Sunday, February 8, 2015

Random Review: Titan Games & Hobbies

Occasionally I'll go into a game store I haven't been in and feel compelled to say something about it. There's a few I've checked out once or twice and been really put off. There's a few I have yet to check out, and there's a few I have nothing to say anything about. Like any good consumer with friends who are also consumers, this post isn't to rip apart anyone's business, or fluff it up beyond what it is. The impressions here are solely to help you determine whether or not you want to game here... and if anyone from this store in question sees the blog, maybe you can take something away from it!

Okay, disclaimers aside, you won't find much negativity in here. Thanks to some folks on Google+, as well as a lot of internet exploration for my own games, I wound up hopping into a B/X Dungeons and Dragons game that was going to meet up here. I've never been, but if memory serves me right some wargaming club (maybe Maryland Wargaming Collective) has hosted a few Warhammer events here. I got there pretty close to opening time and employees were setting up, but I was instantly greeted warmly by an associate. The experience was pleasant, I explained that I was meeting up with some other gamers and that it was my first time here. The guy wasn't immediately familiar with who I was meeting up with, which is no big deal, but encouraged us to walk around the store and check things out while we waited, and to ask any questions if we had any.

You're probably thinking, "pretty typical, he's just doing his job," but you'd be surprised how many game store employees really don't give a shit about their job, despite supposedly loving it. The old-school Games Workshop sales tactic is not present here -- that is, you won't be harassed about what army you're playing, what you need to get to upgrade that army, what army you should be thinking about buying, etc; You're left on your own to check out the miniature ranges. Which brings me to stock and merchandising...

From Titan Games & Hobbies on Facebook
Titan appears to carry the mini wargaming staples (Games Workshop, Warmachine/Hordes, Malifaux, Infinity) while also carrying some other smaller, independent lines. I noticed a section devoted to Firestorm Armada, pretty scarce in stock, but understandable given the new nature in the game. One free-standing display was half-full of maybe 6-8 Lord of the Rings boxes, but otherwise noticeably bare. Merchandising, however, was not sloppy, products were displayed in ways that I could see them easily, and not sloppily thrown upon the shelves. From the large amount of folding table space in the store and the tables, you can tell that this is mostly set up for minis games and cards. As far as Magic goes, they appear to have a decent stock not only in glass-case rares but also binders full of singles for each individual set.

For RPG games, there is a section with some pretty normal stuff on the back wall, mostly Fantasy Flight Games titles that tie-in with Warhammer as well as D&D and other no-brainer stock items, but pretty much nothing that says "We RPG here!" There's nothing particularly wrong with this, but certainly an increased focus in this and the similarly small board game section would help with sales in this area. I should note the board games are merchandised way better than the RPGs.

Let's talk snacks. I like when places carry snacks, and this place does, but like every other place, very little to no caffeine-free options. I know people love their legal drugs and all, but caffeine sensitive types like myself (Crohn's disease is a bitch) really like to have options. Plenty of chocolatey-wafer or bar type stuff here that gamers would typically buy. Bring healthy options with you before you come if you need that stuff.

From Titan Games & Hobbies on Facebook
Last but certainly not least... play area. The minis tables range from average (a table covered with what looks to be the Citadel grass battlemat) to fully sanded/flocked boards. The game tables have lipped edges and, if I'm not mistaken, these might be the same tables from the Glen Burnie Battle Bunker long ago-- a nice wood finish that isn't going to chafe your arms or let your models spill off of the side. The terrain is a nice mixture of Gale Force 9 and Games Workshop kits (most well-based and painted) as well as some truly unique pieces for Infinity and the Necrons. The tables are well-spaced apart from the walls and each-other, there is a clear path through the store so that people running to the bathroom are not necessarily pushing you out of the way to do so. This sort of layout combined with the effort put into the tables lets you know this place is a minis store first and foremost.

The folding tables are a blast from the past, and it's where we played D&D at. Nothing to write home about, they were kept reasonably clean. Reminds me of when I was playing Magic 10 years ago. Volume levels in the store were normal, and the community aspect of the store is definitely there, with most regulars knowing each other and the employees as well.

All in all as a game space and store I would recommend Titan for minis, definitely, for cards, definitely, and for RPGs, well, that would depend on when the place isn't swamped with card gamers I'd assume (which is probably their bigger seller anyway.) Titan's only glaring problem seems to be that it's stuck in a business park with little to no road visibility, as well as being located (maybe conveniently?) to a highway exit that had about 10-15 minutes of backed up traffic on a Saturday morning. The team that has put together and executed the store that is Titan Games and Hobbies seems to be doing a good job from an outsider's perspective and with a little tweaking... and maybe a move... could be one of the best game stores in the area.

1 comment:

  1. First off, it's awesome to see a gamer in MD. Second, even more awesome that you went to Titan. You're right, the focus is war games. Kurt, the owner, is a former GW manager that was tasked with making crappy stores good. He's a fantastic manager, a great gamer and even better person. Known him for a fair few years.

    Now if you want a chance to see some of the stuff they do, the 2 year birthday for Titan is on August 22. Check out their Facebook for some of the events they are doing. Death racing in 40k and crazy painting and others. Even a DnD event.

    Thank you for the blog. Just discovered and now I'm off to read some more. Have a great day!