What started out as Kory Kneher’s late-summer afternoon stroll down Main Street in Pineville turned in to his passionate quest for dominion over the streets of a city called Waterdeep.
Kneher’s transformation took place at the front door – or portal, if you will — of a relatively new store in Pineville called Carolina Tabletop Games. Playing a Dungeons and Dragons-based board game called Lords of Waterdeep, Kneher turned in to a board game fanatic and a frequent visitor.
Carolina Tabletop Games opened in early August and quickly became a destination for casual gamers, like what Kneher has become, and for members of gaming clubs, like the one that moved operations from Belmont to Pineville and took the same name of the store.
About a year-and-a-half ago, store owners Rob and Theresa Ross decided to take a risk on opening the niche operation. A gamer himself, Rob Ross says his board game playing days date back to the mid-70s and got more serious in the early 2000s with a game called World of Warcraft.
The store’s more popular games are of the fantasy, science fiction and horror varieties. Ross says he has approximately 450 different games for sale. Some of them are designed by local creators including Robert Burke of Belmont.
Ross has no trouble with game players convening at the store and not expecting to purchase anything. He adds that having an ABC license and selling beer helps generate business.
Ross permits players to test play certain games for a few bucks, money they get refunded if they decide to buy the game. Some players bring their own games from home.
Kneher, 29, visits a couple nights a week and may spend two to four hours playing. Sometimes his brother, Shaun, or girlfriend, Melissa Reynard, comes along.
“I could be at home playing video games or computer games by myself but then you don’t get that social interaction. You don’t get to meet people with similar interests. To be able to sit down, talk with people and play a game, it’s very good.”
Once or twice a week Mike Gurley drives 25 minutes from Belmont to Pineville to play as a member of the Carolina Tabltop Games Club, which used to meet in his hometown. Occasionally he steps away from playing to coach novice players who don’t have a clue about the rules of a new game.
“You look at a game and you read the rules and it’s kind of cold,” said Gurley, 53. “But if you can explain it to someone, they’ll pick it up a lot faster.”
Gamer Ken Asensio, who is also an aspiring game designer, says he spends five or six evenings a week at Carolina Tabletop Games. On a recent Tuesday, he and colleague Michael Collarin spent part of their time scouring pages of rules they printed from the Internet for the dice and card game called Star Wars: Destiny.
Asensio, 33, explained that the game, which draws comparisons to Magic the Gathering, Dice Masters and Pokemon dice and card games, is so new that “official tournament rules” have not yet been composed. He and Collarin are among a group of about 10 players hoping to interpret the rules well enough that they can host a tournament at the game shop in the next couple weeks.
“It gets pretty competitive,” said Asensio. “Even when we test here, they’re intense. There’s a lot of decision making. … If you can logic (the game) more than your opponent, you’re good.”
Ross doesn’t have a monopoly on board gaming in Pineville. The Queen City Game Club, of which Ross used to be a member, meets occasionally at the Waldhorn Restaurant.
Joe Habina is a freelance writer: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Want to go?
What: Carolina Tabletop Games
Where: 315 Main St., Suite 1, Pineville
Hours: 3-11 p.m. Monday -Friday; 12 p.m.-12a.m. Saturday; 12-9 p.m. Sunday.
Info: 704-835-1128. www.facebook.com/carolinatabletopgames/.