The top 10 gaming nights and groups in Toronto
The top gaming nights and groups in Toronto cater to game lovers of every stripe - from the boardgame aficionados to the console addicts to the tabletop geeks. Even if you just want to drink a ton of cheap beer and play the video games you loved when you were 11, Toronto's bars, game spaces and gaming groups can get you out of the basement and into a fun, vibrant social setting.
If you don't want to wait for games night to happen, Toronto has plenty of places to play board games at your leisure - and there are tons of locally-designed video games you can test out during solo gaming time. Sometimes, though, you just want to go where the party is (and then school someone at that party, ideally by using Yoga Fire or a +2 broadsword).
Here are the top gaming nights and groups in Toronto.
RECURRING GAMING EVENTS
Games With Friends at Bento Miso
Every other Monday, gamers gather at the Bento Miso co-working space to break out any and all games that fit their fancy - indie video games projected on the wall, strategy-based card games, classic console games. They even encourage local developers to bring whatever they've been working on for a group playtest. Games With Friends scores big for not only welcoming all kinds of games (and gamers), but for their promise of pizza. Delicious, delicious pizza.
Boardgame Night at 401 Games
On Yonge, just south of Wellesley, 401 Games offers everything needed to keep gamers in game books and polyhedral dice. They also do their part to build some community with a slew of gaming meetups. Most notable is their Wednesday-evening general board game night, which features a wide variety of games suitable for folks of all skill levels. (If you've been working on a sweet deck of something-or-other, there's also tons on the calendar for specific card games.)
Game Night at The Bar With No Name
This High Park-area watering hole wears its nerdiness proudly on its sleeve (or, rather, on its walls, which are festively decorated with Magic: The Gathering symbols). Their roster of rotating events includes a Monday night video game contest, with a free pitcher of suds going to the victor; an "epic" Xbox competition every second Wednesday; and recurring Magic tournaments, which you can sign up for on their Facebook page. They also host karaoke nights! ("Still Alive" better be on that list.)
Nintendo Knights at Handlebar
Kensington Market's Handlebar spends a lot of their evenings hosting live music, but one glorious night every month, they set up the N64, select a cartridge from their collection, hold big-screen tournaments on the projector, and then host live music from occasion-appropriate electro and chiptune acts. They also suggest you "Drink To The Past", which is a pun so good I'm angry I didn't think of it first.
Game Meets at Holy Oak Cafe
Clearly, Wednesday night's all right for gaming. This Bloor and Lansdowne cafe hosts recurring game nights on the first and second Wednesday of every month; bring a game or try out one of theirs while enjoying some alcoholic libations. (Card sharks beware: No games involving 52-card decks allowed.)
WHERE IT'S ALWAYS GAMES NIGHT
Are miniatures, card games and pen-and-paper RPGs your jam? Then head on over to this hobby games store near Bloor and Lansdowne, where they host tabletop game nights of various kinds (including Warhammer, D&D and Magic) every Wednesday through Sunday.
The games rage ever on and on at this space, an offshoot of A&C Games at Bloor and Spadina. The $5 entrance fee ($10 on tournament days) gets you access to retro consoles like Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis, modern-day systems like Xbox 360, and arcade games like Street Fighter II and Bust-A-Move. Follow their Twitter account for updates, where they frequently utter magic words like "Super Smash Bros. Melee weekly tournament".
On the other end of the gaming-intensity scale, you'll find this Asian-influenced sports bar near Yonge and Isabella. In addition to a series of TVs showing sports games, an incredibly well-stocked bar and a menu of Korean (by way of the deep fryer) snacks, there's a SNES always available for Mario Kart and Street Fighter tournaments. There are also multiple beer pong tables - that counts as gaming, right?
GAMING MEETUP GROUPS
Toronto has not one, but two gaming Meetup groups with strong followings: Toronto Area Gamers and Toronto Boardgame and Social. (Gamers are generally a peaceful people, but I secretly want to see them fight it out for Toronto gaming supremacy in some kind of massive LARP battle.) Both of them feature event postings from all kinds of local gamers, from one-off casual gaming sessions to ongoing campaigns.
Toronto Gaymers Monthly Board Game Night
Toronto Gaymers bill themselves as "Toronto's original LGBT* social group for geeks and gamers of all stripes". Their scope includes meetups for board and card games, PC and console games, anime fandom and cosplay, but their staple event is a monthly board game meetup held at Glad Day bookstore.
Did we miss any? Leave your favourite gaming spots, events, or groups in the comments. Photo by Natta Summerky