Are the Dice & Mystics a Church Club? OR: How to Start Your Own Board Game Café

Our board game guild, the Dice & Mystics, play every Wednesday night at the “Spieletreff” (which roughly translates as “Gamer’s Meeting Place”) at St. Engelbert’s Parish.
On occasions the question has been asked: Are you a church club, some Christian thing?
The answer is: No.
But…​
Actually, the whole D&M enterprise was set off by a Jewish engineer named Howard Wolowitz…
Three supposedly non-gamer friends were sitting on the sofa watching that Christmas episode of “Big Bang Theory” where Howard introduces Santa into a Dungeons & Dragons session. Suddenly one says, “That seems like a lot of fun to me. Couldn’t we play D&D, too?” The other one says, “Well, now you mention it, I’ve always wanted to try that out, you know.” Says number three: “Actually – I used to be a D&D dungeon master once, but no one has been wanting to play with me for ages!”
And so it began. The new 5th edition of D&D had just come out – back to the basics – and we found a fourth party willing to venture to the Sword Coast and into our first roleplaying campaign with us. We met regularly at a local board game café, where we alternatively played some D&D and Descent and board games with similar mechanisms to get used to the concept of character sheets, stats, campaigning etc. to better train us up for the “real thing”.
The question if we are a Christian organisation may have been prompted by the “Saint” in “Spieletreff St. Engelbert”.
We know very little about the religious beliefs or disbeliefs of our members. Three or maybe four Dice & Mystics are clearly Christians, one is known as a regular church goer. There may be more, there may be practitioners of other religions or atheists among us, we have no idea. That is all we know and more than we need to know.
What we all believe in, however, is openness, tolerance, kindness of the heart and having more fun through sharing it. We want to be together, play, laugh, have a good time and invite anybody to come along and join in. Our idea was the following: We own a large board game collection and give people the chance to play games they like, or a place they can take their own favourite games to and find others to play with. Thus we also give access to great games to those who maybe cannot afford to buy them for themselves or a place for gamers or role players who do not want to be forced to keep buying drinks in a pub in order to have a large enough gaming table. And we want to be open for everybody, no matter which gender, age, ethnicity or religion or whatever. Really everybody can come and indulge in the hobby regularly at least once a week without having to spend a single penny.
We were told this attitude goes very well with Christian beliefs and values, so when our board game café suddenly closed down next Christmas, it happened that it was a Christian parish that helped us out.
We were looking for a new friendly location to meet and play. As it was, there is no other board game café anywhere in these parts. Playing at pubs turned out to be fairly disastrous, and things were beginning to look dismal. But we did not think of giving up.
One day we simply went to the parish of St. Engelbert and asked them if maybe we could play board games and D&D at their parish center. Yeah, and why not – there were nice rooms with nice tables (and central heating in winter) and it was easily accessible for everyone. Most days of the week some of the rooms were empty, it seemed. Originally we had been hoping to rent a room for a few hours every week and share the costs if they were not too high.
To cut a short story even shorter: They listened to what we wanted, asked whether we were some official club (no), whether we were commercial in any way (no), and why we were playing together (see above). They liked what we did and why, and said this was something that went very well with their ideas of a peaceful community. We could provide a great creative, intelligent, communicative, socially interactive hobby in a safe environment for free for whoever was looking for pastime and good company! And they nonplussed us by this very generous offer: We could come and use any room we needed and all facilities for free from 5 to 11 p.m. once a week. As a “payment” they would take us by our word: Anybody can come and join in, and we do tidy up after ourselves. The room and date were made known as “Spieletreff” to tell the parishioners what we were doing at their place.
Everybody can bring their drinks and sandwiches from home along if they like, and we have glasses, plates, cutlery etc. at our disposal. We bring teas, coffee and biscuits along for everybody, and often our guests bring milk, sugar and other things – even a penguin shaped gateau for sustenance during a game of Ice Cool! Thus we have drinks and snacks just like our former board game café, and we also adopted their idea to have warm meals on the premises: We have a caterer just round the corner where we can place a collective order and have food delivered right to our tables, and everybody pays individually. If the order is large enough, we even get free drinks with our meals.
We have been the “Dice & Mystics” at the “Spieletreff St. Engelbert” for a few happy years now, and what had started with three friends dreaming of the Sword Coast has evolved into an international, fairly large but still completely informal and non-commercial game club with a growing number of members and events.
So, if you want to play board games or role play, or if you are looking for nice people to play with, get creative! Look around you. Don’t be too shy to approach people and tell them your ideas. Sometimes the solution lies closer than you think. Who would have thought we could run a board game café at a parish center, and for free, too? And all it took was the asking.
Every year at the parish festival we host game rounds and raffle off a fair number of quality games donated by the D&M to all participants, to say THANK YOU to the parish, loudly and from our hearts, and – sssh! – hopefully also further increase the number of enthusiastic gamers…

Wookies, Spiders and the Evolution of Gentlemen – Board Gaming at the Parish Fair 2017

The annual Parish fair of St. Engelbert – choirs and Jazz music, acrobatics, waffles, home-baked cakes, sizzling sausages, and another chance for the Dice & Mystics to say thank you to the parish for so generously allowing us to use the parish center for all our events (and for free!).
We are part of the programme each year: There are two game rounds with simultaneous gameplay at 3 tables, and at the end of each round and at each table we raffle off quality games to all participants:

There were consolation prizes from Mini Sagaland to dice shaped pencil erasers, too.
Apart from the chance to give something back to the parish, we also see it as a chance to promote board gaming. Every time we put games for different age groups on the table: for smaller kids (Spinderella, Kinderspiel des Jahres 2015), next a family game that can be enjoyed by kids from 10 + and adults together (Rainer Knizia`s Drachenhort and also a Star Wars Clue) and finally a game that has a theme which aims more at adult players, but can be played by older children, too (Evolution).
We nearly always get children around 5 to 10 who come to play. Funny thing, that: Adults either seem to believe that board games are merely children’s’ toys, or they come up with statements like, “Oh, that’s probably way too complicated”. The first is clearly a lame excuse for not wanting to learn anything new. The latter ridicules itself when uttered in the presence of 8 year olds who, after a first brief introduction to the basics, are playing Evolution almost like they had invented the game.
It was a slow start. As usual, not a single adult in sight. But the numbers of children who come to us is slowly increasing, and they come back for more: “I am seven now!” a girl proudly announces and tell us she still likes the games she won the previous two years, and what other games she has or has played since we last saw her. She is bright, self-confident and able to outsmart our little ants with her well-planned strategic spider attacks: Happily playtesting Spinderella with us adults in the knowledge that finally she would get to take the whole box home – due to lack of competition – she has the most wonderful time. Her mom arrives, “I should have known you are here”, and has to be convinced that, yes, her girl actually likes spiders now…!
A much older boy scout who also found the spider game very intriguing and had wanted to play stepped back and started off with Evolution because he thought she really ought to have the game. He is now busy feeding his primitive life form from food floating around in the water hole and selecting how to further evolve it into a more intelligent species that can prevail against the predators ready to jump onto the evolutionary ladder.
The second games round of the day saw more competition, and all tables were nearly full. Star Wars Clue was a hit, but Evolution proved even more popular, even though it was not itself up for the raffle, but Drachenhort instead.

We even had to put in an extra late round for another game of Evolution. Our scout who had already secured himself one Drachenhort copy – and just failed to also get Star Wars Clue – announced that, if he should win a second one, he would give it away to one of the others.
Incidentally, someone who had left for home long before the final round was drawn, so he was then given the chance to determine another happy winner. He is planning to come to our game meetings and become our youngest member before our 15 year old.

Double Feature 2017: Invitation to the Stars and Beyond

July 1st (from 4 p.m. until midnight) / July 2nd (from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m.)
Always wanted to play Twilight Imperium, but didn’t know with whom, when, and most of all where where? You have a game that does not fit on your dining table at home? We have large rooms with large tables, so why not come along. English and German spoken. Entry is free.
We are going to host Twilight Imperium 3 (in English), Civilization (in English), Time Stories (in German), Talisman (in German; with “Die Stadt” / “City”, “Katakomben” / “The Dungeon” and “Heilige Quelle” / “The Sacred Pool” expansions), Arkham Horror (in German; with “Der Fluch des schwarzen Pharaoh” / “Curse of the Dark Pharaoh” expansion).
If you would like to take part in any of these games and want to secure a place at that particular table, you may contact us to be put on the player list in advance.
But, of course, you can bring your own game; again, just contact us so we can reserve adequate table space for you.
We would like this to be a special event and a memorable gaming weekend for everyone:
On both days the teas and Italian coffee are free.
As a special treat (optional) we will organize a spit roast piglet for your dinner on Saturday night. On Sunday morning we meet for breakfast with freshly baked rolls and jam, cheese and meats, everything at cost price (€ 33 altogether). The money will be collected in cash on your arrival; the exact change would be nice.
We are sorry we are not able to provide any accommodation for the night; there are hotels nearby.
Want to join in and conquer a galaxy?

Registration ends on June 24th at 4 p.m.

Welcome at the Dice & Mystics Board Game Guild

Dice & Mystics are an international board game guild, in other words, we are a group of people who enjoy playing board games together.

We meet regularly on Wednesdays (except during school holidays) at our „Spieletreff“ in the parish center of St. Engelbert, Bochum, in rooms with large, well-lit tables generously made available to us by the parish. In the holidays we also gather for game nights at various locations if possible. Our members find us via information on the Dice & Mystics Board Game Geek guild, Meetup and Facebook or are invited along by those who already enjoy gaming with us.

We are not a club but an informal group of board game and RPG lovers without membership fees, officials or obligations, and no rules except those of respect, common courtesy, tolerance and careful handling of the facility and individual property. There is no flow of money whatsoever involved.

We think that board gaming is an intelligent, creative, cooperative and highly communicative hobby which allows many and very different people of all ages and backgrounds to socially meet and have a good time together. Our aims are good games, good company, and lots of fun. Our games can be hilariously simple and funny or really thinky, heavy theme-based games and – depending on their length and complexity – they are for adults and kids. We save the galaxy, swat orcs, raise monsters or kingdoms – or simply watch the bamboo grow. The game rounds are truly international; the Dice & Mystics speak English and German (and often enough simultaneously, too).

We cherish the idea that really anybody can simply come to us and play and share our great hobby.
We bring anything from old classics to modern thematic board games, e. g. of the SciFi, Fantysy and Hoorror genres, and RPGs on the table.

Monopoly, Tokaido, Lords of Waterdeep, Mysterium, Descent 2nd, Battle of Five Armies, Star Trek Panic, Dungeons and Dragons, Codenames, Zombicide Black Plague, Arcadia Quest, Blood Rage, Time Stories, Twilight Imperium 3rd, Arkham Horror, The Others: Seven Sins, Massive Darkness, Takenoko, Space Hulk, Silver Tower, Gorechosen, Lost Patrol, Abenteuer in Mittelerde, Shadows over Hammerhal, This War of Mine, Heldentaufe, Perditions Mouth: Abyssal Rift, First Martian, Adrenaline, Cry Havoc, Gloomhaven, … … …? Why, sure!

Eurogame oder Amerithrash – there are endless varieties!
All our games are privately owned. Many hundreds of different games are at our disposal.

We operate exclusively by our Game Host System (nicknamed the GHoSt) which means:

You can bring your own game and play. You are expected to allow anybody to join you and you are very welcome to join in at any other game, provided there is still room for one more player. If you do not have a game to bring along, you can simply come and join in anyway. Thus we give you the opportunity to regularly share a great hobby without any payments or costs involved.
Our Dice & Mystics group will always be present with different games from their own collections.

We are listed as “Dice & Mystics Board Game Guild” on “BoardGameGeek” (internationally) and on “NRW Spielt” (a German internet platform on gaming in North Rhine Westphalia).

Have fun gaming!

Upcoming: Dice & Mystics Fringe 2017

UPDATE for the Dice & Mystics Fringe Event: We are humbled by the overwhelming interest and enthusiasm in our event. We are full. We are looking forward to meet you all at our place and are deeply sorry not to be able to host more of you fellow gamers!

ROLL UP and join the gaming fun!
We have free gaming space for you.

Our parish center in Bochum will open its porch this October 28th (from 4 p.m. until midnight) for gaming enthusiasts from all over the world again.

After our success in 2016 and fulfilling the request of so many of our guests, we are going to host our second Dice & Mystics Fringe on Saturday October 28th at our game location in Bochum, 15 Minutes by car from the SPIEL.

It is free of any charge and entirely non-commercial.

All we want to do is give fellow board gamers and SPIEL visitors a chance to enjoy their new games and exchange their experiences of the fair. You can unbox and punch your games to rid yourself of superfluous weight on the journey home.
There is space at large and well-lit tables and plenty time to play on Saturday from 16.00 to 24.00 p.m.; however, the places are limited, so we do kindly ask you to contact us so that we can put you on our guest list.

We can give you directions on how to find us (just 3 turns from the autobahn; also by public transport). Hotels and restaurants in the vicinity may be about the same driving distance to the SPIEL as some in Essen.

There will be the opportunity to order food on the premises; a delivery service will take orders at the tables. Teas and coffees are free!

You would like to come? Contact us via contact@diceandmystics.de.  Our Fringe will be a closed event, hence we kindly ask you to provide us with your name, names of additional guests that will come with you, your address and your preferred email for contact. We will confirm your reservation via email.
Registration ends on Wednesday, 18.10.2017.

Dice & Mystics Fringe 2016

International Board Game Event in Bochum
Our Dice & Mystics Board Game Guild host game nights every Wednesday at the Parish Centre St. Engelbert in Bochum (right next to Essen).


At the Spiel Essen 2015 we had heard complaints that there were few opportunities to play and meet other gamers, so – being just 15 minutes away from the Spiel (by car) – we wanted to help out. We sought to provide gaming space free of charge for Spiel attendees, and a chance to unbox and punch tokens in a safe environment and lighten the luggage for the journey home.
Our motivation? We do everything we can to promote the best of all hobbies because it is intelligent, communicative, social, peaceful (no-one dies, they just go back in the box), cooperative (even “one against all” requires a group working together), really everybody can play and all ages fit at one table. Those who can afford cool games can share with those who cannot, and all have lots of fun together. We also fight the common misconception that board games are “just for children”, and at the same time get children into board gaming by hosting an annual event during our parish festival and raffle off quality games donated by our guild members.
From plan into action: What followed still appears to us like a miracle of biblical dimensions. We asked the parish if we could have a room – and they said they wanted to be open and welcoming and hospitable, especially to Spiel attendees from abroad, and gave us the entire building completely free of any charge whatsoever. The janitor even rebooked her family holiday in order to be able to give us the keys and be there for us if we needed her!
Thus we were able to create our Dice & Mystics Fringe. We had up to 140 spaces at our disposal. We advertised on Board Game Geek and were invited to advertise on the site of “NRW Spielt” and other forums. Two game designers offered to demo their prototype, a guild member from Finland promised to demo two games from his Spiel booth.
We asked our online retailer for advice on coffee we could buy for our guests– and he simply sponsored us an unlimited flow of free Italian speciality coffee for everyone! Our caterer volunteered to offer us reduced prices. When looking for presents for some friends and helpers people we had not formerly known came up with brilliant ideas, and on hearing what we needed them for, miraculously produced sold out gift packages they had had reserved for themselves and now offered up willingly; in one case somebody organized two boxes of original “Maßkrüge” (the famous Bavarian 1 litre beer glasses) directly from the Oktoberfest in Munich for us to give away, just like that. Everybody simply wanted to say “Welcome to Germany!” We believe in the kindness of strangers.

What was it like? Was the Fringe a success? Judging by what we were told on the event and by mails we received after, it was. Some data:
– The Dice & Mystics Fringe took place Saturday October 15th. We were open 8 hours from 16 p.m. to midnight.
– 38 from 42 people on our guest list came, about 1/3 of our maximum capacity, which is not at all bad for a first time off. Some more had missed our deadline (October 8th), but as there is just 2 of us doing the logistics, this could not be helped. We needed to state the number of attendees by Oct. 11th because the heavy tables needed to be transported and assembled accordingly.
– People started arriving at 16 p.m. sharp (1st wave). There was another wave at 19.30 p.m. Everyone had been able to easily find us, following the instructions we had given them, and told us the times (just 15 mins. by car, 1 hour by public transport) were accurate.
– We were able to welcome guests from Great Britain, Iceland, the Czech Republic, Malaysia, the Netherlands, Belgium, Sweden and, of course, Germany.
– The huge and very well-lit tables and the nice room were much admired. People were eager to choose their favourite table and settle down comfortably.
– Nearly all attendees came with big backpacks and trolleys and were only too happy to unbox, punch tokens and discard the spare weight into the bins provided.
– There were groups and also solo travellers, and everyone immediately started to communicate. At 16.15 p.m. the first game with 3 nations at one table was launched. From that moment on, there were game rounds until midnight and everybody was having a leviathan of a time.
– Everybody was, indeed, very grateful for the free hot coffee (over 70 cups!).
– What everyone saw as a great plus was that our caterer, a Turkish/Italian/German delivery service, came directly to the tables to take orders (at 18.00 and again at 21.00 p.m.), and that the food took only 30 minutes to arrive.


– After 3 whole days at his booth and with Sunday yet to come, Jalmari Ruokojärvi, CEO of Dragon Dawn Productions, demoed their flagship Perdition’s Mouth – Abyssal Rift until mid-night till he was ready to drop. It is a heavy story based dungeon crawler full of thinky strategy, with impressive artwork and great minis that scream to be painted, so it was an eye catcher on the table. He had also brought Black Hat, but the dungeon crawler soaked up all the attention. (We are very happy and proud to have Jalmari as our guild member.)
– The brothers Francois and Simon Piersonne from Belgium demoed their prototype of Canyon Cup, a kind of stock car race through difficult terrain where you score points not for being first but for giving the most spectacular show to the audience by overtaking, shooting at other cars or even yourself for effect, exploding oil barrels or colliding with them and setting your own car at fire. They were glad to try it with an international audience for the very first time. People had fun playing and happy to give their feedback to the designers.
– We were being told that our Fringe event was of high quality and nearly everybody begged us to make this a regular event; (quote) “What you’re doing is great. It really fills a gap. If there is another Fringe next year, we will be there.”
– Our guests were impressed by the hospitality and generosity of the Parish St. Engelbert, and the Parish were impressed that a large group of people left the building even cleaner and more orderly than before. Nearly 40 people unwrapping, punching cardboard, eating – yet tidying up was a piece of cake. Another miracle? Apparently, board gamers are a very special brand of people.

Hosting our event was exhausting, no doubt about it, but also immensely rewarding, and as we fell into our beds early in the morning, we were happy, happy, happy!!!
And yes, of course we are going to to do it again in 2017!