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FDQ: What do you play on?

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Video gamers have their sweet gaming rigs. Readers have a favorite spot to curl up with their favorite books. Gardeners have their gardens, knitters have their rocking chairs, cooks have their kitchens.

What do board gamers have? Well, mostly, besides board games, we have tables. Today’s question: What do you normally play your games on? Do you have a favorite gaming surface? What would your ideal gaming table?

@Futurewolfie answers:
I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately, namely because I’m working on rearranging some rooms and putting together a board gaming room in my house. You can’t just take any old shelf for your games, and as I found out, dining room tables are not always the most ideal when looking for a board-game-specific table. Most tables are too narrow, not leaving much space for the larger boards (such as El Grande or Ascending Empires) as well as space for the players’ tokens. The ones that are wider are often huge, spreading players out too far. Ideally, I would like a table that is between 40″ and 45″ wide, and square—but with a 20″ leaf or two to fit those extra big games or when you’re playing something with more players, such as Arkham Horror.

As it is, for now, I generally play on my dining room table. It’s made of wood, which is nice—a good, flat surface without the coldness of metal or impersonality of plastic. It’s plenty long, but fairly narrow—Ascending Empires juts barely fits—and I have to make sure to wipe it clean before setting up a game. I’m looking forward to having a dedicated table for board games, but it might be tough to find exactly what I’m looking for. I’m considering trying to custom build something—after all, how hard can it be to stick four legs to a large, flat, rectangular surface? Probably harder than I’d like.

@FarmerLenny answers:
I play my board games most often on one of two surfaces: the lunch table at work or the coffee table at home. At home, board games work on our dining room table, but playing games at the dining room table seems a bit too stuffy (how some families feel eating at the dining room table; isn’t paper plates in front of the TV good enough?). If the game fits on the coffee table, that’s typically where we play, sitting on the floor. It feels a little cosier, at least where we live currently. I also play on the lunch tables at work. Most of these are square, but if we’re playing a larger game (like Cosmic Encounter or 7 Wonders), we typically switch to a rectangular one.

I’m not too interested in the “ideal” gaming table. I like the ingenuity of board game hobbyists in trying to find a rigged solution to make everything work. Yet in spite of this, if @Futurewolfie is able to cobble together a decent custom table (a long shot, in my opinion), count me in for custom table #2.

Futurewolfie loves epic games, space, and epic games set in space. You'll find him rolling fistfuls of dice, reveling in thematic goodness, and giving Farmerlenny a hard time for liking boring stuff.

Discussion6 Comments

  1. I play on whatever is handy – at work, we’ve played on at least 3 different tables, at home I play on the floor or dining room table (I don’t own much furniture), and at the board game store I play on whatever table is empty. I’ve also played at coffee shops in which I just make sure that I wipe the table down first (but I don’t play huge games at coffee shops because they take longer than I’m comfortable staying at a coffee shop).

  2. I think a good round table would work great for some of those larger games. Some players might feel distanced from the play, but when extra pieces and tokens are involved, circles provide great extra “corners” for those things.

    Some day I’m going to get into woodwork and make myself a Catan table.

  3. Two years ago I inherited two 8 foot tables after a community yard sale. My three roommates and I did not have a proper dinner table among us (were just these guys, ya know?) so I took up the opportunity to do so. Putting these two 8ft’ers together on their sides makes a nice massive table for roleplaying games. This was especially helpful for our sprawling Star Wars Saga adventurers.

    They can also be set up separately in my dining room for regular game nights and can comfortably sit two large 5-6 man games at once.

    I get married in two months, so I’ll have to look at a new dining room table that accommodates our hobbies somehow.

  4. @Josh–I always have the great idea to go to coffee shops to linger, then I suffer the pangs of guilt soon after I sit down (correction: I either suffer pangs of guilt or the pains of listening to hipster teenager conversations–in either case, I want to leave much sooner, and this after paying $5 for the premium of lingering. It is a faulty plan). I haven’t tried gaming there for this reason.

    @Amateria–Mayfair had some licensed Catan tables at GenCon. They looked pretty sweet…if you’re in to that sort of thing.

    @Ryan H–Wow, those are HUGE tables! It reminds me of the dinner scene in the first Tim Burton Batman. But I guess if you’re playing a sprawling game, like your RPG or Warhammer, such a large table is more of a benefit than a liability. But you might have to use your outside voices to be heard.

  5. @Amateria, I’m teetering back and forth about the round table. It seems counterintuitive since most board games are rectangular in every aspect – cards, boards, cubies – but a Circle table might just work really well.

  6. There really is no perfect game table that will suit every game well. Ideally what I hope for is just a good 4″ between the edge of the game and the edge of the table, otherwise I almost always feel a little bit nervous and crowded. To that end I do like circle tables for the built in pockets you get with square or rectangular boards, but if you’re playing with more than 4 you’re gonna need a bigger boat.

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