Are Gaming Tables worth it?

The story starts with this No Pun Included video about the Megan Gaming Table that they had received in return for a unbiased review. That table was on Kickstarter at the time.

Then a while later the Megan resurfaced at the end of this SU&SD video:

While I had some unease* about NPI and SU&SD accepting such an expensive item I do trust their editorial policies and both reviews were heavily caveated and very clear on what was going on. I’m also happy to accept that these are quality pieces of furniture and if you want one and can afford it then you should absolutely get one. Therefore I didn’t mention anything and all this stayed in my head.

* Sidebar

To be clear I have no issue with a games review site accepting review copies but its worth remembering that the value of the table is at least £1000, well above the value of what they would normally receive, no matter how may huge plastic mini’s were included. The reduced price on offer during the Kickstarter for the smaller table without accessories was £900, add to that the cheapest delivery which is to the UK was £100. I think Quinn’s also mentioned some chairs and the catalogue price of those is £190 each.

However when it came to the recent Wingspan review I noticed this:

wingspan
Can you see what caught my attention?

Not to keep you in suspense but Wingspan is a 5 player game! So my immediate question was that if a fifth person turned up where would you put them? I’m sure you could do it but it would probably mean putting the top back on and treating it like a normal table. There is of course the bigger version of the Megan that sits 6 to 8 people that was also on the Kickstarter.

From there I began to think about the limitations and benefits of this sort of table and if I could have one would I want it? In short, are they a desirable luxury that brings much more easy, functionality and enjoyment or are they unnecessary bling that’s all about showing off?

What do you think?

1 Like

I haven’t even used the traditional kitchen table for a long time. I can see a use for that, if you want to run combat; you get cardboard heroes, or miniatures, and a sheet of plastic printed with hexagons, and Bob’s your uncle. Probably a lot cheaper than a special purpose piece of furniture, and you can use it for things other than gaming.

In my house, the vault would be filled with random things and would eventually become a junk drawer.

I will eventually build my own gaming table, once I have a dedicated gaming room (and the space to setup my woodworking shop)

I’m mostly a teacher, and partially a commission woodworker. I built a vault table for my home about three years ago, as a project to distract myself from some medical issues. We absolutely love it, but it was built to very specific details, including my own access to materials and skill set.

My advice to folks that have come over to test drive a table before maybe purchasing one is to find someone local who is willing to build one up for you. (or build one yourself, if you have the tools). There are so many aspects to consider. Things like weight, knock-down-ability, whether kids are going to climb around on it, the depth of the vault, waterproofing the top, liner materials, etc. Having someone that can build to spec, and is willing to work with you on figuring those specs out, will likely be cheaper, and will definitely get you a table that does what you need. If they’re like me, then they’ll probably be excited by the project as well.
There are also several ways of converting secondhand dining and coffee tables that are viable options to explore, with only basic skills and tools required.
If you game a lot, or are into puzzle or Lego or any thing with bits and bobs moving around, I think it’s worth it to have one, but don’t limit your options to what’s commercially available. You’ll get a fine piece of furniture, but you may end up compromising on the details.

3 Likes

A simple square, octagonal, or round table is best, depending on your space and needs.

120 cm by 120 cm suits us fine. Not too big for 4 or 2 players, but able to fit 8 because the lack of raised borders gives you more flexibility.

1 Like

I like how clear was Quinn about it. If money is no object and you have the room for it in your house, why not getting it, but if like most mortals money is limited, it is difficult to sell.

It has some advantages, specially for rolling games, or longer games that you can leave under the vault for later play, but other than that, it is like justifying the buying of a supercar. Have you got the money to buy a McLaren and you love cars? Go for it. If not, save for a Golf GTI. Or tune up your old Citroen Saxo.

I personally would rather spend the money on games and buy an extendable table off eBay (which is what we did about three years ago before getting into gaming) that is durable and not too damaged. There are always things like that on the market if you know where to look. And if you are crafty, modify one or make one yourself (although making solid stable legs for large tables is not as easy as it looks).

Back in my bachelor days, we built a table topper that turned a foosball table into a (albeit small) gaming table… This, of course, was for friends who had a foosball table in their apartment, but wanted a gaming table…

1 Like

Sounds like heaven… Although a foosball table might be a tad little fr gaming…

1 Like

It was! Waaay too tiny. But it was a small apartment (that already was commited to having a foosball table, for whatever reason). We still made it work!

2 Likes

I have a 4foot square table. So same size roughly as Benkyo’s but it’s in inches for mini wargames reasons that largely revolve around a lag in the UK and the US not converting to the cleaner system of measurement. It’s only lightly raised on the edges. Around 2cm which means I put a gaming mat in. A giant mouse pad is wonderful to game on and the main improvement I want. At this size large games are easy to fit on it and it can hold 8 gamers as well. Also it’s a trestle table so it has flexibility. It was originally designed with a recessed top to hold tiles in for wargames terrain but boardgames have taken over. Which is why there’s 2 bits so it can become an 8’ x 4’.

I think I concur though with Quinns. The friend who has one had plenty of money when they bought it. It’s good and if you have the money it does the job well. If you don’t have the money it’s not necessary to feel like you’re missing out.

I spent £100 on trestles to get really solid ones. Then £30 on materials and £80 on a games mat. The mat was unnessecarily expensive as I got a custom printed one. I prefer the 4’x4’ size and shape. If my living space changes I’d probably look at making a table topper if I couldn’t get a large square table.

2 Likes

One upon a time I could never see myself getting one, but recently I’m kinda tempted. I used to be of the “I could buy XX other stuff with that money!” frame of mind, but now I have everything I need and have filled my house out, so I’d rather buy a few decent quality things that will last rather than lots more stuff that I have no room to store. It is a lot compared to the price of games, but compared to my other hobbies (particularly guitar) it’s a quite standard price. I will have to see where I am in a few years time though, I’m not going to be moving countries with a games table!

My current table is about 2.5mx.9m, and I find it too narrow a lot of the time. I would like a good 120cm width I think.

Space for a main board + player boards does seem to be the biggest issue with these tables. A lot of modern games are quite deceptive in how much space they require. I see no issue with sometimes playing with the top on occasionally

2 Likes

I already have an excellent Ikea dining table (~ 2.7m × 1m when fully extended), and some felt cloths I lay over it when gaming is happening because as Quinns mentioned it’s very helpful to have a slightly squishy surface for picking up cards. (Though actually I got them for basic wargaming mats: one blue, one green, one black.)

(Roughly this https://www.ikea.com/gb/en/p/norden-extendable-table-oak-50424049/ but an older model: not that exact size, and all wood.)

So I start with “I’d need to get rid of the perfectly good existing table” and continue with “what advantages would I get”:

  • somewhere to put drinks off the table (I use folding stools and a free-standing tray now, and that can take food too)
  • ability to stow a game-in-progress (I very rarely want to do this but maybe I would if I could, and maybe I’d leave it there forever)

and that’s before I’ve learned whether constantly having to reach out-and-down, rather than just out, would be annoying.

3 Likes

I am going to be building my own, but I’m not spending more than £100 on a table with a lift off top. That just sounds absurd.

1 Like

We had a go with the Megan gaming table at Airecon a couple of years ago. At the time it was retailing for £1900. As a short person, I found the entire experience annoying and uncomfortable because of the height of the table - although in fairness this is not an experience unique to that table! I’m not really convinced of the utility of the recessed playing space, seeing as it would mean an uncomfortable reach down and also limits the size of the play space to quite a bit less than the size of the table.

This is all completely academic, however, since our house is in no way large enough for a big gaming table (hello terraced houses in the north of England) :grin:

Since we do occasionally play some large games, we made a folding table-topper out of plywood and felt:


Clockwise from top right: table without topper, table with topper, Rum and Bones, Scythe with the big board and too many expansions.

We got the plywood and hinges from B&Q, and the felt and spray adhesive from the local market. Cost about £30 all in, with enough felt left over for a table cloth. The only change I’d make is switching the hinges for piano hinges, so that it sits better on the table surface.

8 Likes

My game room table is an old round dining table with a felt cover on it. The cover really does make a difference and is totally worth it. #1 upgrade to anything that is serving as a gaming space is something nice and soft to play on, in my opinion.

I’m not convinced the down in well part of gaming tables makes a difference, but neither was Quinns before he had one and now he seems to enjoy it so maybe I’d be similarly convinced? I’d love something bigger but just don’t have the space for it. I do like having open drinks in particular not on the same surface as game components, so if we have beverages, we’ll usually put little tray tables up in a couple corners of the room to set those on.

5 Likes

Pity it’s not machine washable, otherwise that would seem like the ultimate solution. No worries about drink spillage, etc.

2 Likes

We have ran it through the washing machine once. Dryer, too. I was worried and I wouldn’t do it too often, but it came out fine after one go. When the university suddenly went online mid semester, the game room temporarily became my teaching office and studio for class prep, recording lectures, and grading. Middle of grading final papers and I knocked over a large glass of half juice half ginger ale that I’d literally just filled. If we’d been gaming I’d never have had that large an open glass of liquid on the table!!

4 Likes

A friend has one. It’s fine? If I had a house and a permanent dining room table set up, I’d maybe drop the extra bucks and make it a gaming table with the vault and drink holders and whatnot, because a proper dining room table is already liable to run several hundred dollars. But I live in a 1 bedroom apartment with limited space, and while the folding table I bought to game on now tends to live unfolded and set up…at least I can collapse it and put it out of the way if I need to for whatever reason.

6 Likes

I have to say I’m not convinced. Mainly for the point that @RogerBW made: in 99% of cases, you’re not just buying a table, but replacing an existing table that to all intents and purposes works perfectly fine. You’d probably also be compromising your ability to actually dine on your dining table in the process.

And then even if you do have the money and the circumstances, then I think @bengeile is spot on. For that money you might as well commission someone local (or a friend, if you have the right connections) to make one to your exact specs.

I had a friend make me a giant coffee table for gaming in my space-poor flat. It’s probably too big for the space but it works pretty well. Driving it back to London from Cambridgeshire in my tiny car was an interesting exercise though - it would only go in with the front seats as far forward as they could go with the seat backs bolt upright!

4 Likes

Ah, the classic driving position