AN OXFORD cafe which claims to have been the first of its kind in the UK will celebrate a milestone this month.

Thirsty Meeples board games cafe, which also claims to be the only one in Oxford, is marking its sixth anniversary.

Located in Gloucester Green, the cafe could seem a little daunting to first-timers: crowded with people bent over boards, the wall shelves filled with countless board games, a new visitor might have a reason to ask themselves whether it is not a place for one of those cliques of Oxford geeks.

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To the uninitiated it can feel like you need to know all the rules of all the games, and it would be a faux pas to admit that one only plays Monopoly on Christmas and a four-letter word is your top achievement in Scrabble.

However Tristan Thomas, a 'game guru' at Thirsty Meeples, says that those fears could not be further from the truth.

“We have about 1,000-1,500 games here. It is impossible to know them all, and we know that most people don’t play board games a lot and don’t have a lot of them.

“We ask our customers a couple of questions and recommend three games to them, and we also learn how to play.”

The Mail decides to have a go and Mr Thomas starts by asking us three questions. Firstly, how competitive we are (to which we answer highly competitive), then what type of game we want to try, such as word, strategy or cards (we go for light strategy) and finally what kind of world we want to explore, such as Sci Fi, fantasy or historical, to which we say we are happy to play wherever.

The Oxford Times:

Mr Thomas says: “Most people who visit us for the first time don’t really know what to ask for, but sometimes requests are quite specific: recently I was asked for a science-fiction strategy that would take a lot of time – that I consider a pretty specific request.”

He comes back with three boxes and describes the differences between Battle Sheep (too childish), Patchwork (not intriguing) and Splendor, which sounds just about right.

Our game guru then shows us how we have to collect and exchange five kinds of gems for mines and nobles to get 15 points and win.

After two rounds, which take about an hour, we are wiped out.

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The price list at Thirsty Meeples is simpler than any of the games: each player pays £7.50 (discounted to £6 if drinks are ordered) for a three-hour slot.

There is no limit of number of games played during one session, and Thirsty Meeples has games for smaller and larger parties (although reservations are limited to 16). Children are more than welcome, with the easiest games aimed at children aged four and up.

The cafe advises to make a reservation for weekends, bank holidays and afternoons, because the tables can quickly fill up.

Mr Thomas said: "We have about 50 seats, and a large number of our players are returning customers – I'd say that half of them are not first-timers."