Sunday, August 17, 2014

G’wood has a new place for gamers to gather

Things may be turning around here for face to face gaming opportunities...

Many tabletop gamers have dreamed of opening up a store catering to their hobby, but in the Roaring Fork Valley, they’ve never seemed to stick. Since the demise of Mark’s Toys and Pets, locals have been generally had to travel to Grand Junction or Denver to buy role-playing dice or participate in a card tournament.
They don’t have to now.
Since February, word has slowly spread about the Jester’s Court in the basement of the Tamarack building at 10th and Grand in Glenwood Springs. The store is open only limited hours three days a week, but it is gaining a following.
Sean Wagner travels from Grand Junction to run the shop from 2-7 p.m. Tuesdays, 2-9 p.m. Fridays, and 2-7 p.m. Saturdays. He sees a lot of potential in the area.
“There’s a lot to be tapped around here,” he observed. “There’s plenty of gamers.”
Sean and his wife, Trudi, operate a larger store in Grand Junction and two in Wyoming. They’re starting small with the Glenwood store, but have the experience and business savvy to help it grow.
Right now, they’re catering mostly to devotees of the card game Magic: The Gathering, which, oversimplified, is a battle of complex rules among wizards whose powers are determined by the cards.
“Magic’s king,” Wagner explained. “It carries any game store and makes everything else possible.”
“Everything else” includes all sorts of “unplugged” tabletop role-playing games such as Dungeons and Dragons as well as a host of board games including Settlers of Catan and Diplomacy. You won’t find Monopoly or Halo among their selection. You might be able to convince them to order Risk, but you’d be better off asking for a specific Magic card.
The games themselves are only half the point.
“We provide something other places don’t: a place to play,” said Wagner. “We build gaming community in our stores. It’s a special thing. Everyone comes together in a game shop.”
The Jester’s Court hosts Magic: The Gathering tournaments on Friday nights, which usually attract 10 to 15 enthusiasts. Most, but by no means all, participants are in their teens or 20s.
Will Kribs, a 17-year-old Roaring Fork High School grad, stops by the shop almost every day it’s open.
“I can meet new people here,” he explained. He had a handful of people to play Magic and D&D with at school, but the Jester’s Court attracts people from all over the Roaring Fork and Eagle Valleys.
Tylor Kantas is another constant presence. Now 25, he grew up in the Valley.
“We had small groups in school to play,” he recalled, “but a lot of us went different directions and we lost the community.”
Kantas, who participates in Magic tournaments in Grand Junction and is even planning an outing to an event in Salt Lake City, found out about the shop through a friend. He now helps the Wagners out on a volunteer basis, and is such a fixture many customers mistake him for an employee. He’s just happy to be a part of the budding community.
“It’s all about fun,” he said. “Everybody comes in and gets to be their real selves.”
As the community grows, so does the potential for other events like Dungeons and Dragons-style tabletop role-playing or Warhammer competitions. If so, the business will likely outgrow its cramped underground abode, but for now, you can stop by 1001 Grand Avenue, Suite 002.

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