It is with heavy heart that I tell you that my favourite gaming haunt is no more. I knew a few days before they announced, so have had a little longer to process the news than most of the community that had built up round this most excellent of venues. That doesn’t make writing this any easier. I find it hard to put into words how I feel about this small gem in the Edinburgh gaming scene, but I will do my best as is only fitting.
I could rant and rave to the sky, but that would do no good. The dice have fallen where they may. The instinct when such a thing happens is to rail against the dying of the light but instead let us bask in the dusk and share good stories of my home away from home.
Tabletop Cafe has been the scene of many of my ventures for the last year and a half. I learnt of the venue shortly after opening and began coming along when they started up their ‘Decks and Doughnuts’ night, dedicated to eating tasty baked goods and playing cards. Honestly it was the former that attracted me most.
I quickly became involved in the night, organising two successful Netrunner leagues, running demos and doing a launch night for the Arkham Horror LCG. Isa and Scott trusted me from the off, and were happy to see things arranged however I saw fit. The trust they put in me made me feel at home instantly and I was delighted to organise as much as I could to put bums on seats.
When I started putting together thoughts of a playtest group in Edinburgh, Tabletop was the first place i turned to, knowing that I would have tables, good food and enthusiastic people to back me up. It has proven a great sucesss and has seen designers of all stripes meet regularly to play the hits of tomorrow, or at least so we hope.
The venue was small for sure but that didn’t stop Isa and Scott welcoming gamers of all stripes and they ran many events from x-wing to blood bowl and open gaming nights. They sought out good food and introduced many of us to some excellent local producers, not to mention the wonders of an Uncle Samwidch. They did a lot with the space they had, providing all sorts of tasty goodness to keep the regulars happy and attract casual passers by in for a coffee.
More than any of these things though they brought incredibly diverse sections of the community together under one roof. I have gamed with stalwart hardcore to casual gamers under their roof and I don’t think that is someting any other venue in town has ever achieved. I’ve run serious competitive Netrunner tournaments and 8 player nonsense like Captain Sonar, no game was too competitive or too casual to be considered valid on their tables
I’ve said it before and I’m say it again: gaming is not, and never will be, a hobby that you approach alone. You might do that from the off, thinking it will just be something to while away some time, but in the end we game to connect with people. Even if you are primarily a solo gamer, we game to connect with other human beings be that directly over the table, or indirectly swapping strategies and stories online. Over loss, over victory, over moments of vital decision and foolish mistakes. Tabletop gave me all these and more, and I will be forever grateful of the connections I made there, ones that I hope will last a long time.
I have made many friends there whom I hope to keep in touch with, but more than anything I will miss the sense of community that this small cafe engendered in its regulars. There may be those that think we had too many venues in town, and that the loss of one is no matter. I say to those that the loss of any venue is an issue, especially in a community as fast growing as tabletop gaming. As the hobby grows we need diverse venues to cater to all sorts of different parts of the hobby and I hope we see something springing up in Tabletop’s place.
I miss the place so much, and tonight, instead of stuffing my face with baked goods and fighting the forces of the Mythos I am polishing off this article. There are friends I never took here, games that will never be played under its roof and events that will need to find homes elsewhere, but where else could really compare. The owners were like family, the regulars became firm friends and I spent many a joyous hour playing games of all stripes with a wonderfully diverse clientele.
Tabletop Cafe, you are missed.