Unique board games and craft beer, together at last
As the weather turns cool, Edmontonians look for relaxing, comfortable and, most importantly, indoor activities to pass the long winter ahead.
Enter the Ly brothers and their fledgling business, the Board N Brew Café, a downtown spot that celebrates 2 perfect indoor past-times – board games and beer.
Graeme Ly (Engineering Design and Drafting Technology ’07, left), the oldest of 5 boys, says playing board games was a great way for him and his brothers to spend time together growing up.
Now, as adults, 3 of them and a friend are partners in Board N Brew, which opened in March with about 600 board games – most of which were their own. They now have more than 800.
“I think people are looking to do something a bit different than just going to get a beer or going to Whyte Ave.,” says Ly.
He and his partners saw how popular board games cafés had become in other neighbourhoods, particularly on Friday and Saturday nights, and decided to open one downtown.
The café aims to appeal to both experienced and beginner gamers, who pay $5 each for unlimited access to the games. The Ly brothers and their staff provide advice and instructions. Non-gamers are also welcome to drop in for a beer or a snack, says Ly. “We are a café, at the end of the day.”
Intrigued? Here are 12 game recommendations from Ly – whether you’re headed to the café or curling up at home on a chilly evening.
Family-friendly games – Pick a game for between 2 and 6 people like Settlers of Catan, in which players build settlements on a fictional island. Quartz, a game about crystal-mining dwarves, is also a good choice, or Ticket to Ride, where players build railway routes across North America.
Games with easy instructions – If you don’t want to spend a lot of time learning complex rules, Ly recommends Century: Spice Road, a popular game with a spice-trading theme, or Ghost Blitz, a simple, fast-moving game involving shape and colour recognition.
First-date games – Sometimes, the point is to find a game that isn’t competitive and that will spark easy conversation. The café has a special section of 2-person games, many of them cooperative and simple. Ly suggests Patchwork, in which players piece patches together to make a quilt, or Codenames Duet, where players work together giving one-word clues to help identify all the friendly agents on the key cards before uncovering the assassins.
Strategy games – Strategy games are a popular category, so Board N Brew stocks a wide selection, says Ly. One of the newest is Terraforming Mars, about colonizing the red planet. Dead of Winter requires players to strategize to survive a zombie apocalypse, while T.I.M.E. Stories involves working together to travel back in time to complete various missions to prevent the altering of history.
Short, party-friendly games – Looking for less of a time commitment? Try Spyfall, where players must ask each other questions to guess who among them is the designated spy. In Telestrations, players must decipher sketches drawn by other players. Ly says these are good for big groups, parties and events where socializing trumps strategy.
Local suds and snacks
All the beer on tap comes from Edmonton breweries (including Situation Brewing, Yellowhead and Alley Kat). The food, too, is sourced from local producers, including calzones from Battista’s Calzone, samosas made in Mill Woods and desserts produced in Sherwood Park.
“We’re a local company and we love supporting Edmonton businesses,” says co-owner Graeme Ly. “It’s a symbiotic relationship.”