Monday, May 07, 2012

It's the Magic: Standard Tour of San Antonio: Gamelot

While the internet is full of ways to find game stores in your area, it does very little to tell you about the real character of those stores: their atmosphere, their product, their staff, or anything else a curious gamer might want to know. To help others out, I've started a week-by-week survey of the stores in my area, playing a Friday Night Magic at each one as a way of familiarizing myself with it.

This week I went to Gamelot, located at 7007 Bandera Road, on the corner where Bandera meets Huebner.

Gamelot says it's San Antonio's gaming megastore. That's very true. While I could quibble square footage with Heroes & Fantasies, one is a comics and collectibles store with an impressive gaming apparatus while the other is a massive store pulsating with games. Even packed with the traffic from the Friday night of a new set release for Magic, the play environment for the whole event was comfortable.

Of course, like all of the other places I've visited, Gamelot does more than just Magic. Magic was actually in a separate play area while a Yu-Gi-Oh tournament occupied the main floor, between the miniatures games and LAN center. All of those areas were buzzing with players. I'll confess to some ignorance of the LAN facilities, but I've seen League of Legends, World of Warcraft, DC Universe Online, and Star Wars: The Old Republic being played there.
On previous weekday visits, I'd found that the LAN center was the most popular area while the gaming tables were a "free play" area where players could have a casual game or tweak decks while conveniently close to boards with valuable rares or bins with common and uncommon cards from the latest sets.
The left side of the main floor has a series of terrain for minis available. That makes it likely that miniatures games like Warhammer, Warhammer 40k, and Battletech are something Gamelot sees a lot of, but like a bigfoot with its face stuck in a wheat thresher, I'll accept it exists on faith because I have no intrinsic desire to see it in person.

In front of that, on the left hand side as you enter are the games and merchandise you can purchase. Topped with a Warhammer (both types) display case of well-painted figures, it features another two rows of well-displayed Warhammer supplies, armies, and books. The other rows contains the requisite fundamentals of roleplaying books, hero clix (including the new Star Trek clix), and board games. They've got an entire wall section devoted to Zombies!, which certainly isn't anything to be ashamed of.

Perhaps the most notable thing about the store (beyond being the largest all-purpose gaming store in the area) is the series of classic consoles and games they've got ready to sell. I'm not kidding when I say classic. I've seen NES, SNES, Sega, PS2, and Dreamcast systems there. I've seen neon orange and grey light guns alongside original Sonic cartridges. If you, like me, still play PS2 games, you should definitely check it out.

If it's one thing I've learned in this tour, it's that there's always some overlap between the stores. The last row of Gamelot's merchandise aisles is wholly composed of a glass counter and spinner rack of eclectic collectors' items. There are the requisite 90's Star Trek action figures (amongst many, many others), but there are also trading cards for manga I've never heard of and beanie babies.

Like the other gaming stores I've been to, Gamelot has a centrally-located counter and register area. Like most others, it's a glass counter that displays the store's bread and butter, though as a dedicated CCG player, I might be biased. They've got play mats, deck boxes, card sleeves, and piles of fat packs, pre-constructed decks, and booster boxes for the latest Magic cards. They also have the requisite boxes of dice, dollar rares, and--perhaps my favorite feature of the store--$5 mystery boxes of Magic cards. Let me get a heap of cards from ancient sets for the price of a booster and the only mystery is why I ever buy new cards.

Overall, if you like gaming and wouldn't mind meeting a variety of new people or trying out new types of games, I recommend Gamelot.

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