From Ceredigion to Cardiff via alien worlds and colonial settlements: a journey inside the life of Cardiff’s board game boss
It’s a cold night in Cardiff as Dyfed Bowen orders the soup and a pint of coke in his native Welsh before his weekly meeting with a group of local playtesters.
Each week Bowen, a local boardgame aficionado, and manager of store Rules of Play, meets with a group of like-minded game designers and fans to test the latest games which are often created by the groups’ members including Bowen.
Bowen, 31, was born in the rugby-crazed town of Ceredigion in West Wales and grew up with a similar love for the sport.
“Your drinking when you’re 14 or 15 in the rugby club,” Bowen described, “because that’s the societal norm.
“When you asked your teachers if you could play football you were told no, you can play football anytime, any idiot can kick a ball.”
Despite this, Bowen noted that his childhood was a 50-50 split between the two sports.
Bowen was often found playing both sports and supported Manchester United as a result of Welsh star Ryan Giggs featuring in the squad.
After time spent labouring with his father Bowen thought it time to roll the dice and move to the “big city” in search of work.
He moved to Cardiff and began working in hospitality holding jobs in various hotels across the city.
Bowen had never pulled a pint when he began working at a local hotel and soon worked his way up to duty manager in a job he described as being intense.
“I’ll be honest, I wouldn’t go back,” he began, “not because I’m working on my hobby now but because it’s such a hard job.”
“Hospitality just chews people up and spits them out.”
The love of gaming began during his childhood years as he would find himself in his neighbour’s house playing Lost Valley of the Dinosaurs.
“I didn’t know the rules but I’d make up my own,” he remembers, “and I’d play with the pieces and the volcanos and I’d make up stories.”
A new experience
During his time in Cardiff Bowen stumbled across the tabletop wargame, Warhammer regularly visiting the then named Games Workshop where his tabletop gaming hobby was once again ignited.
Soon after the discovery of Warhammer Bowen would find himself standing in Rules of Play, Cardiff’s board game shop, where he fell in love with a new experience.
Bowen noted that the money he’d spend on Warhammer would get him a “whole world” he could play and so he set aside miniatures and moved into board games.
With his hobby growing and him buying a new game each week Bowen soon found himself working in the store and is now the shop’s manager.
Plan for tomorrow
If he could tell his childhood self one piece of advice Bowen noted that he’d tell himself to plan for tomorrow, not for ten years ahead.
“I’d tell myself to slow down, to take stock,” he began, “plan in segments. Don’t plan 30 years down the line because you’ll be 10 years down that road and things won’t plan out the way you wanted and you’ll change your dreams.
“Plan three years down the line. Plan something achievable because what you are then gearing up to is more achievable.”
His plan for tomorrow includes buying property in the city and he hopes to continue designing, creating and testing his own games in a humble Cardiff pub with a humble group of people.