Cardiff Character: Mike Griffith

In a cafe where board games and beer collide, the bar manager of Chance & Counters discusses barista and board game culture

A local lad, Mike was raised in Bassaleg, Newport

With the board game industry undergoing a sharp resurgence in popularity in recent years, it seems little safe-havens for board game lovers have popped up all over the UK to meet the rising demand for the unorthodox combination of board games and beer. 

In Cardiff’s newest board game cafe, you will find Mike Griffith, the new bar manager of Chance & Counters Cardiff.

Mike, 25, has left the barista life behind to take on what seems like his perfect role, as a manager and resident ‘board games guru’.

“I consider myself as more of a pseudo-guru,” Mike smiles, “I just learn the rules of the games I like the look of.”

Despite Mike’s modest outlook, it is clear to see that board games have had a big impact on his life, and they have fostered memories that he holds dear.

“I played more board games than video games growing up,” he continues, “probably because my parents wanted me to be more social with my time.”

Mike reminisces, “I grew up with the classics like KerPlunk and Operation; the ones that you would beg your parents to get you for Christmas.”

Contrasts in craft

Chance & Counters opened on St Mary Street in November 2018, and Mike explained that there are some marked differences between the board game cafe ethos and the attitudes of the barista jobs he has left behind.

“As a barista, you can be stood there for eight hours a day getting coffees out; it’s quick-fire customer service. There is a much more chilled vibe here, and the clientele is different. 

“The key difference is that our main point of sale is our massive collection of board games.”

The cafe has over 500 board games to choose from. Add to this their popular selection of craft beers, and you have quite the unorthodox sales pairing. Nonetheless, it is a combination that Mike is very proud of.

“Come Friday and Saturday night, this place is full of people playing board games and enjoying booze, from our craft beers to our cocktails.”

Although, Mike acknowledges that tipsy players can sometimes get a little rowdy.

“After a couple of drinks, some can get into the spirit a bit too much,” he smirks, “but everyone so far has always treated the games and the staff with the utmost respect.”

“The public don’t have to rely on their old childhood board games anymore”

Mike stands at the bar with a board game he played recently
At the age of 25, Mike has recently been promoted to bar manager

The board game popularity puzzle

Chance & Counters’ busy weekend nights are indicative of the resurgence of board game popularity in recent years, the BBC reporting that the board game industry will be worth over £9bn by 2023.

Another study conducted by American think tank GVR proposes that this rise is due to millenials yearning for more ‘old school’ games. Mike sees it differently.

“A majority of our customers are millennials, but we do have younger and older generations coming in to play too,” he says.

For Mike, the reasoning behind the spike in popularity is clear. “Old board games have their place in history”, he continues, “but new board games are coming up with some terrific new mechanics and artwork. Breakout games like Cards Against Humanity have created a foothold for board games to become mass market.

“The general public are realising that they don’t have to rely on their old childhood board games anymore.”