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Friday, September 13, 2013

Top Ten Game Stores in Texas

It's simple: these are my personal ten favorite game stores in Texas. There is no particular order, and if I have already done a store report on the particular store, you can click on it's name to go to the report. Otherwise, I haven't done a report yet, and probably ought to get to it.

1. Great Hall Games

   Two rooms worth of gaming space. Traditional games, puzzles, boardgames, and lots of historical games in multiple scales. Friendly staff. Decent location, though has parking issues. Supports local conventions. For historical minis, this is probably now the best in Texas. (See Little Wars in the Honorable Mention section, below)

    The Woodlands

   I have done a store report on the Fat Ogre already. This would be my FLGS if it were a little more local. However, on the other side of Houston, it's about 55 miles from my house. In Texas distances, that's an hour or so, depending on traffic. It is a great store, though.

3. Montag's Games

   The only real problem with Montag's is size. It is pretty cramped in this location. They have a lot of GW, as usual, and Magic cards, but also carry some RPG stuff and other games (they cleared out FOW, but may still have some bits and bobs laying about). Gaming tables take up a hefty portion of the available acreage. The owner/manager/guy who is always in there is very friendly and helpful. You can see in and there is plenty of light. No stink. All of these are Good Things.

4. Gerard's Games

   Not a lot of product, and I wish the lighting were a little better, though I know why they keep it dim. They have a lot of GW product, like most games stores. Not a bad thing, because it sells and therefore helps keep the doors open. Very friendly staff, will order anything you like and usually get it within a week. LAN gaming and video games (Xbox, not arcade) as well. They do late nights (even overnight lockins!), have plenty of game tables, and are open to letting you run pretty much anything you want to bring to their store.

5. Dragon's Lair

   This store is located inside an old barnes and Noble or something, in their new location. It's amazing. Lots of space, even an area for littler lids to play with DUPLO and stuff. Lots of selection, and this icludes games, toys, t-shirts, all sorts of good geeky stuff. Looked to have a good deal of gaming area as well. The place is really a palace. Staff was friendly, but a little spread out, and didn't all seem to know what was going on really.

6. Texas Toy Soldier Company

   I stopped in here one very hot day after being outside in the heat all day. I was borderline dehydrated. The owner gave me a bottle of ice cold water free of charge, because "you look like you need this." They have GW, and Spartan Games, and Privateer Press, but also had items for SAGA, which was pretty new at the time, last spring. A few game tables as well. Their online shop has outstanding discounts, by the way. (

7. Dragon's Lair
      San Antonio:

   Not exactly a clone of the Austin store, but I like to stop in here whenever I am traveling through San Antone. Very friendly and helpful staff. Private rooms for games as well as open area. Comics, toys, good variety of games, including both minis and RPGs, some board games.

8. Nan's Too Books and Comics

   A Houston institution, located near Rice University. No gaming space. Lots of comics. Weird smells. Tons of games. Employees who have been there for decades. Odds and ends you can't find anywhere else. It's funky, but I like it.

9. The Book Stan'
    Beaumont, 6055 Phelan Blvd. No website.

   A comic store with a lot of old RPG stuff. Big warehouse-y space. A/C needs work in the retail area - it was pretty warm last time I went by in July. When I lived in Beaumont, they were in a strip mall. Better retail space, but no space for gaming. New location has a room with several tables for gaming, and the a/c in that area is much better. Lots of old bits and pieces, tons of GW, boardgames, a nice place to go hunting for lost treasures. Owned by a couple of ladies, a mom and daughter, I think. They are always there, and very nice folks. They recognize me though they don't remember my name because I only make it through there once a year or so now. I used to hang out on my lunch hour in their old location when they had a different manager (Mark was his name), back in the mid-1990s.


   If I still lived in Dallas, this would be a real close run for FLGS with Texas Toy Soldier. I think this store might lose out because they have a little bit less retail space. I haven't done any special orders with them, but they have offered to make one for me. I have been here twice. Check out the store report if you want more info on the place.

11. The Game Closet

   Okay, so this "Top Ten" goes to ELEVEN! It's one louder, after all. I spent a lot of time in Waco as a a kid, but not so much lately. However, my son is considering Baylor for his college, and we made a college visit to Waco earlier this summer. While there, we dropped by this little gem of a store, which has apparently had a few problems recently. I hope they get them worked out. Anyway, the owner was there, and we had a nice long chat about games and the business and all of that. Very friendly and knowledgeable. A good selection of games, and, of course, plenty of tables for playing. This really is very important for me in a good game store. If you are in the area, I recommend them. They are also sponsoring a convention, WaCon, at the end of September.

Honorable Mentions:

   These are stores that are now closed, no longer carrying games, or a mere shadow of their former glory.

Starships and Dragons (College Station)

   This was my games store in my college years. I spent many an hour in here when my wife (then girlfriend) wasn't in town. She wouldn't go in, because one of the owners had a serious case of gamer funk. But they were very friendly, had a decent space in back to game, and would let you work for store credit sometimes.

Lone Star Comics (Dallas)

   When I was a kid, this was my go to store. I rode the bus to get within a mile of the Forest Lane location (across from Medical City hospital) and then walked. In Texas summer heat, that's dedication. No gaming space, but a friendly manager, a Subway right next door, and they didn't mind if you spent an hour 'just looking.' That location is closed, as are most of their others, but I believe that some locations are still open. Not much in the way of games, though.

The Game Chest (Valley View Mall, Dallas)

   This is a recent closure. I used to go by every time I was in Dallas (three, four times a year) and buy at least a pack of cards or something. No game space - no space, period! - but a lot of games and a very friendly staff who knew something about the games, puzzles, and whatnot. Last time I went by, the store was closed. A little tear rolled down my face.

The Game Store In Prestonwood Mall Whose Name I Don't Recall Right Now (Dallas) 

  Not only is this store closed, the mall itself was torn down about ten years ago. This was a high school favorite, mostly because I knew the manager (played Rolemaster and Spacemaster with him and some other guys for a couple of years - Hi Brian!) and one of my good friends worked there. That, and I worked in the mall, so I could go down and hang out for a few minutes during my break.

Little Wars (Houston)

   As far as I know, this store is still open for business, but it is a mere shadow of itself. Little Wars used to be one of the best historical games stores in the country. Massive mail order business, and they even held little one day gaming events. They had darn near anything you wanted, and if they didn't have it, they would get it. In fact, the one thing you used to not be able to get there was Games Workshop. A few owner changes later and a move to a new location, and it changed into a GW and FOW shop, with a lot of boxes of "old crap that no one wants" (QRF, Freikorps, more) in the back that the staff couldn't even be bothered to look through or bring out for you to dig through. The new owners would, however, allow you to mail order from them online, take and hold your money, and never return calls or emails. A threat to file charges against them for mail fraud got my money returned, without any explanation or apology. So, even if they are still open, they are dead to me.


Don M said...

I have to agree about Great Hall Games, went there allot when I worked in Austin. Now that I'm working close to home on FT Hood,
I don't get down there much. We
have a pretty good game store in
Killeen, that get over to now and then but, truth be told I do virtually all my war game shopping over the internet now, most of my gaming is solo or at the odd convention.

ColKillgore said...

I ordered a ton of historical models from Little Wars when they still wanted my business. I guess their change of format is making them money and that is what they are in the business for but I used to drop five hundred dollars or more a year with them mail ordering models from the east coast, that I still can't get locally.

Sean said...

Good review. Too bad I was on my gaming break when I lived in Dallas. From 1997-2000.