If you want to compare reviews and prices, no game store can compete with the online purveyors. But sometimes there is no substitute for walking
into a room full of games — feeling the heft of a box, admiring the illustrations and chatting up the guy behind the counter about what he’s been playing lately.
Until 2012, many of our downtown walks detoured through the now-defunct Compleat Games and Hobbies. So I was quite delighted to see last fall that sole proprietor Mark Krabbenhoft — also a former Compleat Games employee — moved The Yellow King
to 405 N. Union Boulevard at the corner of Union and Platte in late 2014.
“I lost a job and a hangout when Compleat Games shut down,” says Krabbenhoft. “There are lots of neighborhoods around here that need a hub for a gaming community.”
He stocks a small and well-chosen section wall of hobby board games, as well as combat miniatures (HeroClix, WARMACHINE) and, of course, role-playing stuff. There’s also a small collection of board games behind the counter. Are those loaner copies, I ask? Nope, they’re Mark’s personal collection, which includes the fantastic Merchants & Marauders
, one of our group’s favorites.
On the Friday night that I visited, Krabbenhoft was presiding over a room full of folks playing Magic: The Gathering. On Wednesday and Thursday evenings, and Saturdays at noon, role-playing gamers descend to play the latest iterations of the indestructible Dungeons & Dragons franchise. Krabbenhoft hosts regular events for two of Fantasy Flight Games’ massively popular recent entries: X-Wing Miniatures and Android: Netrunner
too. (You can check out their Facebook page
to stay on top of their scheduled sessions and tournaments.)
Netrunner is a head-to-head card game where one player takes the role of a futuristic corporation and the other is a notorious hacker looking to pillage R&D (and more) for fun and profit. The feel is right out of Blade Runner and deeply thematic. Each side builds a deck of cards from available resources and begins the cat-and-mouse game of hacking runs and countermeasures. This game was Fantasy Flight’s answer to a common complaint about Magic: The Gathering. Players with bigger bankrolls could build better decks by buying up better cards. It could be quite an expensive hobby. Netrunner brings the same build-your-own-deck approach, but there are no rare, powerful cards to chase; everybody in the board gaming public has access to the same sets.
This is also one of Mark’s favorites: “No other game I’ve played makes me think like Netrunner does,” he noted. “Making choices about which cards you pull into the game is very cerebral.”
If the shuttering of Compleat Games left a hole in your landscape like it did mine, poke your head inside the Yellow King some day. You’ll be in the lair of a guy who long since erased the boundaries between work and play and has made ample room for others to indulge their obsessions.
Nate Warren is a Colorado Springs-based copywriter who offers both the veteran gamer and the uninitiated a local window into the burgeoning and wildly creative world of hobby and designer board games enjoyed by fanatics and connoisseurs — around the corner and and across the globe.