Boardgame Lingo

What is a Kallax?

You may not know its name but if you’ve visited a gaming bar, friends flat or IKEA you know it’s cube-shaped face, is it really the best board game shelf solution created, not a chance, *but* is it the cheapest, most effective and readily available – 100% yes.

What is a Mulligan?

No matter how finely tuned the card game, the second you begin shuffling and drawing hands, the gods of gaming can decide to strike you down with a set of identical cards or worse, trash. To avoid this fate, most games will allow you the chance to discard this cursed first hand and try again so you have a fairer shot at winning.

Why would you Tap a card in gaming?

Nothing to do with contactless payments, to Tap is the way you interact with a card to show it’s used in some way. This could be as simple as touching the card like in traditional card games or in Magic the Gathering, it’s the act of turning a card sideways. 

Tapping helps show all players what’s been used or is available.

What does Spiel des Jahres mean on a board game box?

You’ll see this mentioned on a host of great board games, like the Oscars are to film, this German “Game of the Year” award is the highest praise. If something has won the Spiel Des Jahres, you can be pretty confident it’s a great game.

Why do people keep mentioning Board Game Geek?

They aren’t calling you a nerd, Board Game Geek has become the biggest site for board games boasting over 300k visitors a day, you can find reviews, images and message forums covering everything and anything game related. Their ever-changing top lists are a great place to see what’s currently ranked the best title among the most dedicated players.

What does CCG have to do with cards?

CCG is short for Collectible Card Game, these are designed with the function of destroying your wallet, cards will keep being released and you buy additional packs hoping to get the rare ones that complete a set, decimate your rivals or can make you rich.
Pokémon is the granddaddy of them all.

What does LCG have to do with card games?

Living Card Game is actually a phrase owned by Fantasy Flight Games, but like “Google that” it’s become adopted by the board game masses. LCG’s are great in that they remove random cards and instead packs are released in batches. Like any subscription service if you keep picking up the new packs you can tap into a world of gameplay possibilities, once you stop buying new sets, or the game finishes, things become more limited.

What is DnD?

DnD is the all-conquering Dungeons and Dragons, a game where you create a character and interact with a fantasy world through dice rolls. This is all controlled by a Dungeon Master who will be crafting the story from books, guides or just from their own imagination.

What’s an RPG?

Role-Playing Games is a broad term for any game that sees you create a character and play out a role, so you’ll be acting and behaving in that way. If people are sitting with sheets of A4 paper, rolling dice and acting, you can be pretty sure it’s an RPG they are playing. Different games tweak the system of rolling dice and role-play, so if Fantasy isn’t your thing you can be a hacker in Cyberpunk or a force wielding Jedi in Star Wars Force And Destiny. 

What are Meeple?

A shortened version for “My People” coined by Alison Hansel during a play session of Carcassonne. Meeple are player pieces that can represent countless things in board games.

What is King Making?

While you might not win every game, you may be in a position to pick the winner. Kingmaking is the moment you make a choice that determines who will win the game, so that may be leaving a card for them to collect next turn, choosing to leave a space free or a more blatant act of war like turning on an ally.

What is Quarterbacking in a game?

Co-op games task you to work together but in some, there’s a higher risk of one person taking over, think back seat driving, quarterbacking is a term for when someone is taking too much of a lead and calling all the shots. “Cool so on your turn you do this” some games are more at risk of this than others but unless the quarterback is saving you from failing the game, you do you.

What is Drafting in games?

While we’d be the experts on all things draught when it comes to beer, in board games drafting will see you taking something and passing the rest on. No matter the game you’ll be weighing up, what you need, what you can grab and potentially how much you can annoy your friends taking their choice first instead.

What is a Tableau?

Tableau is mixing the French for picture and the English for table, Tableau in board games refers to the collection of items you’ve assembled in front of you in the hope of victory, usually these games see you playing together but apart then comparing scores at the end.

What does Engine have to do with tabletop gaming?

Your Engine is referring to the way you’re competing in the game. You will start small and build from there, in the same way its namesake works, some will be ruthlessly efficient and others a little slower and plod along. The trick is to pick components in the game that work well together.

What is Dex/Dexterity in board gaming?

Dex is short for Dexterity and in a roleplaying game relates to how well you will perform a task with your hands. Dexterity games will test these skills, so every time you try to throw rubbish in the bin from distance, that’s a Dex check

What is a Deck in games?

If you’ve got a pile of cards face-down that you are taking from, you’ve got yourself a deck. How that deck works changes depending on the game, so you may add to it as a game goes on or enter & finish with the same set.

What is Analysis Paralysis?

If you’ve ever stared blankly at a take-away menu, wondering what to choose, that’s Analysis Paralysis. In gaming, this would be when you’re faced with a bunch of different possibilities & you’re unsure which to pick. If it helps with the food dilemma, I’d always pick 67!

Why would I burn in a board game?

To burn* in a board game is to sacrifice something (usually a card) in exchange for something else happening. While burning helps with the now, it can sometimes hurt you in the long term as whatever is burnt will likely be lost forever.

*Unless advised by the game instructions never set fire to game components.


Budget Magic

Here, we’ll take you through a few different formats and give you the low-down on where you can save pennies while still remaining competitive, with a budget of around £50-70 as a guideline, and avoiding formats like Pioneer and Modern where the price of competitive decks are considerably out of budget.


Standard is the default format for a lot of new players – it only uses the last 4-8 card sets that are legal for the format, and thus rotates a lot of cards out of the format once a year. Out of many formats, it’s also often the cheapest – cards being new on the market and sold in current sets mean you’re not hunting for an old, hard-to-find copy of a certain card on the secondary market, which helps keep the cost down.

To minimize costs, we recommend starting with one of Wizards of the Coast’s own Challenger Decks. These are reasonably priced (the exact price depends on where you buy it) pre-built decks based on some of the most competitive designs in the format. They’re not quite as powerful as the designs they’re based on, to balance cost vs. contents, but one of them is an absolute powerhouse with a relatively affordable upgrade path: mono red.

Mono red means it only uses red mana and colorless spells, so you’ll never need to seriously upgrade the mana base. As an archetype, it is an extremely fast and aggressive deck that aims to kill the opponent before they’ve had time to blink. The design is simple as a result, and almost every core card is in the box – you could easily take this to a Friday Night Magic tournament and clean up because its design is so reliable.


Pauper is a format that, as its name suggests, operates on the idea of low cost – no card in your deck can be above common in rarity. What does this mean? A load of variety and choice where tactics are favoured over raw power, and an affordable collection of cards to choose from.

This means if you want to try out multicolour decks that do everything from sneakily control the battlefield to deploying giant stompy monsters, you’re in luck! The meta (the current landscape of the game, competitively) contains a ton of affordable decks – jump into the format with this helpful video.


Commander is a little different to most Magic, in that you have a commander – a legendary (unique) named character whose identity, from their abilities to the mana colors used to summon them and use said abilities, define the colors of cards you can include in your whopping 99-card deck. Every card must be unique (with some exceptions, and your basic land cards), and games are often played in groups of 3-4 rather than a 1v1 format.

All these cards, all that power, and a card legality that goes back to the beginning of Magic means that some of these decks cost thousands of dollars. But your saving grace comes in the form of deck designers like Commander’s Quarters, who will present you with countless fun and competitive decks that sync nicely to your budget.

If you do put together a Commander deck, and find a group of friends to play with, it’s also important to make sure the power level of everyone’s decks will match up so your budget creation doesn’t leave you DOA with your friends playing the rest of the game. Not sure how to approach that conversation? This article is a great starting point.

Digital Magic

If you’re some distance from your nearest Magic spot, or like many of us, avoiding in-person gatherings during COVID-19, then have no fear – digital Magic is here! The go-to for many new players is Magic the Gathering: Arena, a PC digitization of the Standard format (and a fair few others besides) that is free to download and play – and comes with ten starter decks. Earning new cards is simple (and still free), and most tournament events are accessible via currency that isn’t tied to your wallet.

There’s also Magic the Gathering: Online, or MTGO for short. Also digital, but it comes with an actual real-money marketplace, and the ability to play every major Magic format from throughout the game’s history. You can even cheaply rent expensive decks to try them out before you commit to buying the cards – great for the money-savvy player on a budget.

Shuffle Up and Play

No matter whether you start with Standard, Commander or even formats beyond it like Limited, Modern, Pioneer, Legacy and more, the best thing to do is sit down, shuffle up and play. You’ll soon get a feel for what decks you like and dislike, and the secondary card market means trading your own physical (or on MTGO, digital) cards in to change decks is perfectly possible at many local game stores. We look forward to seeing you on the battlefield!


How do I open a gaming bar?

Up until March 2020 it seemed like I’d get asked a lot about opening a gaming bar. While opening somewhere for people to gather may not seem like the most sensible idea at the moment, here’s my attempt to answer the most common questions with lessons learnt the hard way over the last 10 years.

Do you need a special licence to demo games?

No…Not really but you’ll have noticed those terms and conditions that flash up at the start of games detailing how the retail copy is not for public use? So how do you get copies that are suitable? (Why did it always mention the strangely specific Oil Rigs!?)

Your best bet is to approach each company and let them know what you’re doing and prepare to be flexible. As the gaming hospitality industry continues to grow, it is more likely that someone may expect a cut of that gaming fee. 

Do you make a lot of money running a gaming bar?

No…There’s a reason 4 pubs are closing every day in the UK. It’s not because the owners got rich and retired. But, like building a village in Animal Crossing or running a theme park in Rollercoaster Tycoon, there’s more to it than just making money.

How much does it cost to open a gaming bar?

A lot. “I only need about 10k to open somewhere?” The quick answer to this is no chance, there’s been a few campaigns and plans pitched suggesting just a few thousand is needed to get something open. While you might get open for that, the key challenge is being able to stay open.

Times have changed and tenants do have a lot more leeway negotiating a lease. In general, you’ll need to pay three months rent upfront, the same again as a deposit and cover the legal fees. 

It is helpful to keep in mind that small things can make a dent. For example, speed pourers are only around £2 each, but even with our tiny bar, 30 of them are needed, meaning £60 is gone.

The first order is always the most painful as you will have needed to stock the bar with a whole lot of different things. If you look at a bar shelf and add each bottle up as £15 each, you can imagine just how much money you’ll need to stock a bar in the first place.

Other guaranteed bills will be:

  • Building Insurance – Protecting if the windows get smashed starting around £300
  • Public Liability Insurance – Covers you if someone falls over and is required by law
  • Premises Licence – Alcohol Licence which you need to sell drink, if a place doesn’t already have one, this will need to be applied for, they aren’t too expensive but it’s a yearly expense.
  • Business Rates – Council Tax but for business, you can check how much this would cost for by putting the postcode in here.
  • Utilities – Water, Electric, Internet, Waste Collection
  • Other crucial ones you can forget are the many one-off charges, the first time you stock up will be by far the most expensive as there are so many things you need to have but may not buy very often.

How much money does a gaming bar need to take to survive?

An easy way for you to judge how much you may need to take a look at the rent cost and multiply that figure by 5, that’s a good starting point for what you’ll need to sell. You can use this to help build your forecast and work backwards.

Do I need experience to open a bar?

No but it’s useful! If you haven’t jumped behind a bar before, a few hours a week serving drinks while you get your master plan together will help you test whether you really can handle it. People will ask you stupid things, some people will attempt to scam you, so getting the chance to experience all this before to start your endeavour will benefit you in the long run. It’s smarter to earn while you learn.

Can you play games all day?

Yes if you can afford staff! However, working on the floor yourself gives you a much greater advantage of learning what your customers want first hand: What are they playing? What do they order? What you had in mind starting out and what people want once you open, maybe two very different things.

Normally the three-year plan* is year 1 the business runs you, 2nd year you run the business and by year 3 it should run itself. That’s when hopefully you can kick back and work on triple prestige status on COD. *I’m in year 10 and still find reasons to have to work so don’t hold me to that…

Where do I start if I want to open a gaming bar?

Ask questions! Go and speak to people who run similar-sized businesses in the place you want to open, most people are quite friendly and would give you an honest answer. Some important questions to ask include, how long have they been there? What lessons have they learned? Try to learn about any mistakes or lessons they can pass on to help you avoid the same issues.

Prepare for lots of people to offer to save you money after the fact

I lost count of the number of times I’ve paid out for something only for someone to stroll in the next day and say they could have offered or provided the same thing for less. Sometimes people will just offer to help after the fact to feel good but you’d be amazed how many friends of friends or relatives you might have with the skills you’re looking for who will understand you’re starting out and need every penny.
Do you best to research things and once it’s done there’s no point getting down if you’ve put the coffee counter in the wrong place, make it work and change it later.

Tell people what you do! 

“Why did that website cover you?” Because back at the start, I was based all the way down in Cornwall, there wasn’t much chance of the press hopping on a train to pay a visit or stumbling across what we do. Reaching out through social media/email/phones to chat about what makes the thing you offer unique is half the battle won. Start with places you are a fan of.  For example, if you listen to a podcast, it’s more impactful to send a message that already acknowledges what they do and how it might fit what you offer.

How cheap is beer?

It normally surprises people that the cost of drink is around the same price, if not more, than a supermarket. Plenty of places raid the supermarkets at Christmas when spirits are cheap. An average branded pint (Think Brewdog/Goose Island etc) is going to cost you £1.90 on draught so when you draw up your forecasts, try and find a supplier to get accurate prices which are probably more than you think. The benefit of real suppliers (not filling your boot at Tesco) is that proper suppliers can help with incentives like fridges and ice machines provided you agree to only buy from them.

How big a venue do I need?

“They were always busy, how are they closed?” The bigger you are, the more costs you have with staff, rates and it’s harder to keep track of costs. While you may have a venue that is seemingly packed full of people, sometimes very few of these people are spending money. Also, while you may make decent amounts of money while it’s busy, you have to consider that there will always be quieter periods.

Can I call it Loading?

If you want to open your own Loading, you can get in touch about that drop an email to and lets talk.

Do it!

I spent a total of 2 years working around the idea of Loading, finding suitable premises and preparing it for opening. Rarely, is there a right or wrong time to do it, so if you’ve read these points and think there’s nothing you haven’t already considered, go forth!

That’s about it, if you have any other questions feel free to fire an email and if by some luck my advice leads to you having a chain of gaming spaces that take over the world just remember to send me a card with some thank you money. 😀