The Definitive Guide to Gaming Stores in Louisville: Heroes Comics & Gaming!

Definitive Guide to Gaming Stores

The Definitive Guide to Gaming Stores in Louisville: Heroes Comics & Gaming!

story by Andy B; map illustrations by Andy B; photographs by Andy B and Mike Pfaff

In the previous installment of this series, I told the sad tale of Parallel Worlds shutting their doors. The Gods of Game Stores, or the invisible hand of economics, saw that our gaming supply in Louisville no longer met demand and mere months after a game store closed, lo!, another store opens. Unto us they have bestowed Heroes Comics & Gaming!

Heroes Comics Gaming
A wide view of the main area of Heroes Comics & Gaming.
  • Address: 361 Baxter Ave
  • Website: www.heroescg.com
  • Facebook: www.facebook.com/heroeslouisville
  • History: Grand Opening on the day I visited – April 3, 2016
  • Gaming Area: 16 tables with room for more
  • Crowd: 28 customers late in the evening of the grand opening Saturday, including a few in costume; Several were playing games; Why is that kid wearing a box for a shirt? He had removed the head and arm pieces from his Minecraft costume in order to play a game
  • Parking: None in front of the store on Baxter, but around the block behind the store is a large parking lot for 30 cars, shared with the neighboring businesses, but those neighbors are closed on weekends and evenings, so Heroes has the whole parking lot to themselves
  • Nearest drink: Swankiest nearest drink of any game store so far: half a block to Ward 426, a chic restaurant with a full bar
Warhammer Demo
Michael Kessler, a volunteer with Privateer Press, explains the rules during a demo of Warhammer at the Grand Opening.

The grand opening was not my first visit to Heroes Comics & Gaming. I work nearby, so I came on my lunch hour to check it out on the first day of their soft opening on March 9. In fact, I was their very first customer. I think that should entitle me to special privileges or at least recognition of some kind, don’t you? At least it entitled me to free burgers, hot dogs, and cake for the grand opening. Apparently, everyone got those, but I still felt special.

Heroes is a big store. It’s spacious and brightly lit. The restroom is painted to look like a TARDIS. I didn’t need to piss, so I don’t know if flushing the toilet sends you on an adventure through space and time. I hung around for a while eating the free food while fellow nerd, James, taught me how to play “Boss Monster.” The store is a comfortable place to hang out. Demond Thompson, a customer checking out the store after his friend told him about the grand opening, agreed.

“I like it a lot,” Demond said. “Honestly, having the room to move is great. Other stores can be cramped. I have a little girl who is nerdy, so a big space like this where she can move around and feel safe is great.”

Even after the free Grand Opening food is gone, Heroes sells sodas and candy to make it easier to hang out longer.

Heroes Comics Gaming
Demond Thompson, a customer during the grand opening who is into comics and board games, peruses the comic assortment at Heroes.

Having visited every other game store in town, my overall assessment of Heroes is that it is a Jack-of-All-Trades, Master-of-None. Heroes sells roleplaying game books for Dungeons & Dragons, Pathfinder, and Star Wars: Edge of Empire, but not nearly as many roleplaying game books as The Louisville Game Shop. There is a wall of board games, but not as many as Something to Do. There is a good selection of roleplaying game dice, but not as good as Role of the Die. There is a counter full of cards for Magic: The Gathering and other collectible card games, but not as many as Through the Decades. There is a big gaming room, but not as big as Bluegrass Magic. Heroes has a really big collection of comics, with over 15,000 back issues on display. That is a lot but probably not as many as Comic Book World (though Heroes tells me there are “pallets more” comics in the back to be sorted). Heroes is competitive in each of these categories, just not the top dog in any one specific niche. In the category of friendly and helpful staff, though, Heroes can’t be beat.

A quick note: Heroes Comics & Gaming is a sponsor of Nerd Louisville. All of the other Game Store Guide entries were researched before Nerd Louisville began soliciting store sponsorships, so this is the first time I have written an entry describing a sponsor. I made an effort to be objective and assess Heroes the same as I would any other store, though I have tried to be generally positive about all the stores in the Guide.

The Definitive Guide to Gaming Stores in Louisville will be a multi-part series of Nerd Louisville articles until all the gaming stores in Louisville are included. If you’d like your store to be featured next, please contact us! Please send corrections to andy@nerdlouisville.org

The Definitive Guide to Gaming Stores in Louisville: The Finale!

The Definitive Guide to Gaming Stores in Louisville: The Finale!

by Andy B; photographs and map illustrations by Andy B.

The directors of Nerd Louisville conceived the idea of a “Guide to Louisville Gaming Shops.” The original intent was for this guide to be a single feature article.  As I set out to research the guide, I realized that this project is too big for a single article. There are at least a dozen gaming shops – maybe more. Instead, I will write multiple installments with a final summary at the end.

The purpose of this guide is to help nerds living in, or visiting, Louisville to find the shops that fit their interests – not just in terms of products, but also their preferred age group, playing style, and atmosphere. The intent is to promote all gaming shops in the city, not to rate them or criticize.

The information in this guide was researched in late 2015. This guide will not provide opening and closing times, since they sometimes change. We wouldn’t want you to plan your visit based on this guide if a store changes its hours. For store hours, check each store’s website or Facebook page (links provided).

As noted, this is Part Five of a multi-part series. Check out Parts 1-5 if you missed them.

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At long last, I can stick a fork in this game shop guide assignment. I have explored every game shop in Jefferson County, and a few that are in adjacent counties a short drive away. Until another game shop opens or you find one that I missed, I am declaring victory in this catalog of Louisville game shops. In this final chapter I visit Silver Creek Game Shop and update major changes for two shops I visited earlier: Role of the Die and Parallel Worlds.

Silver Creek Game Shop

I had no intention of visiting this shop because I considered it too far away to include in a list of Louisville Game Shops. Then Jesse Rasmussen, Nerd Louisville’s Hoosier Advocate, talked me into it. So after taking some lonely roads through the wilderness, I find myself in Sellersburg, Indiana. Is Sellersburg in Louisville? Really? I guess there is no point in arguing further as I am here already.

  • Address: 947 S Indiana Ave (Sellersburg, Ind.)
  • Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SilverCreekGameShop/
  • History: Owner Josh Caldwell opened Silver Creek Game Shop on December 1st, 2012 and they have remained in the same shopping center ever since
  • Gaming Area: 13 tables with 64 seats
  • Crowd: About a dozen gamers on a Saturday evening
  • Parking: Located in the Silver Creek Plaza Shopping Center, with lots of parking
  • Nearest drink: “It burned down” – that’s what Josh told me when I asked; The Silver Creek Lanes bowling alley, with a bar, was at the end of the same shopping center until it was destroyed by fire and now there isn’t another drinking place nearby

It was a dark Saturday evening and foggy as a werewolf movie when I arrived at Silver Creek Game Shop. That didn’t discourage a dozen or so stalwart gamers from showing up to play collectible card games. Owner, Josh Caldwell, was on hand and his young son, Ethan, was hanging out behind the counter with him. This highlighted one of the distinguishing features of Silver Creek Game Shop: it is very family friendly. Josh brings Ethan along to the shop often and wants everything in the shop to be appropriate for Ethan and other younger kids. Perhaps you are the mom of a young Magic player and perhaps you found this guide after fleeing another Southern Indiana game shop that was full of foul language and hard drinking. In that case, you should try Silver Creek Game Shop. You could have avoided family trauma if you had just checked Nerd Louisville first. Let that be a lesson to you, hypothetical mom.

Silver Creek is primarily a Magic: The Gathering store. They also host Warhammer games and have some terrain models on hand. There is a display of Games Workshop merchandise, and a full stand of Citadel miniature paints. Josh characterizes his core clientelle as competitive Magic players with a laid back attitude. Most of their tournaments are in the standard format.  The store sells cold sodas and for food there is Mazarella’s Pizza two doors down in the same shopping center.

Return to Role of the Die

As I foretold in my previous description of Role of the Die, the store has moved two miles down Bardstown Road. It is now just a couple of blocks north of the Watterson Expressway.

  • Address: 2902 Bardstown Road
  • Website: http://roleofthedie.net/
  • Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Role-of-the-Die-178709688808097/
  • History: Founded in 2008; purchased in 2014 by the new owner, Michael; moved to new location in December 2015
  • Gaming Area: One large permanent table, with room for two additional tables on demand; all three tables were in use when I ran a Call of Cthulhu game there on the Saturday after New Year’s
  • Crowd: Three full gaming groups on the Saturday after New Year’s; I was running a Call of Cthulhu game, another group was playing Dungeons & Dragons, and the group at the third table was playing a board game
  • Parking: Now, much easier than the previous location; the store is in a small shopping center with forty parking places shared with a few other small businesses and there are other parking lots in walking distance
  • Nearest drink: This shop is no longer surrounded by bars, but all is not lost: there is a bar in the El Nopal restaurant in the Gardiner Lane Shopping Center, just on the other side of the Krispy Kreme; when my buddy, John, and I stopped in for a drink after our Call of Cthulhu game, we ran into some other Role of the Die customers who beat us there

It only took Michael’s team one day to move his shop to the new location at the beginning of December. It is the same square footage as their old location but Michael is more pleased with the layout. To recap for those who don’t recall my earlier description in the third episode of this guide, Role of the Die sells both comics and games. The owner and his regular customers are devoted fans of 4th edition Dungeons and Dragons. If you are a 4E player, this is the shop for you.

The comics and merchandise are much the same as the old location, although there is a new display of Wiz Dice polyhedral gaming dice sets. The new venue doesn’t have the old store’s Star Trek captain’s chair but the front door still makes the sliding door sound effect. Michael has been a great host for our Saturday Call of Cthulhu games at the new site, so Role of the Die has my endorsement. Overall, the new location for Role of the Die is quieter and more suburban than the previous spot in the heart of the Bardstown Road nightlife strip. They no longer have to deal with drunken revelers wandering in, except perhaps for me I guess.

Parallel Worlds Between Worlds

 

In October, the owner of Parallel Worlds announced that they would be closing and moving to a new location. In December, he posted on Facebook that Parallel Worlds would remain closed indefinitely. Here is the unedited Facebook post:

An address of the status of PWG by Randall Lee Daniel, owner.

Parallel Worlds Gaming will not be reopening on any schedule that I can determine at this juncture. Although I have full intent to spend my life as a card shop owner and will in fact reopen in the future, be it under the banner of PWG or otherwise. I will however have a very much different shop, modeled more so the way I intended it from the start. I apologize for the delays of reopening and the delays of this address. My decision to further suspend the reopen merits two main causes.

Firstly, the shop was never what it should have been. I purchased a shop that was not as intended and while I have invested the last year of my life and a large amount of money fighting an uphill battle to fix this fact, I have made limited head way. I have determined that I would prefer to fix the underlying issues before reentering the situation. By operating without a physical location I have lowered my overhead dramatically and will be able to hold better profit margins allowing me to settle due accounts in a more timely manner. The second and main reason being personal and not warranting public explanation.

In regards to accounts due, debts owed or other financial concerns voiced by customers, I will work as swiftly as I can to raise capital to repay any in-store credit or otherwise owed debts. Message me personally on here to address these issues, link below.

For any party requesting additional information I will provide it upon personal request at my leisure, as I am busy resolving my issues surrounding this change in both my personal and professional life. I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, may your Holidays be marry and all of that other jazz.

https://www.facebook.com/randall.daniel.10

I contacted Randall and asked him if he wanted to add anything for this Game Store Guide. We met to talk over drinks at Kaiju in Germantown on New Year’s Day. Randall explained that he wasn’t happy with the location of Parallel Worlds, which he inherited. He said he made a deal with the owners of the shopping center, who wanted his location in order to expand the store next door. He said he still has a huge inventory of Magic cards that he is selling online through TCGPlayer and Ebay. As Randall explains it, he still has roughly the same amount of sales, but without the overhead of the physical store, although he really misses the social aspect of running a game shop. His said his house is filled with display cases and other inventory from the store.

“My heating bill for this winter should be pretty low, thanks to the insulation I’ve got from boxes and boxes of Magic cards stacked against all the walls of my house” he joked.

Randall asked me to emphasize that anyone who had store credit from Parallel Worlds should contact him through Facebook. Randall said he is considering plans for a new shop or other gaming enterprise. We discussed his plans for a new style of LARP (Live Action Role Playing) and other gaming ideas he is pondering. He told me some crazy stories about running a LARP group in Shepherdsville when he was a teenager. It’s always interesting to talk about gaming with Randall and I’m curious to find out what he tries next.

This concludes our tour of the gaming stores in Louisville until I hear about any new shops in town. I’ve learned quite a bit from researching these shops – mostly that Louisville is pretty damned nerdy. I hope that you have found the guide worthwhile.

Game on, nerds!

The Definitive Guide to Gaming Stores in Louisville will be a multi-part series of Nerd Louisville articles until all the gaming stores in Louisville are included. If you’d like your store to be featured next, please contact us! Please send corrections to andy@nerdlouisville.org

The Definitive Guide to Gaming Stores in Louisville: Part 5

The Definitive Guide to Gaming Stores in Louisville: Part Five

by Andy B; photographs and map illustrations by Andy B.

The directors of Nerd Louisville conceived the idea of a “Guide to Louisville Gaming Shops.” The original intent was for this guide to be a single feature article.  As I set out to research the guide, I realized that this project is too big for a single article. There are at least a dozen gaming shops – maybe more. Instead, I will write multiple installments with a final summary at the end.

The purpose of this guide is to help nerds living in, or visiting, Louisville to find the shops that fit their interests – not just in terms of products, but also their preferred age group, playing style, and atmosphere. The intent is to promote all gaming shops in the city, not to rate them or criticize.

The information in this guide was researched in late 2015. This guide will not provide opening and closing times, since they sometimes change. We wouldn’t want you to plan your visit based on this guide if a store changes its hours. For store hours, check each store’s website or Facebook page (links provided).

As noted, this is Part Five of a multi-part series. Check out Parts 1-4 if you missed them.

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With the help of Amber, our new University of Louisville intern, I hoped today’s trip would finish this damned game store guide, but nooooo, apparently this nightmare will never end. We got to visit some awesome shops though.

Book & Music Exchange, New Cut

“Oh my God, this place is so awesome. I’m going to have to come back here with my boyfriend,” said Amber when we entered the Book & Music Exchange on New Cut Road.

I felt the same way, except I don’t have a boyfriend.

  • Address: 5534 New Cut Road
  • Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BMEnewcut
  • History: “Years, man, at least,” according to the staff; 15 years maybe?
  • Gaming Area: 2 tables
  • Crowd: Several customers, but no gamers on a Sunday afternoon
  • Parking: Located in the Auburndale Village Shopping Center, with a huge parking lot
  • Nearest drink: : Spectator Sports Bar & Grill, two doors down in the same shopping center

This was my first visit to the New Cut branch of the Book & Music Exchange (BME) franchise and I was impressed. It is clearly the largest BME in town. A rack of samurai swords for sale is prominently displayed near the entrance and there are more samurai swords at the checkout counters. You don’t see any samurai swords at the other BMEs in town. I suspect that live blades might not mix with the drunken customers that browse the Bardstown Road BME between bars. In the Preston BME, a LARPer might mistake one for a foam sword and accidentally decapitate someone. The swords are representative of the quirky blend of nerd culture items for sale in the Newcut BME: comics, board games, video games, books, movies, toys, posters, and more.

The New Cut BME is a Mecca for cheap, used console games, books, movies, and music. They have more than 10,000 console games, including games for older systems. They sell a lot of retro game consoles, like the Retron 5, which can play Sega, NES, Game Boy, and other vintage games. The store has more than 40,000 used movies, including 2,000 Blue-rays.  They get about 50 new comic book titles in each week and have more than 8,000 back issue comics.

The staff is friendly and enthusiastic. While I was browsing, they helped a dad learn how to play the Pokemon card game with his kindergarten-age son. There were three clerks on duty. We mostly spoke to Robin, the “Magic Overseer” (i.e. the guy in charge of Magic:The Gathering at the store, although the title could have more mysterious connotations). Robin has only been in the job for a few months and would love to have some gamers play on the tables in the store, which have barely been used for the last few years. The New Cut BME has a lot of potential as a game shop. It is available for gamers seeking a hospitable venue.

The Zone Comic Shop

I overlooked The Zone when I covered the Saint Matthews area in the first installment of the game store guide. I used to browse in The Zone at its previous location, when I had to escape the racket from my kids’ birthday parties at Lazer Blaze, next door. I knew it as a comic book and manga store, but I didn’t realize it hosted games. Then, I heard from multiple sources that The Zone hosts a group that plays Heroclix on Wednesday nights, so I added it to the tour.

  • Address: 291 N Hubbards Ln Ste 125
  • Website: http://zonecomicshop.com/
  • Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/The-Zone-Comic-Shop-83374226972
  • History: Eight years in the current location on Hubbard’s Lane since purchased by current owner, Daniel Thompson, who moved it from the previous site by Lazer Blaze on Shelbyville Road; apparently, it had two earlier locations since it was established in 1993; The Zone’s website provides a detailed history
  • Gaming Area: A back room with several tables, currently only used for Heroclix on Wednesday night but available for others who might propose to sponsor gaming groups
  • Crowd: Just Amber and me chatting with Erica, an employee
  • Parking: In a large but very crowded parking lot; I guess it was discount day for senior citizens at Kroger because I had to park halfway across the lot; the traffic leaving the shopping center was like trying to get home from Thunder Over Louisville
  • Nearest drink: Forget it, no bars within a mile; the closest would be downtown Saint Matthews

The Zone is mostly a comic book shop rather than a game shop. They get 30-50 titles per week and have a huge, well-organized collection of back issues – 70 bins the size of large comic boxes, so well over 10,000 comics – in a clean, bright, and spacious showroom. The Zone sells Dice Masters and a few board games but only qualifies for inclusion in this guide because they host a Heroclix group that meets on Wednesday nights. If someone were looking for a venue to host a small group on another night of the week, this might be a good option.

Hockeyman’s

It was time to cross the river into Hoosierland. Hockeyman’s is only a couple of blocks from the Big Four Bridge, so it is probably the closest gaming store to downtown Louisville, even though it is on the wrong side of the river.

Why is it called Hockeyman’s? “Because I like Hockey,” Ken said.

  • Address: 125 E Maple St
  • Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Hockeymans-Collectibles-148358658570777
  • History: Established by owner, Ken Stout, in 1996; although, he sold collectibles at another nearby location since the 1980s before opening Hockeyman’s
  • Gaming Area: A game room with its own street entrance with three tables
  • Crowd: 13 people playing in a Magic: The Gathering tournament, with a mom sitting in a comfortable chair, minding the toddler little sister of one of the players; Hockeyman’s appears to be very kid-friendly
  • Parking: In downtown Jeffersonville; you can parallel park on the street out front if a spot is open or there are a few small parking lots nearby
  • Nearest drink: The Red Yeti, a couple of blocks away

Hockeyman’s occupies multiple adjacent storefronts in the same building, with separate entrances. The far, left-hand entrance led us into the retail store, where Ken was organizing inventory. This small area is packed with collectible cards and items. Ken started as a sports card trader, then branched into Magic: the Gathering, Pokemon, Yu-gi-oh, and other trading card games when they appeared. The shop still prominently features sports cards, more than 5,000 boxes of them, and other collectible items. The shop sells candy, chips, and sodas as well. The game room is a few doors down the street. The store’s business cards say “24/7 game room” but you must request in advance to use the game room outside of regular hours.

Empire Comics

Finally, at the end of our fifth episode, we have reached one of the oldest and biggest gaming shops in the Louisville area. Why did it take me so long? Probably, my anti-Hoosier bigotry. I really don’t like Indiana. I don’t like any states outside of our Commonwealth, except for those that sell Yuengling. So you can imagine how guilty I felt when the owner of Empire Comics revealed that he smuggles Yuengling from Ohio and stockpiles it for his customers. I learned an important lesson about prejudice.

  • Address: 1636 Slate Run Rd
  • Website: http://www.cardhaus.com/retail_store
  • Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/EmpireComics
  • History: Established by George Melton 23 years ago; moved down Slate Run Road to the current location in October 1996
  • Gaming Area: A total of 9 tables: a small gaming area in the front room with two tables, another connected gaming room with two more tables, and an upstairs area for larger events with five tables
  • Crowd: Five gamers playing Magic on a Sunday afternoon
  • Parking: 11 parking spaces shared with Mac’s Hideaway, but adjacent to an apartment complex and a small strip mall with more parking
  • Nearest drink: The winner! Next door to a dive bar, Mac’s Hideway, and George doesn’t mind if you bring drinks into the shop; in fact, George was drinking when we talked to him: “This is a drinking man’s establishment,” he declared.

I was asking the clerk at the counter some questions when George appeared. George Melton, the owner of Empire Comics, is an imposing middle-aged guy with a gruff voice, waving a big drink cup with a straw. He was suspicious.

“Why are you talking to him instead of to the owner? Why didn’t you make an appointment? We’re busy,” said George.

Within minutes, this hostility evaporated.  Maybe Intern Amber charmed him, so I’m glad I brought her to save myself from getting my ass kicked. Or, maybe it’s because his cup was filled with booze, as he soon revealed. At any rate, George became super-friendly and funny, chatting with us for most of an hour.

“This is not really a store for kids” said George, demonstrating his alarm system.

If any young children enter the store, the employee at the checkout counter will trigger a siren and a flashing red light to signal throughout the store for customers to cease their obscene language. A second alarm signals the all-clear, prompting several customers during the demonstration to obligingly shout out F-bombs.

“This is a store for men, but women who can handle it are welcome,” said George. “Our bathroom looks like the set of Saw.”

George’s tour of the store was entertaining but the most significant aspect of Empire Comics is behind the scenes: Cardhaus. Cardhaus is an internet game store, the third-largest game retailer in North America. Empire is the physical storefront for Cardhaus, but the games on the store shelves are less than 2% of the inventory for the combined operation. Until six years ago, Empire was primarily a comic shop that sold a few games and toys on the side and George was worried about how the digitization of print media might make comic shops obsolete in the same way that Amazon.com killed brick-and-mortar book stores. He branched into board games just as the latest board game craze was booming. He put more emphasis on collectible card games, such as Magic: The Gathering, when Wizards of the Coast changed their rules to make it easier to sponsor more local tournaments. Empire hosts smaller Magic events than some other stores, but has more sales. It is the only store with Wizards’ “Advanced Plus” rating in the metro area.  In 2012, he purchased Cardhaus and now his online game business dwarfs the physical comic shop storefront.

The physical storefront hosts tournaments for Magic and other card games, board game events, and Dungeons & Dragons: Adventurer’s League. The front room is packed with new comic book displays, back issue boxes, board games, Funko Pop figures, and other collectibles. Empire sells candy, chips, and sodas, and customers are welcome to bring alcohol from the bar next door or from home. George says he trusts his customers not to spill anything on the comics or misbehave, and has never had any problems.

“I’m my own bouncer. I will smash your face if you break the rules,” George said.

I believe him and apparently so do the customers. None of the customers looked frightened but maybe that’s because they are well-behaved; aside from the bad language, ruining the restroom, and hard drinking, but those are all encouraged. Honestly, I would probably become a regular customer of Empire Comics if I lived within staggering distance.

The End?

I thought that Empire Comics might be our grand finale but some friends have insisted that I should include Silver Creek Game Shop. Silver Creek Game Shop is even further outside of Louisville and they aren’t open on Sunday, the easiest day for me to visit shops. However, I’ve been shamed into adding it to the list when we did our podcast by Jessie Rasmussin, ever the loyal Hoosier, egged on by Mike, who just likes for me to suffer. Besides, I reasoned, I should visit the new locations for Role of the Die and Parallel Worlds, both of which have moved to new sites since I described them. So it looks like we’ll have another installment after all.

Happy Holidays, Internet!

The Definitive Guide to Gaming Stores in Louisville will be a multi-part series of Nerd Louisville articles until all the gaming stores in Louisville are included. If you’d like your store to be featured next, please contact us! Please send corrections to andy@nerdlouisville.org

The Definitive Guide to Gaming Stores in Louisville: Part 4

The Definitive Guide to Gaming Stores in Louisville: Part Four

by Andy B; photographs and map illustrations by Andy B.

The directors of Nerd Louisville conceived the idea of a “Guide to Louisville Gaming Shops.” The original intent was for this guide to be a single feature article.  As I set out to research the guide, I realized that this project is too big for a single article. There are at least a dozen gaming shops – maybe more. Instead, I will write multiple installments with a final summary at the end.

The purpose of this guide is to help nerds living in, or visiting, Louisville to find the shops that fit their interests – not just in terms of products, but also their preferred age group, playing style, and atmosphere. The intent is to promote all gaming shops in the city, not to rate them or criticize.

The information in this guide was researched in late 2015. This guide will not provide opening and closing times, since they sometimes change. We wouldn’t want you to plan your visit based on this guide if a store changes its hours. For store hours, check each store’s website or Facebook page (links provided).

As noted, this is Part Four of a multi-part series. Check out Parts 1-3 if you missed them.

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I was feeling hyperactive today after attending the Breeder’s Cup race, so I set a new personal record by visiting five gaming shops in one trip. I completed a tour of the gaming shops in the Southeast area of Louisville, which includes some of the oldest gaming shops in town, as well as some of the biggest new shops. Join me on my manic journey!

Book & Music Exchange, Preston

I began today’s journey with one of the first gaming stores I ever visited in this fine town of ours, which makes it somewhat historic because I’m old.

  • Address: 5400 Preston Hwy
  • Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Book-Music-Exchange-Preston-327683054046653/
  • History: Established in 1988 and moved to current spot in January 1993; longtime lead nerd, Donnie, joined the staff shortly thereafter
  • Gaming Area: Two folding tables, with room to add two spare tables for larger events
  • Crowd: Six gamers playing Heroclix like maniacs
  • Parking: Located in a shopping center, with a huge adjacent parking lot for the vacant former Ace Hardware store
  • Nearest drink: : The nearest watering holes to this gaming shop are both titty bars: Godfathers, half a mile north on Preston, and Trixie’s, half a mile south

The Book & Music Exchange on Preston Highway has been a gaming stronghold for a generation and longtime employee, Donnie Rhye, has presided over its nerddom since the beginning of the Clinton Administration. Most employees duck out of the way when I prepare to take pictures of their stores, but Donnie grabbed a Thor hammer to pose. I’m not sure if the building would collapse if Donnie left but it’s probably not worth the risk.

book-and-music-exchange-preston-nerd-louisville-definitive-guide-to-gaming-stores-in-louisville
Donnie Rhye poses at Book & Music Exchange Preston with Mjolnir, Thor’s hammer.

Book & Music Exchange is of course primarily a used book, music, and video game shop. The Preston branch probably has the most extensive collection of used roleplaying games in town – nine shelves of them – and four shelves of new RPGs.  In the video game section, they carry a lot of vintage Sega Genesis, Nintendo, and Xbox games. Around 50-76 new comic book titles arrive per week and it has more than 10,000 comic back issues, including a discount collection for $1 or less.  They sell sets of comic books (i.e. “homemade trade paperbacks”), each consisting of a single storyline that encompasses multiple titles. How nerdy is that?

On Monday evenings, a group gathers to play RPGs – Pathfinder and Dungeons & Dragons (Fifth Edition) – on alternating weeks. Tuesdays at 6PM is D&D: Adventurers’ League, currently running “Out of the Abyss.” Adventurer’s League has been running at the Preston Book & Music Exchange since the Fifth Edition of D&D was released. Boardgame demos are Wednesdays from 6-8PM. Sundays from 2-4PM is Heroclix.  Events are updated on the shop’s Facebook page.

Comic Book World

My next stop was another foundation stone of the Louisville gaming scene, Ye Old Comic Book World.

  • Address: 6905 Shepherdsville Rd
  • Website: http://comicbookworld.com/
  • Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/cbwlouisville/
  • History: A small chain that also has a location in Northern Kentucky serving the Cincinnati area since November 1981; The Shepherdsville Road shop opened in 1991
  • Gaming Area: 4 tables, with six more that can be added for special events (currently set up against the walls holding the $1 comic books)
  • Crowd: Empty on the Sunday afternoon after Halloween
  • Parking: In a small suburban shopping center with about 40 parking spaces out front and another 30 around the side
  • Nearest drink: Next door to the “Cast Away Lounge” dive bar in the same shopping center

Comic Book World is another one of those stores that has been around so long that the staff isn’t even sure when it opened. It has been in this location since at least 1993, the first time I visited. Longtime employee, Bill, said it has been more than 25 years. Later that day, the store’s Facebook feed announced that it was the 34th anniversary.

There were no customers when I visited on a Sunday afternoon, but the store normally hosts a Heroclix group on Sunday, Yu-gi-oh players on Tuesdays, Dragonball Z on Wednesdays, and Magic: The Gathering on Fridays. A Star Trek mini wargame group meets at the store once a month.

Bill has a dry sense of humor. When I asked what makes the shop distinctive he replied, “Well, I’m here.”

On further reflection, he pointed out that they have a very clean bathroom – among gaming shops, I’m afraid that probably is distinctive. As a gaming store, Comic Book World has a distinctively large collection of indie roleplaying games, such as FATE, Savage Worlds, and Doctor Who, among others. They have a large selection of painting supplies for miniatures. Of course, their primary business is comic books. They receive more than 100 titles per week and have more than 30,000 back issues and 2,000 trade paperbacks.

BluegrassMagic

The next batch of stores I visited on this trip to the southeast part of town are some of the newest and biggest gaming locations in Louisville.  BluegrassMagic is less than a mile down Shepherdsville Road from Comic Book World.

My God, it’s huge.

  • Address: 5629 Outer Loop
  • Website: www.bluegrassmagic.com
  • Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BluegrassMagic/
  • History: Prior to opening BluegrassMagic in 2010, Brennan Moody was an event coordinator for Wizards of the Coast; he started running Magic tournaments at the Preston Book & Music Exchange in 1999, and has run open Magic tournaments at the Louisville fairgrounds
  • Gaming Area: 24 tables in a clean, carpeted 5,000 square foot gaming room; chairs for 144 people
  • Crowd: 24 gamers when I visited, although by all accounts the place is packed during scheduled events
  • Parking: In a large shopping center with a big parking lot
  • Nearest drink: Senor Iguana’s in the same shopping center has a bar

The first distinctive feature of BluegrassMagic must be the tray of nachos sprinkled with ghost chili peppers sitting on the counter by the front door. My theory is that after unsuspecting visitors try these and pass out from how spicy they are Brennan must revive them, so they become loyal customers in thanks for him saving their lives. The centerpiece of the shop is a foosball table, free to play. The shop also has a free vintage console video game and offers an extensive library of free board games. A lounge area of comfy sofas surround a TV showing the Magic pro tour on Chromecast. Besides free ghost pepper nachos, the store sells soda and candy for hungry gamers.

Obviously, Magic: The Gathering is the core business of the shop, in addition to Yu-gi-oh and other collectible card games. Board games are also featured, and have been growing in popularity. BluegrassMagic hosts the Louisville Card Board Gamers group.

The most significant feature of Bluegrass Magic is its sheer size. The place seems as big as an airplane hangar. With 24 tables, it has more seats than any other store I’ve visited, and there is room for additional tables if needed. It is also worth noting that the shop is spotlessly clean and comfortable, with a carpeted floor and padded chairs.

Through the Decades

Aaaaagh, this store is busy! This shop was so loud and packed that it put me into sensory overload. Through the Decades was filled with people gaming, standing in line at the counters, kids Kung-fu fighting, and generally a hubbub of activity.

The name “Through the Decades” does not appear on the storefront. Instead, it says “Sports Cards and Games” in large red letters. I’m sure some of the other stores might seem this busy if I visited during a major gaming event, although the furor I found at Through the Decades was apparently just a typical Sunday afternoon. I ran into our buddy Nick, musician (Exacta Cube – intro music for the Nerd Louisville podcast) and DJ (Alien Jingles on ArtxFM). Nick was playing Magic, wearing shorts and flip flops, which is nuts because it’s November. Nick introduced me to the owner, Alex. This was fortunate since there were multiple employees all handling lines of customers.

Gigasturtz plays some Magic: The Gathering at Through the Decades.

“Magic Modern: Your pairings are up!” shouted Alex before patiently answering my questions. “We are 99% cards.”

Although, a corner of the shop features a good selection of boardgames and wargames. I also noticed the largest selection of Chessex RPG dice that I’ve found in any store in Louisville, despite the fact that they don’t sell RPGs.  Alex’s background is in collectible baseball cards and Through the Decades has a counter devoted to baseball cards and other sports cards. Another counter sells candy and sodas. Nevertheless, these other product lines are dwarfed by the trade in Magic, Yu-gi-oh, and other collectible card games. Through the Decades sponsors a large team of pro Magic players that travel the country competing in tournaments. The store is open seven days a week.

Games Workshop, Stony Brook East

It’s no challenge to determine this store’s niche: It is owned by the Games Workshop Corporation and exclusively sells and promotes their products.

According to Josh, the sole employee, the Stony Brook East branch in Louisville is the busiest Games Workshop store in North America. This provides yet more evidence of the nerdiness of Louisville. Games Workshop is a British company that produces wargames for painted miniatures: Warhammer, Warhammer 40k, and the Hobbit Battle Strategy game. They are also the publishers of White Dwarf magazine.  The Games Worshop store sells the company’s games and accessories such as miniatures, scenery, and painting supplies. Josh is happy to teach new players about the games and give tips on painting. It’s not a big store, but it features large tables well-suited for miniature wargaming.

The Definitive Guide to Gaming Stores in Louisville will be a multi-part series of Nerd Louisville articles until all the gaming stores in Louisville are included. If you’d like your store to be featured next, please contact us! Please send corrections to andy@nerdlouisville.org

The Definitive Guide to Gaming Stores in Louisville: Part 3

The Definitive Guide to Gaming Stores in Louisville: Part Three

by Andy B; photographs and map illustrations by Andy B.

The directors of Nerd Louisville conceived the idea of a “Guide to Louisville Gaming Shops.” The original intent was for this guide to be a single feature article.  As I set out to research the guide, I realized that this project is too big for a single article. There are at least a dozen gaming shops – maybe more. Instead, I will write multiple installments with a final summary at the end.

The purpose of this guide is to help nerds living in, or visiting, Louisville to find the shops that fit their interests – not just in terms of products, but also their preferred age group, playing style, and atmosphere. The intent is to promote all gaming shops in the city, not to rate them or criticize.

The information in this guide was researched in late 2015. This guide will not provide opening and closing times, since they sometimes change. We wouldn’t want you to plan your visit based on this guide if a store changes its hours. For store hours, check each store’s website or Facebook page (links provided).

As noted, this is Part Three of a multi-part series. Check out Part One and Part Two if you missed them.

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For this installment, I toured the agglomeration of gaming shops in the Highlands neighborhood. All three gaming shops are located along a one and a half mile stretch of Baxter Avenue and Bardstown Road, one of the most bustling corridors of street life and night life in Louisville packed with bars, restaurants, coffee shops, and retail shops of all types.  Consequently, all of these shops score fabulously in the “nearest drink” category but suck terribly in the “parking” category.    I discovered some big news about one of the shops, revealed below.

Louisville Game Shop

Of all the stores in this guide, I am most familiar with Louisville Game Shop. It is a short walk from my workplace, so I have spent many lunch hours wasting, the owner, Colin’s time.

  • Address: 925 Baxter Ave
  • Website: http://www.thelouisvillegameshop.com/
  • Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/The-Louisville-Game-Shop-303121397321/
  • History: Founded in 2004 by Colin
  • Gaming Area: 2 long rows of gaming tables in a back room about 20′ x 30’ that also has spare terrain sections for miniature games and other games and accessories
  • Crowd: 12 gamers in the back room playing Malifeaux, War Machine, and Warhammer 40k on Saturday evening
  • Parking: On Baxter; the best option is to take the back alley from Highland Ave to park in the small parking lot behind Molly Malone’s; if this is full, you may be able to parallel park in front of the store, or along one of the neighborhood streets across Baxter
  • Nearest drink: This gaming shop is literally surrounded by drinking establishments; within one block there are six bars:  Diorio’s Pizza, the Outlook Inn, Flanagan’s, Molly Malone’s, Baxter’s Bar and Grill, and Wick’s Pizza

Louisville Game Shop occupies a structure that was previously an old row home, so you might not notice it unless you see the sign out front. This also gives it the distinction of being the gaming store that most naturally resembles a haunted house. I don’t think Colin has ever decorated to exploit the haunted house vibe but this is definitely the venue to play a horror-themed game. Even the Google street-view picture of the shop looks a little creepy (see below). One might expect the proprietor to be some sort of weird mad-scientist type, but instead Colin is a very friendly, helpful, and apparently sane fellow.

Louisville Game Shop is the perfect venue to play a horror-themed game.

The front room has a large inventory of board games and miniatures, the small middle room is stocked with roleplaying games (including some obscure indie games), and the back room is a large gaming area. The Louisville Game Shop’s strongest niches are board games and miniature wargames, like Warmachine and Warhammer 40k. It also hosts the Dungeons & Dragons: Adventurer’s League on Fridays and most Sunday evenings.

Role of the Die

It is a short mile and a half trip down Bardstown Road from the previous store to reach Role of the Die. At least, it is short if you are riding a bicycle. If driving, you must navigate through the neighborhood to find Bonnycastle, the one-way street on which the storefront sits, and then find a parking place.

However, this is all about to change: Michael, the new owner of Role of the Die, revealed that the store will soon move to a new location, 2902 Bardstown Rd, two miles further south, just before the Gardiner Lane shopping center. He expects to relocate no later than early November.

  • Address: 1950 Bonnycastle Ave
  • Website: http://roleofthedie.net/
  • Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Role-of-the-Die-178709688808097/
  • History: Founded in 2008; purchased by the new owner, Michael, in 2014
  • Gaming Area: 2 permanent tables, and an additional four folding tables available for larger events
  • Crowd: Two gamers hanging out with the owner on a Saturday evening
  • Parking: Good luck! It is on a small one-way street right on the corner of Bardstown Road, so start looking for a place to parallel park at least a block before you get to the store; fortunately, the new location will be much more accessible – in a shopping center with its own small parking lot
  • Nearest drink: Role of the Die is also surrounded by bars; Café 360 is a dive bar immediately across Bonnycastle Avenue; turn the corner on Bardstown Road and there are several more bars in either direction: Cumberland Brews, River City Drafthouse, the Hideaway Saloon, and more; sadly, the new location further down Bardstown does not have the same nightlife: there is a Buckhead Mountain Grill in the Gardiner Lane Shopping Center down the block that is within walking distance, the Krispy Kreme store is right next door, though, so you can at least get a massive sugar high

I used to suspect that Role of the Die must be the front for some sort of criminal enterprise, because how else could a game store survive in such an inaccessible location, surrounded by competitors? Apparently, it has enough loyal comic book subscribers and gamers to sustain it for seven years and counting. Besides, if there is one thing that I have learned from researching this guide, it is that Louisville has a much greater demand for comic and game stores than I would have previously imagined.

Role of the Die’s current location is a small storefront in which most of the wall space is devoted to comic books. This is a store that a Star Trek fan would appreciate: not only does a Trekkie sliding-door sound effect play when you enter (like the Destination, reviewed in Part One), but the store has a life-size Enterprise captain’s chair on display. Games are on the right side of the store, around the two gaming tables. The store is tidy and uncluttered, but relatively small. I plan to visit Role of the Die’s new location after they move to update this description.

Role of the Die fills a clear niche as a hub for 4th Edition Dungeons and Dragons. Michael and some of his regulars are devoted 4E players. 4E groups play in the store on multiple nights each week. As Michael points out, Wizards of the Coast continues to print 4E rulebooks and many supplements, and he says that he sells more 4E books than 5E. If you are a fan of 4E, this is the shop for you. Of course, Role of the Die does many other types of nerdy business. Magic: The Gathering is popular, particularly Commander and Draft formats, and the store has an extensive comic book and collectible item inventory. Gamers are welcome to use the tables to play any game, as long as it is a product that the store has in stock or could order.

Book & Music Exchange

There are three Book and Music Exchange (BME) locations in Louisville and one is right around the corner from Role of the Die. I was skeptical whether the Highlands BME would meet this guide’s criteria to be classified as gaming store – namely, that it must provide an area for people to play games in the store. I’m glad that I gave it a try, because I discovered that the Highlands BME has recently increased its emphasis on games. It has increased its inventory of board games and it has a small gaming area that it has been using for scheduled game demos and events.

  • Address: 1616 Bardstown Rd
  • Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BookandMusicBardstown
  • History: When I visited, none of the clerks were sure exactly how long BME has been in business, but it has been in its current location for at least 15 years
  • Gaming Area: One table
  • Crowd: Two gamers hanging out with the owner on a Saturday evening
  • Parking: Unless you get lucky and find a parallel parking spot on Bardstown Road, BME has its own small parking lot off of Duker Avenue, but you must walk around the block to the front door
  • Nearest drink: BME is in the heart of a thriving nightlife district; The Hideaway Saloon is right across the street, and a dozen other bars are in walking distance; for the nerdiest place to drink, walk 5 minutes south on Bardstown Road to “The Bard’s Town,” a Shakespeare-themed bar, restaurant, and small theater; the first time I visited, the bartender told me to stick around for pirate night: “The whole Louisville pirate community turns out,” he told me. The pirate community? I need to check that out some day

BME is familiar to most Louisville gamers as a place to buy new and used gaming books, novels, movies, and console games. For gamers, BME occupies a definite niche as one of the easiest places to trade in used gaming books.  However, the Highlands’ Store has not usually been a gathering place to play games on site. That appears to be changing, as the management is making a distinct effort to emphasize games.  Shelves of new board games are prominently displayed at the checkout counter. The store’s Facebook page advertises frequent game demos and events. There is only one large gaming table. It was unoccupied when I visited, but it seems that gaming groups would be welcome to use the space.

The Definitive Guide to Gaming Stores in Louisville will be a multi-part series of Nerd Louisville articles until all the gaming stores in Louisville are included. If you’d like your store to be featured next, please contact us! Please send corrections to andy@nerdlouisville.org

The Definitive Guide to Gaming Stores in Louisville: Part 2

The Definitive Guide to Gaming Stores in Louisville: Part Two

by Andy B; photographs and map illustrations by Andy B.

The directors of Nerd Louisville conceived the idea of a “Guide to Louisville Gaming Shops.” The original intent was for this guide to be a single feature article.  As I set out to research the guide, I realized that this project is too big for a single article. There are at least a dozen gaming shops – maybe more. Instead, I will write multiple installments with a final summary at the end.

The purpose of this guide is to help nerds living in, or visiting, Louisville to find the shops that fit their interests – not just in terms of products, but also their preferred age group, playing style, and atmosphere. The intent is to promote all gaming shops in the city, not to rate them or criticize.

The information in this guide was researched in late 2015. This guide will not provide opening and closing times, since they sometimes change. We wouldn’t want you to plan your visit based on this guide if a store changes its hours. For store hours, check each store’s website or Facebook page (links provided).

As noted, this is Part Two of a multi-part series. Check out Part One if you missed it.

For this installment, we stretched the definition of Louisville by exploring two shops way out in Bullitt County, or as we Louisvillians refer to it: Bumf*ck, Egypt. I was a little aggrieved that my duties don’t reimburse mileage, as I drove halfway to Fort Knox, but my grievance was overshadowed by the awesomeness of the two gaming shops I found.

Nerdy Planet

Mike sent me an announcement about the grand opening of a new gaming shop called Nerdy Planet. “Of course, Nerd Louisville has to check out the Nerdy Planet!” I replied foolishly. I checked Google maps to discover I would have to leave the county to do it, but by that point it was too late. I was committed.

The grand opening of Nerdy Planet was on a Saturday, when I was still celebrating my first marathon the previous weekend, so I was pretty hungover. Nevertheless, I’m pretty sure that all of this actually happened.

  • Address: 6470 Preston Highway Ste 3
  • Website: http://thenerdyplanet.com/
  • Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thenerdyplanet
  • History: Founded today
  • Gaming Area: 2 tables in a back room about 20 x 20’ that also has a widescreen TV in front of a couch and multiple video game terminals
  • Crowd: This was the grand opening, so there were at least a dozen people in the front, including Captain America and other superhero cos-players; the cash register clerk was Black Widow, approximately as attractive as Scarlett Johansson; there was a squad-sized element of teenagers playing video games in the back room
  • Parking: Strip mall parking, plus this is Bullitt County, so you could probably just park in the grass or anywhere
  • Nearest drink: Bullitt County – a nightlife desert; there is not a bar for miles

Myra, the owner of Nerdy Planet, was quite accommodating of my questions considering the madhouse of the grand opening – a Marvel-themed bouncy castle, superhero cos-players, and Lexington fantasy author, Stephen Zimmer, autographing his novels. Nerdy Planet has a little bit of almost everything; comics, posters, toys, videos, and novels.  I didn’t see any inventory of wargames or roleplaying games, but it’s their first day, so maybe that’s in the works. Myra showed me the semi-finished adjacent unit, where she plans to install a podcast studio and a theater/classroom for movies, cos-play tutorials, and other events.

Nerdy Planet’s gameroom.

One of the smartest features of Nerdy Planet is a full concession stand. Myra has jumped through all of the Health Department hoops to allow her to serve not only candy and sodas, but also hot dogs, popcorn, and other hot food. Gamers like to eat and I have wondered why other shops don’t capitalize on their customers’ appetites. Nerdy Planet even has a T-shirt press so that you can order a tee of your own design.

Pet Shop Comics

As I was driving to Nerdy Planet, I was surprised to pass another game shop, under the sign “PSC.” The two shops are in adjacent shopping centers. So close that both shopping centers share the same entrance from Preston Highway.

As long as I had already driven all the way out to this wilderness I figured I should check this place out as well. It was busy, more than busy. It was packed with gamers engaged in multiple tournaments. I found Nerd Louisville regular, Glenn, as well as James, a dude I know through a mutual friend’s D&D game, both competing in a Star Wars: Armada tournament. I talked to Rick, the owner. As I gathered info, he mentioned that he has been the only gaming shop in the Hillview area for 16 years.

“I remember there used to be another gaming shop in this area called ‘Pet Shop Comics’ where I used to bring my kids to play Yu-Gi-O” I said, like an idiot.

“Um, yeah. That’s this place. We moved.”

PSC = Pet Shop Comics. I finally connected the dots. I was hungover.

  • Address: 6234 N Preston Hwy Ste F
  • Website: http://www.petshopcomics.com/
  • Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/77314668546/
  • History: Founded 1999; the shop has moved three times
  • Gaming Area: Large; at least 35’ x 40’ with 8 tables, but they are big wargame-size tables.
  • Crowd: More than twenty gamers, some of them competing in a Star Wars: Armada tournament and some attending a monthly Heroscape tournament, which is pretty amazing because Heroscape has been out of print for at least 6 years
  • Parking: See above
  • Nearest drink: Sigh; see above

PSC is the quintessential wargaming shop. It has a huge, densely packed inventory of wargames, roleplaying games, card games, comic books, and more. The tables are big enough to handle elaborate wargames. There are containers of scale buildings and terrain models for mini wargamers to use.

When I asked Rick what he considered the shop’s specialty to be, he said “board games, miniature games, war games, pretty much everything but collectible card games – but we sell those too.”

This surprised me, because years ago I carted by kids out here to the boonies to engage in massive Yu-Gi-O events at PSC’s previous location. Times change, I guess. PSC doesn’t sell hot food like the previously visited shop, but it has sodas, candy, and chips to keep the customers energized. PSC offers a membership that costs $25 a year and provides discounts for up to 35% off on gaming supplies.

Folks, we are just getting started. Goddamn, this town has a lot of gaming shops. Just when I think I have a handle on it, I find out about a shop I didn’t know or a new shop opens. This is going to take a while.

The Definitive Guide to Gaming Stores in Louisville will be a multi-part series of Nerd Louisville articles until all the gaming stores in Louisville are included. If you’d like your store to be featured next, please contact us! Please send corrections to andy@nerdlouisville.org

The Definitive Guide to Gaming Stores in Louisville: Part 1

The Definitive Guide to Gaming Stores in Louisville: Part One

by Andy B; photographs and map illustrations by Andy B.

The directors of Nerd Louisville conceived the idea of a “Guide to Louisville Gaming Shops.” The original intent was for this guide to be a single feature article.  As I set out to research the guide, I realized that this project is too big for a single article. There are at least a dozen gaming shops – maybe more. Instead, I will write multiple installments with a final summary at the end.

The purpose of this guide is to help nerds living in, or visiting, Louisville to find the shops that fit their interests – not just in terms of products, but also their preferred age group, playing style, and atmosphere. The intent is to promote all gaming shops in the city, not to rate them or criticize.

The information in this guide was researched in late 2015. This guide will not provide opening and closing times, since they sometimes change. We wouldn’t want you to plan your visit based on this guide if a store changes its hours. For store hours, check each store’s website or Facebook page (links provided).

As noted, this is Part One of a multi-part series. Without further ado, let’s take a look at our first three stores.

The Destination Games, Toys, Comics, and Collectibles

The interior of The Destination.

My first destination on this tour of Louisville gaming shops was… The Destination.

  • Address: 5031 Shelbyville Road
  • Website: http://www.destinationcomics.com
  • Facebook: www.facebook.com/destinationcomics
  • History: Founded 2013
  • Gaming Area: 5 tables in an open back room about 20’ x 20’
  • Crowd: About 8 customers browsing in the front retail area, and about 8 gamers in the back playing Attack Wing: Star Trek; pre-teen to adult
  • Parking: The shop is tucked around the corner of a strip mall with plenty of parking
  • Nearest drink: Ten Pin Lanes, a hundred yards or so down the street

The front door of The Destination is rigged with a speaker that emits a noise when you enter. A non-nerd would probably wonder why it makes a weird squeak sound instead of a normal doorbell or tone, but I get it: it’s the sliding door sound effect from Star Trek. I had planned to talk to an employee at each shop but there were at least four customers queued up at the register, so I met Mike instead.

“For about ten dollars, you can play all day.”

Mike is a volunteer who organizes regular gaming events at the store. He told me all about the store while officiating a group of about eight players who were paired off to play Attack Wing: Star Trek. According to Mike, Dice Masters is the big game on Saturdays. On Sundays Mike runs a variety of games: often Attack Wing (Star Trek or D&D versions), or other games and sometimes demos of new games. Participants don’t need to buy the games in order to play. Mike has all the game pieces, and players pay a fee to participate.

They try to be welcoming to younger, newer players and are intentionally less competitive than other stores might be. By the time we finished a long conversation, the employee still had a queue of customers at the register, but I thought I had gotten a pretty good rundown from Mike and I had more shops to visit. Business appears to be brisk! I left with the Star Trek sliding door sound. Next stop…

Something 2 Do

The interior of Something to Do.

The second stop on the tour was the oldest gaming shop in Louisville: Something 2 Do

  • Address: 215 S Hurstbourne Pkwy Ste 109
  • Website: http://www.something2dogames.com
  • Facebook: www.facebook.com/Something-2-Do-112747674370
  • History: Founded 1972 in Oxmoor Mall for many years; moved to current location 2014; long-time manager, Brandy, became owner after the move
  • Gaming Area: More than 20 tables in a big area; at least 80’ long and over 30’ at the widest
  • Crowd: 14 gamers playing a variety of games, the largest group playing Warmachine in the back; young elementary-school age to grey haired oldsters
  • Parking: In a strip mall on Hurstbourne Lane, with more free parking than it appears to have; there is a big lot in the rear accessible by a back door
  • Nearest drink: Chili’s, several hundred yards down the road, or “Brownie’s The Shed” Bar and Grill, across Hurstbourne

The floorplan of Something 2 Do seems to exactly match the bright, clean, open layout it had in the mall but transported to a new location. It looks more spacious than I recall the mall location was, although the employees assured me that it’s about the same size. Something 2 Do hosts a lot of events, and they recommend checking the Facebook page for the most recent schedule. Their biggest events are a monthly Smash Brothers tournament and casual board games on Saturdays. They recently restarted D&D: Adventurers’ League on Wednesday evenings from 6:30 to 10:00 pm. There is plenty of table space and players of any games are welcome to use a table without any pre-coordination, unless there is a major event going on.  I spoke at length to employees David and John who were both friendly and helpful. They recommended other shops I should add to the guide, including the next stop…

Parallel Worlds

The interior of Parallel Worlds.

I wouldn’t have found Parallel Worlds without detailed directions. The storefront isn’t visible from the street. It is in a pedestrian-access nook of a shopping center around the corner from Hurstbourne Lane at 9870 Linn Station Rd.

  • Address: 9870 Linn Station Rd
  • Facebook: www.facebook.com/ParallelWorldsGaming
  • History: Founded 2013 in current location; purchased 2014 by new owner Randall
  • Gaming Area: Four tables in front room, approx. 30’ x 30’; seven tables in the back room, about 30’ x 40’
  • Crowd: About a dozen playing TCGs; teens and young adults.
  • Parking: Located in a shopping center with a big parking lot
  • Nearest drink: Joe’s OK Bayou, next door

I had a long rambling conversation with Randall, the young owner of Parallel Worlds. His shop specializes in trading card games. It also carries console video games and hosts a massive Dungeons & Dragons campaign with multiple dungeon masters every Saturday night. Randall seems shrewd and ambitious. He allows customers to purchase expensive decks for Magic: The Gathering on a gradual payment plan: they can start playing with their deck immediately, but must keep it at the store until they have finished paying for it.

“If your kid is spending all their money on magic, they can’t afford drugs.”

Randall has a lot of ideas that he is trying to implement to promote nerd-ism in collaboration with other shops. He clearly has a friendly relationship with Something 2 Do, and spoke very highly of The Destination. He’s an experienced and enthusiastic LARPer (live-action roleplaying), with big plans for future LARP projects outside of the shop. Expect to see some innovative ventures from Parallel Worlds in the near future.

The Definitive Guide to Gaming Stores in Louisville will be a multi-part series of Nerd Louisville articles until all the gaming stores in Louisville are included. If you’d like your store to be featured next, please contact us! Please send corrections to andy@nerdlouisville.org