A Night of Beer, Board Games, and “Cheap Ass Prizes” at The Windup Space
Review by Katie Robinson
I’m a total nerd. I love to go out and socialize, but loud bars make me feel claustrophobic. I need space to move around and a noise volume that allows me to talk to other people and hear myself think. My roommates are the same way; a good night to us is a night drinking and playing board games with friends. So when I saw that The Windup Space was having an event called “Brews and Board Games,” I knew it was something the three of us needed to check out. A place we can go to casually drink and play board games that isn’t our own apartment? That’s for us!
Having never been there before, I don’t know what The Windup Space looks like on your average night. I know they often have live music, so I assume it’s louder, but on this particular night, it was nerd heaven, and I mean that in the best way possible. The place was absolutely packed. Every table was taken by a group of friends or families (yes, there was even a kid there!) playing games. It was like an ad ripped out of a magazine depicting Family Fun Activities to do in Baltimore.
The scene was very laid back – the music in the bar was so faint that at times I began to question if I was was hearing it at all. And while a quiet bar might sound awkward, it was perfect for the occasion. People were busy chatting with friends while they played their chosen game, and the place still felt fun and bustling with activity while also allowing game players to communicate with one another without having to shout over music to do so.
My friends and I couldn’t find a table, so we set up shop at the bar. This is a difficult space to play a board game, I’ll admit, but we made it work. We brought our own game, Settlers of Catan, but we certainly didn’t need to – even though the place was packed, there were still a massive amount of awesome games set up on the stage for the taking. And in spite of the name of the event, it isn’t just board games either! They had lots of quick, fun games available too – the people sitting beside me at the bar entertained themselves with Bananagrams while they waited for a table to open up.
As the event is called Brews and Board Games, it was brews first for us, of course. The place has an $8 minimum on tabs, which means getting at least couple drinks (or, if you’re me, beer and some coffee, because I can’t stop caffeinating, even at a bar). As an IPA lover, I always appreciate a bar whose tap selection extends beyond Sam Adams and Blue Moon and offers me some local hops. The Windup Space delivered, and I got myself a 51 Rye, a strong and satisfying IPA brewed in Baltimore.
With our beers ordered, my friends and I set up our game and started playing. Settlers of Catan takes about an hour or so to play, which means that whoever wins gets to “find Martine” (as are the directions on a little printed sheet sitting at the bar) to get a prize. For quicker games, the rule is best 2 out of 3. I got lucky and won, and toddled semi-intoxicated around the bar, inquiring if anyone had seen Martine.
No one knew where she was, so I returned to my friends. At that moment it turned out that she was right next to me, filling up a cup at the water cooler. She apologized and led me over to her prize station. She held out a hand of cards, face down, and asked me to pick one. I picked “Cheap Ass Prize” (which is, in case it was hard to guess, the lowest in the prize rankings). Martine asked if I wanted a comic or to pick a prize from the bag. I chose to pick a prize, which led me to another pick-your-fate station in which she held out a large bag full of a bunch of stapled brown paper bags for me to pick from.
True to its name, my Cheap Ass Prize was a random assortment of shit, ranging from a tiny container of bubbles to a Matcha candy. While the majority of the prizes given away at Brews and Board games are things like that – small prizes without much value – it adds to the excitement of the night. Any prize is a good prize, especially when you’re a little drunk.
Overall, we had a lot of fun. If you want a loud, wild night out, this isn’t the place to go. But if you want a low-key night to geek out while surrounded by a bunch of friendly people who love games and possibly win some prizes, then it’s a really fun scene.
Brews and Board games is held the last Tuesday of every month at The Windup Space. Check out their website for a schedule of all their events.
Katie Robinson is a writer and food-lover originally from the suburbs of Philadelphia who considers herself to have many homes in many places. She currently resides in Baltimore.