Ancient Robot Games

The tabletop games hobby has grown massively in the last decade. Not only have the number of titles available grown, but the population that plays those games has increased in size and diversity. Games have taken on different settings and themes. They have catered to different audiences. We’ve seen tabletop gaming enter the mainstream culture.

What of the places where we play those games though. Sure we can play at home, but sometimes we want to venture out and meet new folk. For a long time the local games shop was found down backstreets. They were hidden away in basements. I’ve been to a few of these places myself. They were our sanctuaries, but always there was the possibility for something more. Something better. I would have taken above ground as a good start.

Since then there has been quite a shift in the choices available to the tabletop community when it comes to venues. Ancient Robot Games is an example of this new wave of game venues, bringing a different attitude to the local games shop.

Internal shot of Ancient Robot Games. On the left is the shop for games. To the right the cafe. Above the cafe is a painting of a large robot.
Look at that mural!

Anicent Robot Games is located at the bottom of Leith Walk in Edinburgh. This is a mere minutes tram, yes you can finally take the tram, or bus ride from the city centre. You’ll find Leith to be a bustling area of the city now, having undergone a lot of changes in the last couple of decades. It’s a place to find fine restaurants, artisan cafes, and now a new gaming venue!

The first thing that strikes you about Ancient Robot Games is the towering windows adorning the outside. These let in loads of natural light giving the venue a bright, airy, and open feeling.

Inside the venue is clean and well appointed. A large selection of games to buy occupies the left hand wall as you enter. The staff have organised these well, making it easy to find the sort of game you are after. The range is impressive covering a wide selection of genre, theme, setting, and complexity.

As you enter a small table piled high with the latest releases and staff picks. At the back wall of the venue, below the beautiful mural of a robot, is the counter where you can indulge your taste for coffee, snacks, and collectable card games.

To the right of the counter, tucked away in an alcove are the RPG and miniature game selection. Miniatures are mostly Games Workshop but the shop is building a loyal following for those games. The RPG selection covers a good range, from the inevitable Dungeons and Dragons to more indie titles and solo affairs.

Across the shop solid tables are laid out with comfortable chairs. The staff have done this in such a ways as to make the navigation of the shop easy and to stop you feeling like you are imposing on another table.

Ancient Robot Games would not be complete without a games library of titles to borrow from. Like the selection of games to buy this is a good wide range covering a variety of weights, themes, settings, and mechanisms. You can even check out their library on the site. I would prefer if it was a bit better organised, but that is a minor quibble.

The venue is welcoming, bright, and clean. The staff are all friendly, keen to help, and know how to teach the games in their library. You could easily make this place your local coffee haunt and sample games as you wish. You could equally just come here for the nice coffee and ignore the nerdery! It would be a great place to take a friend who is just getting interested in board games, and I am sure it would make a fine venue for a date.

I am taking a selfie, playing Modern Art with friends inside Ancient Robot Games.
Discovering Modern Art!

Ancient Robot Games have worked hard to engage with the local tabletop gaming community. The owner had been running games nights at Argonaut books in the run up to opening the store. This was next door to what would become Ancient Robot Games. This allowed them to get to know the local gaming scene, a move that has seen folk rally around to help out when the shop opened.

The Discord they setup is full of friendly folk showing off their love for the hobby and helping new folk to find their feet. A link to that can be found on their website.

You can rock up during the day to get your game on but I would recommend booking. Tables are £4 per person for a 2 hour slot. You can book consecutive sessions if you need more time.

The shop runs multiple event nights as well, usually announced about a month in advance. These sessions cater to collectable card games, board games, RPGs, and miniature painting. I haven’t had the chance to attend these sessions as yet but from the reaction on the Discord they seem well attended. The staff recommend you book if you are looking to go along to any of these events as there are limited spaces. These cost £4 per person to attend as well.

Ancient Robot Games does not take walk-ins wanting a table after 17:00. I think this is a really smart move. It means the shop can close earlier on quieter nights. It also allows them to better plan their event nights and staffing capacity. I’ve seen games venues falter due to staff burnout and this move feels like a smart way to alleviate some of the pressure most retailers experience.

Ancient Robot Games is a fantastic addition to the Edinburgh gaming scene. It’s a nice venue to just go and get a coffee at, should that be all you want. If you dig a little deeper though. If you allow your curiosity to get the better of you, you’ll find something else entirely. This is a place that is eager to help new players find their way to games they will love. Equally they have not ignored the community that exists in Edinburgh already, providing a home for enthusiasts of every stripe. In walking this tightrope they have created one of the best gaming venues I have been to and I can’t wait for my next visit.

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Iain McAllister

Tabletop games reviewer and podcaster based in Dalkeith, Scotland.

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1 Response

  1. 3 Aug 2023

    […] you may not need to spend very much money to sample some of what modern board games have to offer. Board game cafes and venues have been popping up all over the world in the last decade or two. Many will have staff […]

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