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Tuesday, April, 23

Game On! – A look at the booming board gaming culture in Denton

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Whether you prefer classics like Monopoly and Risk, enjoy trading card games like Magic: The Gathering, love role playing games like Dungeons & Dragons, or spend your hours learning the latest games available, you are a board gamer.

And you are certainly not alone here in Denton. Thanks to the Denton Board Gaming Facebook group and businesses like d20 Tavern and More Fun Comics & Games, board gaming has quickly become a favorite hobby of Dentonites of all ages.

Denton Board Gaming Facebook Group

The Denton Board Gaming Facebook group was founded in October 2012 by Kenneth “Kacey” Close III. It originally began as a private invite-only group for Close to find more people to play board games with.

Kenneth "Kacey" Close III
Kenneth “Kacey” Close III

About five years ago, Close decided to make the Facebook group public. Today, the group boasts 440 board game-loving members. Posts in the Facebook group range from members looking for others to play certain board games with, to members looking to buy or sell board games.

“When we started, it was literally just trying to find people to play with,” Close explains. “But as it’s grown, we just want to encompass everything that is board game-centric. “It really is supposed to be an open forum for anyone who’s in that community to be able to get the information that they want.”

Close says the Facebook group runs all ages, with 50% of its members in the late 20s to early 50s. “We have a decent number of people who are from UNT or TWU, that come to campus for the first time and they’re looking for stuff like (this),” he says. “And we do frequently see people who are in their 50s, 60s, 70s who come out regularly as well. There’s definitely a spread across all ages and all generations.”

Members of the group are able to create their own events for board gaming, Close says. And the Denton Board Gaming Facebook group has its own official meet-up event on the first and third Tuesdays of every month at d20 Tavern on Denton Square.

“As soon as they opened up, we basically just said all of our events are going to be at d20 Tavern from now on,” he adds. “And they’ve been completely welcoming — it’s just been the perfect place for us ever since.”

For anyone looking for others to board game with, Close encourages them to join the group and attend one of their events. And remember — you do not have to know how to play all the games to get involved.

“Anytime we see someone come in and they’re really curious about a game, or they’re even just cautiously optimistic about being able to get into a game, we’re going to sit down and we’ll encourage you to play,” he explains. “You don’t have to know how to play the games — you just have to be willing to sit down and learn. It’s always a constant learning experience. And all we’re trying to do is share our hobby with everyone else.”

d20 Tavern

Home of the Denton Board Gaming Facebook Group’s twice-monthly events, d20 Tavern opened on Denton Square on June 3rd. Mark Michnevitz, who co-owns the business with his wife, says d20 Tavern is a board gaming and craft beer bar.

Board gamers themselves, Michnevitz says he and his wife came up with the idea for the tavern during their own experiences with board gaming outside their home.

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d2o Tavern

“We used to play a game (at a game shop) called Magic: The Gathering — you would play and in between rounds, we would go next door to this neighborhood pub and have a bite to eat or some beer,” he recalls. “And then (we would) hustle back to the store, play some more, and then come back. We were goofing around and thinking man, this would be a really good business if you could just have both of these things in one place.”

Quickly the concept became a real business plan and a few years later, d20 Tavern is now open for business.

As a board gaming bar, the tavern features different sizes of tables for groups to board game on. Patrons are free to bring their own board games or can access the tavern’s library of 200-plus board games. The game library is accessible online, allowing people to look for games they want to play before even stepping foot into the tavern.

“It’s a sortable list, so you can find the types of games that you’re into and player counts and the duration of the game,” Michnevitz explains. “So if you know you’re just going to be around for like an hour or less, you can sort through our library.”

Regardless if people bring in their own games or borrow from the library, there is a $5 fee per person to come inside to play board games. That fee lowers to $2.50 for Happy Hour Gaming Monday through Thursday from 2-5pm. That playing fee, Michnevitz says, helps d20 Tavern maintain the library and purchase new games.

d20 Tavern

Board gamers are free to bring their own food into the tavern, and then wash it down by purchasing one of the 20 beers, ciders, mead, and non-alcoholic beverages they have on tap. The tavern’s site has an interactive tap menu so you can see what they are offering that day and how low their reserve currently is.

In addition to hosting the Denton Board Gaming Facebook group events, d20 Tavern also has its own calendar of options. For instance, the tavern recently hosted its first Solo Night for individual players or couples who are looking for others to board game with. “We have a night where they can just come and meet new people and play games that they normally probably wouldn’t get to play because they have higher player count,” Michnevitz adds.

And Michnevitz plans to add more events to their calendar in the future. “Our biggest thing is to try to grow the board gaming community and try to make it more accessible to people,” he explains. “It doesn’t matter if you want to learn a new game, play D&D, or find a new friend group and just hang out, we’re definitely there for you.

More Fun Comics & Games

And if you are interested in adding more board games to your collection, Denton’s More Fun Comics & Games is here to help.

The business runs three locations in Denton, with two focused on board gaming. According to Manager Joe Glover, More Fun Comics & Games at 1-3 West Hickory Street is a retail store focusing on board games and trading card games. They also offer comic books, graphic novels, action figures, and more.

Patrons can then take the board games they’ve purchased to play them with friends at the More Fun Game Center at 316 East Oak Street. “The big focus there is to have tablespace to play games,” Glover explains. “It’s been a regular place for many groups of people to just meet up and play with their friends in a centralized location. You don’t have to worry about cleaning your house to have your friends over.”

The Game Center also hosts a variety of weekly events. Upcoming events include various Magic: The Gathering games events, and Glover says there is a weekly Dungeons & Dragons night as well. “We’re working on trying to get miniature painting nights up and running, if there’s interest there, and things like that,” he adds.

Glover says there has been a definite increase in the amount of people shopping for board games and visiting the Game Center. One of those reasons has been a rise in popularity in the Dungeons & Dragons role playing game. “Shows like Stranger Things definitely have helped, especially with newcomers to the genre,” he explains. “But a few years ago they came up with a new edition for Dungeons and Dragons called the fifth edition. That has also really garnered interest in people coming in and playing or revisiting what the new rules mean.”

And Glover says board gaming provides a very accessible way for people to interact with each other. “It makes it very easy to socialize without necessarily having to have a direct conversation, which at times can be a little bit difficult,” he says. “It’s a really fun way to just get everyone sitting down, focusing on one thing together, and just interacting and having a good time together.”

For those looking for suggestions on new board games to try, Glover says popular games among store patrons right now include the board games Wingspan and The Thing, and the card game Red Flags: The Game of Terrible Dates. However, if you don’t know where to start, Glover and his staff are ready to help.

“All of our staff are really well trained on the different types of board games,” he says. “We really want to get you games you enjoy — that’s one of our core mantras. We really want you to have a fun experience because not only will you recommend board games and our store to other people, but you’ll also enjoy the experience you’re having a lot more.”

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