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A whole new game: New generation of board games draw fans to Tabletop Day

FARGO-Area board game fans were letting it roll Saturday at Paradox Comics-n-Cards as part of International Tabletop Day. The annual event celebrates and promotes the growing interest in games. Rich Early, owner of Paradox Comics-n-Cards, said hi...

Jason Schwengler, right, plays Sheriff of Nottingham, a German-style board game, with his sons Andrew, left, 8, and Jacob, 10, during a monthly table-top game day in the event center at Paradox Comics -N- Cards on Saturday, April 11, 2015, in Fargo. Michael Vosburg / Forum News Service
Jason Schwengler, right, plays Sheriff of Nottingham, a German-style board game, with his sons Andrew, left, 8, and Jacob, 10, during a monthly table-top game day in the event center at Paradox Comics -N- Cards on Saturday, April 11, 2015, in Fargo. Michael Vosburg / Forum News Service

FARGO-Area board game fans were letting it roll Saturday at Paradox Comics-n-Cards as part of International Tabletop Day.

The annual event celebrates and promotes the growing interest in games.

Rich Early, owner of Paradox Comics-n-Cards, said his business has seen a 700 percent rise in game sales over the past two years. What once supplemented sales of comic books and Magic cards now threatens to rival their popularity, making up 25 to 33 percent of all his business.

And he's not talking about your grandparents' board games like Monopoly or Clue. Early and his board game specialist, Dan Green, said the popular titles on Saturday were Pathfinder, Pandemic, Ticket to Ride and Resistance, games with strategy or fantasy basis.

Early says he noticed the boardgame boom a few years ago with the rise of Settlers of Catan, in which players have to develop communities by trading commodities.

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"These guys here would call it a gateway drug," Early said.

Indeed, the Washington Times called it, "the board game of our time."

International Tabletop Day started three years ago and has been championed by actor/gamer Wil Wheaton. Last year, the event was celebrated in 80 countries with more than 3,000 events.

For Paradox, yesterday was an extension of monthly gaming nights, usually the first Saturday of a month. Players bring their favorite games and either play with a close group of friends or try to recruit new participants.

Early said the monthly gaming night averages about 150 people. He expected Saturday's event to bring in about 200 people and that sales would double or triple that of the standard Saturday. About four hours into the event Early estimated 120 people had come through.

Jason Schwengler and his sons Andrew, 8, and Jacob, 10, were there and getting set to play a brand new game for them, Sheriff of Nottingham.

While the Schwenglers sometimes come for the monthly game nights, they play at least once a week at home, with more than 100 titles in their collection to choose from. The brothers like Dice Masters, a tie-in to Marvel comic books, and 7 Wonders.

"They have cool games," Jason said when asked what he liked about coming to the tabletop gaming events.

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He and his brother were also hoping to get one of the games being given away throughout the day.

"Swag is always good," said Lucretia Sauck, who had just won the game Just Desserts.

Sauck was set up in a back room with her husband, a cousin and two friends, playing Pathfinder, a game similar to Dungeons and Dragons. Sauck got her first taste of gaming 30 years ago playing Dungeons & Dragons with her brother and sister at age 3.

Now she and her husband are regulars at the Saturday night gatherings.

"I really like trying table-top games and trying different games. You meet a lot of cool people," she said, adding that she met her husband at a gaming convention.

Early says the tabletop events draw more women than any other to Paradox, estimating that 25 percent of the attendees Saturday were women.

A couple of doors away, Zach Klopfleisch was leading a group through a session of Pathfinder. It was the second of four sessions in the day, each with about six players.

"There's new people to meet. That's what I enjoy most about it," Klopfleisch said.

For 20 years John Lamb has covered art, entertainment and lifestyle stories in the area for The Forum.
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