Michigan’s largest export in 2012? Engineers! I packed up my miniatures and moved to a new job designing hybrid vehicles In Utah. Since getting settled in I’ve begun exploring to find a new local game shop (LGS) for playing Warhammer, Warhammer 40k and Warmachine.
I jumped on the internet and searched for Games Workshop stores – None to be found in the entire state of Utah! Next, I searched for a LGS that supported my miniature habit. Several promising prospects popped up in a 60 mile radius. I made a list and visited each one over the course of a few weeks and made some notes to pass along. The names of the stores have been abbreviated to protect the innocent.
DK: Cluttered store in an old-dead downtown shop near a university. Lots of board games and a lot of RPG stuff around. A good variety of GW miniatures (21 copies of Dreadfleet?) and a very small quantity of Privateer Press models including some very-very old stock blisters. They have one small gaming table on the sales floor and a 4 tables in the cramped basement. The store is operated by a couple of bored college kids. 45 minutes from home
GPP: A mall store with an odd mix of adult and kid board games (playing kid game music over the speakers). Wa-a-a-y in the back where the store should end, you can walk into an area that looks like a big garage (originally a large store room). They have an old-stock, cluttered collection of 40k, Fantasy and LOTR. On the opposite wall they have a larger collection of Flames of War. In the middle of the room they have 2 folding tables with green cloth draped over them. It could be cleaned-up and organized to make it work – but it is currently an afterthought. 35 minutes from home.
MG: Hidden in an old strip mall, a small dedicated miniatures gaming store. Good stock of everything GW has to offer (lots of terrain). They have 6 permanent gaming tables (green felt) and 1-2 spare tables they can toss up for events. I’ve stopped by twice to shop around, once to check out their 1,200 point 40k tournament a few weeks ago (16 players). It is operated by kind-of arrogant, rude folks behind the counter (same impression in 3 visits). Example: During the 40k tournament I bought $100+ worth of mixed GW stuff. The guy behind the register was playing MtG on the teeny-tiny sales counter with a very large round guy (interpret as you will). They were both very put-out that I had an armload of stuff I wanted to interrupt their MtG game to pay for, this was during their 40k tournament! No Privateer Press models at all. 25 minutes from home.
GH: A HUGE game store with row upon row of board games for sale – with great variety. But even in such a large, very busy store they had from 0-3 GW boxes for each 40k or Fantasy army. They had a good selection of GW and P3 paints, but zero terrain and few accessories. They had a surprising amount of Privateer Press models scattered around the store. There seem to be 20-40 people there playing games every time I stop by. The store’s cash cow and focus is MtG, but they have a dedicated Warmachine crowd and good Press Ganger. 15 minutes from my house.
HGC: A scattered collection of everything; RPG, Comics, Cards, Miniatures. Low volume Citadel miniatures, very low volume Privateer Press with a huge selection of Woodland Scenics terrain material. 3 Game tables are scattered around the room. 20 minutes from home.
EZ: THE Mecca for everything gamer: A HUGE store packed-full of board games/comics/kid toys, etc. Next door – an even bigger store with 20+ gaming tables! They are a GW “Partner store” and call themselves a GW Battle Bunker. The walls are PACKED with every Citadel, Privateer Press, Malifaux, etc miniature you could ever want/order (new or old). I’ve never seen such a collection of custom terrain pieces – everything mounted on custom MDF boards with multi-level detailed scenics – simply amazing. They have another separate room with 12+ tables for MtG. Hidden in the back corner they have 5’ office walls around a large table for RPG. I was there on Friday night and the place was PACKED for a casual 25 point Warmachine single mission tournament: 18 Warmachine armies were on the tables, the other half of the room was completely filled with 40k players. The downside: 60 miles (90 minutes) North from home, 70+ miles from my office. On Friday they are only open until 10pm, Saturday 11am- 9pm and Closed Sundays.
BG: Very nice, engaged staff running the store. A good selection of Warhammer and Warhammer 40k miniatures and terrain on the shelves with a smaller selection of Warmachine miniatures. They have 6 dedicated wargaming tables and 6 more MtG tables. A good selection of ready-to-use wargaming terrain is on-hand. Nice folks running the storefront. As a bonus: 5 miles from my office.
Odd note: ALL of the game stores are closed on Sunday!!
Conclusion: After multiple visits I’ve settled on GH for Warmachine nights and BG for Warhammer and Warhammer 40k nights. From my travel it seems that Warmachine is played more than Warhammer or Warhammer 40k. The caliber of the Warmachine players in the area will definitely force me to step-up my game skills to be competitive. The gang at BG are low-key fun for Warhammer and Warhammer 40k – less competitive, more of a beer and pretzels game as it should be.