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Many magical memories are created when family members or friends face off across a classic game table. With a game table in your recreation room, you always have something to do at a gathering.

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Whether it's checkers, chess, Parcheesi, backgammon, or a game you and your children have made up one rainy afternoon, here are some things to think about when you're in the market for a classic game table.

What is a Classic Game Table?

Most classic game tables support one to four classic games: chess, Parcheesi, checkers, and backgammon. Often game tables have an inset on the top of the table's surface, with a checkerboard pattern on one side and a backgammon design on the other. Players flip the inset over if they want to switch games.

Primarily built with gaming in mind, these tables can multi-task - they can complement your décor and also define a recreation room. Some gaming tables are beautiful enough to be a focal point in a study, home office, or formal living room. Others are simple and modern to create a more contemporary look or be placed on the porch for an afternoon of games outdoors.

Black Classic Manufactured Wood Backgammon Table
White Classic Plastic Rectangular Puzzle Table
Golden Traditional Plastic Round Puzzle Table
Light Brown Classic Plastic Square Gaming Table
Brown Traditional Solid Wood Square Puzzle Table
Black Classic Plastic Backgammon Table

What Shape Should My Table Be?

While most classic game tablesfeature a square-shaped tabletop, you can also find unusually shaped tables that cater to specific games such as poker or blackjack. You can find these tables in oblong, rectangular, and octagonal shapes.

If you select a table with a unique shape, measure the diameter of the table rather than the length and width to find the longest point. This helps you to choose a table that fits perfectly in your space.

How Big Should My Game Table Be?

If you're looking into a classic game table like one that supports checkers or chess, the game board will be 24 inches square. Standard game tables extend 2-6 inches beyond that as a border.

The height of a game table is approximately 60 inches, so you don't need to use specialized chairs. Dining room chairs will suffice, although living room armchairs will probably be low and won't give the players the back support they need. Alternatively, adjustable seating allows your guests to customize the height of their chairs to find the most comfortable playing position.

What Materials Should My Table Be Made Of?

Most game tables are made of wood and have the game board inlaid into the top of the table.

A game table can be an incredible asset in any room, as most of them are aesthetically pleasing as well as fun. To guarantee that your table is the best quality wood, look for products made from solid timber, not a composite wood product such as MDF. The latter will not last as long and is not as high-quality.

Some woods, like oak and beech, are very light-colored and work excellently in boho-elegant styles or a cottage motíf. Darker woods, like cherry or mahogany, go well in more traditional rooms that have darker furnishings and more ornate details.

Black Solid Wood Backgammon Table
Brown Stylish Wooden Chess Table
Black Elegant Wooden Backgammon Table
Brown Classic Wooden Puzzle Table
Brown Elegant Wooden Game Table
Light Brown Classic Wooden Folding Gaming Table

What Other Details Do I Need to Consider?

When choosing a classic game table, it's not just about space considerations or wood quality. Some additional features and factors impact your decision, including:

Lighting

Lighting is essential for a classic game table so that all the players can see the board and its pieces without squinting or straining their eyes. Position your table directly under one of your ceiling lights in the brightest part of the room or place a reading lamp or other task lighting next to the table to make gameplay visible.

The Gameboard

Think about the level of versatility that you want from your game table. Some game boards are square and are used for chess and checkers. Some can be flipped to reveal a swath of green felt for card playing, and some are rectangular and inset into the tabletop to accommodate backgammon. Still, others do not have an inset at all, and the game board is permanently part of the tabletop.

White Simple Plastic Folding Puzzle Table
Brown Classic Plastic Rectangular Puzzle Table
Brown Simple Wooden Folding Puzzle Table
Brown Classic Metal Gaming Table
Light Brown Traditional Metal Recatangle Puzzle Table
Light Brown Classic Metal Folding Gaming Table

Storage

A lot of game tables come with built-in storage like drawers or shelving underneath. For exceptional quality and craftsmanship, look for drawers that have smooth gliding rollers and enough space to comfortably hold a box of chess pieces, some die, and a few packs of cards.

Often, modern tables for classic games also incorporate shelving. Look for sturdy built-in shelves that can comfortably accommodate stacked board games.

Brown Wooden Square Backgammon Table
Brown Traditional Wooden Square Chess Table
Black Classic Manufactured Wood Backgammon Table
Brown Simple Solid Wood Chess Table
Brown Elegant Manufactured Wood Backgammon Table
Brown Stylish Wooden Rectangular Gaming Table

Table Placement

When placing your game table, think about what's happening around the table. Some people use their tables as purely decorative pieces of furniture, but most envision utilizing the table for game nights. If this is the case, avoid putting your table in the middle of a high-traffic area. No one wants to be jostled and bumped when they're trying to checkmate their opponent.

Likewise, if your table is of outstanding quality and you don't relish the idea of sticky drinks sitting on top of its surface, situate your table so that the players' seats are close to side tables. This enables them to rest their belongings, snacks, and beverages on the side table.  Alternatively, you can purchase a table with drink holders attached as an apron around the edge of the piece.

Green Classic Solid Wood Gaming Table
Red Classic Solid Wood Gaming Table
Brown Traditional Solid Wood Octagonal Puzzle Table
Brown Classic Wooden Chess Table

Quick Tips

  • Choose a table shape that specifically caters to the game you love to play, whether it is chess, checkers, or backgammon.

  • Measure the designated location of the piece and the table to ensure you have space to play.

  • Solid wood game tables are more durable and aesthetically-pleasing than MDF. However, MDF is more affordable and comes in a broader range of styles.

  • Make sure that you position your game table in an area with sufficient overhead lighting for easy visibility.

  • Classic game tables should offer storage features such as drawers or shelves for storing gaming accessories.

  • Game boards come in a range of styles from reversible to inlaid. Choose one that offers you the greatest level of versatility.