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Local hobby store says boardgaming alive and well

By Brandon White

Standing in the aisle of Scalliwag Toys, Richard Bellanger looks over a wide shelf stacked to the brim with plastic wrapped boxes. They’re all games, board games, but they’re all slightly different.

Richard hefts up a box, turning it to the front. Splashed across the front were big block letters spelling “Pandemic” and cartoon art of doctors and medical personal.

Pandemic is a game where you and up to three friends try to stop the outbreak of diseases around the world before the infection rate becomes too high. Bellanger said it’s notoriously difficult, but in a fun way.

Videogames are hugely popular right now, and have started to dominate the mainstream media with popular series like “Call of Duty” pulling in over $1 billion in revenue.

“Some may think that other forms of entertainment, like traditional board games and other hobby games, will wither away, but that’s not case,” said Bellanger

The popular series of games that Bellanger stocks are “Warhammer” and “Warhammer 40,000”, published by Games Workshop. The game concentrates on building an army of soldiers, heroes and war machines out of small plastic models. Using an extensive series of rules and randomized dice rolls, players then pitch armies against each other in full on warfare across a tabletop. It’s just one of the many games he points out as one he enjoys, and says it brings something video games can never truly replicate.

“A game like Warhammer will always be more social than anything you can do with a videogame,” Bellanger said.

“It’s more than just a game; it’s a hobby. Guys come in here and spend hours gluing together and painting models, and then fighting against each other. You can have the exact same models as someone else, but everyone personalizes their army their way,” Bellanger said. “It’s really quite fun.

“Besides, you can’t trash talk someone quite the same way through a microphone as you can across a table.”This Saturday marks the first ever “International Tabletop Day” which is being spearheaded by “Geek and Sundry”, an organization dedicated to “geek culture” and tabletop news led by Will Wheaton of Star Trek fame. Bellanger will be hosting an event as part of the larger global event on Saturday.

“We want people to come down and just play games. We’ll have demo games for different kinds of games going on and everybody is welcome to wander around and see what we’re playing and join in,” Bellanger said.

Bellanger doesn’t deny videogames will always end up being more popular in the long run, but he’s optimistic for the future of the industry.

“Board games and war games appeal to the kind of person that favors strategy, planning and long-term gain compared to someone who just wants to play video games for a few hours and that’s that,” Bellanger said.

“There’s nothing wrong with people who like videogames, I like videogames myself, but the kind of satisfaction that comes from executing a good strategy and seeing your opponents’ reaction is something you can’t get anywhere else than a table top.”

Tabletop Day will be running from 11 until 2 p.m. on Saturday, March 30th at Scalliwag Toys on 302 Front Street.