Do not pass go. Do not collect $200.
Not because you’re going to jail, but because it’s so boring. Instead, try trading sheep for wheat so you can be the top Settler(s) of Catan. Or fight to fend off the Ancient Ones in Arkham Horror. Or work together to stop the Forbidden Island from sinking.
Those are all board games, but if you’ve never heard of them, you’re not alone. Malika de Silva, the owner of Columbus’ new board game bar Kingmakers didn’t know anything about these games, either, when she was dragged against her will to the Snakes & Lattes Board Game Café in Toronto a few years ago.
“The board gaming thing was something I’d never, ever seen in my life,’ said de Silva. “I walked in and they had 2,000 board games in their library. The experience was really fun – and I initially didn’t want to be there. I was like ‘Eh, it’s not my thing, I haven’t played a board game in a long time,’ and then I had an awesome time.”
At the same time, she was wrapping up her business degree and looking for a business concept to launch on her own, and the pieces began to fall into place.
“I didn’t know until I wrote the business plan and started doing research that Columbus was such a board gaming town,” said de Silva. “All this stuff started emerging – Columbus Area Boardgaming Society, Origins, the Game Manufacturers Association, and just the presence of a really active board gaming community here.”
Located in a basement on Buttles Avenue near High Street, Kingmakers looks like your grandma’s basement: a bunch of mismatched chairs and tables, a wall lined with games, and also a bar.
Kingmakers features over 250 games currently in their ever-expanding library, and for a $5 “library fee” you can play all of them all day. Many of the games may be new to you, though Kingmakers also has many popular classic board games available. Want to learn something new? Ask the staff sommeliers for a lesson.
“Sometimes it’s hard to understand why the rules are there until you’ve played the game,” said de Silva. “Our sommeliers are on hand to guide you through [gameplay]. We want to make it an enjoyable process to learn a game for the first time.”
Kingmakers intends to buy more games, partially using funds accumulated from their successful Kickstarter campaign, but won’t be rolling them out all at once.
“We could just go buy a bunch more games now, but we want our sommeliers to be well-versed in how to teach the games,” said de Silva. “It’s kind of overwhelming if you’ve only ever played Monopoly and Sorry to look at that wall [of games] and try to figure out ‘What do I do here?’”
The bar is family-friendly (kids under 18 need to be accompanied by an adult), and offers an impressive 15 flavored soda pops for those not wanting, or old enough, to drink. They’ve also got coffee, tea, and pretzel snacks from Brezel.
For those who do want to drink (raises hand), the bar features eight rotating beers, including many local selections, and four wines on tap. Kingmakers also claims to boast the only all-kegged wine selection in Columbus.
In the future, the bar is considering offering memberships and hosting tournaments, but doesn’t plan to expand its food or drink options much – and intentionally.
“We’re a really good complementary experience to what you can do in the Short North,” said de Silva. “You can go grab dinner, drinks or coffee, then come here.”
Settlers of Catan
Trade resources with your fellow players to build settlements and cities on the island of Catan
Acquire the best cards possible in this deck-building game to get the most victory points at the end
Work together to save the world from four diseases that are breaking out way faster than you want them to
Ticket to Ride
Build railroad tracks to connect cities across the country – bonus if you can build the longest route
Kingmakers Board Game Parlour
17 Buttles Ave