BOARD GAME CAFE | Aarhus Brætspilscafé – Aarhus, Denmark

Last year we visited both Copenhagen and then Aarhus, two wonderful cities in Denmark. I’ve already written about our adventures in Copenhagen’s notorious board game café, Bastards. Amazingly, we were lucky enough to visit a second board game café in Denmark: this time, I’m going to talk about the fun we had at Aarhus Brætspilscafé (vestergrade).

On our first night in Aarhus visiting friends, they surprised us with a trip to Aarhus Brætspilscafé, their local board game café. They must’ve known we’d need a gaming fix to recover from our journey!

Aarhus Brætspilscafé had a homely, intimate atmosphere that is immediately apparent as soon as you walk through the front door. It’s a home away from home for family and friends to socialise over a few games. We really felt at home whilst we visited, and even forgot we were even in a café and not sat at home.

Before this visit, the only board game cafés I’d visited were larger, open space venues filled with lots of tables and game shelves. On entering Aarhus Brætspilscafé, I was surprised to see a café that didn’t follow the same formula. It was a much smaller venue, spread across two small rooms. Rather than detracting from the venue, it was the smaller size and cosier set-up that gave Aarhus Brætspilscafé it’s more intimate and relaxed atmosphere.

Our table was located in the back room. It was a busy night – all the tables were fully booked all night long! –  But due to the generous spacing between each table it didn’t feel like we were on top of other groups.

A photograph showing the back room of Aarhus Braetspilscafe. A number of tables and board game shelfs are visible.
Sat right next to the game shelf!

I got the impression that Aarhus Brætspilscafé was all about providing a home for the local community to play games, and it did that really well! Naturally, they had a more refined board game selection compared to bigger cafes, but there was still a brilliant, choice of games. Which included a solid collection of games that can be wrapped up in under an hour such as; Smash Up, Catan, Ticket to Ride and Forbidden Desert. Not to mention multiple copies of some of the much longer infamous favourites such as Mansions of Madness and Zombicide.

Being all about the games, the café only offered extremely limited options for drinks and light refreshments. Luckily we didn’t need food as we had pre-eaten at Aarhus Street Food (well worth a visit if you ever find yourself in Aarhus), but we did order a few rounds of drinks while playing.

The decision on what to play first was left to me, due to being the ‘board game geek’ of the group. Our game choice was slightly more limited due to being a group of 6, but I knew exactly what I wanted to play: Citadels (by Bruno Faidutti).

Citadels is a card drafting an set collection card game where players compete to build the highest scoring citadel. Players achieve this by hiring the help of different characters (such as the; Architect, Assassin or King) to gain gold which they can then spend to construct different buildings in their citadel.

Citadels is simple to learn, fast paced game full of laughter and backstabbery and just as I thought it went down a treat with our group! I wasn’t surprised as in my experience Citadels is a brilliant game for playing with groups as there is a high level of player interaction and deduction.  This is brought mainly by the Assassin and Thief characters which you can use to directly impact the player with the character of your choice.

Time to look for game number 2. I was immediately intrigued when I found Escape the Curse of the Temple, published by Queen Games. We’d recently been introduced to Fuse (published by Renegade Games), an absolutely brilliant cooperative, real-time dice game, so my interest in real-time games had been peaked. Now, the eagle-eyed board game pros among you will be thinking “But how you can play Escape the Curse of the Temple – it’s a 5 player game and you said there were 6 players in your group?!” Well, Sherlock, one of our friends had to leave early because they had come down with a cold which had got progressively worse during Citadels. As this had reduced out play count to 5, Escape the curse of the Temple was hitting the table next.

Escape the curse of the temple is a cooperative real-time dice game, Is a cooperative race against the clock where players have to work together to escape from a cursed temple. It was intense and chaotic… exactly what I’d expected! But the chaos was overpowering… it felt like we were all playing 5 independent, simultaneous games because there was minimal player interaction – apart from frenzied shouting as we tried to share our roll. This is mainly because all actions; (such as movement, accessing treasure, and entering rooms) are controlled by dice rolls. The dice are rolled, used and re-rolled simultaneously by all players continuously.

For me, Fuse is a much better game, because the game requires the team to work together and interact constantly.

As the adrenaline rush faded, we looked at what to take on next. It had started to get too late to invest in another proper tabletop game, but we weren’t quite ready to call it a night; we were happily chatting and catching up with our friends. As we chatted, we engaged in a very serious mini-session of Cards Against Humanity to round off the night. Not something I would choose, but it’s something low effort and easy for those will low morals, when people are starting to get game fatigue.

There were some brilliant details in Aarhus Brætspilscafé; some aimed to enhance your gaming experience, others were purely for decoration. One useful detail (or it would be, if you noticed it on the way in rather than the way out!) were the ‘games selection charts’. These aimed to help you choose a game, comparing group size, type of game and game length. It was a brilliant little touch to help new gamers choose the best game to play. Interestingly, it suggested Citadels for a group of 6, so it looks like it has been calibrated to make the same selections as me.

The only thing that caught us off-guard at Aarhus Brætspilscafé was that they only took card payment – no cash accepted! This seems to be a part of Danish culture as they’ve moved more towards electronic payment systems instead of cash. Bear this in mind if you’re thinking of visiting Aarhus!

Aarhus Brætspilscafé is definitely a place to visit if you want to sit back and play some games over a drink or two with friends. But make sure you book so you’re not disappointed!

Since visiting the Aarhus Brætspilscafé (Vestergade) another brætspilscafé has joined the Aarhus Brætspilscafé family: Aarhus Brætspilscafé (Fredensgade). I will have to drop by if I’m ever in Aarhus again!

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