Therapeutic Game Specifically Designed and Evaluated for Alzheimer’s Disease’ American Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease and Other Dementia 21:6 p540-551

[11] Blechman, E.A. (1974) ‘The Family Contract Game’ The Family Coordinator 23:3 p269-281

[12] Karbownik et al (2016) ‘Board game versus lecture-based seminar in the teaching of pharmacology of antimicrobial drugs – a randomized controlled trial’ FEMS doi: 10.1093/femsle/fnw045

[13] Luchi et al (2017) ‘Effect of an education game on university students’ learning about action potetials’ Advanced Physical Education 31 p222-230

[14] Cardinot, A & Fairfield, J.A. (2019) ‘Game-Based Learning to Engage Students With Physics and Astronomy Using a Board Game’International Journal of Game-Based Learning DOI: 10.4018/IJGBL.20190101044

[15] Okada, Y & Matsuda, T (2019) ‘Development of a Social Skills Education Game for Elementary School Students’ Simulation & Gaming 50:5 p598-620

[16] Gresse Von Wangenhaim, C, et al (2019) ‘SplashCode – A Board Game for Learning an Understanding of Algorithms in Middle School’ Informatics in Education 18:2 p259-280

The Geek Room FAQ

The Geek Room FAQ

We’re delighted with how many people are showing an interest in our two new ‘Geek Rooms’ – one for people who would enjoy delving into the world’s most popular collectible card game, and one for general board and card games.

Here are some of the questions we’ve been asked. If you have any questions please send them in – our email address is

What happens if we enter a local lockdown?

We will follow the local guidelines. It is likely we will be required to close The Geek Room. In this case, you are welcome to receive either a refund for any sessions that haven’t been completed, or carry the remaining sessions over until the lockdown is over.

Is this suitable for a child with ASC/Aspergers?


All staff have either had ASC awareness training or are qualified teachers. We are providing a safe space for children and young people who enjoy problem solving or gaming to meet other people with similar interests. Part of our mission is to create an inclusive environment, and to develop an inclusive attitude amongst our members.

In fact we would go even further – gaming can be a great way for anyone who finds socialising difficult. It provides social situations with clear boundaries, where conversation and communication have a clear focus. You can talk to people about what is happening in front of you as the game unfolds, and afterwards there’s an immediate shared experience to base conversation on.

What if my child doesn’t enjoy it?

We believe the small groups, friendly leaders, and entertaining and fulfilling games will be enjoyed by all. But if your child doesn’t enjoy The Geek Room we will offer a refund for any sessions that have not been completed.

What particular procedures will you be following regarding Covid19?

Children will be in bubbles of 4, and they will not interact with other bubbles. They will be spaced 2m apart from other bubbles, and each child will be 1.2m from other children in their bubble.

All the usual procedures stand, including: wearing masks is compulsory for over 12s (unless they are exempt) and recommended for younger children where it will not cause distress, using hand sanitizer often, and games that are played are quarantined for 3 days.

What do you hope children and young people will get out of taking part?

  • New friends
  • A new hobby
  • Increased confidence to take risks and trust in their ability to make sound judgements
  • Increased ability to problem solve, be able to articulate reasoning for choices, and ability to make strategic decisions
  • Improvements in a range of academic subjects covered in our monthly focus on games
  • Increased concentration and willingness to cooperate.

Can I stay? Can I leave my child?

Yes, and yes. Our leaders have a DBS check, and large amount of experience as teachers and youth and children’s workers if you want to feel comfortable leaving your child. And we do have a small number of extra tables downstairs you are welcome to sit at if you would prefer to stay.

Using games in (home) school!

Using games in (home) school!

It’s no secret; we’re huge fans of using games to help with education and socialising.

This is why we love them as teaching tools!

#1 Games are powerful teaching tools because they’re fun, not because they’re educational

There’s no need to try and make a game ‘educational’, or overemphasise what they can teach. Choose games wisely, play normally, spot teachable moments, and trust that kids will be learning.

Many other activities also have similar educational benefits – we would never suggest gaming is the only way to learn, or even the best when compared to some of the educational interventions school provides. But what makes gaming unique is the almost-universal motivation to take part. Kids become actively involved in their own learning.

#2 There’s so much to choose from – you can find almost any combination of themes and skills!

The theme of the game might not be the thing you really want to teach, even though it looks like it is.

Take Scrabble as an example. Scrabble is not a word game. It’s a memory game. You win by memorising as much of the dictionary as possible. You don’t need to have any understanding of any of the words and it doesn’t improve spelling.

Genuine word games are things like Jask, Just One, Head Hackers, Codenames, and even Dixit – games that make you interact with words, where you’re actively engaging with the meaning of the words and searching for multiple interpretations and perspectives.

And Monopoly isn’t really a game that teaches anything about economics (other than how unfair it can be), if anything it’s a lesson in luck and probability. Games about economics mimic how resources can be traded for other resources, sometimes more profitably than others, like Century: Spice Road, Splendor, Power Grid, or Terraforming Mars.

#3 Games can introduce new concepts and skills

Heavily thematic games that have been well thought out provide an opportunity to learn some basic concepts of a huge range of subjects. I knew nothing about how anyone created atomic bombs before I played The Manhattan Project, and nothing about traditional wine making until Viticulture. Now I’m hardly an expert in either field, but this general background knowledge about grapes and ‘yellow cake’ opens up some new concepts that – according to research on learning – will make it easier to learn about actual wine production.

You could do it the other way round – teach the abstract concepts and then use games to reinforce that – but it’s better to have a practical, experiential encounter with the topic of the curriculum first, and then there’s something to ‘hang’ the more abstract learning onto.

For example, with our new Geek Room, we’re beginning with a month of games that introduce concepts about probability. Probability is a pretty abstract concept, and the general misinformation about the dangers of coronavirus show statistics and probability isn’t particularly well understood. The idea that you can manipulate probabilities in your favour is even more difficult to comprehend.

However, the idea that you can add an extra card to your deck, and you find you can ‘pull’ that card more often and having more success… that’s providing the foundation to learn about probability in a more formal setting.

#4 Games reinforce information from other places

Timeline is a great game. You have a few cards of inventions and discoveries, and you guess where they fit in the timeline you (and the other players) are creating. Cytosis is a great game for teaching the concept of how cells work, and throws in the language that GCSE students are expected to know. Terraforming Mars is a fantastic science-based simulation which blurs the boundary between science fiction and current thinking about how we could sustain human life on Mars.

And thanks to ‘spacing’ (as educational psychologists would call it), these games help to reinforce information that has been learnt elsewhere. It’s typically thought the best way to commit something into the long term memory is to repeatedly bring it to mind several times, over days or weeks.

If your child is learning about British History, then having a game of Brain Box: Kings and Queens every few days will be a great way to reinforce what they’ve already learnt.

#5 Developing skills, not learning facts, is the strength of games

We often think ‘educational’ means the content of the game has to teach us something new – and as we’ve seen above, there are some great examples of games that do that.

But the real strength of games is in developing skills – because the skills are reinforced across multiple games. What skills? Well, that’s a series of posts in itself. But let’s briefly take a few:

  • Problem solving – some games, like the Unlock series, are based entirely around this premise.
  • Strategizing – the more choices you have on your turn in a game, generally, the more complex it is and the greater strategy that’s required. There aren’t many games that have more choices than Civilization, but even Outfoxed (aimed at 5 year olds) has genuine, non-luck based choices to make.
  • Teaching new vocabulary, which improves comprehension, which improves reading, which improves… everything.
  • Logical sequences – which set children up for engaging in programming and maths – are integral to most games, but we think worker placement games are particularly good for that. These are games where you take an action (often by placing a ‘worker’ on a space on the board), which gives you a resource.
  • Recognising patterns – another key skill for maths. It doesn’t matter if it’s matching colours, or working through a hidden maze, many games involve patterns and repetition. Lovelace and Babbage is one good example though.
  • Developing working memory – any game that has you hold multiple pieces of information in your head at once helps with this. Who has what card again? What order did I want to take my actions in?
  • Deduction – the idea that you can work something out – or limit the options – with the information you’ve got. Who’s the Werewolf? Where’s Dracula hiding? What card is someone holding?

#6 Activating multiple skills at one.

Games often use multiple skills at the same time. Games that require maths often have cards with new vocabulary to read. Games that involve story telling still have points to add at the end. Cooperative games that are really about probability still require the use of strategy, conversation, and cooperation – and the ability to be persuasive. When choosing games you can also think about what secondary skills are being activated.

#7 Use the tools you already possess

We don’t even need to say this. Teaching has always been an art form. It’s always been more about the well-timed question and appropriate affirmation than lesson plans.

When playing games purely as a hobby a lot goes unsaid. In an educational environment, encouraging overt reflection on the state of the game, and asking multiple perspectives about what’s happening now and what’s happening next, and explicitly pointing to the reason for playing the game, will all help to get more from the game while keeping it fun.

Despite all this, in a classroom environment, using games can be tough. We have some ideas on how to overcome some practical issues in our next post.

The Geek Room: Gaming for Kids

The Geek Room: Gaming for Kids

See our FAQ for even more information.

Some kids enjoy using their brains. They are motivated by finding problems to solve – and set about solving them.

We use gaming to channel that creative energy, and to meet other kids who enjoy a challenge too. And if their love of brain teasers means they ever feel out of place at school, we provide a safe environment for them to explore their potential.

For years we’ve known what we want to achieve: a place for children and young people who enjoy academic challenges, who spend their spare time problem solving, and who love obsessing and learning about – well – anything – would have a safe space to geek out, to challenge themselves while being supported and encouraged, where ‘failure’ isn’t possible because they’re only asked to develop at their own pace and in a way that interests them.

Once upon a time, these kind of people might find like-minded people in the chess club, or playing D&D with science teachers at lunch time… but now there’s a new, out-of-school option…

We believe all children and young people should have a safe space to challenge themselves and grow in confidence. The Geek Room is one of the spaces.

Gaming has incredible potential to benefit young people when it is used by educators to intentionally foster particular skills. Following our past experience of working with autistic young people (which we hope to restart soon), we have put together a new programme of activities based around trading card games and board games.

The Geek Room will:

  • be a safe space to ‘geek out’ about our passions;
  • develop young people’s confidence, problem solving, and strategising;
  • introduce new hobbies using gaming;
  • provide a safe, inclusive, supportive environment for young people who enjoy mental challenges and problem solving;
  • facilitate new friendships amongst like-minded young people;
  • bridge the gap between abstract knowledge and practical application of school curricula;

This will particularly be of interest to children and young people who:

  • Enjoy mental challenges and problem solving, and want to stretch themselves in a safe space;
  • Would benefit from being in a confidence-building and/or social-skills developing environment;
  • Would like to make new friends.

Who is this run by?

This programme is run by Gamers@Hart, having been developed by Peter, a research fellow at the School of Education in the University of Leeds and, once upon a time, a qualified youth worker; Jeni, a trained occupational therapist, who also trained to be a primary school teacher; and Bridie, a qualified teacher who has a range of experience across both key stage 2 and 3.

Will it be Covid Secure?

Yes. The guidelines are continually in flux regarding Covid19, and we always run events after seeking advice from the local authority. Social distancing will be maintained, and the groups will be relatively small. A precise risk assessment will be published when the new guidelines have come into force.

We’re Interested!

You can sign up here. We currently have 2 groups on offer:

  • Gaming For Kids
    • £33 per month
    • Sessions every Monday from 5:30 to 7pm.
    • Every month has a focus on two curriculum areas
    • Play an expansive range of board and card games, based on the tastes and interests of the group
    • Free family membership, worth £13.99 per month (already a member? We’ll ensure you receive a refund so you don’t pay twice!).
    • Aimed at 8-12 year olds
  • Magic: The Gathering
    • £44 per month
    • Includes £30 worth of resources, including a new Standard deck and 4 booster packs
    • Sessions every Sunday morning from 10:30am – 12:30pm
    • Develop a new offline hobby with an international community of players
    • Free family membership, worth £13.99 per month (already a member? We’ll ensure you receive a refund so you don’t pay twice!)
    • Aimed at 10-14 year olds

Not enough? Here’s some more info!

This project is being run by trained teachers and educators. These are far more than a ‘turn up and play’ club (although, we run events like that too). And this definitely isn’t school! We embed pedagogic principles and concepts that are often covered in school, into gaming. These are some of the theories we have built the activities in the The Geek Room on:

1) Reflection in and on action. This develops the skills required to make a conscious effect to evaluate how something has gone, or is currently going, and having the confidence to make changes if something could be better. This is more than just ‘problem solving’ but about intentionally taking multiple perspectives when deciding a course of actions, until taking lots of perspectives into account becomes a habit. Being asked to pause and articulate the possible choices is a first step in developing reflective skills. By having experienced educators in the room to question what’s happening at specific moments, without making the games tedious, our participants will be encouraged to articulate their different choices and the reasons for their decisions.

2) Time for Telling: Learning in school often happens in an unnatural, abstract, and conceptual way. That’s a ‘necessary evil’ of schooling, but learning is significantly more effective if you experience something and then learn about the concepts. Maths, for example, that has myriad practical applications in careers like engineering, science, and business can feel like it has no real benefit which studying algebra or probability in class.

This lack of prior experience makes it more difficult to learn new concepts. The Geek Room gives an opportunity to experience many skills learnt as part of the school curricula. We don’t specifically ‘teach’ probability, for example, the way that pupils encounter it in school. But we use the language of probability when talking about things like constructing a deck of Pokemon cards, and players experience what it’s like if their deck is unbalanced and they’re unlikely to get the cards they need to win. Probability becomes emotive and experiential, increasing the effectiveness of teaching in the class room. A lack of ‘Energy’ in Pokemon, or ‘Land’ in Magic The Gathering is infuriating – it’s also something that can be predicted. Games also often use complex but practical forms of algorithms, algebra, logic, and sequencing – they also introduce practical experience of new vocabulary – all of which are gently related by experienced teachers to school curricula.

3) Transformational Education. Schools are exceptionally good at ‘transmissive’ forms of education – the transmission of knowledge from the curriculum to the student via the teacher. Schools, however, have less space for ‘transformational’ education that also seeks to develop characteristics in students (in fact, it can be quite controversial if schools seek to impart specific values). However coming across new people and new ideas can change our perspectives and our attitudes. Gaming can be competitive, but it’s also supposed to be an enjoyable experience. We have fun only when we cooperate, even in losing. Learning to win and lose in a way that means other people want to play again is a valuable skill. We will also facilitate the development of attitudes of inclusion, leadership, care, and confidence. When combined with reflection in action, we’re also providing opportunities to develop theory of mind (the ability to consider the perspective of other people), by asking questions like “what do you think the player will do next – can you predict how they will react if you play that card?” (which also develops inference skills that are essential for reading comprehension).

4) Peer mentoring. This is about putting young people in positions of responsibility where they are encouraged to support the development of others. More experienced and less experienced participants will be put together, allowing one to help the other. This is proven to develop empathy, leadership skills, confidence, communication skills, and responsibility in other situations too. It also consolidates the young person’s own knowledge and skills – there’s truth in the maxim ‘you don’t know something until you can teach it’. Additionally, it helps to create an atmosphere of inclusion, care and nurturing. Young people are supported into their mentoring role and encouraged to see themselves as enablers and a positive influence.

Then there’s a range of more specific skills we focus onto help to get the most out of gaming, including: maths practice, vocabulary development, strategy, advanced knowledge of sequences…. the list could go on.


Our safeguarding policies are available here. All staff have been DBS checked and recruited with all appropriate safeguarding measures in place.

Games to Play on Star Trek Day

Games to Play on Star Trek Day

September 8th is generally accepted as ‘Star Trek’ day, commemorating the anniversary of the Original Series’ first broadcast in 1966.

In celebration of Gene Roddenberry’s vision coming to fruition, here’s our recommendation of some games you might enjoy playing!

If they whet your appetite, you can either join our library and take them home to play, or play in the cafe!

1. Star Trek Fluxx (of various types)

A game that is as fickle as Q: as with all versions of Fluxx, you draw a card, play a card, and hope to collect the whatcards you need to win. An easy-to-learn, heavily thematic game filled full of nostalgia. Some beautiful, stylised artwork on the cards give a new interpretation to some classic items, characters, and episodes. Even if you don’t play – it’s worth flicking through the cards to see their depiction of some classic encounters in the Star Trek universe.

Aim of the game

Collect ‘Keepers’ (green cards) that match the current goal (pink cards) to win! So, if the goal is ‘There are Four Lights’, you need to collect the ‘Cardassians’ and ‘Picard’ cards.

Who’s is for?

2-6 players (we think it plays best with 3-4), for ages 8+ (although Fluxx can easily be played with younger children who have a good grasp of reading).
Our complexity rating: 4 out of 10

We have the Original Series, Next Generation, and Deep Space 9 versions in the library, with Voyager coming soon!

We love it because:

  • It’s so easy to teach
  • It’s quick to play
  • It’s a great family game that can introduce children to some classic sci-fi that school’s (for some reason) don’t cover in their curriculum
  • The perfect size to take ‘out and about’
  • Although there’s a lot of luck, manipulating the rules of the game to give you an advantage is very satisfying

Don’t bother if:

  • You’re not interested in games that require more luck than Geordie at the poker table.

2. Star Trek: 5 Year Mission

More suspense than “I am Locutus of Borg”: A fantastic, dice-rolling, co-operative game set in either TOS or TNG eras. Star Trek: Five Year Mission does surprising well at mimicking the last-minute nature of many episodes from the TV series.

Choose your crew (command, science, or engineering crew), roll dice, and attempt to solve one of the many problems currently occuring on the Enterprise. This well-balanced game often has you on the edge of your seat, so close to failing a mission (and you can only fail so many missions before you lose the game), and blowing on the dice to give you the victory you need. Added to that, missions can introduce special rules


By rolling dice, complete enough missions (without failing too many) to lead the Enterprise to safety.

Who is it for?

3-7 players (we think it works well with all numbers of players)
8+ years old (easily playable by anyone with a grasp of numbers and can match patterns)
Our complexity rating: 5 out of 10

We love it because:

  • It’s full of genuine suspense.
  • Uses some of the most iconic images of the Original Series and The Next Generation.
  • The system for adjusting difficulty gives it replayability and longevity.

Don’t bother if:

  • Your relationship with dice has been influenced by Martus Mazur.

3. Star Trek Scene It

The game has just as much nostalgia as the TV Series. Put on the DVD and enjoy a quiz full of trivia and video clips.

Who is it for?

People who still have a DVD player.
2+ players
Age 12+ due to the rating, but one for Star Trek buffs with just enough clues you can guess to keep amateurs happy.
Our complexity rating: 2 out of 10

We love it because:

  • You can relive some of the best bits
  • All that binge watching of old series finally comes in handy
  • It feels like you can properly ‘geek out’

Don’t bother if:

  • Quizzes leave you feeling like Carraya IV’s Klingon kids looking at a Bat’leth

4. Star Trek Frontiers

One of the more complex (and most underrated) Star Trek games – explore space beyond a newly discovered wormhole. A mix of deck builder, resources management, exploration and area control. There’s multiple missions for different lengths and numbers of players: some are cooperative, others competitive.

Command your star ship, recruit new crew members and upgrade your ship as you attempt to complete your mission.

Who is it for?

Ages 14+
2-4 players
Our complexity rating: 9 out of 10

We love it because

  • It comes with borg cubes!
  • The ships are the cutest
  • The game is immersive too

Don’t bother if:

  • You prefer your games to be under 2 hours long. If you didn’t have the patience for Insurrection, maybe give it a miss.

5. Chrono-Trek

The Star Trek version of the popular ‘Chrono Trek’, this feels more like an activity than a game. Although it is competitive, the enjoyment comes from seeing how you can mess with the Star Trek timeline, and see how the different series fit together – it’s particularly satisfying to see how the events in Enterprise affected the future in TNG.

Who is it for?

Ages 8+
2-6 players
Our complexity rating: 6 out of 10
Anyone who wants to check out a brief reminder of key Star Trek events, particularly those involving time travel!

We love it because:

  • It’s hosts a clever ‘time travel’ mechanic
  • It gives the brain a workout

Don’t bother if:

  • You don’t have much table space
  • You’ve already played it a few times (replayability is limited – but great every time with new players!)
  • You believe Star Trek cannon stopped after Picard found his flute.
Cover Charges: How it Works

Cover Charges: How it Works

What’s a cover charge?

Unlike most cafes, we encourage people to stay at their table for a long time, enjoying games. However this comes with an associated set of costs: we serve fewer customers, board games are expensive to replace, and simply being open is expensive in staff time and other costs.

What is your cover charge?

£2 per person, over the age of 11, for every 3 hours. Or spend £7 on food and/or drink over that time.

I don’t want to pay!

That’s fine, we have four options for you!

1) Become a member. For a monthly or annual subscription fee not only do you avoid paying the subscription charge, you also get 5% off ALL purchases (including events) made online and in the shop. You can also take games from our library home to play.

2) Spend money on food and drink. If you spend £7 per person every 3 hours (averaged, if you’re a family), the £2 fee is waived.

3) Come in at quiet times. Daytime midweek (when we open fully in September) will be free.

4) Just popping in for a coffee and snack? That’s fine too. We have a fair-usage policy: if you’re here with us, and you’re not playing games, for up to an hour, there’s no charge.

How did you work out the price?

On average we have space for about 12 people at once. So we took the costs associated with being open for 3 hours, and divided by 12. We consulted with our customers about the fairest way to make sure we could cover our costs, and this model won.

Library Recommendations: Games You Only Play Once

Library Recommendations: Games You Only Play Once

One of the most obvious reasons to join a library is to experience the games you will probably only play a very limited number of times – maybe even only once!

Usually these are puzzles – once you’ve figured out the answer or explored the story you can’t really play again.

Here’s some examples from our library you could try! If you haven’t become a member of our library yet, you can do that here! Or join us at our cafe and play the game here.


After the plane crashes you know you have a limited time to find an alternative form of transport and get off this island… an island full of traps, puzzles, and a complex base to navigate through… and you only have 60 minutes to do it in!

An escape room in a box (well, actually 3 per box), these acclaimed games are incredibly easy to learn. Some cards combine to unlock new cards, other cards have hidden meanings and puzzles, some are maps or descriptions of a room, and others link to a puzzle on an accompanying app.

If you like brain teasers and logic puzzles, you’ll enjoy this! And although some puzzles can be tricky, there’s clues on the app and enough that involves a close scour of the cards keeping all ages involved.

Most games are finished in around an hour.

We have Escape Adventures and Mystery Adventures in our library, and a special Star Wars version is coming soon!


Sent back in time put right what once went wrong, in absolutely no way infringing anyone’s copyright, you attempt to unravel what has caused someone’s untimely end and seek to improve their lot.

With plenty of text to read, it feels like unravelling a small novel in reverse. There’s ambiguous clues that provide an opportunity for discussion; a story that’s understandable from 2-3 cards; multiple interpretations that can be narrowed down. In short, it provides an entertaining immersive experience for 45-60 minutes.

Ok, although I’m no philosopher of time travel, the idea of that all changes happen simultaneously seems a little… dubious. But if you can suspend disbelief and just accept the weird timey-wimey paradox, we think you’ll love them!

We have Blood in the Gutter, Cherry Blossom Festival and Curse from the Past in our library.

Chronicles of Crime

“Lay out the case, interrogate suspects, and investigate crime scenes with your phone”

An ingenious mix of board game and app sees you scan cards into your phone, attempting to solve crimes. The same game components can be used across multiple scenarios.

More rules to learn than the other games in this list, but worth it!

The base game comes with 5 scenarios, and we have one expansion in our library with an extra four!

And finally, a fourth notable game of this play-once genre include: Escape the Room, like Unlock without the app, a fun set of connected puzzles to help you get through the mystery of Dr Gravely’s secrets.

Are there any play-once games you’d like us to add to the library?

Add your suggestions here.

Gaming Fees

Gaming Fees

Here’s our post-lockdown conundrum.

Capacity is pretty low.

Space is expensive.

Most cafes attempt to swap customers over as quickly as possible, but we want to actively encourage gamers to linger as long as they like.

However we need a fair system that means we cover our costs while providing space and resources for people to game, and we would value your opinions on how best to do that. Different gaming cafes use different models. What do you think would work best for us.

(Whatever system we use, D10 and D20 members will get in for gaming and library access for free!!!)