Play Games and Socialize Seven Days a Week at Great Hall Games

Small World Great Hall Games

Owner Rob Smith with popular board game, Small World

Sometimes when you’re looking for things to do in Austin, you want to find something a little more low-key. We recently discovered Great Hall Games on N. Lamar near 2222 (5501 N. Lamar Blvd.). It’s become our go-to spot to spend a couple of hours playing games together in a friendly, laid-back environment.

Great Hall Games keeps an active schedule, with planned activities six days of the week. Here’s the rundown:

Tuesday: Go Night

Go Night is extremely popular at Great Hall Games. Go is an ancient Chinese game played by two players at a time. It’s attractive because the rules are pretty simple, but there’s still room for rich strategy.

Wikipedia reports that over 40 million people worldwide were Go players as of 2008.

Time: begins 6:30/7 PM. Store closes at midnight.

Good event for beginners: Yes. Regulars love to welcome new players and teach them how to play the game.

Wednesday: Chess Night

Chess Night Austin at Great Hall Games

Chess Night at Great Hall Games is set up for experienced chess players. It’s casual play, not tournament style, with some people using timers and some not.

Time: begins 6:30/7 PM. Store closes at 10 PM.

Good event for beginners: No. But expect a good time if you show up ready to play.

Wednesday: Magic the Gathering (Coming Soon)

Beginning this month, folks will gather every Wednesday night (in a room separate from the chess players) to play Magic the Gathering. Magic the Gathering combines collectible trading cards with a strategy game.

Magic the Gathering playing has been taking place over at Dragon’s Lair Comics and Fantasy on Burnet. But it has became so popular that more space is needed.

Though the date isn’t firm, weekly Magic the Gathering gaming should begin on January 16, 2013. Just call ahead to confirm.

Time: begins 6:30/7 PM. Store closes at 10 PM.

Good event for beginners: Yes.

Thursday: Historical Miniatures and Catch-All

Hand Painted Miniatures at Great Hall Games

Great Hall Games owner Rob Smith painted these miniatures by hand

If you’ve never witnessed miniature gaming, you’re in for a treat. There are a ton of miniature games, from Star Wars X-Wing to ancient and medieval battle reenactment games like Field of Glory. Thursday night at Great Hall Games is specifically for the historical miniature games.

In addition, you’ll find folks playing board games, painting miniatures and generally having a good time. The vibe is more raucous compared to Tuesday and Wednesday.

Time: begins 6:30/7 PM. Store closes at 10 PM.

Good event for beginners: Yes.

Miniatures Game accessories at Great Hall Games

Great Hall Games has a slew of accessories for those who come in to play miniatures

Friday: Open Board Gaming

Demo Board Games Great Hall Games

Feel free to try a demo game

Friday night is used for open board and card gaming. You can bring your own game, or use a demo game at the store. Feel free to bring friends, or come by yourself and make new friends on site. But expect the tables to fill up before too long.

Time: Begins 6:30/7 PM. Store closes at midnight.

Good event for beginners: Yes. This is probably the best night for you to come if it’s your first time gaming at Great Hall Games.

Saturday: Board Games

Small World Board Game

Players love Small World because it has Risk-like conflict, but players don’t get eliminated

Saturday is similar to Friday, but the games played on Saturday are usually longer and more involved. Saturday regulars have been known to stay for 6-8 hours – with a food break somewhere in between!

On that note, you’re welcome to bring food into Great Hall Games or order pizza. There’s a microwave available for popcorn, and snacks and soda are sold at the store. Be forewarned that the snacks don’t get a lot healthier than peanuts and Sun Chips!

Popular games for Saturday are Civilization, Age of Renaissance and 18XX (a series of board games that recreate the building of railroad corporations during the 19th century).

Time: Begins around noon. Store closes at 8 PM.

Good event for beginners: Yes.

Sunday: Miniature Battles

Star Wars X-Wing Miniatures

The Star Wars X-Wing Miniatures game is enjoyed by players at Great Hall

Sunday afternoon is similar to Thursday night, but the miniature games aren’t restricted to the historical type. This is the time that you might see the Star Wars X-Wing fighters swoop into action.

Time: Begins around 12:30 PM. Store closes at 6 PM.

Good event for beginners: Yes.

Monday: No Planned Gaming

Puzzle section at Great Hall Games

Puzzle section at Great Hall Games

There are no planned events on Monday, but demo board games are available. There’s also a table set up in the puzzle section, with a demo available for you to put together.

If You’re New to Great Hall Games

Except for Chess Night, don’t worry if you’re a total newbie who doesn’t know how to play a certain game. Just show up, let the front counter know why you’re there (to learn, to play, to watch) and they’ll point you in the right direction. Players are welcoming and willing to teach new people, so give it a shot!


@QuasiBrit asks:

What is your favorite game?


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  • HipShot

    Great Store! This is a cool site. Glad I found it.

    • Austinot

      Glad to have you here. Do you attend any of the gaming sessions?

  • btrflyrider

    Oh my!! Thanks so much for this post as I have been looking miniatures. I know where I’m headed this weekend :)

    • Austinot

      @btrflyrider:disqus you’ll love ’em. GHG has a huge collection of miniatures. Also Rob and Beka (the owners) are some of the most experienced people we’ve met in this arena. There is quite a collection on display in the store of painted miniatures and they even have a night dedicated just to the discussion. Thursday night is actually a great night for this if you can swing it. Hope you had a chance to listen to the podcast on this by clicking on the play arrow at the top left of this page. ~ Eric