Posted on May 9th, 2014

The hotness for game stores this week is the new Pokemon set, Flashfire XY. Come catch them all, we’ve got theme decks and booster packs available now.

We’re also excited to start the new format for our Pokemon league on Saturday mornings. We had some short staffing issues during Pokemon league earlier this year and wild card trading started to dominate the league. It looked like a stock market run by 7 year olds, pretty scary. Now that we’ve got the staffing figured out, we’ve been able to get the kids to really want to play the game instead of throw cards around the room, and tomorrow we step it up even more. Check out this page for more info: Pokemon League.

With the new Magic set last week and the Pocket Monsters this week, we haven’t received any new board games of note. We have backed March of the Ants through Kickstarter, and anyone interested in backing this one can do so through us and get 20% in store credit! So for $35 you’ll get a copy of the game with all stretch goals when they ship it to backers and $7 in store credit to use immediately. Go check out their Kickstarter page for more info and for a quote from yours truly!

Speaking of insects, I’ve had a darn near perfect week so far. Played Mage Knight on Sunday, then on Monday and Tuesday I tossed some dry flies to trout keyed in on giant salmonflies, followed by another round of Mage Knight Wednesday. A trip to the happiest place on earth with my family would top it off nicely, sadly that won’t be happening.

Kirsten is still cranking on Star Realms, as are all the staff at Cloud Cap, and we’ve got a tournament planned for the end of this month with a chance to win sets of promo cards and a playmat for the game, we’ll see you May 31 at 6:30pm. Kirsten has also been hot on Safranito, a spice trading game that involves tossing bidding chips onto the board, and where they land determines the actions you get to take. One of her recent opponents, Miles, exclaimed that he was ‘on fire’ during the most recent game this Wednesday night. At first I was concerned, then calmed a bit when I realized that I was standing right next to the fire extinguisher. Eventually I figured out that he was talking about the game, I think he collected some peppers.

Finally, we’ll be playing Ben’s favorite game of all time this weekend, Caylus. I expect to get fully trounced by him so I may just cheat every time he walks away to get a drink or go the bathroom.

Have a great weekend everyone.

Posted on May 2nd, 2014

The pre-summer weather tease is upon us and things are starting to warm up, except the new board game release schedule. No worries though, we’ve got plenty to keep you busy.

First I wanted to mention that this past Wednesday I finally took the time to visit perhaps the largest board game gathering in the city: Dice and Drinks at the My Father’s Place pub. Ben (our new chief of staff in case you haven’t met him) has been attending for a while, and the host, Andy, has been a customer for a few years now, so we thought we’d pay them and some other folks a visit. It was pretty wild to walk into the pub and witness a literal sea of tables filled with folks rolling dice, pushing cubes, and playing cards; not at all a normal thing to see at your run-of-the-mill black-walled pub. Due to the lighting and layout, you can be in your own isolated world where you’re sitting, but the host does a great job of making the rounds and ‘connecting’ the many tables. It is fantastic to see this vibrant gaming scene and congrats to Andy for sustaining it. 5-10 years ago, an event like this would not have been possible, in fact you may have been beat up and thrown out of such a place if you were caught throwing a euro on the table. Oh, if you go, beware the cheap drinks!

We are finally ready to announce our summer camps for this year. Youth gaming coordinator extraordinaire, Tam (pronounced Tum) Stockton, will once again be deftly guiding young heroes through perilous dungeons during his Pathfinder Roleplaying Adventure Camps. New this year, Tam will be running some Magic the Gathering camps both for initiates and experienced players. For the most part, the camps are all-inclusive week-long affairs with a mix of indoor and outdoor activities so we won’t your young geek home crazy after a day of just sitting on the old tushy. Check out these links for more details: Pathfinder Camps, Magic Camps.

For the merry month of May, we’ve got a few events already planned. This weekend seems to be Richard Garfield appreciation days. Saturday we’re running a small Magic tournament to find a good home for an insanely huge playmat, I mean huge! Sunday we’re hosting a casual local Netrunner tournament, there’s a very cool bunch of regular players who attend these events, so do not be intimidated if you have any interest in competing.

During the rest of the month, we’ve actually got some board games happening during our Sunday Staff pick days. Kirsten will show you how to play Star Realms, if she hasn’t already, on May 11. And get ready, we are gearing up for a Star Realms tournament, just waiting for the sweet tournament kits to ship before we choose a date. On May 18, Ben will bring in his painted figurines for a round of Mice and Mystics. Finally, I’ll give you a dose of Rosenberg on May 25 with Caverna. Next month we hope to dedicate one Sunday as a customer’s choice day, so stay tuned on how to enter.

Finally, May 17 will be our last regular Saturday Strategy Game night. We’ll be serving up some champagne, toasting to what will come.

Stay cool and game on!

Posted on April 18th, 2014

When playing games I rarely choose the obvious or tried and true path to victory. Take Dominion for example, with any given card setup there is usually at least one clear path to victory, and that is exactly the path I’m not going to take. Why just win when you can win by some crazy route that should not have worked. Usually I lose, but when I do pull off a win it can be that much more satisfying.

This same thinking went into my planning for opening a game store. One of the mantras of experienced game store owners is that once you have your own shop you will play fewer games. That was the paradigm, so of course I had to try something different. Heck, if that mantra were true, what would be the point? I wasn’t opening game store just to make a living, there are far better businesses for that. Oh wait, owning a game store is a rough way to make a living? OK, let’s try that too. So I set out to see if I could run a successful game shop and continue to wallow in tons of gaming goodness.

Well, over 3 years later, I’ve played more games than ever and somehow we’re squeaking by when the first of the month comes. Just this Wednesday night I was able to play City of Remnants and a few rounds of Quantum, two great games enjoyed with great people. Last week I was able to lose miserably at Terra Mystica on Wednesday night, then shirk some duties on Thursday to play a round of Babel and a few rounds of Corto with some awesome customers. Sure, I nearly spent the night at the shop to finish all of my work afterwards, but it was worth it. Oh yeah, then on Friday I did some game design and got in a game of Caverna. Kirsten’s been getting some gaming in too. Most notably, she was on fire Wednesday night with Star Realms, a great little deck-builder recommended by Ben, and Splendor, a game I’ll talk more about below.

Should we feel guilty? Nah, as I said, this was part of the point. We also view it as a very important part of our jobs. Nearly everyone who walks through our door asks for suggestions and opinions. If there is one thing I really don’t want to do is send you out the door with a product that won’t work for you. We’ve been accused once of recommending a game just to make a big sale, it took me a few days to recover from the sting of that false accusation.

So in the spirit of full disclosure, and to impart some of what I’ve learned from the smorgasbord of gaming this month, I’d like to discuss 4 different games I’ve been enjoying that I believe share some similarities. For lack of a better word, I’m classifying these games as ‘array’ games. Not a very sexy title perhaps, unless you’re like me and the thought of acting as an array processor sounds like time well spent.

The 4 games, in loose order of approachability, are Continental Express, The Builders, Splendor, and Targi. All of these games are setup as rows and columns of cards that form an offer, or array. Two types of cards are found, some that provide resources, and others that convert resources into victory points. On any given turn, you are scanning the entire array to find the optimal connection between resource collection and victory point generation. For some this can be a very intuitive, from the gut activity. I, however, like to try and recreate the entire array in my noggin and let my squishy processor do its thing. Whatever your style, these games always feel light, fun, and fast.

They all make great 2-player games as well; Targi, in fact, is strictly a 2-player game. With just two players, it is much easier to try and foil your opponent’s plans. I find Continental Express to be a particularly fun 2-player game, and it is by far the easiest of the batch to introduce to new players. With The Builders and Splendor the calculations can get a little mind-bending at times, in a great way if your into noggin-twisting. Targi takes the array concept even further by allowing you to build your own array with the cards you take from the offer, crazy good stuff.

Lucky for you, we have all of these games either to rent or to demo in the shop. I highly recommend doing either of those if you’re looking for something casual that still gets the grey matter clicking. Have a great weekend everyone!

New Arrivals: Myth

Posted on April 11th, 2014

 

Lots of big announcements to make this week folks. But first, let’s thank all of our official TableTop Day Geeks, who did a fine job last Saturday keeping the geek currency out of participants’ hands during the Beat the Geek challenges; we wound up raffling off lots of great prizes in the evening. According to many who attended, TableTop Day was a huge success, and our volunteer Geeks are almost entirely responsible for the praise we have received. So stay Geeky all of you!

Now with TableTop day behind us, it is time to resume our regularly scheduled programming, buuutttt, actually, we’re making some dramatic changes to our regular programming. First off, we are going to finally be open on Mondays, from 11am-7pm. Ben O. will be in charge, so stop by to say hi, he may be a bit lonely on Mondays until word gets out.

The second change to our schedule is a big boy and likely to cause a few tears. For some time now we have been seeking a way to offer a wider variety of gaming events, some for hobby gamers and some for broader audiences. Our Caverna release party in January and our recent 7 Wonders tournament are examples of the types of events we would like to offer. We have decided that Saturday nights are the best nights for us to offer these events, and have made the decision to cancel the regular Strategy Saturday game nights to give us greater flexibility.

SAY WHAT! I’ll repeat that since the shock may cause some to disbelieve.

Saturday, May 17, will be our final regular Saturday game night.

Wednesday game nights are still full on, and great events will still be happening on Saturday nights, just not every Saturday, so stay tuned and plan on joining us!

And for the last announcement, which may pale in comparison to the prior two, I have finally created a 2-Player only section in the rental library. Most of our regularly renting customers are couples seeking great head-to-head games. Currently in the section we have Summoner Wars, Targi, Babel, Asante, 2-player Agricola, and others that were already on the shelf just not in their own private section. Look for these games on the back of the window table until we work out a better home for them. I just played Babel yesterday with a customer (yes, a big perk of the job when you run a non-Magic shop), and we had a great time. Babel is a very aggressive and challenging struggle of wits and luck.

Have a fine spring weekend everyone, I’ll leave you with a list of current staff picks, new arrivals, and games recently added to our rental shelf.

Current Staff Picks: Corto, Splendor, Spyrium, Concept, Star Realms, Babel, Continental Express.

Recent Arrivals: Star Realms (an awesome 2-player deck-builder recommended by Ben, try this puppy if you like your deck-building), The Doom that Came to Atlantic City, Descent: Nerekhall, Hive: Pillbug, Splendor.

New Rentals: The Doom that Came to Atlantic City, Quantum, Lewis & Clark, Africana, Concept, Splendor.

Posted on April 2nd, 2014

Games, games, and more games: get ready for a celebration of tabletop delights this Saturday afternoon. If you are not familiar with the TableTop web show, give it a gander here, its a great way to learn about new games that work for a broad audience. Last year, Wil Wheaton, the show’s host, asked folks around the world to gather at tables and play some games on one day of celebration. Well it is happening again this year, so come on out and join us.

First off, we are going to have some serious fanboys donning Geek sashes loaded with special buttons. These designated Geeks will be randomly starting challenges throughout the day where you will have the chance to earn some of the special buttons. These buttons are for you to keep, or they can be used as currency to buy some sweet items from our shop and some goodies donated by generous local sponsors. Here is a list of those sponsors, you’ll have to show up Saturday to see what they’ve contributed:

Wells & Verne
Collage
Either/Or coffee
Sock Dreams
Portland Bottle Shop
Tilde
Lompoc Brewing
Blue Kangaroo
Bridge City Pizza
Portland Homestead Supply Co.

In addition to the challenges, our tables will be open for gaming all afternoon. We are a small shop, but we’re going to get as many folks playing as is comfortably possible. Starting around 6pm, we’ll be converting to full play mode, and we’re hoping to have some food and drink to keep the party going.

If you would like to RSVP for the event, and see what folks are planning on playing, check out our meetup.com post. We’ll see you there.

Posted on March 7th, 2014

Spring is definitely starting to win the battle against winter, so get ready for more yard work at home, spring corn snow on the mountain, and the new board game release drought period. Now I am not a big fan of yard work, but the northwest spring corn is fantastic, and the lack of new releases is much needed.

From a retailer perspective, no new releases can be rough. As many more experienced store owners than myself will tell you, the tabletop game business is primarily front-end driven, so no new releases means very lean sales. This is why the collectible card games and miniature games usually form the foundation of a game store’s business model, fans of these games line up every few months for regular dispensation of new products in their chosen lines. Since we don’t rely too heavily on the collectibles, our slow new release months are buffered by non-hardcore products, like puzzles, kids and family games, and a back catalog of strategy games that for all intents and purposes are new to many of our customers.

So do we really need any new games? As a retailer I am supposed to answer with a resounding yes, as a gamer I can answer with a firm no. Take a good look at our game shelves and yours and I’ll bet you can find multiple titles that you’d like to play but haven’t ever played or haven’t played in some time.

Great titles like Mage Knight, CO2, Last Will, Lords of Waterdeep, Snowdonia, Blood Bowl Team Manager, Village, Pathfinder Adventure Card Game, and so many more have not hit my table in months. And these are just from the past few years. Go back even further back in time and the list just gets wonderfully overwhelming: El Grande, Fresco, Colosseum, Dominion, Le Havre, At the Gates of Loyang, Galaxy Trucker, Belfort, Merchants & Marauders, and on and on and gloriously on. Oh, and this doesn’t even include the heavier games. As some of our game night regulars will relentlessly remind you, there is a whole world of weighty games in the back catalog to explore.

When I get together with my game group, we use a style of run-off voting to determine what we’ll be playing. Each gathering, one person makes a list of games, one game or set of games per player. Each other player vetoes one game or game set on the list, and the survivors then hit the table. Well, with an immense back catalog of personal favorites to choose from, the process of constructing a list of only 3 or 4 games can induce analysis paralysis. The veto process is no better since we want to play every game on every list.

The new games will come soon enough, and of course we’ll always have Kickstarter titles flash-flooding the market (seriously folks, stop clicking!). Right now it is time to just enjoy the bounty we have, sort of a harvest festival in Spring. The shelves are full and glorious stuff right now, get all zen, be in the moment, play the now, then get all reflective and play the past.

To encourage some exploration of the now and then, we’re going to be hosting two events at the turn of the quarter. First we’ll be celebrating a great modern classic, 7 Wonders. Join us on March 29th at 6:30pm for a friendly and competitive tournament and some 7 layer dip. See here for more details and to reserve a seat. The following Saturday, April 5, we’ll host a whole day of gaming and feasting for an International Tabletop Day celebration, gaming from the back catalog from Noon-Midnight! The details of Tabletop Day are still developing, and we are very interested in any help running game sessions, so be in touch!

Alright, signing off. Happy transition into Spring everyone. Grab blindly from your shelf or ours, then go forth and game!