As we're drawing to a close on another year, we thought it fitting to look back and review all the awesome stuff that's happened in this business we call 'board games'. The parties, the events, the madness of running a game store in a world where games are exploding in popularity and the people of Cardiff just can't get enough to satisfy their blood-thirst for cardboard entertainment - what larks!
January - March
We started the year back in January with our Pandemic Party, raising money for Doctors Without Borders by playing a truck load of Pandemic! Our lovely guests helped us raise lots of cash, and some lucky winners took home copies of Pandemic games and gift vouchers - you need a bit of raffle winning to offset the fuzzy feeling of charitable deeds. Otherwise, you get too giddy!
Our return to the Board Game Bar in January, after a food-filled Christmas break, saw a whopping 90 guests turn up to play, decked out in their new Christmas gear and all of us a few pounds rounder. Having started the Board Game Bar in October, we were super pleased to see such a huge 'HURRAH!' when the New Year began!
For those wicked & weekly new releases, we saw stuff like Batman Love Letter, Roll for the Galaxy, Samurai Spirit and the mighty Star Trek Borg Cube (twice the size of my head, although not as square). Everyone in store wanted to touch it and say 'ooooh'. The cube, I mean, not my head.
April - June
We played an April Fools joke of our own this year when we told people there was a 'Monopoly: Legacy' on the way - we said it'd take 15 hours to play with the same group of people and every action was set in stone, and you couldn't leave the board until it was done. Unfortunately, the prank backfired when people showed some interest in the game itself... No! Respect yourselves! Fifteen hours of Monopoly?! Next year, our joke's gonna have to be a little more 'out there'...
Later in April, on Saturday 11th, we held a legendary International TableTop Day event!
It was our biggest one EVER - so big, we split it in half! We spent the day at one of our fave venues, Chapter, where we held a 'kids and family' TableTop Day. Stuff like The Magic Labyrinth, Survive, and Ticket to Ride were all family favourites.
For our evening TableTop event, we skipped over to another great space, The Gate, where those of us over 18 could drink beers and play games. We had a stag-do join us - our first ever! - and ate gorgeous gamey cupcakes from the talented Jess Elvin, board game baker extraordinaire! We held a raffle to give away our HUGE loot of TableTop stuff, and winners walked away with one-of-a-kind, special edition games and promos!
Overall, our TableTop Day saw over 200 guests, all playing for free! We had an incredible day, and topping it next year will be a challenge. I vote we host it in Barbados, with FREE PLANE TICKETS FOR EVERYONE!! No? Really? I get it. It's the heat. Very humid.
Rules of Play's Ian went along to the UK Games Expo to find out all the newest news and gossipy gossip about games, while Rules of Play's Meg popped along to Hay-on-Wye and found some delightfully-old-and-battered gems in a charity shop. We, er, won't be stocking this one.
We spoke to Pandemic's creator, Matt Leacock, for an exclusive interview about Pandemic, Pandemic: Legacy, the Thunderbirds board game and more! Plus, we looked at the top 10 family board games in honour of NSPCC's 'Really Big Board Game Day'!
July - September
Sizzling hot Summer releases included the 'Doge' deck box cozy which was met with horror and/or love from our customers, an eighties classic was revived with The Princess Bride games, exploration ahoy with Artifacts Inc., and a game of bumbling, fumbling spy drama with Codenames!
As an end of school trip in July, the Year 5 class of St Francis Primary School chose to visit Rules of Play! They turned their noses up at rock climbing or the cinema, and voted to come and play board games for a whole afternoon! Result! They wrote a review of their trip here, and they were an absolutely brilliant lot to play games with!
To celebrate the upcoming release of the Ghostbusters board game, we held an exclusive interview with Mataio Wilson, the game's designer.
August saw Gen Con 2015 rock up in Indiana - check out our Gen Con Special for a round-up of all the coolest stuff there, including crazy cosplays and the biggest balloon animal ever.
At the end of August, we wrote about the Terry Pratchett board game 'Discworld: Ankh Morpork' losing its license, meaning it may well never be printed again, and we took a look at some famously rare and slippery board games. Well, we spoke, and the people listened! In a surprising turn of events, lots of our customers ran around flailing in their arms in panic at the news, and we accidentally sold out of our remaining 25 copies of Discworld in about 4 days. Oops.
It's sad for the industry to lose such a well-loved (and very good) game - here's hoping it'll find its way back to us soon!
We announced the upcoming and INCREDIBLE news of the Ticket to Ride: United Kingdom map expansion - people got very excited! Here's what it looked like when it arrived. You can just about see the gamer if you look very closely.
October - December
The beginning of Autumn brought us Mysterium, one of 2015's biggest games! No matter how many boxes we order in, it flies out faster than a ghost can say 'boo'! Kittens in a Blender came back into stock, Takenoko received the Chibis expansion, and Pandemic: Legacy and Thunderbirds both arrived!
Made in Cardiff TV came along to the Board Game Bar to film the event for What's Occurrin', Cardiff?, and two of us got to try out being TV presenters. I won't give up the day job just yet.
While visiting Bristol's Christmas market, I spotted the best stall there, filled with traditional wooden board games! It's always fun to stumble upon games in exotic lands (like Bristol Shopping Quarter).
As we drew closer to Christmas, we joined in the festivities and invited Father Christmas along to our shop for an extra special edition of DIY SOS. He brought his elves (along with Nick Knowles) and together, they sprinkled some seasonal Christmas glitter throughout the whole place!
Over on the blog, we celebrated the release of the new Bond film, 'Spectre', by listing the best Bond-esque board games for spies. Perfect for double agents and sociopaths alike!
We also shared news of the brand new and bonkers card game, scurrying all the way over from America, called Sneaky Cards! Players become 'secret agents of joy', sharing moments with strangers and seeing their cards travel all around the world. Cardiff has taken to it brilliantly, and every day we see it fly out from out website. I've got two copies myself! Sneaky. Very sneaky.
Alas - we've caught up with ourselves! We'll be celebrating Christmas at our annual Christmas party at the Board Game Bar on Monday 14th December, at Urban Tap House - you know the drill!
We'll be celebrating New Year's Eve like the rest of you lovely people, and definitely not by falling asleep at 9pm on the sofa. For a quick reminder, our Christmas opening times are:
Christmas Day: CLOSED
Boxing Day: CLOSED
New Year's Day: CLOSED
Apart from those, we'll be open every day from 10-6pm (11-4pm on Sundays!)
All that's left to do now is wonder what 2016 will bring us...