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Subject: Are any stores worth going to anymore in the Houston area? rss

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Brian Cox
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Aside from my time in college in Austin, I've lived my entire life in the Houston area. I currently live in Sugar Land and work near Greenway Plaza. I do most of my pop culture and game shopping at Nan's and Bedrock City (and reluctantly Third Planet), but lately those haven't been doing the trick for me.

I'm getting out of comics and toys and into board games. I'm not looking for CCG's or Miniatures games. I'm really looking for board and card games, but it seems there aren't any stores with good prices, good atmospheres, or hard-to find games. I'm wondering if I need to branch out or if there's a shop I'm missing out on. Here's my assessments:

Nan's Games and Comics Too has a lot of really good stuff. They've been stocking their new games really well. Unfortunately, I can find it all cheaper online. And there are no "buried treasures" in the back. Unfortunately, these have been picked clean over the years.

Bedrock City Comics (Westheimer) Is not so much a gaming store. They have the current Magic sets and maybe some other things, but they're all comics and toys. (Great place for comics though) I've been to all the other locations, and they're all pretty much the same. Great for what I used to be in to, but not a game store.

Third Planet is a place that I "boo" anytime I drive by. These guys have been incredibly over-priced for over 20 years, and I've had multiple experiences of the owner and employees being jerks. And when your entire stock has dust that's at least 15 years old, you need to lower the price. Also, you need to clean up. They have a limited number of board games that's not even worth looking at. The've got a selection of CCG's, miniatures, and RPG's, but nothing to write home about. Especially not at high prices and poor customer service.

Asgard Games is relatively new, and seems pretty awesome, but it looks like it's almost exclusively CCG's and miniatures...which I'm not in to. They have a selection of board games in the back, but it's severely limited. The last two times I called over to see if they had what I was looking for, they didn't.

I've been to Third Coast Cards out in Katy, but it's almost exclusively CCG's. I had a great conversation with the owner on Christmas eve a few years back. If I were in to CCG's this place would be worth a weekly drive out to Katy. Unfortunately, almost no board games.

There's a Games Workshop store out here in Sugar Land, but it's only Games Workshop games which I don't play. No board games.

That being said, is there anything else? If I'm buying a new game, I'll probably buy online because the prices can't be beat. I'd love to find old board games, wargames, or RPG's at "vintage store" discounted prices, but I don't know of a store that has this selection. (Where are these "vintage game shops" people on BGG talk about?) I've just started getting into wargames, and last week I went in to Nan's and asked for ASL stuff and they had nothing. All their wargames are pretty much the new hotness.

Also, aside from the CCG and miniatures like Asgard Games and Third Coast Cards, I don't know of a store where you can sit down and game. I'd probably buy more games at full MSRP if I was able to play them at the store with a regular group. The best "gaming" I've been able to do in Houston has been at Comicpalooza with Steve Jackson Games the last two years.

Long story short, is there a game store in the Houston area that's worth going to, or am I better off just buying games online and playing them at home?
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fuzzydice82 wrote:

Nan's Games and Comics Too has a lot of really good stuff. They've been stocking their new games really well. Unfortunately, I can find it all cheaper online. And there are no "buried treasures" in the back. Unfortunately, these have been picked clean over the years.

I live nowhere near Texas so I can't help you there, but this part really drew my attention. It's not exactly a level playing field between online shops and brick and mortar stores so if you're looking for a gamestore that can sell you games cheaper than online, you're likely in for a long, fruitless search.

What a physical store can offer (hopefully) is friendly service, a sort of meeting grounds for gamers, and a possible place to play. Odds are they won't be undercutting your online shops in price anytime soon. If you're just interested in prices and have no real interest in frequenting a location, you should stick with shopping online.
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Brian Cox
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UnluckyNumber wrote:
fuzzydice82 wrote:

Nan's Games and Comics Too has a lot of really good stuff. They've been stocking their new games really well. Unfortunately, I can find it all cheaper online. And there are no "buried treasures" in the back. Unfortunately, these have been picked clean over the years.

I live nowhere near Texas so I can't help you there, but this part really drew my attention. It's not exactly a level playing field between online shops and brick and mortar stores so if you're looking for a gamestore that can sell you games cheaper than online, you're likely in for a long, fruitless search.

What a physical store can offer (hopefully) is friendly service, a sort of meeting grounds for gamers, and a possible place to play. Odds are they won't be undercutting your online shops in price anytime soon. If you're just interested in prices and have no real interest in frequenting a location, you should stick with shopping online.

You may have missed it in my long post, but I would pay full MSRP if they offered a place to play.

fuzzydice82 wrote:
I'd probably buy more games at full MSRP if I was able to play them at the store with a regular group.

Unfortunately this store, Nan's, stopped having any sort of gaming nights probably 10 - 15 years ago. I actually talked to some of the employees about this a few weeks back, and they said they had to stop hosting gaming nights because they didn't really drive sales, and they actually experienced a lot of theft.

To tell you the truth, I have a high interest in frequenting this location. I go to Nan's one to two times a week to kill time during my lunch break or stop off after work and then I'll buy a new Munchkin booster pack or a comic or even a small game/game expansion $20 or under. The service is friendly enough, but there is no chance you would call this a meeting ground for gamers as all customers keep to themselves, and as mentioned before, they don't offer open gaming or organized gaming.

I've purchased quite a few games from them over the years (and even more comics and toys) but as my gaming wishlist grows, and my paycheck doesn't, I'm noticing more and more that it's not worth it to me to pay this, my regular store full MSRP if there's no chance to meet other gamers there or play other gamers there.

I'm definitely looking for the atmosphere you're describing, but I'm asking if it exists at another store within driving distance.
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Kerry Harrison
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fuzzydice82 wrote:

To tell you the truth, I have a high interest in frequenting this location. I go to Nan's one to two times a week to kill time during my lunch break or stop off after work and then I'll buy a new Munchkin booster pack or a comic or even a small game/game expansion $20 or under. The service is friendly enough, but there is no chance you would call this a meeting ground for gamers as all customers keep to themselves, and as mentioned before, they don't offer open gaming or organized gaming.

Hey, Brian, you should stop by the West U Kroger's (Buffalo Speedway & Westpark) some Tuesday evening after work, we have a regular Tuesday board game meetup in the upstairs Patio area above the deli/bistro from 5pm to 10pm every week.
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Brian Cox
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sirkerry wrote:
Hey, Brian, you should stop by the West U Kroger's (Buffalo Speedway & Westpark) some Tuesday evening after work, we have a regular Tuesday board game meetup in the upstairs Patio area above the deli/bistro from 5pm to 10pm every week.

Thanks for the invite Kerry, that sounds like something I'd be interested in. What's the format for this game night?

Does everyone bring their own games and see if someone wants to play, or is there a regular game rotation?

What genres/types of games are usually played? (Euro, Strategy, Wargame, CCG, Miniatures, etc...I'm up for almost anything at least once.)

With a 5-hour time frame, is it a full 5 hours on one game, or can I stop by for two hours and head back home? (I doubt my wife will like me leaving her at home with the baby for an entire evening.)

How many people usually attend?

How easy is it for a newbie to the group to get acclimated?
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Kerry Harrison
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fuzzydice82 wrote:

Thanks for the invite Kerry, that sounds like something I'd be interested in. What's the format for this game night?

It's pretty much a casual open gaming environment, pretty much same thing I do with the Saturday meetup in Katy.

fuzzydice82 wrote:

Does everyone bring their own games and see if someone wants to play, or is there a regular game rotation?

Bring whatever you're interested in playing. There's no set rotation, I personally tend to bring lightweight games and fillers but on occasion will bring something heavier.

fuzzydice82 wrote:

What genres/types of games are usually played? (Euro, Strategy, Wargame, CCG, Miniatures, etc...I'm up for almost anything at least once.)

Pretty much anything but wargames, miniatures, and RPGs get played. Lots of Euros and ATs, card games (including causal games of Magic on occasions), dice games, etc.

fuzzydice82 wrote:

With a 5-hour time frame, is it a full 5 hours on one game, or can I stop by for two hours and head back home? (I doubt my wife will like me leaving her at home with the baby for an entire evening.)

Nah, it's several different games, usually there's at least 2 different games going on at once. Stay as long as you like, leave when you need to. Sometimes some the folks will game much later then 10, but I myself always try to get out of them by 10 as I live in Katy and have to go into work early the next morning.

fuzzydice82 wrote:

How many people usually attend?

It tends towards the smaller side, attendance varies between 6 and 15 attendees.

fuzzydice82 wrote:

How easy is it for a newbie to the group to get acclimated?

Shouldn't be a problem, I've always tried to make my gaming groups open to newbies.

You're welcome to come tomorrow night, I myself won't be able to attend this week - got tickets to the Dolly Parton concert that night and promised the wife a date night.
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Hey! The only other place I can think of that has some board games is Pop Culture company off I-10. It's a smaller place and they don't host gaming nights right now anyway. I talked to the owner and he's really cool he'd probably be up for it. A great place I just remembered is 8th Dimension Comics it's out 6 and West Rd. Might be a bit of a drive but they have modern games and an open gaming room. The customer service is great! One last place I remember (as I'm writing this I'm remembering these places) is Hero's Collectibles off Dairy Ashford and Whittington. Good selection of games and some miniatures. A lot of places sell toys and a lot of stores are overpriced, but it's all part of the "hobby" stores. Nan's is the best bet though for variety.
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roaranimation wrote:
Hey! The only other place I can think of that has some board games is Pop Culture company off I-10. It's a smaller place and they don't host gaming nights right now anyway. I talked to the owner and he's really cool he'd probably be up for it.

I-10 at what intersection?
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Brian Cox
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sirkerry wrote:
roaranimation wrote:
Hey! The only other place I can think of that has some board games is Pop Culture company off I-10. It's a smaller place and they don't host gaming nights right now anyway. I talked to the owner and he's really cool he'd probably be up for it.

I-10 at what intersection?

The Pop Culture Company
11319 Katy Freeway, Houston, TX

It's on I-10 between Kirkwood and Wilcrest just west of Beltway 8 (on the West side of Houston).

It's a very cool store, but again it's mostly comics, toys, and collectibles.

That 8th Dimension Comics sounds like it's what I'm looking for, with a gaming room and a good selection, but that's a bit of a drive to be my regular shop.
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fuzzydice82 wrote:

That 8th Dimension Comics sounds like it's what I'm looking for, with a gaming room and a good selection, but that's a bit of a drive to be my regular shop.

Heroes Collectables on Dairy Ashford south of Briar Forest might be of interest to you. Originally just a CCG and collectible toy store, it's expanded to RPGs and just recently added a nice selection of boardgames plus it's got lots of gaming space (usually occupied by CCG & RPG players).
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fuzzydice82 wrote:
The Pop Culture Company
11319 Katy Freeway, Houston, TX

It's on I-10 between Kirkwood and Wilcrest just west of Beltway 8 (on the West side of Houston).

It's a very cool store, but again it's mostly comics, toys, and collectibles.

That 8th Dimension Comics sounds like it's what I'm looking for, with a gaming room and a good selection, but that's a bit of a drive to be my regular shop.

Pop Culture is NOT a boardgamer's store. They have maybe a half dozen games, all of which are D&D themed or something else that they think their comic buyers will like. I'm not saying it's a bad place. It's just a waste of time for boardgamers.

8th Dimension is new, but they look to be on the right track. At least they provide gaming space, although it tends to close down earlier than I'd like.

You mentioned coming out to Katy and seeing 3rd Coast. Well, one freeway exit CLOSER to you is where we play board games every Saturday. Our guild here on BGG is at http://www.boardgamegeek.com/guild/536 and you find a link to the Facebook group too.
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Outside of that, and I bet you already know this, Barnes and Nobles has specialty board games too. Halfprice might have some, nothing special I don't think. They had a Beowulf board game for $3. Barnes and Nobles prices are high but comparable to hobby shops. I went to Nan's for the first time a few weeks ago and was really overwhelmed by the amount of stuff they had.
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My problem with Nan's is not that the prices are higher than you can get online, but that the prices are significantly higher than what you can get online. Most recent pricing was $80 for Dominant species vs $50 online. I was prepared to pay $60-65 but not a 60% markup.
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sirkerry wrote:
Hey, Brian, you should stop by the West U Kroger's (Buffalo Speedway & Westpark) some Tuesday evening after work, we have a regular Tuesday board game meetup in the upstairs Patio area above the deli/bistro from 5pm to 10pm every week.

I was able to hit up this game group not this past week, but the week before and had a good time. I could only stay for an hour and we played For Sale and Munchkin, and the people were good people. I'm going to have to try to stop by whenever I get a chance.
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mkmagius01 wrote:
My problem with Nan's is not that the prices are higher than you can get online, but that the prices are significantly higher than what you can get online. Most recent pricing was $80 for Dominant species vs $50 online. I was prepared to pay $60-65 but not a 60% markup.

I hear you on this. It's not with all the games, as most are marked at MSRP, but yeah, the high-end games seem to be priced higher than high.

But I went in again yesterday, and every week when I go in, I notice turnover in their games. So there's a lot of people paying full price on a regular basis.

In fact, I picked up a copy of the Mouse Guard Roleplaying Game while I was there (Hardback, not Boxed Set. It's gotta fit in with my graphic novels). I've been casually looking for this for a while and they finally had in stock yesterday, so they got my business...again. So once again to the second poster up above, I am still buying stuff there.

But still, I'm always looking for a better option.
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Montag Games in Pearland has some boardgames. It's a small shop, that seems to focus on miniatures and collectable card games. They only have a couple of shelves of boardgames but he can order just about anything. They get them in, in a timely fashion and I find that the pricing is competitive if not lower than most places around Houston.

Oh, and he has two large table areas for playing games as well as several long tables in the back.

Hope that helps.

Patrick
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Good tip, I'll have to check that one out too.
 
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The quick answer unfortunately is no. I try to support Nan's games whenever I can by buying a card game or some dice, and my wife and I frequent the Barnes and Noble on Holcombe near Buffalo Speedway to see if we can catch anything with a really good price, but usually not.

Basically, we buy mostly online with some friends whenever we can combine shipping with our retailer of choice and get the things we want.
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ricksta2232 wrote:
The quick answer unfortunately is no. I try to support Nan's games whenever I can by buying a card game or some dice, and my wife and I frequent the Barnes and Noble on Holcombe near Buffalo Speedway to see if we can catch anything with a really good price, but usually not.

Basically, we buy mostly online with some friends whenever we can combine shipping with our retailer of choice and get the things we want.

I guess that's what I knew the answer would be when I started this thread a month ago. But I did want to get some input from BGGers.

I'm with you though, I still go into Nan's at least once a week or so, but I'm really only browsing to look at and pick up the games. Then, I'll make a note on my phone and check prices online. Sure, I'll pick up a comic or a small item once or twice a month, but not $50 - $100 games when thy're significantly cheaper online.

I will say that over the past month as I've been furiously casually been looking for a solid place to buy and play games, I think I've actually been leaning toward getting in to Magic: The Gathering. I'm well aware of the opposing thoughts on this game (Heck, I used to be in total oppositon as MtG came out when I was in middle school, and I had never played until 2008), but I've been reading up on the game, I really like the themes, have been playing on PSN, and I think that if I just go in and do Booster Draft, I can have a good time and even the playing field a bit. So maybe I will be ending up over at Asgard Games or 3rd Coast Cards after all.
 
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fuzzydice82 wrote:

I will say that over the past month as I've been furiously casually been looking for a solid place to buy and play games, I think I've actually been leaning toward getting in to Magic: The Gathering. I'm well aware of the opposing thoughts on this game (Heck, I used to be in total oppositon as MtG came out when I was in middle school, and I had never played until 2008), but I've been reading up on the game, I really like the themes, have been playing on PSN, and I think that if I just go in and do Booster Draft, I can have a good time and even the playing field a bit. So maybe I will be ending up over at Asgard Games or 3rd Coast Cards after all.

Asgard's okay, but I wouldn't touch 3rd Coast with a 10 foot pole. If you're interested in playing MtG casually there's several meetups around town that do that (Tues & Sats in Katy, Weds & Suns in River Oaks, 2nd & 4th Fris in CyFair - all of them except for the Sat one in Katy are pure MtG meetups, the Sat one in Katy also has boardgaming and RPGs).
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I picked up a fairly new copy of Scotland Yard (none of the pieces had been punched out yet) at a Half Price Books (HPB) this weekend. I had a coupon, so the game was only $8. And this is not the first time I've gotten good deals at HPB. But you have to check each of the stores somewhat regularly, as stock rotates in and out. Unfortunately, the HPB up on Highway 6 and 529 closed - it's still open. I was in the wrong place.

*edit: Half Price Books hasn't moved.
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Good call, I've seen some decent games at HPB's too. Nothing consistent but they typically always have some games there.
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vacekrae wrote:
I picked up a fairly new copy of Scotland Yard (none of the pieces had been punched out yet) at a Half Price Books (HPB) this weekend. I had a coupon, so the game was only $8. And this is not the first time I've gotten good deals at HPB. But you have to check each of the stores somewhat regularly, as stock rotates in and out. Unfortunately, the HPB up on Highway 6 and 529 closed, but there are still several HPBs in town.

Yeah, I picked up a copy of D&D 4E Monster Manual, DM Guide, and Official D&D Dice when they were having a sale down at the Sugar Land HPB location. Unfortunately, the only board game I've seen come through there was the Beowolf Movie Board Game, and they constantly have about 3 or 4 copies still in the shrink.

I did however stop by Asgard Games last Tuesday to check out their Tuesday Magic: The Gathering draft. While I had to work too late to get in on it, it seemed like a solid friendly group. I got a chance to talk to some guys who gave me some good information for a newbie. Hopefully work dies down and I can get a chance to play one of these weeks.
 
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I went to Heroes in high school, and just checked it out a year ago. It seems like they are doing a much better job of stocking boardgames and RPGs, but they are still mostly a TCG and comic shop, so I don't know if they will always have space to play or deals.

I will say the 2 guys who worked there were really good to me as a kid, and got me into some good comics and games back then, so I have a soft spot for them. Their new location is easier to find now, which is much better than the dingy hole next to a laser-tag spot it used to be in.
 
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Well I don't know if this is too far from Houston for you, but there is a great place in Galveston called Board Game Island. It's a board game café, and they have over 500 board games to play for free as long as you want as long as you order anything from their menu. They also have a retail section as well. So if you're looking for board games you should check them out. There's a great friendly vibe, and everyone there is usually down to play whatever you're interested in.
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