- Istanbul’s board game cafes tend to have smaller selections than I’ve seen in other countries – bring your own games if you have them with you.
- Most (but not all) tend to charge an admission fee.
- Most people I’ve met speak English, though there can be a wider range. Some folks are indistinguishable from a native speaker, while others will have difficulty putting together sentences.
- I’m sometimes (but not always) the only non-Turk there. For better or worse, tourists don’t always find their way into a board game group.
So, where to go?
Goblin Oyun Klubu
Caferağa Mahallesi, Miralay Nazım Sk., 34710 Kadıköy/İstanbul
Türkali Mahallesi, Mısırlı Bahçe Sk. No:3, 34357 Beşiktaş/İstanbul
Suadiye Mahallesi, Mücahit Sk. 5-3, 34740 Kadıköy/İstanbul
Goblin Oyun Klubu
Caferağa Mahallesi, Miralay Nazım Sk., 34710 Kadıköy/İstanbul (GPS: 40.987557, 29.027862) This basement game club doubles as your chance to play your favorite PC games as well. The Istanbul Board Game Enthusiasts group meets here on Tuesday nights, and there’s a good (if occasionally worn) selection of casual and heavier games. If looking to buy, there’s plenty of Magic cards and more than a few sleeves on sale. This is probably your best chance in Istanbul to check out some published board games made by locals. They’re entirely in Turkish, of course, so ask one of the group’s members to show you how to play. Expect to pay 10 lira admission, which gives you 10 lira worth of credit for drinks and snacks. On your way here (or after you leave), there are plenty of bars and restaurants in the Kadıköy area.
Türkali Mahallesi, Mısırlı Bahçe Sk. No:3, 34357 Beşiktaş/İstanbul (GPS: 41.044786, 29.002279) – it’s in Beşiktaş, on the European side of Istanbul Better thought of as a place to play Magic or mini-heavy games, they offer a decent selection of board games as well. The lower floor is for Magic and board games, while the upper floor is for heavier games involving elaborate sets and tape measures. As of publication, they are the Thursday night meeting place for the aforementioned Istanbul Board Game Enthusiasts. Expect to pay 15-20 lira as an admission fee and a reasonable price for canned beverages. They also serve Turkish tea / coffee along with some meals – look for the current offerings near the cashier’s desk. More info at http://www.pegasusoyuncak.com.
Suadiye Mahallesi, Mücahit Sk. 5-3, 34740 Kadıköy/İstanbul (GPS: 40.960643, 29.078279) This board game cafe is where the Board Game Enthusiast group meets on Saturday afternoons. Complete with coffee, tea, and more than a few food options, the board game selection is larger than other places (though there are a lot of copies of Monopoly and other classics, for example). The selection leans towards the casual end, and backgammon is a perennial hit with the locals. Getting here is going to be a challenge if coming from the European side. It’s a big city, after all. From the Kadikoy pier on the Asian side, you can catch a dolmuş (dole-moosh – a privately-run series of minivans) towards Bostancı or Pendik, or look for buses 4, 16, 16D, or 222.
Over to you
Where do you game in Istanbul?