Edinburgh Gaming – A Guide to Gaming in Auld Reekie
Edinburgh has a thriving gaming community (both online and off), with three Universities and a fairly localised population. I spend most Saturday afternoons in Edinburgh playing RPGs at ORC, the Open Roleplaying Community, but also participate in a few games outside of there. Although the city is fairly small, there’s a lot of Edinburgh gaming groups – and a lot of games/software companies. Computer gamers likely know that this is the home of Rockstar North, creators of Grand Theft Auto (their office is just up the road from me).
I run most of my RPGs at ORC on Saturdays. You don’t need to have joined the ORC website to play, although I think it’s worth joining (I’d likely say that anyway :), being the site admin). If you run a group, shop or other Edinburgh gaming-related resource that you’d like featured on the Edinburgh Gaming page and would like a link added feel free to contact me. This Edinburgh Gaming page has been very popular over the last few years, and while it may not be definitive, I hope it is of use.
Edinburgh Gaming Shops
There’s quite a few shops of interest to the Edinburgh Gaming enthusiast – whether they are visiting, or have recently moved to the city.
- Black Lion. Based at 90 Buccleuch Street, Edinburgh EH8 9NH (tel: +44 (0)131-667-2128) or via email. A non-affiliated independent Edinburgh gaming store selling a wide range of miniatures, collectible card games (CCGs), board games, and roleplaying games (RPGs). A map to the shop, near Edinburgh University, can be found here.
- Blackwell’s Booksellers South Bridge, 53-62 South Bridge, Edinburgh Tel: 0131 622 8222. Email: Edinburgh@blackwell.co.uk. Blackwell’s have a large boardgame section (as well as fantasy and SF fiction sections).
- Tabletop Cafe, 244 Canongate, EH8 8AA. A newly opened cafe dedicated to boardgames and tabletop games (and also open to RPGs). They also sell games (discounted if you’ve paid to play there).
- 6’s2Hit is a miniatures, board games and war games shop and venue located at 22 Bread Street, Tollcross, EH3 8AF. Very popular with established – and new – Edinburgh tabletop gamers. Wide range of all kinds of war games and board games, plus regularly hold demos of various games. Also have large playing spaces, perfect for games like WH40K.
- Murphy’s Vault , 8 St Peters Buildings, Edinburgh, EH3 9PG. Selling CCGs board games, and RPGs. Plus space to play with up to 5 gaming tables.
- The Edinburgh Games Hub, 101 Lauriston Place, Edinburgh, EH3 9JB. As well as space to play and a library of board games, they also sell board games and RPGs.
- Warhammer (Games Workshop) have a store at 136 High Street, Edinburgh, Midlothian, EH1 1QS (tel: +44(0)131-220-6540). They sell war games, miniatures, and board games, concentrating on their own brands – Citadel and Games Workshop. A map to the shop (near the Royal Mile) can be found here.
- Deadhead Comics. Independent comic and collectibles retailer (no RPG or miniatures), open from Monday to Saturday 10am ’till 6pm, Sundays 12am ’till 6pm. Found at 30 West Nicolson St, Edinburgh EH8 9DD. Tel: +44 (0) 7982 859922 or by email.
- Forbidden Planet Edinburgh, the chain comic and collectibles retailer, can be found at 40-41 Southbridge Street, Edinburgh (tel:+44 (0) 131 558 8226).
- Harburn Hobbies, 67 Elm Row, Leith Walk, Edinburgh, EH7 4AQ Tel. +44 (0)131 556 3233. “Well stocked with British trains ’00’ and ‘N’ gauge, railway DVDs, Scalextric, plastic construction kits, lots of various die-cast vehicles and dolls house furnishings, many models are on display, each with a label giving their description and price in smart illuminated cabinets. Harburn Hobbies has been instrumental in commissioning a large number of limited edition models, many representing Scottish subjects”.
- Marionville Models, 42 Turnhouse Road, Maybury, Edinburgh EH12 8LX. Phone:0131 317 7010. Stockists of wh40k miniatures and GW painting materials.
- Wonderland Models. 97 & 101 Lothian Road, Edinburgh, EH3 9AN. Telephone +44 (0)131-229-6428 or +44 (0)131 229 0797 for mail order enquiries.
- Red Dice Games. Edinburgh-based “Online-only retailer of specialist hobby games, board games, card games, dice games and related accessories.”
Edinburgh Gaming Groups
Most universities in Edinburgh have their own clubs, as do some of the colleges and schools too. While most of the clubs accept members from outside the universities, there may be age restrictions depending on the venue and a membership fee. That said, there’s a lot of Edinburgh Gaming groups that have no web presence – sites like ORC are your friend here!
- Open Roleplaying Community (ORC, of which I am a member and run the website for) is more of a community than a club. It has a cosmopolitan outlook and runs a number of games, mainly RPGs. We usually run games on a Saturday afternoon in a local venue and at members homes on other days. Membership is free, and there are no membership age restrictions. We’re always looking for more folk to run games.
- Edinburgh Gaming Guild (EGG). The Edinburgh Gamers Guild (EGG) is a place on Board Game Geek (BGG) which Edinburgh based board games players can use to arrange games, discuss games and generally interact with like minded gamers. The EGG does not have a ‘management team’ as such so it thrives on individuals making contributions and taking an active role. Members are encouraged to use the forums for arranging games, making suggestions, passing on news (relevant to Edinburgh gaming) and general chat of interest to fellow members. See https://boardgamegeek.com/guild/993
- GEAS (Grand Edinburgh Adventuring Society) is the Edinburgh University RPG club. They run Conpulsion every year, a large gaming convention.
- Watt Gamers. Heriot-Watt University’s gaming club.
- SESWC is a war games club who meet every Thursday, from 7.00 pm until 11.00 pm in the Royal Navy & Royal Marine Association at 1 Broughton Road, Edinburgh. There’s space for up to fifteen 6’x4′ gaming tables and we have a good supply of scenery for miniatures games permanently stored on the premises. Other members play board or card games and there’s a bar on site for those who take their socialising seriously.
- Edinburgh League of Gamers ([elg]). Age 18+, and a £2 entry fee (£1 for members) after the first visit (which is free). They are “a group of gaming enthusiasts; people who meet, converse and otherwise occupy themselves with shared interests gaming, be that with ‘toy soldiers’, collectible cards, or board games”. They meet on Wednesdays at 11 Hillside Crescent and play 6-11pm.
- FAQ is the Edinburgh University Board games club. Also open to non-students. They meet every Tuesday 6pm till late at Southsider Pub, West Richmond Street, EH8 9EF.
- Groupless Gamers meet every Wednesday & Thursday, from 6pm – 10pm. They play at the Edinburgh Games Hub, Lauriston Place, EH3 9JB.
- Friday Pub Gaming. “Informal end of week pub gathering focused on lighter, social gaming”. Droothy Neebors, 1 West Preston Street, Edinburgh, EH8 9PX
- Falkirk RPGers – Falkirk based group.
- The Edinburgh Gamers Guild (EGG) is a place on Board Game Geek (BGG) which Edinburgh-based board games players can use to arrange games.
- Napier Analogue Gamers. NAGS was Napier University’s Analog Gaming Society (now defunct, due to lack of members).
- Edinburgh Cosplay Club. Not strictly gaming but definitely part of the Edinburgh Gaming scene!
- Whilst not a gaming group as such, The Dawn Duellists Society (DDS) is “an historical fencing group based in the heart of Edinburgh and dedicated to the study and practice of historical European swordsmanship as a martial art. We in the DDS base our knowledge on the study of genuine treatises by the old masters of the past and we put our knowledge into practice with regular study groups and training classes.”
- West Calder Wargamers meet Wednesdays: 19:45 till 23:00 at 10 West End, West Calder, EH55 8EN. Email is email@example.com
- Edinburgh Retro PC Gamers are a large group of video gamers who met to play older games.
- Lothian Gamers (possibly defunct?). Livingston-based (West Lothian) group of gamers, not just RPGs.
Live Action Roleplaying (LARP)
- Isles of Darkness (previously Camarilla UK) run World of Darkness games (Mortals, Created: Promethean, Changeling: The Lost , Forsaken (Werewolf), Requiem (Vampire), Awakened (Mage). All games run at the RAF Club on Hillside Crescent from 7pm. firstname.lastname@example.org is the email address of the Edinburgh Domain Storyteller to find out more details on the games.
- Embraced. An old World of Darkness LARP with multiple events each month.
- Fools and Heroes (FnH), is a “UK-based Live Action Roleplay (LARP) Society, consisting of over 20 branches. Fools & Heroes is set in a medieval fantasy version of our own world (Scotland is re-named “Lirron”), where knights and warriors clash with hideous creatures, priests do the bidding of their gods and mages wield powerful magics (when they are not running away). In this kind of world, the actions of individual adventurers do make a difference. Throughout the year, Edinburgh FnH run adventures on the 2nd Sunday of the month. The adventures are medium/high fantasy and focus on a local plotline, but can contain aspects of national plotline. National plotline culminates in a large weekend fest every year.”
- No Rest for the Wicked is a full-contact LARP focusing on swashbuckling, exploration, intrigue and trading inspired by the Warhammer 40,000 Rogue Trader RPG. “Our game is focused around the ever changing world of the Rogue Trader Dynasties who are caught up in a quest for wealth and power on the edges of Imperial society. We run major events on a regular basis throughout the year as well as ad-hoc events throughout the year for smaller groups. To find out more, visit our website http://www.norestforthewicked.org.uk or email us at email@example.com“.
Edinburgh has a large tabletop wargames community, and some enterprising individuals of the Edinburgh Gaming Community have a business building and painting wargames miniatures.
- Whitewash Studios. “I offer a whole host of services from plain builds to full army painting.”
- Arcane Forge, “The Arcane Forge is a hub for all your nerdy needs; including pen and paper games, board games and a full service miniatures painting and assembly studio.”
Edinburgh Gaming Conventions
- Conpulsion. This is Edinburgh’s regular gaming convention which is pretty big. It usually runs in mid-March. It covers a wide range of games from RPGs, CCGs and board games. It also runs several LARPs (Live Action Role Play games), and both Embraced and the Edinburgh Camarilla have run LARPs there as well.
- Claymore is a war games convention, usually held on the first Saturday in August. It is run by SESWC.
- Edinburgh Comic Con brings you “an extensive selection of talent and traders, but we also have numerous special guests, lots of events and a cosplay competition.”
- Capital Sci-Fi Con launched this year in February, at Meadowbank stadium. Mainly for sci-fi fans and cosplayers but may be of interest.
- There’s a new Edinburgh Computer Games convention called Insomnia Scotland, taking place at the EICC.
Gamer friendly venues
- The RAF Club, 11 Hillside Crescent, Edinburgh, EH7 5EA. ELG and various LARPs meet there.
- The Cumberland Bar 1-3 Cumberland Street, Edinburgh, EH3 6RT, frequented by EGG.
- The Edinburgh Games Hub. Based at 101 Lauriston Place, EH3 9JB, close to Tollcross, for those unfamiliar with the location. This cafe also hosts a number of board games, CCGs and RPGs (£2 admission, £1 for members – £20 a year + free t-shirt). ORC also runs some games there.
- The Southsider Pub 3/5/7 W Richmond St, Edinburgh, EH8 9EF (tel. 0131 667 2003). Currently home to FAQ
- Cafe Renroc. Weekdays, the place is quite quiet downstairs (open to 6pm most days, open till 11pm Thursday-Friday) but is very busy at the weekends. Address: 91 Montgomery Street, Edinburgh EH7 5HZ. Map here.
- The Montague Bar (Montague Street,Edinburgh, EH8 9QY) have also indicated that they are happy for gamers to use their venue – as long as they are informed ahead of schedule (tel. 0131 667 9062).
- The Counting House (including the Pear Tree and Blind Poet), 36 West Nicolson Street, Edinburgh, EH8 9DD (tel. 0131 667 7533). See map here. It gets busy in the summer but has an outside beer garden, one of the few in Edinburgh, and function rooms suitable for society meets (although a fee is involved for use of the Attic rooms and Ballroom). The Blind Poet is gamer-friendly.
- 6’s2Hit is a miniatures, board games and war games shop and venue located at 22 Bread Street, Tollcross, EH3. Large tables and plenty of space will make this venue a tabletop gamer and model makers Mecca.
- The Kilderkin 67 Canongate, Edinburgh, EH8 8BT (tel. 0131 556 2101). This is a large, comfortable, and remodelled pub (formerly Jenny Ha’s) and is currently home to a number of ORC’s Saturday afternoon games. Plenty of table space and booths, and also home to the ORC Pub meets that alternate between the last Friday and Saturday of each month.
- Droothy Neebors, 1 West Preston Street, Edinburgh, EH8 9PX. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.Tel: 0131 662 9617. Gamer-friendly pub with tables to the back. Hosts board game nights every Tuesday and Friday!
- Leith Beer Company, 58 Shore, Edinburgh, EH6 6RD (tel. 0131 554 2425). Gamer friendly pub, and host to the Edinburgh Pokemon league Sundays (11am-3pm).
- Noughts and Coffees, 26-28 Morrison Street, EH3 8BJ. “Noughts & Coffees is a brand new contemporary board game café, situated in the heart of Edinburgh”
- Tabletop Cafe, 244 Canongate, EH8 8AA. A newly opened cafe dedicated to boardgames and tabletop games. Also sells games (discounted if you’ve paid to play there).
- Southside Local, 42 – 44 Buccleuch Street, Southside, Edinburgh, EH8 9LP. The former Meadow/Moo bar, recently reopened.
Edinburgh Games Publishers
- Box Ninja Games. The games of Gregor Hutton, creator of “Best Friends” and the award-winning “3:16 Carnage Amongst the Stars”.
- Rockstar North is the award-winning developer behind Grand Theft Auto series, the (in)famous games.
- Solipsist RPG is a gaming company based in the heart of Scotland, owned by David Donachie, the creator of the Solipsist RPG.
The city itself
Just a few notes about Edinburgh itself:
- Edinburgh is actually quite small for a capital city, but is quite populous nonetheless. The skyline is dominated by the volcanic bulk of Arthur’s Seat, and the famous castle that sits atop the volcanic plug. It has a very high student population – there are three other Universities other than Edinburgh: Napier, Queen Margaret, and Heriot-Watt.
- Edinburgh was once heavily polluted, and known as “Auld Reekie”. It approximately translates as “Old Smokie”. Much of the soot still adheres to older tenement blocks although many have been cleaned, and older pictures often show Edinburgh swathed in smoke.
- Edinburgh is supposed to be one of the most haunted cities in the world. Mary King’s close, a subterranean complex under the city, is a popular visitor attraction. It is known for having strange events occur of the paranormal variety.
- One of the city’s biggest drawbacks is that there’s no Underground/Metro to get you around. However the bus service is particularly good – £1.40 can get you from one side of the city to the other (mainly Lothian Buses). On the downside, the Edinburgh trams are currently driving residents mad!
- House prices are pretty steep, somewhat more than the rest of the country, and most central buildings are large 3 to 5-floor tenement blocks.
- The Scottish Parliament building is an expensive joke to most Scots and it is less than impressive. It is situated at the bottom of the Royal Mile, at the foot of Arthur’s Seat next to Holyrood House (the Queen’s residence in Edinburgh).
- Edinburgh has areas of great deprivation like Wester Hailes and Pilton, and in contrast the palatial town houses in the New Town and Morningside. Paradoxically, many of these areas are side by side: Dumbiedykes is next to Holyrood Palace, and Leith where I live has both areas of wealth and poverty (Trainspotting was set – not filmed – there). Morningside is where authors such as JK Rowling and Ian Rankin live.
- Most movies that feature Edinburgh are shot in Glasgow, although Rebus was largely filmed here. Only specific location shots (like the running scene in Trainspotting) are usually used.
For a different view of Edinburgh, why not visit the Dark Edinburgh Page or my Through the Looking Glass setting. The Ultimate Guide to Geek Culture in Edinburgh may also be of interest for other aspects of geek culture!