This past Monday, Chloe and I did some geeky bonding by heading to a new store that has recently opened in our area. We weren't sure of what to expect, but we both ended up having a really great time. To be honest, I think I'm seeing the beginnings of a new weekly tradition between the two of us. What did we do? Read past the break to find out.
Recently, I was thrilled to find out that a new gaming store had opened up not too far away from me. Now, I love my "local" comic book store, but while it has a decent selection of board games and gaming supplies, the shop's layout does not lend itself to doing a lot of gaming events. Not to mention, this comic shop is like 30 minutes away from me. These two things don't detract from the fact that its a great store, and I will still frequent when I have some money to catch up on a few comics. However, the great thing about this new gaming store, other than its so close, is the atmosphere around it. The store itself does not have *that* much product, only a couple of bookshelves filled with the more popular board games. The rest of the shop, though, is filled to the brink with tables. You can tell that when the owner set up his shop, he wanted to have a lot of space for people to actually play various games.
For right now, the shop is primarily geared towards Magic the Gathering players. Practically every night of the week, there is some form of Magic tournament being hosted by the store. I've stepped in the store about 3 different times over the past two weeks. Each time that I step in there, there is at least two people playing Magic against each other. But I've had a chance to talk with the owner, and this is just the beginning. He's told me that he's pushing so much Magic right now because that's what the people in my area are really into. Over time, though, he wants to get that consumer base into other board games, and I can tell from just looking around the store that he's not kidding. By one of the sets of tables, there is a small shelf stacked with the more popular "geeky" board games like Settlers of Catan, Ticket to Ride, and Dominion, to name a few. These separate games are open, with the words "STORE DEMO" labeled across them. Anyone can walk off of the street into the store, pick out one of these games, and plop down on a free table and play the game. I haven't been to a lot of stores that solely focus on gaming, but I've never seen a store have demo copies of games for customers to buy. It makes it very appealing to someone like myself who is interested in a new game. I can simply go to the store and try out the game with a few friends. If I like it, then I can go purchase an unopened copy right then and there.
Further extending this idea, I found out by looking at their event calendar that every Monday they are having "Board Gaming Nights". Every Monday, a new board game is featured on their website, and if you show up to the store then, you can sit down and learn to play that specific game. Not only that, but the event is free to everyone! I told Chloe about this and she said we had to go check it out. So this past Monday, we showed up at the store to learn how to play Small World. Its a game that I had seen played before on Wil Wheaton's TableTop, but had never experienced it myself. The game is very much a combination of the classic game Risk with a fantasy motif. In the game, there are several different races such as Amazons, Orcs, Trolls, Skeletons, etc. Each turn, you try and spread out your forces across the map, earning points for all the different spaces you conquer. However, each race/player also has a special ability, which might help you conquer areas quicker, or provide defenses against enemy players. The player with the most points at the end of 8 turns is declared the winner.
This game was a blast! Once I got the gist of the game down, I quickly was able to start forming some sort of strategy; which worked well for me for a large portion of the game. At the beginning, I was slightly worried whether or not Chloe would be able to pick up the game easily, but after 2 turns or so she was doing pretty well for herself. When the game ended and we tallied up the score, it turned out that my "strategy" had worked out to make me the winner! Keep in mind here, I SUCK at strategy games. I refuse to play Risk with my father and brother because they stomp me into the ground so easily. While Chloe did come in last, she was close enough to the other two people playing that had the game kept going for another round or two, she could have easily overtaken them.
At the end of the night, when Chloe and I were helping put away all the gaming pieces, she turns to me and says "So, we're buying this game right?". I just laughed and told her that we couldn't tonight, but that I would keep my eye on it in case I saw any good deals on it come up in the upcoming weeks/months. And as we said goodbye to everyone and headed for the car, she asked me another question that drew a smile from me:
"Can we come back next week?"
You bet we will.