Throughout Phoenix, there’s a refreshing retreat for people looking for a break from screens and the heat: Board games.
Video games, social media, and other online entertainment are great ways to reach across distances to connect with others, but board games let you enjoy the competitive nature of games while interacting with people face-to-face. What’s more, modern board games have come a long way since “Monopoly” or “Risk” ruled the genre.
You can plan and build a modern zoo and support conservation projects in “Ark Nova,” or explore an island to discover lost ruins as a pseudo Indiana Jones in “Lost Ruins of Arnak.”
Specialty stores have taken a hit with the rise of two-day delivery services and big box stores, but if you look beneath the surface across Maricopa County, you’ll find several shops with workers who can help you jump into the fascinating and exciting world of board games.
Here are six to check out:
Meeples & Beyond
2450 W. Happy Valley Road, Unit 1145, Phoenix
12–10 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays
12-–6 p.m. Tuesdays
12–11 p.m. Fridays through Sundays
North Phoenix’s Meeples & Beyond was established in August 2020 by Mark and Paola Gorden. They have options ranging from party games to war miniatures games like Warhammer, and their staff are extremely helpful in getting you what you need. Meeples & Beyond also has a dedicated section for games purchased through Kickstarter, a crowdfunding website.
“Our founders decided to open in this industry due to their love of family and social interaction,” the company says on their website. “For a long time, they would meet with friends and family to enjoy game nights away from electronics. It was through these very moments, as well as starting their own family, that they realized they would enjoy helping to bring people closer together.”
If you’re ever at The Shops at Norterra, check out Meeples & Beyond. They have four dedicated tables for anyone looking to try out a game from their demo library before they purchase.
Imperial Outpost Games
4920 W. Thunderbird Road, Glendale
12-–6 p.m. Sundays
10 a.m.-–9 p.m. Mondays through Wednesdays
10 a.m.-–10 p.m. Thursdays and Saturdays
10 a.m.-–12 p.m. Fridays
The West Valley continues to grow, with a quarter-million people in Glendale alone.
Imperial Outpost Games is conveniently right in the middle of Glendale, across the street from Arizona State University’s West campus. The shop section of the store is vast and full of board, trading card, and miniatures games.
Imperial Outpost also has a dedicated area with rows of tables for people to come in and play games they bring in from home, or compete in tournaments for specific games.
The Gaming Goat
1055 N. Dobson Road, Suite 103, Mesa
12 p.m.-–9 p.m. every day
This shop is nestled in the back of Mesa Riverview, near the Cinemark. The Gaming Goat has a couple tables available for play, with plenty of games from the past 15 years. They also sell Kickstarter games, and have an option for purchasing online.
1550 N. Stonehenge Dr., Suite 102, Gilbert
10 a.m.-–8 p.m. Sundays through Wednesdays
10 a.m.-–9 p.m. Thursdays
10 a.m.-–10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays
“Veteran of the hobby, new to tabletop gaming, or somewhere in between, we are here for you,” Games U says on their website. The Gilbert storefront has over 4,000 square feet of space for all things board games, card games, and miniatures games.
Jeff Caples, the owner of Games U, said online that he values diversity and inclusion in the shop.
“Our aim is to provide a place where you can come as you are, and where you can gather with others to celebrate your mutual love of tabletop games,” Games U said on its website.
If you sign up for their newsletter, you can get a nice 10 percent off coupon too.
Gather 4 Games
18631 N. 19th Avenue, Suite #170, Phoenix
Closed Sundays and Mondays
2 p.m.-–8 p.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays
2 p.m.-–10 p.m. Fridays
11 a.m.-–10 p.m. Saturdays
Head up to north Phoenix near the intersection of the I-17 and Loop 101 to find Gather 4 Games, a local shop with plenty of space to play.
Gather 4 Games has snacks, a cooler with drinks, and a microwave for food if you’re going to spend a good amount of time there playing.
The shop has a library of over 300 games available for play, and a calendar of events.
Funkatronic Rex – Games & More
1343 E. Northern Avenue, Phoenix
12 p.m.-–6 p.m. Sundays
2 p.m.-–8 p.m. Mondays
12 p.m.-–8 p.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays and Saturdays
12 p.m.-–10 p.m. Fridays
Funkatronic Rex has an in-store library of over 200 board games you can play for free. Demoing games is a great way to get into the hobby without spending a dime.
The shop also has a running discount of 10% off when you mention your favorite part of their new website.
Funkatronic Rex has a spacious gaming area with very high ceilings, so things don’t ever feel cramped inside.