Saturday, March 7, 2009

Playin' Games - London boardgame shop

I belong to the Generation X. Instead of Pokemon, we have Smurfs. I could never figure out Teletubbies but I love my Ultraman. Life was definitely less complicated with just me and my M.A.S.K. toys.

Till now, I haven't even figured out what that acronym means.

I belong to the generation where the word internet means absolutely nothing to me. If I were to venture a guess, 'internet' would probably be a new device conjured up by some ingenious fisherman to haul in more sea basses.


Before the Internet era, kids who abhor physical activities (like myself) and posses more brains than brawn (yes, I'm talking about me) would entertain themselves with boardgames. Hardly inspiring, as one of my pals used to label them as 'bored games'.

My first board game was Monopoly. Sometimes, I get the impression that it is still the first game that many parents get for their children now simply because it was their first as a kid. Money, properties, houses and the objective is to bankrupt your opponents, is there anything more fascinating than that? Hardly.
The 3 card monty at London's Chinatown

Mass pillow fight over at London's Marble Arch

As the years go by, my collection increased - Payday, Hotels, D-Day, Pirates and a slew of others that were later shred to bits by my kid brother. Till this day, Axis & Allies remained my personal favourite. Hours and hours have been spent on strategizing on how to crush the Allies with my German war machine. Likewise, many good hours were spent on building up the US war industry while holding back the Germans and Japanese with the British and Russian forces.

In fact, I was seriously considering carting that huge set over to London two years back. It was like leaving someone behind, if you know what I mean.

Fortunately, I didn't.

I stumbled upon Playin' Games, which is just off the British Museum, the other day. It was practically a dream come true for any serious boardgamers. Do not be deceived by the knick knacks displayed on the ground floor (dice, trading cards etc.) for the treasure trove lies in the basement.


To be honest, the area could be bigger but I was amaze to find a huge range of titles packed into that tiny space. Familiar ones such as Settlers of Catan (and all the other add ons) and Ticket to Ride (and all the other editions) lie alongside other titles such as Shogun, BattleStar Galactica, Runeworld and Shadows of the Camelot. Not only that, Playin' Games stock a wide selection of card games as well - Munchkids (yes, the whole lot), Landlord and Gloom included. You name it, they have it.

One thing to note though, I don't think you can find Monopoly there. If you're looking for that, you could probably find it in Selfridges. But if you're any serious about boardgaming, Playin' Games is your place.

Playin' Games
33 Museum Street London WC1A 1LH
Tel: 020 7323 3080

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xiaocangshu said...

I remember bringing card/board games to school to play in my primary and lower secondary days.

And a few weeks ago I discovered the Backgammon in my phone and proceeded to play a few rounds at one go.

Nick | Mom Most Traveled said...

Yes, yes, yes. What in the world are Teletubbies all about anyway? I would love to go to a store like this. My wife and I are board game junkies. It's hard for us to pass up a good deal on a board game. I am envisioning game nights with the kids when they grow-up (I'm dreaming aren't I?). Thanks for the post!

Dutchie said...

I love board games but it's a hassle to get enough players to join in ! Even during CNY, those present prefers to play poker or mahjong instead of monopoly or scrabble. I had my cache shipped over here, among other memorabilia's. Hubby said it would give me a sense of home, having my own stuff around the house. He has helped to populate my family of plush toys. I supposed we girls tend to hold on to them for as long as we live *lol*. What would u boys hang on to ?

sixmats said...

I use a computer all the time, and when I do find the time to play Monopoly, Uno, or a different kind of game, I feel really relaxed. Maybe I need to play them more often.

Ravyn said...

Seriously cool; if I were in the area, I'd probably practically live there.

(Though I'd get distracted by the dice. Particularly if they have some decent minis. Shiny!)

Ken W said...

Dude, Clearly you are not a M.A.S.K fan if you did not know that they are the Mobile Armored Strike Kommand

xiao hui said...

hello, hope you are doing fine. (( =

kruel74 said...

We are of the same generation but like Ken W said, you are not a fan if you don't know what M.A.S.K. means. There was also M.A.T for Monster Attacking Team when Ultraman was then a man by the name of Hayata...

Shu Fen said...

im a singaporean too :) and in singapore muahahha

Jasmine Shanea said...

love love love board games! maybe one day we can all spend one day at a board game cafe together. :D

Hope you have been well!

Martin In Bulgaria said...

You will never get bored with board games. When computer games implode board games will come into their own again - No batteries or plugs required!

Anonymous said...

i love board games! like Dutchie - my problem is finding enough players - i've now invested in games which my little guy can understand & play along with us - it's great fun except for when he insists on winning...

C K said...

Don't remind me. I used to hog the Risk that a pal brought during Sec school. That brought back some good o' memories...

You know what? I've not figured out how Backgammon works. lol

Actually, I think it would be great if people can get their kids to settle down for some proper boardgaming. It breeds self discipline and patience... :)

I just can't handle Scrabble. Feels like sweeping off the entire board every single time I play it. Come to think of it, that's the whole point... boardgaming allows the loser to do just that! Something that a bad loser can't do in computer gaming. lol

Seriously... what do I hang on to? Hmm... well, I brought over some good card games. Citadel is one of them. It'll follow me wherever I go.

Hey Tom, we can do a round of Uno anytime! I'm sure there are some online verison of that somewhere... :p

I went down again yesterday. Almost didn't want to leave. I think the staff are pretty used to the likes of us.

Yadda... one new thing a day.... Cheers!

@xiao hui,
Thanks for leaving a note and hope that you're fine too. :p

Ah... the next thing you know, we'll start comparing the 'vehicles' that we have. My favorite remains that Thunderbird though the missiles at the bottom were kind of lame.

I didn't know about M.A.T though...

@Shu Fen,
I have absolutely no response to that. LOL

You know what? There are a couple of boardgame cafes in S'pore. The Mind's Cafe is my favourite and I've got a membership card as well. heheh...

Now I get the image of me riding on a bike trying to power up my laptop hooked to it. :)

Ah... what games did you get your kid? Let me guess.... the equivalent of snakes and ladders? Hey, that was among one of my first games...

Eh, don't start him on computer games too early on...

John | English Wilderness said...

I discovered this shop a few weeks ago and must have spend 30 minutes looking at the various games. They sell a few of my favourites including Tantrix and Carcassonne. :-)

In the end I purchased an add on for Hive. It's a shame I didn't see After Noah which you blogged about a couple of weeks ago :-(

C K said...

I think they did a revamp after my initial writeup (not due to that of course!) and the place is better stocked these days.

I'm more of a strategic game kind of person but it's really hard to find fellow players these days.

Aleksandroser said...

I totally agree! Hard to find players whoa re not too hardcore and yet interested in playing a strategic game! Well, not with my batch who came with me for OJT in the outskirts of london. Any group of singaporean boardgamers ard in London? haha

C K said...

No such luck. Those strategic game players that I have come across are (like you said) real hardcore. A tad too intimidating. I mean I do love the game but find it unnecessary to handpaint every single token or getting so worked up over every single move.

Hey, we're all trying to have some fun here, eh?