The Best Places to Play Board Games in Austin

Find a good tabletop to throw down and throw dice with friends

Perhaps it was Monopoly, where your little sister totally ran you ragged because she got that coveted Boardwalk/Park Place combo and bankrupted you into oblivion. Or maybe it was Risk, a game that has the potential to tear whole families apart (from my experience, anyway).

It’s time to get over those childhood traumas and embrace the new wave of board games. They are legion, they are varied, and sometimes (yes, sometimes), they are actually cooperative. Board games have come into a bit of a renaissance in recent years, and there are so many ways and means to jump aboard (sorry). If you can’t find enough friends to commit to a night of strategy and heartbreak, Austin has many places to play a game, meet a new friend (or two, but only two), and dive into a world that may or may not have the odds in your favor (seriously, the dice are brutal sometimes).

Emerald Tavern Games and Cafe
With a super friendly staff and a hundred plus games to choose from (for free! Just buy something, you cheapskate!) this cafe is a wonderful entry into the board gaming world. Casual and nonchalant, here’s where you move your friends beyond Mille Bornes and into Ticket to Ride.

Want to infuse more booze (or maybe just mead) into your gaming experience? Vigilante has you covered with that and more with an extended menu and private gaming rooms. It may seem a bit decadent, but the Vigilante folks aim to please, and there are private rooms for you to subject your friends to all manor of terror.

Dragon’s Lair
This is it. A venerable Austin institution that has been around since before George R.R. Martin wrote Game of Thrones, the Lair is the go-to place for tabletop D&D and other immersive campaigns. Just don’t be bringing The Campaign for North Africa up in this piece unless you think you can finish by closing time (good luck!).

Outlaw Moon Games and Toys
What started as an offshoot of Austin Books & Comics has morphed into a bastion of games both vintage and cutting edge. Didn’t preorder Gloomhaven? They can help you out. Want to up your Magic: The Gathering deck? They can also help. Completely clueless and wandering in from the street? All are welcome here.

Tribe Comics & Games
This is your Dungeons & Dragons hub right here. With “Ladies Only” games and a class on creating your character, you’ll be up and fighting in no time. Oh, is that a Beholder headed our way? Send in the mage! The store also hosts many user-friendly games each week.

Mothership Books and Comics
Deck-building games may be out of fashion (don’t SWAT me!), but this is a safe harbor for getting together with your Magic-loving friends for a night of inevitable despair and perhaps a plot twist. They also offer LAN gaming rooms so you can grab a gang and Counter Strike your night away. [Popular caffeinated soda] not included.

Wonkos Toys and Games
Bring your own game or choose from the extensive library, but your best bet is to follow their weekly calendar for, say Yu-Gi-Oh! and Warhammer 40K. Yes, you have fallen down a rabbit hole and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

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Emerald Tavern Games and Cafe, Vigilante, Dragon's Lair, Outlaw Moon Games and Toys, Tribe Comics and Books

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