Carolina Game Tables – Amazing quality for a fraction of the price

Like most board gamers whom have spent any amount of time online I’ve drooled over the gorgeous tables made by Geek Chic featured on TableTop.  Obviously Geek Chic is the cream of the crop of game tables, but there are several other companies that offer comparable products. The biggest issue I’ve always had with these tables is that they were board game tables first and foremost, and usable furniture second. Most of them require extra costs to include panels to cover the play area, and those that do tend to leave a gap that spills could theoretically drip into. Often those same tables required suction cups just to get the lids off.

I played on tables made by at Geekway to the West 2015, and was impressed with the quality for the price.  I even kept their business card handy just in case my fiance and I decided to pull the trigger later on. Unfortunately I wasn’t completely sold on their offerings. The edge of the table felt too thin. It was wide enough to lean on, but I found myself wanting to lean over it more than lean on it. Even worse was that it wasn’t wide enough to be usable for anything but an arm rest. The intent being you should spend extra to get addons for cup holders and drawers and all sorts of accessories to make it more gamer friendly. It also didn’t feel like a piece of furniture. I would never want to spend that kind of money on something that was “just an accessory” to our gaming habits.

Then a Kickstarter launched in August 2015 by a new company, Carolina Game Tables. The campaign seemed almost too good to be true. A table built out of high quality mahogany wood, designed to be a usable table first and foremost, and a gaming table second. Buying such an expensive piece of furniture on Kickstarter seemed risky, but by the end of the campaign my fiance and I were convinced. We ordered the dining room table (4 ft x 6 ft table) with a cherry finish and dark blue felt.

The part that really stood out to me was the wider edge around the playing area. Perfect for leaning on, wide enough to hold player sheets and boards, and wide enough to put a can of soda or a beer on without being terrified of it falling off (on a well made coaster, of course!)

8 months later, the table has finally arrived! The white glove delivery offered by Carolina Game Tables unloaded the table, put it all together, and left without a trace.

Simon and River watching the delivery people do their magic. Curiosity, for once, did not kill the cats.
Simon and River watching the delivery people do their magic. Curiosity, for once, did not kill the cats.

The table far exceeds our expectations. It’s gorgeous, with a shiny finish. It’s so heavy that I can barely lift a corner by myself, which, to be fair, isn’t saying much as I’m a skinny nerd, but the point remains. It’s extremely sturdy, and could easily withstand all the leaning and stress a high action board game could bring on it. The lid covers the entire table, and looks amazing in our kitchen. Almost too amazing. A table this nice deserves far better decor.

You wouldn't know it's a game table by looking at it.
You wouldn’t know it’s a game table by looking at it.

My biggest complaint so far is how heavy the lid is. I can lift the lid enough to slide it around by myself, but actually lifting it enough to take it off the table without dragging it on the edge is a chore. It’s definitely a two person job to set the table up for a game session.

The lid being slid off the table. Metroid's helping!
The lid being slid off the table. Metroid’s helping!

The bottom of the lid is nicely padded, and covered in felt that matches the playing surface. I wish there was a bit more padding, because we’ve already managed to ding the table’s edge once by hastily dragging it off. Whoops!

The bottom of the lid and the playing area fully revealed.
The bottom of the lid and the playing area fully revealed.

The playing surface itself is very similar to that of a pool table. It’s a nice thick felt and I love the dark blue fabric. My first thought that the playing surface could have been a bit thicker, with a neoprene mouse pad like padding, but after playing our first game my fears were alleviated. It was no trouble picking up cards, and the thick felt was plenty padding. Now I think that anything more would have made the surface too soft for a board. If you really like the extra padding, I have a feeling you already have a separate playing surface for Friday Night Magic or your LCG sessions.

The play surface itself is the perfect size for a typical board game. Pandemic: Legacy’s board fits perfectly width wise giving us plenty of extra room for bits, instructions, sticker sheets, and all the extra goodies required. Bigger boards would fit no problem length wise.

The inaugural game of Pandemic: Legacy. Simon and River insist on playing too.
The inaugural game of Pandemic: Legacy. Simon and River insist on playing too.

The only downside to the felt is that it’s a cat hair magnet. Anyone who has cats knows how much they get hair literally everywhere, and this felt is no exception. River already managed to make herself comfortable in the corner of the table, and shed everywhere. She did look really cute doing it though. Just make sure you keep a hair roller handy.

River demands belly scritches!
River demands belly scritches!

For the most part I can’t think of a single board game that wouldn’t fit within the actual playing space. The one exception being the entirety of Arkham Horror and all of it’s expansions. The main Arkham board and one side board fits within the playing surface, but the two extra boards have to be put on the edge. That being said, the table has more than enough space to comfortably sit 6 with all of the expansions and cards out.

The ultimate test of a playing surface: Can it fit Arkham Horror?
The ultimate test of a playing surface: Can it fit Arkham Horror?

I highly recommend Carolina Game Tables as an alternative to the more expensive and well known brands. We don’t regret our backing the Kickstarter campaign one bit, and we now have a piece of furniture that’s going to last us a very long time.

3 thoughts on “Carolina Game Tables – Amazing quality for a fraction of the price

  1. My girlfriend and I are considering a Tablezilla but cannot for the life of us find a definitive answer about how deep the playing area is with the table lid on.

    Also, how has the table held up in the 20-or-so months that you’ve had it? Do you find the 36″ width has been a hindrance? We are also Arkham Horror players and your comment about needing to put the expansion boards on the ledges is giving us pause.

    1. You only lose about half an inch of the playing area depth with the lid on.

      The table has held up wonderfully. Nothing but minor wear and tear. The wood is extremely good quality, and the top has held up amazingly despite my cats’ best efforts to scratch it.

      The 36″ width has only been a hindrance for one game, Scythe, and only because I really really want to use the over-sized board and it’s just an inch too small to fit in the playing area. Scythe with the normal board fits just fine. Other than that the playing area has handled everything I’ve thrown at it. I can only imagine the Tablezilla being even better in that regard. Even Mage Knight worked wonderfully on the playing area.

      Arkham is the only game that truly overflows the playing area, and only if you’re literally playing with every single expansion board.

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