Board game cafes, where patrons can come and play a game of Clue while drinking coffee and eating pastries, should be ready to move out of the way for a new, immersive narrative game bar in Boston.
Tavern of Tales is a new board game bar opening at 1478 Tremont St. Friday offers private rooms where patrons can play narrative board games with the added bonus of sound effects. The tavern will be officially opening in Mission Hill after hosting a soft launch Nov. 22.
When customers come to the restaurant, they can rent a private game room that includes a round table, the game board and all the cards and pieces needed. Waiting in the room is a game master, who is there to talk players through the game’s rules and answer any questions they might have while playing.
Players are able to choose between reserving a private room to play the interactive board games the tavern offers or going to the bar and playing more classic games such as Uno or Apples 2 Apples.
There are six interactive board games in reserved private rooms to choose from: Eight Minute Empire, Forbidden Island, Mysterium, Robots on the Line, The Resistance and Tokaido. Each game comes with its own script and sound effects in order to create six completely different atmospheres for the stories.
All games are priced by the hour and by the number of people playing, ranging from $10 to $14 for one hour, $10.50 to $7.50 for the second hour and $5 to $7 for the third consecutive hour. Players can choose their game from a prepared menu where the stories are listed alongside drinks and snacks.
Founder and CEO Nicholas Chen, an alumnus of the Boston University’s College of Fine Arts, said he had the idea for Tavern of Tales in his senior thesis where he said he wanted to study whether adding sound effects to a board game can improve the experience for those playing it.
“Through my work, it seemed that, yes, sound effects to heightened experience,” Chen said. “Then from there I decided I want to expand on that concept and turn it into this kind of board game experience tavern here.”
Chen said when he started his thesis he had no plans to create the tavern but soon realized the idea had more potential.
“It was a group project with the rest of my classmates in the sound department,” Chen said, “but at a certain point, I actually really think this is a cool idea. I don’t want other people to touch it.”
Chen worked alone for much of the first year of the project, he said, figuring out the details of the tavern and working through the kinks of the project before slowly amassing a staff. Now as CEO, he has a script writer, a graphic designer and game masters working for the tavern.
In order to get the restaurant aspect right, Chen, who has never worked in the restaurant industry, said he consulted with Christy Henry, who now works at Mamaleh’s Delicatessen, a deli in Cambridge, to help structure the bar and kitchen.
The tavern provides alcohol and food that was chosen to work with the game-playing experience, Chen said. Rather than full entrés, there will be more finger-food style snacks, such as tater tots and flatbread pizza.
JP Cromwell, who just received his master’s degree in writing at Emerson College, was one of the first people brought onto the project and is now the scriptwriter and assistant CEO for Taven of Tales. Cromwell said he “genuinely can’t believe this is his job,” and wouldn’t trade it for a second.
“I play board games, write and play through a vast number of roles each day I never thought I’d have to coming into this. And I wouldn’t give up a day of it,” Cromwell said. “It’s just pure fun and I’m glad that we’re finally about to have our grand opening. It’s been a long time coming.”
Cromwell said this experience is something he had never really seen before and something that feels “unreal” to be a part of.
“The experience of Tavern of Tales, at least working there, is kind of like a fantasy,” Cromwell said. “Because your parents would tell you while you’re growing up that life isn’t all fun and games, but with this job, it’s mainly fun and games.”