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Last month, Thor Johnson opened the Emerald Game House, a space for tabletop gamers in the basement of the Kodiak Masonic Lodge. Complete with snacks and drinks for sale, Warhammer props and a table for rent, Johnson hopes this will be a new gathering point for Kodiak’s gaming scene.
“What’s our main goal here is to provide the space for people to come and play and have it…because it can take a lot of space to play some of these games and so all the world doesn’t have access to it,” Johnson said.
The Emerald Game House has a large number of tables for Warhammer 40k, which is a favorite among gaming house patrons, Magic the Gathering, a Pokémon-like card game, and the classic role-playing game Dungeons and dragons. Classic video game consoles hooked up to TVs line the walls, all available for a $5-$10 cover charge.
Many tabletop players at Kodiak are adult men and women well into their adult lives; often they are working parents, and many of them are serving or retired from the Coast Guard. Johnson, an Army veteran himself, says the presence of veterans in the tabletop gaming space is no coincidence.
“There are many cases where young soldiers, sailors and airmen; they’re involved in these communities – Magic the Gathering, or Warhammer and it helps – these are very therapeutic hobbies. Magic teaches like sequencing, problem solving and Warhammer also teaches probability, math, one level tactics,” Johnson said.
Describing Warhammer usually opens by likening it to chess and then giving up – the game attempts to simulate an infantry engagement of warriors 38,000 years in the future on a tabletop map, along with vehicle support and abilities who veer to the edge of magic.
This involves considerable setup time involving tape measures, the careful placement of dozens of plastic templates on an area the size of a large dining table, followed by several hours of dice rolling and consulting rules. .
Kolt Foreman recently won a local Warhammer tournament. He’s in the Coast Guard and says Warhammer is giving him a well-deserved break.
“It’s also a way to get out of the military just to relax and do something totally different. I’m here, like I said, I’m 40 and I play with miniature plastic models like I’m still a kid, I’m still a Toys R Us kid. I’m having a blast with it. It’s awesome,” Foreman said.
Those interested in finding space for their games of all types in Kodiak can find the Emerald Game House at 1117 Mill Bay Road. It is closed on Sunday and Monday.