Hopefully you have seen and had time to read our introduction to Friendly Local Gaming Stores but if not check it out here. We are lucky that we get to work with some great FLGS’s and we wanted to highlight some of the stores that we have had the opportunity to work with or visit.
Our first FLGS spotlight is Shuffle Board Game Cafe, where they also stock several Meeple Design Minimalist Style Posters.
The owners are Andrew and Chris, who opened their doors to BGG’s in 2021 and are based in Bury St Edmunds, UK. Andrew is one of the owners of Shuffle Board Game Cafe and he kindly let us pick his brains to tell us more about the store.
Meeple Design: Before we talk about Shuffle Board Game Cafe, tell us a little about yourself and your history in gaming?
Andrew: Myself and Chris, the owners of Shuffle, both got into board gaming in a similar way. We were lifelong video gamers first. For me I got given a copy of Catan for xmas which got played pretty regularly. This eventually led to me searching for local board game groups on social media. I joined a local group that met in a pub just outside of Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk. This quickly became the highlight of my week with my eyes being opened to so many new games week after week! Chris had a similar journey that led to us being a part of the same board gaming group. He heard about a turn-based co-op zombie survival game, aka Zombicide, that sounded like exactly the kind of video game experience he was looking for, so he picked up a copy and then never really looked back.
Meeple Design: Tell us a little bit about Shuffle Board Game Cafe
Andrew: Shuffle is open 6 days a week from Midday till late. We are based in the centre of a lovely market town called Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk.
We offer a typical board game cafe experience where you pay for access to a large library of board games (Currently approx 400 and growing) to play in our relaxed and inviting cafe environment. Our team have pretty extensive knowledge of the games on offer and can teach a large qty of them and are always on hand to make recommendations to suit parties of various sizes, ages and abilities.
We also offer events in store like our Shuffle Social open gaming evening, TCG nights and a D&D night which are part of our regular schedule. On top of that we have one off events such as tournaments and pre-release draft events for TCG card games.
Meeple Design: What inspired you to start Shuffle Board Game Cafe?
Andrew: Sooo many things!!
I had a wealth of experience in retail management in a variety of different businesses. I actually started the journey of opening Shuffle as a franchise business. I met with the franchisees and was in the process of looking for a location for a site for this. Somewhere along this path myself and Chris met for a drink and a chat about how he would like to be involved as a passionate local gamer with a lot of experience in the hospitality industry, an area that I wasn't as familiar with. We started working together to get the franchise business up and running but it proved very difficult to find premises… as well as the fact that this was during a national pandemic! As the process carried on I slowly started to see that if this passion project for us both was going to truly be what we wanted to be we would have to cast off the shackles of any big business and instead go fully independent. This is also something that Bury St Edmunds is well known for so we felt it was a great fit for the local market town centre vibe.
Both Chris and myself have always had a clear vision that Shuffle should add to the local board gaming landscape. We have always worked closely and have a good relationship with our local FLGS called Lorfords and were conscious to not hold or push events that clashed with our old gaming nights to detract attention away from them. The vision has always been to try and create a fantastic space to enjoy your already beloved hobby of board gaming or discover it all anew with the help of some super passionate and friendly folks.
Meeple Design: What’s it like being a FLGS in your area?
Andrew: As a town that already has an established FLGS we have found that we can complement each other pretty well. We have introduced a lot of new people to the hobby and raised awareness of modern gaming in our local area alot. We regularly send people back and forth between the two places. For them, having a place where customers can try before you buy and discover new games without a big financial investment is helpful. For us we are happy to return the favour by sending our customers down the road for the games we have in the library that we don't currently stock.
Meeple Design: What titles have you found most popular recently?
Andrew: As previously mentioned a lot of our customers are discovering games for the first time so they are not overly concerned with BGG hotness or cutting edge gaming. We find a lot of classics as well, as party games that are easy to pick up and play, go down very well in the cafe. A few that spring to mind are Drop It, Herd Mentality, Ghost Blitz, Kluster, Diamant, Splendor, Azul, Dinner in Paris, Photosynthesis and so many more.
Meeple Design: What is your favourite game mechanic and why?
Andrew: I won't speak for Chris in this regard but for me it is definitely deck building. I have a strong fondness for Valley of the Kings and recently played Tyrants of the underdark for the first time which is a great hybrid of multiple mechanics including deckbuilding.
Meeple Design: What is your ideal game night? Games, group size, snacks, etc.
Andrew: For me it would be a group of around 10 people with a big bunch of medium weight strategy games (Think Azul). Plenty of drinks and snacks and a chance to play games with everyone that has attended.
Meeple Design: Have you got any favourite memories associated with Shuffle Board Game Cafe that you’d want to share?
Andrew: For me the fondest memories are from when we gather in the shop outside of trading hours. We had a few staff training/team building days before we opened where we played a lot of the games in the library and all got to know each other better on a personal level. I felt like I had finally created a place that I would have loved to work in when working for other companies and it was so great to see this group of people we had put together getting on so well.
Meeple Design: Do you have any tips that you would like to share for people coming to Shuffle Board Game Cafe for the first time?
Andrew: I think the best way to experience a board game cafe is to have some vague ideas about your taste in games in mind but let the staff recommend and teach you something new. They will know their library best and having someone run through the rules and hold your hand for the first few turns is the easiest and best way to learn a new game in my opinion.
Meeple Design: Finally, an easy question to finish on. What games are your favourite at the moment?
Andrew: I am currently really enjoying a few games of Oath with some of the team. Not mechanically the best game but it's great fun if you all get involved with the generated story and world building aspect of it.
Chris can never pin down a favourite game but it's a fair shout that if it takes 45+ mins just to read the rule book and about 4 hours to play he is likely to be a fan.
We really appreciate Andrew taking the time to answer our questions and we hope that you get a chance to visit Bury St Edmunds & Shuffle Board Game Cafe soon. Check out our store if you are fans of any of the games mentioned by Shuffle Board Game like Azul, Splendor or Photosynthesis.