Oxford, Restaurants and Cafes

Battle and a brew – Thirsty Meeples

I have to tell you about an amazing place I discovered in Oxford recently. I don’t know how I’ve not told you about it sooner really, but sometimes life stuff gets in the way. I’ve been a bit slack on the ol’ blog writing lately. I know I’ve had a few ‘guests’ here and have ‘guested’ myself a couple of times of late. I do thoroughly enjoy this, and want to do more of it. But it does distract me from updating you on my adventures! I really must learn to multitask, but maybe it’s a bit late for that!

So anyway during my recent stay at Douglas House in Oxford I visited a games cafe. A cafe full of games. I don’t mean one of these Internet cafes, or a cafe full of teenage gamers, well I do, but this cafe was full of gamers of a different kind. The place is full of board games, the kind of games where you sit around a table with actual people, have actual conversation, look each other in the eye and compete.

Thirsty Meeples is the place. In the centre of Oxford, situated within Gloucester Green, a kind of square surrounded by cafes and shops, which is host to various markets on other days. Today, a late Sunday afternoon, the area was fairly quiet.

Gloucester Green

Back to Thirsty Meeples, you may be as clueless as I was about the origin of the name. Thirsty, well that’s obvious I guess, it’s a cafe, you can buy drinks. You probably know more about this stuff than me, do you know what a meeple is? I didn’t. A meeple is one of those tiny coloured counters you use to hop around a board game, the thing you use to mark your spot and know who’s where. Traditionally it’s cone shaped with a circular head, the ones in my ‘Frustration’ game as a kid.

Now you’re in the know, let’s go inside.

Thirsty Meeples entrance

Double doors make for an easy entrance (or exit!), with just a small lip of about a centimetre I gain access easily.

The walls were literally lined with boxes of board games, like the place was built from games and should you pull one out the building would collapse. Although it appeared like this, I may be overreacting slightly. It was in fact extremely organised, games numbered and shelved by genre and type (if this is how one describes a game).

View as entering
Walls lined with board games

I won’t lie to you the cafe isn’t overly spacious inside (for wheelers anyway), but the staff were extremely attentive and accommodating, moving chairs and rearranging our table putting it at an angle that allowed both myself and my wheeler friend to access, as well as having seats for our walking comrades. Majority of the tables are of the variety I prefer, with a central leg so that it’s easy to drive up to and slide your knees under.

Our table by the wall built of games

It’s not a huge venue either, but I liked that, it was cosy and welcoming. Enough space for a few groups of people, with tables large enough to seat teams of around 10, or smaller intimate tables for 2.

Empty tables as we left. Fairly compact.

We booked, and I’d recommend you do too.

How Thirsty Meeples works is you pay a fee per person for a gaming session. This is currently £6 each for 3 hours worth of gaming joy. This drops to a discounted rate of £5 each if you then purchase food and drink. Let’s be honest I can’t go without food and drink for 3 hours, and what better way to strategise than with a brew and nibbles. So likelihood is you’ll pay £5 plus whatever food and drink you order.

Thirsty Meeples drink and snack menu

I think that’s a bargain for 3 hours entertainment and the opportunity to play almost any game you can imagine, or can’t imagine in my case as I don’t actually know that much about games! (I’m a dab hand at Cluedo and Monopoly, enjoy a game of Scrabble, but that’s where it ends). Fear not! If you too know nothing about games, or simply want to discover something new, then at hand is your own ‘games-geek’ as I like to call them, (I’m not sure that was his official title), to introduce, teach and referee.

Our games-geek asked what type of games we are into so that he could go fetch some recommendations. We blankly look at each other saying ‘strategy?’.

How these guys and girls can know where 2,500 games live and how to play them I do not know. Yes I said 2,500. At least. Fact. Games-geek told me.

We whittled our suggestions down to one, the first game we played was Odyssey – Wrath of Poseidon.

Odyssey – Wrath of Poseidon box

I still couldn’t really tell you the rules of this game, but think Battleships. Two teams, four ships, one player needs to get these ships home (board centre), the other has to disrupt the sail. You each have a board that the other team cannot see.

Odyssey board and a brew

Playing the game twice, each team having a turn to play the ‘disrupter’, we finished with 30 minutes of our 3 hour slot to spare (some sausage roll eating, tea drinking, breaks may also of added to our time!). Not wanting to waste a gaming minute we asked our games-geek for some quick play suggestions.

We finished our session with WordARound. A fast playing game where individuals have to win the most cards by being the first person to shout out the word within the coloured ring. You know which coloured ring you need by the colour on the back of the previous card. Sounds simple right? But when you are frantically searching for a word within the circle, the last one you spot is the one within the colour required! More than once were we (me) shouting out all the words we saw bar the one needed!

WordARound game

Unfortunately our time was now up, not that we were told that or pushed out, but it was getting late and this is the kind of place you don’t take advantage of. They are just too friendly for that.

Leaving in a magical darkness

I was partly ready to leave, but at the same time my brain was just warming up. Given a few pots of tea I could definitely spend a whole day here, and shall be returning!

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47 thoughts on “Battle and a brew – Thirsty Meeples”

  1. Sounds like a fun adventure! I enjoyed reading your post , and it’s very appropriate. I was actually at a tabletop gaming convention last weekend. That combined with this makes me fee so inspired to pull out some games tomorrow when everyone is here.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. There was a good bit of variety. There were board and card games, as well as role playing games such as Dungeons and Dragons. There was sign ups for playing in tournaments and open role playing opportunities. Panels with game developers, and experienced role players.
        One of my favorite areas was the game library, you could borrow games and play them. Similar to what you described.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. What a cool idea, and would certainly get people off their phones and communicating with each other 🙂 Will check it out if we are in the area. Glad to hear that the cafe was helpful in making room for you. Brilliant Gemma.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Ha, sounds like you had lots of fun! I have also been crap on the ol’ blog recently. Planning on upping that as we speak 🙂
    I’ve never heard of places charging to play the games before…. there are a few pubs/cafes round here with board games but you just play. They do not have the choice I can see there though!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. We have three board game cafes here in Winnipeg, and I absolutely love them!! It is only $5 CAD for unlimited play, so you really do get your money’s worth. The people I go with are fairly serious about it, so a trip to the cafe usually involved pre-existing a game and reading up before to get a handle on it. I don’t know why they haven’t existed before now!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You learn something new every day!
      I’m hoping one opens up nearer to me, but then it’s quite nice knowing I can look forward to it when I visit Oxford. As is often the case, with me anyway, if something is on your doorstep you don’t always make the effort to go.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Yaaaay! I am so glad you liked it!

    My friends set up a similar cafe in Liverpool (called sugar and dice) I think you’d love it – there is plenty of space for a wheelchair too.

    It’s really cool that s many board game cafes are popping up these days. There is one here in Vancouver that involved board games and pizza!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. This sounds like a great place! I wish they had something like this in Lincoln where I live. There is a boardgames group but they meet upstairs in a Victorian pub. So sadly it’s not accessible to me as a wheelchair user. I will keep looking for alternative ones.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think this might be something that starts to catch on. As it’s such a good way to spend time with family and friends. Without spending loads of money unnecessarily.
      I hope one comes to your area soon! Let me know.


  7. Ooooo, this is the place my brother mentioned a while ago! He lives in Oxford and praised this place up highly. Thanks for covering this so well as I must admit I didn’t really have much of an idea what he was talking about – will have to arrange a day trip to Oxford at some point as I’ve only been in the centre once and that was years ago, and this place will definitely be on the list to check out!
    Caz x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree, it’s so refreshing to see somewhere a bit different. It was so relaxed and welcoming. I could easily spend the day there. You could probably visit weekly for a year and still have new games to discover!
      Such a good way to spend quality time with people too, and putting down those phones!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I really hope more places like this open up. It’s a great way to pass a few hours with friends. Boardgames are a good way to start conversation and take eyes away from technology. As long as you’re not too competitive! 😃

      Liked by 1 person

      1. There is a vacant premises here at the moment that would be just perfect. I keep thinking about it every time I pass it! Brilliant idea!

        Liked by 1 person

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