Risk and reward at board game stores

By: Sean Ray | The Duquesne Duke

Between movies, TV shows and Netflix when was the last time anyone was able to sit down, roll some dice and play a board game? Well, here are three local board game stores that will give you the chance to do just that. So grab some dice, figurines and friends and prepare for three places that might just change what you do on your Saturday night.

SW Randall Toyes and Giftes
SW Randall was founded in 1970 by Jack Cohen and has spread across Pittsburgh since then, with locations in Shadyside, Downtown and Squirrel Hill. Brendan McShane, an employee at the Squirrel Hill division of SW Randall, said that the Squirrel Hill location was in fact the original and showed off the store’s impressive range of board games, an entire wall of the store taken up by board game shelves. For younger kids, McShane recommended the Peacabul Kingdom games, which had cooperative game play so there are no losers.

Do not think this means SW Randall is just aimed at kids though.

The store has an entire glass case for young adult games, including Settlers of Catan and several Kingdom Builder games. One of the most interesting was Risk Legacy, which provides a variation on the familiar world conquest game by changing circumstances every time people play it.

With its wide selection, SW Randall is definitely worth a visit. The stores are open week long, though hours vary from location to location.

As McShane said, “Games are sweet, people should play games.”

The store can be found at 5856 Forbes Ave or can be contacted at 412-422-7009 and are open from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Phantom of the Attic

Claire Murray / Photo Editor - A series of board games called Ticket to Ride are on display at Phantom of the Attic in Oakland

Claire Murray / Photo Editor – A series of board games called Ticket to Ride are on display at Phantom of the Attic in Oakland

Located on S. Craig Street, right across from the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Phantom of the Attic is a combination comic-book and table top game store. The store has more strategy and young adult aimed games than SW Randall. Manager Jeff Yandora said that the store has a lot of Eurogames, which are games based more on strategy and keeping players in the game than luck or player elimination. Most interestingly, the store special orders games for customers, so if you have trouble finding something, asking Phantom of the Attic may be a wise investment.

The store also has sells several collectible games, such as Magic: The Gathering and X-wing. The store’s busiest nights, according to Yandora, are Sundays for general board gaming and Fridays for Magic night. Basically, anyone can come in to play any board game they want on Sundays, while Fridays are specifically for Magic the Gathering players.The store is open 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekends and can be found at 406 S Craig Street, and contacted at 412-682-6290.

Legions Hobbies and Games
A bit farther out than the rest of the stores featured here, Legions Hobbies and Games is the largest wargame store in the area and one of the largest in the country, according to owner Rob Pernel. A wargame is a table top game used to simulate the clashing of two armies, whether they be science fiction, fantasy, or realistic armies.

Located at 1130 Perry Highway, Duquesne Residents will need to take a bus or cab out to visit, but it is incredibly worth it. Wargames from Warhammer to Infinity to Malifaux to Flames of War are sold there, ranging from historical, fantasy, and science fiction war games. The store also features several tables to play on, with terrain already set up. Legions also features a loyalty program for store credit after a certain amount of money has been spent at the store. On Friday nights, the store can see over 100 people, according to Pernel, with every table filled with players.

The store also runs several tournaments, including a beginner’s tournament for people just getting into wargaming. Just in the month of December alone the store will host two tournaments, one for Warhammer and the other for Flames of War. If you can make the trip, Legions is the go to place for any veteran or perspective wargame enthusiast. Legions is open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and can be found at 1130 Perry Highway. For additional information they can be contacted at 412-366-3725.

So, if you are looking to change up your free time and perhaps give board gaming a shot, or if you are new to the scene, these three stores are whole heartily recommended as excellent places to start. Just make sure no one is playing with weighted dice.

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