Board games always in style at these local shops

In-person games, family games the specialties at BatCave Games and Dice Age Games

Games. Traditional games. At home. With family and friends. Those games. 

They never have really gone out of style.

Sure, there is a lot of talk about “gaming” now, on the computer, or via consoles. 

But at a couple of local game stores in Vancouver, it is all about personal interaction.

BatCave Games and Dice Age Games are there for traditional table-top games or card games. Photo by Paul Valencia
BatCave Games and Dice Age Games are there for traditional table-top games or card games. Photo by Paul Valencia

“This is gaming,” said Roy Starkweather, owner of Dice Age Games, looking around to the hundreds of titles in his shop. “It’s an excuse for people to get together, and hang out, and pretty much have fun being around each other without having to have electronic devices. We call it face-to-face games, not thumb games.”

Clearly, thumb games — on devices — are popular, too.

But board games, or table-top games, are hot, too. Especially this Christmas season as families are at home together more than in previous years.

“This is the year of the classics,” said Chris Heagy, manager of BatCave Games. “With distribution being upset the way it has, and COVID striking the way it has, there hasn’t been a whole lot of new stuff like you’d expect in a typical year.”

Chris Heagy grew up playing games, loves to share his passion for games, which makes managing BatCave Games a perfect opportunity for him. Photo by Paul Valencia
Chris Heagy grew up playing games, loves to share his passion for games, which makes managing BatCave Games a perfect opportunity for him. Photo by Paul Valencia

He has noticed classic games such as Catan, Ticket to Ride, and Splendor have been flying off the shelves. Or new takes on those games. Catan is celebrating its 25th anniversary, for example. Or there is a Marvel edition of Splendor. 

Each store has hundreds of titles. There are collectible card games or living card games. American classics or worker placement games from Europe. 

Some games take 10 or 15 minutes to play. Starkweather calls them beer and pretzel games, something to do to kill time while waiting for another friend to show up, for example. 

Then there are the games that last hours and hours.

“If you’re going to invest your time in a game, especially a long game, it better be worthwhile,” Starkweather said.

Roy Starkweather opened Dice Age Games in 2011. He said his customer base is awesome. Photo by Paul Valencia
Roy Starkweather opened Dice Age Games in 2011. He said his customer base is awesome. Photo by Paul Valencia

Those who work in game stores do not work there just for the paycheck. They have a passion for games, too. And they are there to help answer questions and point a customer in the right direction.

“I really enjoy turning people on to games that I enjoy,” Heagy said. “Any time I have someone come in and they’re looking for a new game recommendation, I can take them to one I absolutely love. I get so excited that they’re going to go home and learn to play this game and have the same amount of fun. I almost wish I could go with them and experience it all with them.”

A couple of his favorites:

Space Base. It’s a dice game, but when a player rolls, he is also rolling for the other players. So everyone is cheering together.

Then there is Dinosaur Island. Heagy has an interesting description.

“A board game Jurassic Park. You have a park. You’re researching DNA, buying recipes for dinosaurs, putting dinosaurs in your park, getting people to come visit your park, and hopefully you have enough security that they won’t get eaten.”

Starkweather said, in addition to the games listed by Heagy, that he is really impressed with Dice Forge. It is a fun one for the family, plus it is easy to understand. 

This year, due to the popularity of the Netflix limited series “The Queen’s Gambit,” a number of people are asking about chess boards. Starkweather said that is more of a specialty item. What kind of board? What material for the pieces? So many variables, so he does not carry chess boards.

Starkweather opened Dice Age Games in the spring of 2011. He has lived in Vancouver since 1989, and he always wanted to roll the dice and give it a shot.

Dice Age Games (https://www.diceagegames.com/) is located at 5107 E. Fourth Plain Blvd, No. 105.

“Figured we’d bring another hobby shop in and see how it goes,” he said. “Done pretty good. Our customer base is pretty awesome.”

BatCave Games (https://www.loc8nearme.com/washington/vancouver/batcave-games/5308162/) has been in Vancouver, at various locations, for 25 years. It has been at 13215 SE Mill Plain Blvd, #C9 for the past three years.

Heagy grew up playing Dungeons & Dragons, dabbled in Magic: The Gathering, and learned all the classic board games.

Now, he manages a game store. The perfect place for him.

Game shops throughout Southwest Washington are hoping to find you a winner in whatever you are looking for this holiday season. 

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About The Author

Paul Valencia joins ClarkCountyToday.com after more than two decades of newspaper experience. He became the face of high school sports coverage in Clark County during his 17 years at The Columbian. Before moving to Vancouver, Paul worked at Oregon daily newspapers in Pendleton, Roseburg, and Salem. A graduate of David Douglas High School in Portland, Paul enlisted in the U.S. Army, serving three years as a soldier/journalist. He and his wife Jenny recently celebrated their 20th anniversary. They have a son who has a passion for karate and Minecraft. Paul’s hobbies include: Watching the Raiders play football, reading about the Raiders playing football, and waiting to watch and read about the Raiders playing football.

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