Board game tables – the good, the bad, and The Table Flippers

Board Game Table Feature

Thanks to antiquated real estate laws, my wife and I lost our dream house earlier this year and our deposit was refunded. So flush with cash and emotional scarring, what better way to recover than to buy a board game table?

After doing our research we settled on the Nagoya from The Table Flippers. For a couple of reasons. The first was that despite being an Australian brand, they had a Japanese and minimalistic style that spoke to us.

We weren’t about to spend a boatload of money on a board game table that looked exactly like every other table on the market. We wanted it to be a statement piece of furniture and the style of the Nagoya stood out to us as something a bit different without being wildly unique.

The other reason we chose this board game table was for the width. The Nagoya came in at 1.2 meters wide which was bigger than other board game tables we researched. This was of particular concern because some bigger board games, like Argent the Consortium and Claustrophobia 1643, couldn’t be contained by our previous table.

So with our decision made, we deposited half the price of the table and then waited. More nerve-wracking than it should have been because The Table Flippers only had a few online reviews and communication dried up once they had their money.

Each week my friends and I joked about how it was a big scam and that I’d thrown my money away. But thankfully, that wasn’t the case. Six weeks later, almost to the date, the table arrived. And let me tell you, it looks glorious.

To The Table Flippers‘ credit, their post-build support has been fantastic. We had a couple of issues with the table, such as bubbles in the varnish, and they went above and beyond to make sure it got sorted to our satisfaction.

Shows the full length of the board game table and the recessed playing area.
The Nagoya from The Table Flippers

The benefits of a board game table

When first seeing a board game table, your eyes are immediately drawn to the sunken surface. So let’s start there.

The main function of this recessed playing area is to store a board game you’re not currently playing. For example, when you want the table for dinner, or your six-year-old wants to draw, or in true board gamer fashion, you want to play two games at once.

There’s something magical about starting a game night with something light like Red7 on top of the table. Then pulling off the slats and having Eclipse: Second Dawn of the Galaxy all set up and ready to play.

However, there’s a lot more to love than just saving games. For instance, you no longer have to worry about dice rolling off the table, onto the tiles, and then under the bookshelf. Which happens more times than I care to admit.

So you can imagine the smile on my face when, as soon as we assembled the table, I launched a handful of dice as though I was Nolan Ryan in the World Series. Not a single one made it passed the edge, and the neoprene surface dulled the usual harsh clack that accompanies dice bouncing on the table.

Speaking of the neoprene, one of my favourite features of the table is how easy it is to pick up cards. We’re all familiar with a card that you just can’t pick up that needs to be slid to the edge of the table. Or trying to slide a nail under the corner of a facedown card, only to try a bit too hard and have the card press against that super sensitive area.

No more! The neoprene lets you easily pick up cards as you can push into the fabric to create space for your finger. Making it so simple to flip cards, or grab them whenever you want.

Another great feature that I love specifically about the Nagoya table is the built-in card holder. Placing your cards so they face you, without feeling yourself sweat all over them is a relief for the component-conscientious board gamer.

And on the topic of component-conscientious board gaming, there are also cup holders away from the playing space. The Nagoya has a slide-in rail system letting you drag the cup holders around the sides of the table. Removing the very real worry of someone baptising your board game in red wine.

The slats are on top of the table creating a clean eating surface.
Underneath is the same game of Heat: Pedal to the Metal

The negatives of a board game table

When you buy into the idea of a board game table, you buy into the idea of playing a game and then simply storing it for later by placing the planks on top. This only partially holds up in reality. A high-quality solid wood table comes with high-quality solid wood planks, and as such, they’re heavy.

Then there’s the other consideration of where to store these planks when not in use. Mine currently reside against the wall in my study, as there’s not enough room to house them in the dining area.

So the simple equation of adding heavy planks, a distance to walk, and being a weak IT nerd equals me not using the vaulting functionality as much as I thought I would.

Another discovery I only found out after having the table for a while was just how dirty the neoprene gets. It collects dust, cardboard shavings and dead bugs like it’s a contest. And let me tell you, it’s winning. After only a month we had to vacuum the surface, and now it’s probably ready for another cleaning.

Compared to a regular dining table where you can just wipe it down with a damp cloth after playing, and you can make a case for not wanting a board game table.

Additionally, in terms of upkeep, you need to keep on top of metal cup holders. Ours haven’t been well looked after and are already showing signs of rust.

The last thing you need to know is specific to the Nagoya, but I’ve seen it on other tables as well. If the planks sit on top of the table, then the height of the table feels above comfortable eating height. So there’s a trade-off with these types of board game tables. It’s either a great board game table or a great dining table, not both.

Our table is the former, with the height being perfect for playing board games, allowing you to lean on the rails and get closer to the action. However, eating at the same table sometimes feels like your elbows are up above your ears.

The built in card holders doing their work.
Cardholders in action

Is a board game table worth the price?

This is a deeply personal decision based on your financial situation and your priority for board game playing perfection. Along with the cost of living crisis going on at the moment, I’m in no way advocating you drop everything and go purchase a board game table right away.

However, if you’re in the market for a new dining table and want to improve your board game playing experience. Then it’s worth consideration. Given that you’re likely to pay $2-3,000(AUD) dollars for a nice dining table already, paying an extra $1-2,000 (AUD) dollars on top doesn’t seem as much of a stretch.

That said, board gaming as a hobby is getting more popular every year. With that, the demand for tables is increasing, and the competition to make them more affordable is heating up. So if you’re not in the market right now, keep your ear to the ground, as there may be some great cheaper alternatives coming in the near future.

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