The Big Box: Cape Town’s boardgame café

Recently, I’ve spent a few Saturday mornings getting my geek on at The Big Box, a boardroom café located slap-bang between South Africa’s Parliament and the Jewish Museum, round the corner from the National Gallery.

It’s one of the things I’ve done with the Cape Town Coffee and Tea Socials Meetup group, and I must say, when it comes to breaking the ice and taking the pressure off meeting new people, playing games is a great alcohol-free ‘social lubricant’ for those not that into sports.


Timeline: One for the history buffs.

The Big Box back story
As this article explains, the café has French owners and origins. It’s the sister company of a boardgames café in La Rochelle, called La Grosse Boite. When husband and wife Eric and Emilie Breteau moved to the Mother City, they started hosting boardgame nights across the city, before opening Big Box in June 2015. As the only Giga Mic distributors in the country, the café also serves as a games shop.

The French flavour is found in the games themselves, many of which have instructions in French.
(No worries: Eric and Emilie come round and explain the rules to get you started.) Then there are the yummy crêpes on offer.

Ghost Blitz

Ghost Blitz and coffee.

I also like the fact that Eric and Emilie believe so strongly in the developmental benefits to playing boardgames, they’ve started a social-development programme to supply at least 20 schools and orphanages in the Cape Town area with free boardgames. So if you purchase a game from the café, 5% of the price helps finance the programme.

Games to play
The games I’ve enjoyed include:

  • Dobble, an observation game that’s great fun for all ages.
  • Story Cubes, pictograph dice that serve as storytelling prompts.
  • Timeline Historical Events cards, which require that you guess the order of key historical events on a timeline. (I can’t rave about this one enough. SO much fun!)
Story Cubes

Writers recommend Story Cubes for writing prompts.

But there are plenty others to try, including French games (such as Quarto), family games (such as Monolopoly), strategy games (such as Risk: Lord of the Rings) and solo games (such as IQ Link).

Go on, give The Big Box Café a go one Saturday. You can also hire the venue out, and BYO booze, for a group of 10 people or more.

To visit the café’s website, click here.


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