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’ve spent a lot of Saturday afternoons in Edinburgh playing RPGs at ORC, the Open Roleplaying Community, and 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 the Grand Theft Auto franchise.

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. If you’re interested in D&D, one of ORC Edinburgh’s members Harbrus has his own YouTube channel discussing D&D (it’s in Italian with English subtitles).

Edinburgh Gaming Shops

There’s quite a few shops (or stores) 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).
  • Murphy’s Vault, 8 St Peters Buildings, Edinburgh, EH3 9PG. Selling CCGs. Plus space to play with up to 5 gaming tables. Some D&D games.
  • 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.
  • Mox in the Hole, found at 18 Lochrin Buildings, EH3 9NB. Some D&D games.
  • 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 7pm, Sundays 12am ’till 6pm. Found at 47 West Nicolson St, Edinburgh EH8 9DB. 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, Appleton Park Way, Livingston, EH54 7EZ. Telephone: +44 (0)1506 429 914. Stockists of wh40k miniatures and GW painting materials, as well as drones and other RC vehicles.
  • 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, 125/2b Great Junction Street, EH6 5JB, Edinburgh, United Kingdom. “Red Dice Games is a retail company specialising in the hobby games market, not computer/console games. We provide a range of products through our online store at competitive prices.”
  • Gecko Gallery – an online shop that produces including leatherworked goods such as books/journals and bags and brass and silver jewellery – they can also usually be found every Saturday at the Grassmarket from 11am to 5pm. Also Sunday’s at the Stockbridge Market, bordering Saunders Street & Kerr Street, on the Water of Leith. 11am till 5pm.
  • Transreal Fiction, 46 Candlemaker Row, Edinburgh EH1 2QE. Telephone: +44(0)131 226 6266. Small, independent sci-fi and fantasy bookshop.
  • Galaxy, 47-49 South Bridge, Edinburgh EH1 1LL. Telephone: +44 (0)131 557 4099. Sells Harry Potter and other sci-fi/fantasy memorabilia.
  • Diagon House, 40 Victoria St, Edinburgh EH1 2JW,. Telephone: 0131 226 5882 Another shop selling Harry Potter memorabilia.

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 Indie Gamers, has one-off games every two weeks. “A a welcoming one-off RPG and story games group meeting every other Saturday at 6.30pm for 7pm. No preparation, previous experience or sign-ups needed. Currently based at Sofi’s Southside (also known as Sofi’s Southside), running on Saturday evenings.”
  • Edinburgh Board Gamers – this group grew out of the Edinburgh Gamers Board Game Geek guild and now encompasses the Edinburgh Board Gamer Meetup group which itself has an Edinburgh Board Gamers Facebook group attached to it. All three web link presences serve their own purposes: Meetup lists the events and manages the RSVPs, Facebook and Board Game Geek pages are to cover people who use these platforms.
  • GEAS (Grand Edinburgh Adventuring Society) is the Edinburgh University RPG club. They run Conpulsion every year, an RPG 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. See also Edinburgh Wargames too.
  • Edinburgh League of Gamers ([elg]). Edinburgh League of Gamers is a wargaming and board games every Tuesday night from 6pm – 11pm at 25 Nicholson Square Edinburgh (1st night is free, £3 a night for non-members, £1.50 a night for members).
  • 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.
  • Games Central board games club meet at Penicuik Library every Saturday from 09:30-13:00 on a fortnightly basis. They have a variety of games – board games, RPGs, traditional games – and no booking needed
  • 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.
  • 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 westcaldergaming@outlook.com
  • Juniper Green Board Gamers. Located in the west of city. “Gaming group for people in and around Juniper Green, Currie, Balerno, Baberton, Longstone, Colinton Village, and anywhere on the West side of Edinburgh”.
  • Mercat Tours also run a monthly D&D session. “Once a month at midnight a special adventure awaits in the Blair Street Vaults. A story you (and the dice) will tell, two storeys below South Bridge, surrounded by century-old stones that have seen the likes of bodysnatchers, dens of iniquity, crime, despair and destitution. Will the restless spirits of those who dwelled and perished there be intrigued by your game? Do they have their own story to tell? Join us on a Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition homebrew adventure, specially tailored to Edinburgh, the Vaults and their fascinating past. Venture into the lowest chambers before retreating into Megget’s Cellar, where our DnD adventure begins.  The game will be run by one of our expert storytellers, dice will be provided (although you can bring your own) and characters can be created on the day. Both D&D novices and veterans are welcome!”
  • Edinburgh Fortean Society. Facebook link is active, website less so! “The Edinburgh Fortean Society presents monthly talks on a variety of subjects suggested by the work of Charles Fort. These happen on the 2nd Tuesday of the month in our new venue, The Beehive Inn, Edinburgh. All are welcome and it’s only £1!”

Live Action Roleplaying (LARP)

  • Isles of Darkness (previously Camarilla UK) run World of Darkness games across the UK, including Edinburgh (Mortals, Created: Promethean, Changeling: The Lost , Forsaken (Werewolf), Requiem (Vampire), Awakened (Mage). edinburgh.dst@gmail.com 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 storytellers@norestforthewicked.org.uk“.

Painting Services

Edinburgh has a large tabletop wargames community, and some enterprising individuals of the Edinburgh Gaming Community have a business building and painting wargames miniatures.

  • 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.”
  • Deathwatch Studios – Edinburgh-based Andy is also a contributor for Tabletop Gaming magazine.
  • Whitewash Studios. “I offer a whole host of services from plain builds to full army painting.”

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 usually take places at Meadowbank stadium. Mainly for sci-fi fans and cosplayers but may be of interest.
  • For the love of fantasy – 26th 28 July 2019. New in 2018, and held at the Edinburgh Academy, 42 Henderson Row, EH35.
  • Tabletop Scotland – not based in Edinburgh, but Perth. New in September 2018, it combined boardgames, RPGs, and other tabletop games, along with Open Gaming areas and organised play for both Pathfinder and D&D.

Gamer-friendly venues

  • 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 (Pay to play – £2 admission, £1 for members  – £20 a year + free t-shirt). ORC also runs some games there. The EGH have a Facebook group too.
  • Cornerstone Cafe, 1A Lothian Rd, Edinburgh EH1 2AB. Large space to play games in a central location.
  • The Southsider Pub 3/5/7 W Richmond St, Edinburgh, EH8 9EF (tel. 0131 667 2003). Currently home to FAQ.
  • 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 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.
  • 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”. Pay to play.
  • Sofi’s Southside, 42 – 44 Buccleuch Street, Southside, Edinburgh, EH8 9LP. The former Meadow/Moo bar, Southside Social, and Harry’s Southside Bar. Gamer friendly – Edinburgh Indie Gamers meet there, for Open Saturdays.
  • Six Degrees North, 24 Howe St, Edinburgh EH3 6TG. Hosts Edinburgh Board Gamers regularly on Monday evenings.
  • McCowan’s Brew House, Fountain Park,134 Dundee Street, Edinburgh, City of Edinburgh, EH11 1AF. Based in Fountain Park, opposite the Fountain pub and adjacent to Cineworld, this has a quiet, carpeted mezzanine area and small ‘conference room’ just off the mezzanine, often hosts Edinburgh Board Gamers on Friday evenings. Booking advised.

Edinburgh Games Publishers & Blogs

  • 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.
  • The Giant Brain is the blog of local Edinburgh boardgamer and designer, Iain McAllister.
  • Inspiring Games, creators of Legends Untold and other games.

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 and tram service is particularly good – £1.60 can get you from one side of the city to the other (mainly Lothian Buses).
  • 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!

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