We all know that winter season in the Pacific Northwest brings with it a number of options for outdoor recreation, whether it be skiing, snowshoeing, ice skating or any number of other activities. But with the cold, ice and almost-frozen wet mess we all know so well also comes plenty of time stuck indoors where boredom can quickly set in. Luckily, the last decade has seen a worldwide boom in one of the surest cures for cabin fever: boardgaming. And the Lynnwood area is no stranger to the hobby, with several new and established shops catering to newcomers and longtime enthusiasts alike.
Many people who know the cardboard craft only through traditional family classics like Monopoly, Scrabble, or Risk may not be aware of just how deep and diverse the industry has become, especially in the last 10 or so years. Games now span a wide spectrum of styles and genres, ranging in complexity from simple dexterity games (Pitchcar, Junk Art) to heavier Eurocentric titles that have participants manage intricate economies (Brass: Birmingham, Powergrid), and of course there is plenty of swords and sorcery as well (Gloomhaven, War of the Ring). But no matter the flavor of your gaming session, the important part is who you are playing with, whether it’s friends, family, or a group of brand-new acquaintances.
MeltingTop Games (1120 164th St. S.W. Suite H), will be hosting an open house Jan. 26 to introduce members of the community not only to the store but the hobby itself. Generally, boardgame shops hold regular events for specific games to attract a regular crowd but Daniel Kim, the owner of MeltingTop, is aiming for a wider and more inclusive reach.
“Obviously, running a store is mainly about the retail aspect,” Kim said about the upcoming event. “But the reason we have a gaming space that’s significantly larger than the actual retail part of the store is so that families and people from around the neighborhood can get together, meet new people and learn about the hobby. I think that’s the real purpose of a game shop, the community aspect.”
Which is something that makes boardgaming so well-suited as a social activity. Unlike the digital games occupying most people’s attention these days, tabletop sessions put real a person in front of you in situations that demand interaction, regardless of whether the goal is competition or cooperation.
“It gets people off their screens.” Kim said. “You get to meet new people and actually interact with them in person, which you don’t have with something like video gaming.” And with the sheer number of options available in terms of play style, game time, and difficulty it’s easy to find a title for nearly any occasion and group.
People who have no experience at all with cardboard counters and wooden meeple (the name for those small figures in some board games) shouldn’t feel hesitant to give it a try either. There are any number of ‘gateway’ classics that can introduce newcomers to the hobby, and most regular groups are more than welcoming to the casually interested.
The season may leave you feeling cooped up, but that doesn’t mean you can’t put it to good use, either with your friends and family around the kitchen table, or with some newly-met neighbors at your FLGS (Friendly Local Game Store).
MeltingTop’s open house will feature events for gamers of all levels and ages throughout the day on Jan. 26. More information, including a schedule of events, can be found on their website: www.meltingtopgames.com/
— By Brett Reistroffer