Posted on

The Rule Zero 2nd Lockdown FAQ

Lockdown starts again on Thursday 5th November.

Yesterday Boris shared the worst-kept secret in the world; that Covid-19 is still a big deal. The nation goes on lockdown for at least a month, and we’re already hearing rumblings that the lockdown could be longer.

This is in equal parts terrifying, and kind of a relief. Having a bar/games shop is not a goldmine in good years, and 2020 hasn’t been that. However, we are happy that at least some positive action is coming from the government to help us all stay safer for longer. We’re grateful to have a place with lots of wood to knock on as we think about everyone being safe. After a lot of working very very hard, we will collectively be having a little sit.

A lot of you will have questions, and we’ll do our best to answer the easy ones here. The harder ones… and more details on some of the easy ones… we’re working on.

Q. How long are you shut until?
A. Until the government lets us be open. Hopefully that’s before Christmas, but honestly, it’s not our call if the rules change again.

Q. What about my prerelease/event/regular drinkies?
A. All events are, in the immediate term, cancelled. If you were hoping to pick up Vivid Voltage packs, your window to do so has shrunk a lot. We are open until Wednesday, so before then is best for collections. We’re figuring out if for any games we can do online events. Watch this space on that front.

Q. Do you deliver?
A. Right now, no we don’t. We’re working on some plans delivery-wise, but it’s tough for us to suddenly compete with the world of internet businesses. We’ll do an announcement once we have more we can do.

Q. Are there any good collection options right now?
A. We believe that click and collect services are still a possibility, and are trying to set up a click and collect day for Vivid Voltage for the up-coming weekend. To be clear, this isn’t a good option (we’d far rather you came before then), but it is the last immediate option we have just for now.

Q. What about Sub Zero?
A. Sub Zero, our performance space below Rule Zero, is also closed while the government deems such things necessary. We will have lovely things in there just as soon as we’re allowed, but that might be a while. If you haven’t been there yet, it’s real nice.

Q. How can we support you while you’re closed?
A. First, thanks so much for asking! It is likely to be lean times for us here, and any support we can get is massively appreciated. Obviously, as always, we’re open to being sent cat pictures. The cat picture economy doesn’t let us pay the rent with it though. To that end, we’re looking at setting up a new Patreon/reopening the old one, with things we can reasonably do during lockdown to keep you entertained.

Q. Can I have a hug?
A. Probably not in 2020, but at some point in the future, we hope so. We kind of want one too.

Q. How can I find out what is going on with Rule Zero?
A. Our Facebook remains a great place to start. We are also setting up a mailing list. We will let you know how this works once it’s in place. As a starting point, members and previous Patreon members will be on it (with the option to drop out of course). Our goal is to be the least spammy mailing list around (unless we’re referencing the Monty Python sketch), but we will do updates through that too.

Q. What are all the staff going to do during lockdown?
A. Probably something like this. Tim will spend a lot of time on finishing writing his book. Gav will hang out with his cat Toki and watch the only Star Wars films that matter. Josie will fight (and likely succumb to) the urge to play a lot of video games. Luke will design the tattoo he’s getting once parlours open back up. Kim will play a whole bunch of games on the internet. Rob will have a jolly old time on a boat. Rory will be lost in his new love, a Fender Jazz bass. Sarah will score a movie… as you do. Kathryn will make, then take photos of, various foods. Kyle will have sufficient time to see if his new gaming PC actually works. Will will still have to study, because schools aren’t shut! Hah!

Our goal is to have substantially better communications than at least the government on what we have going on. Unlike a lot of 2020 goals, that one seems super achievable. In the meantime, stay safe, and be nice to people where you can, in real life or on the internet. Everyone’s having kind of a rough time right now, let’s all look out for one another.

Posted on

How to order Games Workshop with us!

Games Workshop Orders are open!

Whether your wargaming takes place in the 41st millenium or in a mortal realm somewhere outside of the end times, at Rule Zero, we can help you with securing Games Workshop miniatures. And for the whole of September, you could even win a very limited edition figure!

All of our GW sales are at 10% below the Games Workshop selling price, and to make an order couldn’t be easier

1) Come in to see us at Rule Zero and tell us what you want

2) We will take payment and your details, and give you a receipt, along with a timing of when we anticipate the GW Trolls sending it to us (typically a little less than a week)

3) Come in and pick up your cool stuffs! We have your details, so we can let you know as soon as your order is ready for collection

For the whole of September, for every £10 of orders you make, you get a ticket in a raffle to win the extremely limited edition Catachan Colonel figure, pro painted by Adam Cunis (@HadrielCaine on Instagram and Twitter) – the very talented chap who painted the various figures you see above. The colonel is at the very centre of our pictures – that one isn’t painted by Adam, but you can bet that the one he prepares for you will be a beauty.

Game on!

Posted on

Covid Precautions at Rule Zero

Rule Zero Reopens!

The Government has adjusted its guidelines for lockdown, meaning that we can reopen from the 4th July.

We want to ensure that all our staff and customers can remain as safe as possible when in our care, so we will have some new processes in place;

1) As soon as you arrive, you will be seated at a table appropriate to your group. We’ll aim to ensure that groups remain as distanced from each other as possible (1+ metres), and all tables will be cleaned between groups visiting us. Our layout may look slightly different as we ensure tables are the correct distance apart. To ensure a table, the best thing to do is to book with us in advance.

2) All service will be table service! We will take orders and bring you any food/drink/games you request. There won’t be any loitering at the bar, and you won’t be able to order there. To make this easier, we recommend that payments be made by card where possible.

3) To keep walkways clearer, each of our stairways will be designated as one-way. We have regularly cleaned toilets on each floor, so there shouldn’t be much cause to need the stairs anyway.

4) All staff will be wearing protective equipment and cleaning their hands very regularly. All toilets will be being cleaned at regular intervals. We will have sanitation stations on all floors for customer use, and we request that customers are responsible about using them. It will not be possible to sanitise our board-games library between uses, though we will make efforts to keep it clean. Customers are welcome to bring their own games to play in our space – use of the board games library will be at customers own risk.

5) We request that all customers respect each other and our staff by following common-sense health and safety guidelines. If you are experiencing any Covid-19 symptoms, or are in a family group with someone who is, please do not visit us. If you want to come just to buy games, we can fetch the items you need while you wait outside. If you’re not comfortable seeing us just yet – that’s cool, just wait for now.

Rule Zero was built around the golden rule that applies before anything else, of treating each other with love and respect. While we all deal with Covid-19, we ask that everyone is extra patient. We’re excited to sell you things again, and we’re sure you’re excited too. We’re living in difficult times, let’s all commit to trying to avoid being difficult with each other.

If you have queries or concerns, please let us know. We want to make sure everyone feels safe and secure.

Posted on

Become a member at Rule Zero!

Hello dear customers, past present and future!

At Rule Zero, we have table fees for our upstairs gaming space. These help cover things like the beautiful venue you find yourselves in, the assorted facilities we provide, and the table service for food and drinks that comes with our gaming floor.

We’ve tried to keep our table fees good and low. If you are signed up for a ticketed event, those fees are covered in the costs of the event. Any time you pay table fees that covers you for the rest of the day, meaning that we’re not going to come around and start bothering you for more money just because your game of Twilight Struggle has lasted 8 hours (once you get into multiple days, we’ll talk).

Table fees are £3 per person, or £4 per person for big wargaming tables. Easy.

If you’d like to get reduced rates on table fees, it’s really easy to do so – just get yourself a membership card!

Membership cards are £25, and once you have one those table rates drop down to just £1 per person, or £2 per person for the bigger wargaming tables.

Here’s the boring terms and conditions bit. Membership cards last for 1 year from the date of purchase, and do not have a redeemable value. They are tied to each person individually, and are non-transferrable. Membership cards need to be presented upon payment to receive the discount. Please don’t expect us to remember who is a member and who isn’t.

One last exciting element. If you present your membership card each and every time you spend any money with us, we will log your purchase, and put some points on your card. What will those points get you? Well, there’s only one way to find out. Buy all the things!

Posted on

We’re open!

It’s been a little while coming, but we are very happy to have our new site open, at 4a Roach Road.

For those of you who have already come to visit us, first of all, thank you. Hopefully you can see how much work we’ve put in to making it nice – we’ve not just been sat around commenting on how early it gets dark this time of year. For those of you who haven’t been to see the new place, we’d urge you to come along.

Compared to what we had in previous times, everything is… nicer. This is what happens when your building is custom fitted out for purpose. More or less everything you see and interact with at the new site is that way because we want it to be, which is a pretty exciting prospect for us at least.

We now have three floors of fun to take in. The ground floor is where our bar and restaurant space sits. If you are looking to get food and drink it is the place to be, and we are super excited about quite how much our range and offering has increased here. I’ll have a future post going into these menus, but the short answer is that we have a whole lot of tasty treats for you to enjoy. The ground floor is also where our games are sold. Right now our stock of games is comparatively modest, but we will be building it back up over the coming weeks and months.

An important note on our games selection. We are intentionally trying to make sure that what we have on the shelves represents the ‘latest and greatest’ moniker when it comes to gaming. While there are a lot of shops that gradually build up truly epic amounts of stock, much of which is not rotated super often, that is not our goal. In some respects this means we will not be the greatest games store in the world for browsing or tracking down a particularly esoteric title. However, what we can guarantee is that we’re aiming to make sure we have the best examples of what tabletop gaming has to offer in 2020 and beyond, as well as the agility to get in stock of more unusual titles as needed. If there are particular games you have a real hankering to pick up, do let us know and we will do our best to order them in for you, or let you know what is up with them. I can tell you right now, that if a game is out of print, we’ll probably struggle, but at least in that case we’ll keep you informed as to what the status is on such games.

Our top floor is our main zone for games and gaming events. Luke is our events manager, and will be taking bookings as needed via email (, but if you just want to rock up and play, that will work too. We do have table fees (which will be detailed in another post here), but the goal is that they will never seem too prohibitive, they just help us ensure that we can afford to keep the lights on. The top floor is where our games library lives, and it too is being fleshed out over the coming weeks and months. We want to make sure that the games there are all fun, straight-forward enough to learn, and ideally games that we can direct you toward if you were looking to pick them up yourself. If there are particular board games that you are hoping to lay your hands on in that regard, just let us know.

Our top floor also sports two sizeable balconies with impressive views over the canal of the West Ham stadium. In the summer I’m sure these will be quite the hot ticket, even if for now they are a mite chilly. Because the balconies are outside space, we are being particularly careful to make sure that we don’t become disruptive to our neighbours. Above us there are lovely folks who simply live in the building. Day to day, they are obviously blessed by being so close to us, but we want to make sure that they never come to feel like we are being a nuisance to them. To this end, we are going to remind everyone using the balconies not to be loud or rowdy at any time of day, and we will be closing the balconies off entirely from 9pm, just to be super nice on those we live near.

Our final floor is a little bit mysterious. Below Rule Zero sits Sub Zero, our space which is specifically dedicated to events. With room for a very comfortable 50 people, this will be where we host such delights as comedy nights, quiz nights, variety shows, private parties and ticketed tournaments. When you don’t need to see it, it will be invisible, but when it is fully up and running it will be awesome.

There will be lots of great things to share from Rule Zero. the easiest way for you to see them is to come and visit. Until then though, we’ll bring you all the details here.

Posted on

Pioneer at Rule Zero

Right now, our new building is undergoing all sorts of fun building work, meaning that right now, Gav and I each have a valid excuse to wear hard hats. In practice they aren’t really needed, but we quite like wearing them anyway. Works are progressing nicely, and we should be ready to open fairly soon. How soon? We’ll let you know once we are confident that nothing is going to come along and make liars of us by taking longer than expected. We aren’t the builders – while we can speed up some stuff, we probably shouldn’t be allowed to wear hard hats and start messing with building stuff.

In the meantime, Magic just announced a new format, so we can do a bit of building work that isn’t going to impact on the structural stability of our lovely new home. Pioneer is a new non-rotating format that lets players use every set from Return to Ravnica onwards, and has only five banned cards – the fetchlands. This got announced on Monday, meaning everything is pretty fresh, but here are a bunch of things to consider about this new format.

1) Mana bases will not all be pretty

The lack of fetchlands in the format means that the fetch/shock manabases of Modern are out of the window. There also won’t be quite the same access to fast-lands, man-lands, and groovy lands like Cavern of Souls. This will come as a massive source of relief to those who balked at the price of buying these lands, but it will mean that building mana bases for decks sporting 3 or more colours will not be as simple as many of us have gotten used to. Wizards of the Coast stated in their introduction to the format that they didn’t want extra colours to feel ‘free’ when deck building, and banning fetchlands is a great start to achieving this. If you’re building something new, keeping the overall number of colours down will likely help with your consistency quite a bit.

2) A lot of decks will feel like powered up Standard decks

One of the reasons for non-rotating formats to exist is to give us something to do with cards once they are no longer in Standard. The bigger a non-rotating format, the harder for cards to feel relevant in it. This is likely another reason that Pioneer exists at all – right now Modern is in a pretty powerful place, and realistically there aren’t tonnes of cards from your typical Standard deck that are good enough to compete there. Not so Pioneer. The cut-off at Khans of Tarkir has swept the legs out of a lot of the most powerful things that exist in Modern, meaning that lots of what makes Modern feel scary isn’t there. Here are a list of decks that have been great in Modern that are impossible in Pioneer.

  • Affinity
  • Infect
  • Splinter Twin
  • Bogles
  • Second Sunrise
  • Ironworks
  • Urzatron
  • Urza
  • Dredge
  • Storm
  • Amulet Titan
  • Living End

This list goes on, and when I say that these decks are impossible in Pioneer, I am being less hyperbolic than I normally would be when throwing around the word impossible. Most of these decks lose namesake cards that are the lynchpin of their entire strategy. Yes, there might be an artifact deck, but without Arcbound Ravager, Cranial Plating et al, it won’t be Affinity. Yes, there might be a graveyard based deck, but it won’t be a Dredge deck. For most of the other decks in this list, there won’t even be a possibility of there being a deck that could get reasonably mis-understood for any of the above. If you are looking for a template for something to do in Pioneer, don’t look too hard at Modern, take a look back through Standard of the last few years.

Conveniently, there have been some very powerful Standard decks in this time. If you look through old Pro Tours, you’ll see some trends coming through which are probably worth investigating. Quite a few Standard Pro Tours were won by mono-red variants, and it seems likely that a red-based aggro deck will be good in Pioneer just as it is in most other formats. The details may take a little bit of finessing, but if you like casting burn spells and Monastery Swiftspear, that’s likely a good start. Blue/white control variants also have plenty to play with in Pioneer. When you combine the raw power of some of the newer planeswalkers (cough cough Teferi) with some of the nonsense achieved by casting a big Sphinx’s Revelation, you have got yourselves a great shell to build around. The win condition for blue/white could well be planeswalkers of one stripe or another, or potentially to expand out into green for Wilderness Reclamation, which will in turn mean that Nexus of Fate recursion could be very potent.

Energy-based decks were also a big deal in Standard. Being able to spin the wheel with Aetherworks Marvel was enough to prompt bannings, and in principle could be good enough again in Pioneer. A lot of players have looked toward the banned lists in other formats to get a feel for what might be a good starting point for Pioneer, and alongside Aetherworks Marvel, the combination of Felidar Guardian and Saheeli Rai is definitely worth investigation. With the addition of Teferi, Time Raveler from War of the Spark, this combo deck has the potential to win the game in decisive fashion while being difficult to disrupt.

Previously banned cards will be a feature in the early stages of the format

Of the cards that have been banned in assorted formats that are suddenly let loose on Pioneer, the two that are of most interest to me are Dig Through Time and Treasure Cruise. Both of these powerhouse blue card drawing spells were good enough to be banned in Modern, and were very good in Standard also. Without fetchlands they get a little bit harder to cast at a very low cost, but they remain incredibly powerful, and versatile enough to work across a variety of decks.

Smugglers’ Copter is a vehicle that was omnipresent in Standard for a short while, and contains a whole mess of design decisions that seem loopy to me. Why does it only cost 1 to crew? Why does it trigger on attacking and blocking rather than damage? Why is it a 3/3? It feels like it was made by rolling dice, and allowed through in part to get people to play with vehicles at all. Whether it is good enough in Pioneer though is a little bit of a question mark. Against ‘fair’ decks, Smugglers’ Copter is incredible, but with Modern being what it is, the little chopper never did very much. We shall have to see how it fares in Pioneer, but I wouldn’t necessarily bet the farm on it.

It seems likely that relatively soon (maybe around the MagicFests in the Pioneer format early next year) there will need to be bannings of something in Pioneer, but at least for now there is a question mark as to what. For those looking to get in early, I’d start off by buying up Treasure Cruise, as it’s obviously good and won’t break any banks. After that, rather than trying to chase waterfalls of broken decks, I’d be more inclined to try to power up Standard decks you’ve enjoyed as much as you can, rather than watering down Modern. Be a little wary about buying ‘broken cards’ for the format if you can’t handle the swings of bannings – it seems likely they will appear.

Play Pioneer with us!

Alright, fine, we don’t have a firm opening date just yet, but that doesn’t mean we can’t make a few plans. For those of you who love playing Magic with us already, rest assured that we will be having a bash at Pioneer once we open our new doors. As we get to a point where we have a better idea of dates, we will add them to our calendar here.

Have a great week!


Posted on

But what does Rule Zero even mean?

Oh, dear sweet Sandra, we’re so glad you asked.

Rule Zero is the most important rule. It’s the one that is so important that it comes even before rule one, and it’s the rule that seems like it should be so self evident that it need never be said out loud. Just for you though, just for today, we’ll give out all the details. There are lots of variations on the wording of the rule, and we like all of them in their own little ways.

The Biblical version – Do unto others as you would have them do unto you
Wow, that version is a little high falootin’ but it sums things up fairly well. Let’s all treat each other as we’d like to be treated. Obviously this wording of the rule is prone to abuse by people who have different standards as to how they might like to be treated, but it’s a good start. Sometimes this version is called The Golden Rule. That reminds us a little too much of Donald Trump’s toilet though, so we prefer the name Rule Zero.

The Bill and Ted version – Be excellent to one another… and party on dudes!
It turns out that Keanu Reeves has had things locked down for quite a while, and this version of Rule Zero is a great example of that. If we’re all excellent to one another, that’s a great start. Andrew W.K. would approve of the addendum to the end too. For the record though, this rule applies equally to all genders, at least under our roof.

The simple and uplifting version – Let’s all make it our mission to make sure that everyone is having a good time.
It might sound a little bit happy clappy hippy dippy, but we love our customers, and want to make sure that everyone feels happy and safe while they are with us. We’re not asking our customers to fall over themselves to improve each others days, just that they try to avoid making anyone’s life more difficult. We don’t want to yuck anybody’s yum, and we hope that the same can be true of everyone else.

The brutally simple version – Don’t be a dick.
Hopefully this iteration of Rule Zero is the most offensive thing you’ll have to ever deal with at Rule Zero. We want everyone to have a good time all the time, and don’t want to have to have a colossal array of rules and policies to make that happen. If you are ever about to do something in our place, and you think that it might be breaking Rule Zero, there’s a good chance that it is. If everyone just tries to get along and follow this one rule, we’re confident everyone will have a stellar time, us included, so let’s all do that.