28 January 2022
We spoke to Rikki about Dice in Portsmouth, a board game café offering great food and drink, and a relaxed space for everyone from the board game amateur to the experts.
This article originally appeared in issue 58 of Tabletop Gaming Magazine. Pick up the latest issue of the UK's fastest-growing gaming magazine in print or digital here.
Can you tell us a little bit about how the store first got started?
We started as two separate groups wanting to open a board game café in Portsmouth. Once we discovered each other we decided it was best to combine our ideas, resources and effort to open one fantastic place together. We started by running a lot of pop-up events in the city whilst we were searching for a suitable venue. It helped us recognise that there was a lot of demand in the area and a great chance of creating an epic community.
How have you found the gaming scene in the area?
Portsmouth has a really vibrant gaming scene. We’ve got different venues that specialise in different parts of the hobby and we are proud to be part of that. There are also lots of well-established clubs and groups, like Portsmouth on Board and the Portsmouth Guild of Role players, that cater for hundreds of people.
What do you think makes your store unique?
Whilst we will operate in niche markets, we always strive to cater for the masses. We believe that hobbies are best when shared and we want to grow the gaming community across the city and beyond. We also put a lot of focus onto the customer experience. We are proud of our food and drink offerings and think that our venue is a really welcoming space to play games.
Have you any favourite memories associated that you’d want to share?
At Dice we run Junior D&D sessions for children aged seven and over. These were really popular before the pandemic and we ended up running six or seven consecutive groups each time we ran the event. When we recently reopened we had a table booking under a familiar name – one of the parents of a child who used to attend these sessions. When the group arrived, we found the booking was for the child running a game for four of his friends with the parent chaperoning. It turned out that he had been learning to DM during lockdowns and was now running games for his friends on a regular basis.
What events do you run for the local gaming scene?
We run lots of regular weekly events, including RPG night, Social boardgaming, KeyForge tournaments and a tabletop wargaming night. We are also really excited to also be running one of the largest Blood Bowl leagues in the country – with three divisions and 30 teams in total.
What’s been your favourite part of running a FLGS?
The people. I have met so many fantastic customers and team members during the past few years. It’s lovely to be able to see so many familiar faces and reconnect with people now that we are open again.
How has it been through COVID-19?
In a word: awful. As a hospitality led business with no outdoor space we have been hit really hard. We were losing several thousands of pounds a month, even after all the local and national government support was factored in. In the long term I am worried about the impact it has had on people’s mental health and that it has created a lot of anxiety for people to mix socially again. I can see light at the end of the tunnel and hope that we look back in a couple of years’ time and this all seems like a distant memory.
Have you any plans for after COVID-19?
Absolutely. We are bringing more and more events back as restrictions are easing. We are also looking at expansion plans. We want to bring Dice to more towns and cities across the South of England.
Where can I find it?
Dice Board Game Lounge
149 Albert Roadd