We arrived in Alameda with a few days to rest up, and then it was time for the San Francisco leg of our tour. There are a ton of game stores in this area of northern California, and our schedule is packed! We started things off on Tuesday with a visit to Games of Berkeley, just off campus. Wednesday, we hit Game Kastle in Santa Clara, and Thursday had us across the bay at Gamescape North in San Rafael.
Games of Berkeley is something of an institution in the Berkeley area. They’ve been around since 1980 and sell just about anything that could be called fun. Kites, puzzles, toys, figures, stuffed animals, and games, games, games. We set up our games and ran members of the board game group through waves of Orcs and rampaging bears. Towards the end of the night, we were talking about gaming in general, and we found out that Donald X. Vaccarino (the designer of Dominion) is a regular in the store and frequently runs playtests there. In fact, he was there when we were! I jumped at the chance to meet him and made my way past some customers that were leaving to check out the downstairs gaming area. I didn’t see any playtesting happening downstairs, so I Googled Donald really quickly to see if I could get a photo to help me recognize him. It turned out he was one of the “customers” I had walked past minutes ago! Sadly, he had already left for the night, so I missed my chance to meet him. Maybe the next time we’re back in Berkeley we can try again.
Wednesday was our first chance to visit Game Kastle and meet with the owner, Jason. He’s a big fan of our games, and it was great to see the store in person. Jason had us set up right at the front, and in addition to board game night, we had several fans waiting for us when we walked in, so we jumped right into our demos. We had a great time fighting off monsters and got a really good 3-player game of Bloodsuckers going too. We signed several copies of our games and played games of Bears! and Bloodsuckers until the whole place shut down. Special thanks to our fans Mike, Michelle, and Sharon for helping make it such a fun night!
We’d been told by other gamers that Gamescape North was one of those “must visit” stores in the area, and boy, were they right! San Rafael is a cute little town, and Gamescape is a fantastic fit. The owner, Andre, runs a really great store with clean, well-organized shelves, nice lighting, and tons of games, puzzles, and accessories. His staff is pretty amazing as well. Everyone there is a dedicated gamer and passionate about the hobby. We took over a big chunk of the store and even borrowed a sweet poker table to use for our Bears! demos. The gaming group started coming in just before sunset, and the fun never stopped after that. The Wizard’s Tower showed its teeth and had monsters crashing into towers, leaving gamers bruised but hungry for more. We had a first for our tour when a game of Bloodsuckers came down to ties at all 3 locations! The hunters ended up breaking the tie by having 1 more character when the dust settled. It was pretty epic.
Later that night, we had one of our biggest turnouts for a Bears! tournament so far. Sixteen players wanted in, so we split them into two groups and began our dice-rolling frenzy. The final round had 5 players battling for victory, and in the end it came to 104 points versus 98. We played games and visited with the gamers until the store shut down. It was hard to say goodbye to everyone, but we’ll be back again!
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From San Francisco Stores – Part 1!, posted by Fireside Games on 7/27/2013 (Showing 24 of 27 items)
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