With all the hubbub around video games—mobile, free-to-play, high-end console games, and more—an under-the-radar movement has elevated old-school board games back into the mainstream. More and more of us are playing card games and board games with our friends and family, remembering the fun of tactile strategy and competition.
But there’s nothing worse than trying to play a board game on an uneven surface, or a table that’s too small, or one with cracks that your cards always seem to fall through. Gaming tables are designed specifically for these kinds of games, and can really elevate your gaming experience.
Why are gaming tables so popular?
Gaming tables are designed specifically with tabletop games in mind, which means you’ll never run into the problem of displaying your Monopoly cards in an awkward line to fit them on the table. With board games more popular than they’ve been for decades, gaming tables have become a great option for those of us who love to play.
Gaming tables are inherently versatile; most can be used for any number of games, so you never have to replace them. Some can even double as dining room tables, though in general, you’ll want to avoid eating and drinking on the same surface as your game.
What should you look for in a gaming table?
Different gaming tables have different features, and it can be helpful to know what kind of gamer you are before shopping. Are you really into puzzles, or card games like poker, or sprawling board games like Settlers of Catan? Each of those setups can be optimized for a specific type of table. Felt is an ideal surface for card games, because it makes sliding cards to each player easy and smooth. Circular tables are perfect for varying numbers of players, just as easily hosting three or five people as a four-sided table can host four.
Some tables can change their heights—you might want a gaming table a little bit higher than a dining table—and others can fold up their legs for easy storage. There are even some in the works like the Arcade 1Up Infinity Game Table that have gone fully digital. They’re designed with downloadable versions of classic games—though they’re not super common just yet. What kind of table you should look for depends on how you like to game, but rest assured, there’s an option for everyone.
The best gaming table for every player
Best for puzzle fanatics: Jumbl Puzzle Board Rack
This table is designed for puzzles, with six shallow trays that are perfect for storing jigsaw pieces. But it’s actually much more versatile than that. The Jumbl is 13 inches tall, which is around the height of a coffee table. That means you can use it on the floor in a coffee table position, in front of a couch, but you can also place it on top of any other surface, like a dining room table or a kitchen island. That makes it perfect for a mess-free game night: You can place your drinks or food on the permanent surface, and keep your games elevated and out of harm’s way on top of the Jumbl.
For the ultimate splurge: Wyrmwood Prophecy
Look, this table isn’t going to be for everyone. In fact, it’s going to be for hardly anyone: It starts in the thousands of dollars, is available in exotic materials like Bolivian rosewood and Macassar ebony, and the options—including a custom-made elevation mechanism—will run you thousands of dollars more. But hoo boy, what a table this is. Hand-crafted in the United States, with a recessed gaming surface and a magnetic rail system for modular accessories, this is the ultimate in gaming luxury.
For the price-conscious: Stakmore Folding Card Table
The card table is a classic American design for gaming (or eating, or anything else): a lightweight tabletop with four legs that fold flat against the surface. This model folds into an extremely portable 3.375 inches in height, but is constructed of solid, sturdy wood, and won’t feel flimsy at all. It’s a perfect option for those who want space to game, but don’t want to have a gaming table on display all the time.
For outdoor gaming: Flash Furniture Table
Great for Groups
Most outdoor tables aren’t ideal for gaming; they might be constructed of wicker or other uneven surfaces, might have slats that can catch cards, and might warp in the fury of the outdoors. This Flash Furniture model, though, is huge, at 31.5 by 63 inches, and comes in sturdy metal painted with a variety of cheerful colors. It’s a great table for gaming because it provides a large, multi-use flat surface—it’ll be great for picnics as well as a rousing game of cards.