Community goes to local shop for games

A group of gamers play EDH, Elder Dragon Highlander, at Goblin Games on May 1, 2016. (Emily Starkey | The Collegian)

Card games, board games and model figurines are some of the things that can be found at Goblin Games, a trading car and board game retail store that offers a space for game enthusiasts to come and play with fellow gamers.

Joseph Wyatt and Ann Higley, owners of Goblin Games, said they opened their doors in west Manhattan in January 2015 after a similar store came up for sale.

“It started off when one of the other stores was going out of business and they were trying to sell it, but was seized for tax evasion before they could,” Wyatt said. “That’s what kind of spurred us into doing it.”

When first walking into the store, player and customers are surrounded by a collection of board games for purchase or rent. Behind the counter is a collection of different card packs for beginners and experienced players.

“We offer ‘Magic,’ ‘Dungeons & Dragons,’ board games, other trading card games, other table top stuff like ‘Warhammer (40,000),’” Wyatt said. “We also have trading card accessories like sleeves and binders to protect your cards. There’s pre-built decks if you just want to jump in.”

According to Wyatt, “Magic the Gathering” is one of his most popular games, but the store isn’t limited to just the games he has in store. Gamers can bring their own games into the store and play at a table for free. If customers want to try a game before buying, Wyatt offers free game rental.

“This is just a really casual and cool hangout spot for guys who just want to get together and play games,” Michael Gilliam, 29, of Manhattan, said. “It’s a really good atmosphere. Everyone is friendly. Everyone is nice. If you have questions, everyone is here to answer.”

Besides the friendly setting these players experience, Goblin Games helps customers with understanding the games and helps players find and order additional materials for their ever-expanding games.

“There’s always someone up front who can answer questions,” Kyle Gilliam, 27, of Manhattan, said. “They are timely on getting things in.”

One of those available to help new or experienced players is Paul Hargrove, a clerk at the store.

“I pretty much play everything in here,” Hargrove said. “I can answer some questions about pretty much everything in here.”

For some players, the appeal of playing games in the store compared to at home is that there is always someone around willing to play.

“There usually is a spot open where you can get guys to play pickup games on whatever you want,” Kyle said. “That’s not really a luxury you can get at home.”

Wyatt said a big attraction for Goblin Games is their daily tournaments, with the prizes such as card packs for the players’ respective games.

“There’s about three things a night we run,” Wyatt said.

Wyatt said these tournaments will have large turnouts with players competing against one another and, at times, a chance to qualify for professional tournaments.

“We did a PPTQ (Preliminary Pro-Tour Qualifier) which is if you win that, you get to go to the regional pro-tour qualifier,” Wyatt said. “We have a judge show up, that we have to pay, which is vaguely a (Wizards of the Coast) employee, who is the parent company of Magic.”

Winners of these tournaments move on to the world championship tournaments, Wyatt said. These tournaments take place all over the world, such as this year’s “Magic: the Gathering” tournament, which took place in Barcelona, Spain.

“We had a local guy flown to France via that,” Wyatt said. “I know that they have had them in Honolulu in the past.”