Not long ago, playing a board game at a bar was an exercise in sadness. It was usually some beat-up old copy of Trivial Pursuit with 90 percent of the questions about Richard Nixon or Mork & Mindy. Board games have slowly but surely crept their way into acceptable ways to kill time at a bar beyond the usual darts, pool, and secret urination. International Tabletop Day on Saturday, April 29 will have locations around the city ranging from game stores to libraries hosting fun—if sober—games of Settlers Of Catan and Munchkin during the day. Many of the locations from last year are holding events this year. But for those who want to have a fistful of dice in one hand and a pint in the other all weekend, we offer these establishments that will be offering game festivities, along with suggestions of what to play based on the location of the event.
Friday, April 29
Venue: Great Lakes Distillery
Event: Board Game Beastro
The lowdown: This monthly gathering is building a community of game enthusiasts in hopes that they’ll be able to start their own gaming cafe soon.
We recommend drinking: It’s hard to pass up a Moscow mule made with Rehost Vodka, but the Mooncusser makes a good choice should this evening be one of those last gasps of winter.
We recommend playing: Codenames sums up this Walker’s Point location well. It’s got a bit of secrecy, it’s very social, and it can be a lot of fun even if the clues you give are a wee bit slurred.
Saturday, April 30
Venue: 42 Ale House
Event: International Tabletop Weekend, Day One
The lowdown: Ale House is hosting games all weekend with its sister location, 42 Lounge.
We recommend drinking: The bar recently added a live beer list patrons can check out on their phones. Since it’s right there in the title, check out Delirium Tremens, a Belgian golden ale.
We recommend playing: The Red Dragon Inn isn’t so much a drinking game as it is a game about drinking, but a few drinks in Ale House’s gastropub decor could just as easily be a fantasy tavern full of quest givers.
Event: Tabletop Day
The lowdown: Binary is a huge space with a big mix of board games and memorabilia.
We recommend drinking: The Battle of Serenity Valley will help you forget that Firefly only got one season, yet, somehow, The Apprentice birthed a presidential candidate.
We recommend playing: Take advantage of the huge tables (and the feel of the nearby West Allis construction) and try your luck as a ship captain in the ‘verse with Firefly: The Game.
Sunday, May 1
Venue: 42 Lounge
Event: International Tabletop Weekend, Day Two
The lowdown: It’s either the end of Tabletop Weekend or the beginning of 42 Fest, depending on how much sleep gets snuck in between massive gaming marathons.
We recommend drinking: The Fizzy Lifting Drink has a BAWLS Energy Drink mixer, which should help you power through a third day of rolling dice and talking in funny voices.
We recommend playing: Lounge is home to big nerd events like the Cosplay Rave and concerts by nerdcore bands. Sunday’s main event is “Vault of the Dracolich,” a massive D&D session featuring four Dungeon Masters and 20 players.
Monday, May 2
Venue: Von Trier
Event: Milwaukee Area Game Maniacs Agency (MAGMA) Meetup
The lowdown: This group meets at various locations throughout the city and just happens to return to Von Trier this Monday.
We recommend drinking: A classic bar deserves a classic drink, so the $5 Old Fashioned Special is no joke.
We recommend playing: The deckbuilder has become a staple of the new age of board gaming, so why not play a classic like Dominion at this East Side institution? Or, if you want to get meta, Deck Building: The Deckbuilding Game.