Category Archives: Blog

Thanks and a review

Hey all,

Thank you SO much for making our first (but not last!) Fair Game garage sale a complete success! It was a lot of work, a bit harrowing, but a lot of fun! We will certainly do it again next year.

On a completely unrelated note, I came upon a nice review of a great cooperative game that my family has really taken a liking to – Flash Point Fire Rescue. Have a look!



Turn off your TV and turn on your brain!

Turn off those screens!Don’t let Screen Free Week get in the way of having fun! Reconnect with your kids, while disconnecting from high tech – by playing a board game. Fair Game has a variety of games to fit any interest, genre, group or age. Come in during Screen Free Week, May 5th – 11th, and try out one of our demo games (our library has hundreds!) – bring your whole family. We will  find a suitable game for you that everyone will enjoy.


Holiday news – new store hours and gift suggestions

3cupcakeI can’t believe that it is time again to plan for holiday madness.

This season will mark our third anniversary(!) of doing business in Downers Grove – how cool! Three years of fun and games in the greatest town east of the Mississippi. Past our terrible twos, we are looking forward to many more years in this wonderful business.

In holiday news, we have updated our gift guide to take into account some new titles and favorites – we have also decided that Mondays aren’t that bad at all, so are opening the store on Mondays from 11am to 7pm. Amy’s in charge so watch out! 

As always, Fair Game has hundreds of games which make great gifts for anyone. Our gift guide goes over a small portion of them – we have many, MANY more in the store and would love the opportunity to discuss that special person in your life who you just can’t figure out what to buy for. Check out our guides for families, parties, travel, and kids games. For the couples, we have some ideas for 2-player games as well. Don’t forget the more “serious” games including science fiction, horror, role-playing, and head-scratching strategy. Finally, a simple game-themed stocking-stuffer may be just the thing for that gamer in your life who already seems to have everything.

We will be doing some holiday craziness over the next month or so too, so make sure to stop in and check out what’s up!



Reduced hours this week – GENCON!

Fair Game is headed to GenCon down in Indy so we will be limiting our hours a bit as follows:




  • Thursday, August 15th – CLOSED
  • Friday, August 16th – Open : 11AM, Close: 5pm
  • Saturday, August 17th – Open : 10AM, Close: 7pm
  • Sunday, August 18th – Normal hours (noon to 5pm)

If any of you are going to be down at the convention, make sure to look for us and say “Hi”!


Notes – in the Field!

pencilAs many of you know, I am an engineer in my other life. An engineer who has the privilege of working with some amazingly smart and creative people. Recently I gave away some of our Field Notes to a few of my colleagues. I find myself using these little things quite often in a variety of ways – one of which is as an…ahem…professional, and wanted to share the experience. These little guys have traveled with me all over the country and have certainly been in some interesting places (and boring ones as well).

The other day I received an email from one of these colleagues who, unsolicited, decided it was necessary to ramble on a bit about their new(ish) notebooks. It is these little things which make my day.

With permission, I present their email below:

This notebook has been through it all… And it remains intact, ready for anything. I’m sure you knew I was going to put it through its paces, and I didn’t hold back. Salty sweat, laundry cycles, logging sawdust, pool chlorine, heat AND humidity… I guess you could say I’m too forgetful to remove my paper brains from hazardous situations, but you’d be wrong. Just like a good friend, it’s there when I need it the most.Thanks Josh, I appreciate the durability.

And a snapshot which was included:


These little books are a great example of simplicity in design. Field Notes, the company, take a simple idea and tweak it – just a bit – to work well in our current modern society. There is something comforting about pulling out one of these little notebooks and jotting down an idea or a sketch or just doodling. The “tangibleness” becomes novel and refreshing. It just feels good to use paper and pen – again.

The simplicity and utility has come, full circle, back into high tech. The real notepad app which works so well.

Thanks for the email A, and thanks for the cool products FN!



Get your engineering on!

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I feel like I shouldn’t even have to warn you any longer that the following post isn’t directly game related.

So consider yourself decidedly NOT warned.

Something really cool happened right here in Downers Grove this weekend (Sunday July 21st to be exact). A group of college kids on a sort of engineering tour of the US (driving the SparkTruck) stopped by Downers Grove North Highschool to show some of our kids (and adults!) a small example of what it is like to take an idea from initial concept to design by using a small variety of pieces and parts and a whole lot of enthusiasm.

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My son Sam went to two of their sessions (organized by the FRoG group right here in DG also) and had a great experience both times – designing and building a photo (5)“jelly-tick” consisting of a foam carapace and long tentacles (is that what a jellyfish has?) which moved in a somewhat organic way by virtue of a small pager motor and coin-sized battery. He also learned to work with a team to help their “alien robot” maneuver around a newly discovered planet in search of energy.


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These two exercises were – themselves – cleverly designed to show the participants a variety of design principles without becoming a lecture. Kudos to the originator of the idea(s), and even more props to these students who are basically following the same routine of a small touring band; stopping from city to city and sleeping wherever someone will let them. More often than not, they wake up in a new city and hit the ground running: sharing their love for creativity, engineering and discovery one city at a time.

If you get the chance to check out one of their sessions, I highly encourage you to do so. If you don’t have kids, register your niece or nephew or pretend your child “got sick” the day of an event and go “in their place.”  It is that good.

So here’s to Sarah, Benji, Brittany, Steven, and the “do you know anyone with that name” Warren. You guys GOT IT GOING ON – keep it up!



Frantic preparations all around: TABLETOP DAY IS TODAY!


Yowza! March 30th didn’t really sneak up on us, but nonetheless, I’m surprised to see it here.

Today is TableTop Day all around the world! In case you haven’t heard the incessant cries of gamers everywhere, what this means is today is “officially” dedicated to playing games. Fair Game will be hosting all sorts of #FGTableTop shenanigans starting at 11am and ending around 9pm. There will be lots of games to play, achievements to…achieve, and prizes to win.

Also – for you Easter bunny better-late-than-never shoppers, try out something photo (2)a little less sugary for your Easter Basket and buy a small game or two for your little bunnies. Tomorrow (March 31, 2013), Fair Game will be closed for Easter (and to allow us some time to recoup from Spring Break and build some new Warmachine play surfaces!) so plan ahead!


Psst! Turn around, we’re right over here!

This community; these people; our gamers continue to amaze and astound me. Not only do we have some of the most friendly and outgoing people frequenting our store on a routine basis – it turns out many of those same people are not only great customers, but generous beyond all reason.

We moved the store – literally across the street – last Wednesday. Our customers and friends (often times one-and-the-same) were instrumental in making the the move quick and painless.

Thanks everyone!

Our new address is 5147 Main St. in Downers Grove. If you happen to head to the old store by mistake, just turn right around and look across Main Street – there we are!

We will be living in a bit of chaos as we get things unpacked and shelved over the next few days – but don’t let that stop you from coming by and checking out the new digs. I think you will really like our new location and more open floor plan.

I know I certainly do.


[Achievement Unlocked] Survive GenCon 2012!

Yes, yes, peoples, GenCon 2012 officially ended over a week ago and I’m just writing about it now. In all honesty, I’m still somewhat recovering. 45 years running and still going strong, GenCon remains the standout gaming convention in the United States bar none. Initial reports have attendance at over 41,000 attendees. Wow!

I won’t bore you with the history and background about the ‘con – just dive into the highlights from my perspective.

For me (and I suspect for many others as well), GenCon isn’t only about the games. The people, environment and the energy at this convention is amazing. Everywhere you look you will find the gaming culture permeating the convention hall and outlying hotels, restaurants and bars. It is – frankly – awesome. Being around so many gamers brings about a sense of familiarity which I cannot imagine anywhere else. It is like being at a yearly reunion with forty thousand of your friends and acquaintances who come with no pre-conceived opinions or biases based on your gender, race or gaming preference.

Everyone just kind of gets along. At all hours of the day (and night). For 4 days straight.

How cool!

Anyway, more to the point. For this post I wanted to go over my biggest surprises  – both good and bad. I will write more in a later entry (I don’t want this to get too long). So here goes.

Surprise #1 – Kickstarter is EVERYWHERE!  It was amazing how many vendors had projects already on Kickstarter, or were showing/selling games which had been funded through Kickstarter. As a retailer, I am conflicted with the fulfillment methods used by various participants, but I am absolutely convinced we are seeing more games produced by smaller independents which would not exist without this “crowdsourcing” facility. More games (usually) are a good thing for our industry.

Surprise #2Wooden Wars. I happened upon a game being played in the

family/kids section of the vendor hall called Wooden Wars. Within 60 seconds I was hooked as I watched 6 kids (I would say ages 5-12) moving wooden soldiers (about 5″ high) around a battlefield which was sprawling on the floor. Each child was in charge of a variety of units including infantry, calvary and artillery. These particular soldiers were painted up as Napoleonic era units in bright colorful uniforms. After movement, the moderator (who turned out to be the creator of the game) would allow the kids some combat – which basically involved lobbing a ‘super ball’ from the firing unit to their target. Any unit toppled over was eliminated.


I watched with a grin on my face as this kids had an absolute blast for 30 minutes or so until the battle was over. I walked over to the designer of the game and introduced myself – expressing my desire to have this game for sale at Fair Game as soon as possible. Which leads me to…

Surprise #2A – the creator of Wooden Wars, Thomas Voss, has a Kickstarter up in order to collect enough money so he can start manufacturing the pieces in a cost-effective way using a laser cutting machine. I vowed to back his project (and promptly followed through when I returned home) even though he hadn’t really considered the small retailer in his business model. Thomas and I have been in email contact, and I guarantee at some point we will be carrying these soldiers in some capacity at Fair Game. That being said, I encourage you to get in early on this project if you are considering giving these wonderful soldiers as gifts this holiday season. If you do contribute, make sure you mention that Fair Game sent you!

edit: Thomas pointed out that the lack of retailer contributor levels certainly does not imply he has not considered the retailer. Once the initial launch of Wooden Wars has succeeded and he manages to get his laser machines working without hurting himself or innocent bystanders, retailer support will soon follow. First things first!

Surprise #3: Zombicide (warning, more Kickstarter content below)

Another Kickstarter success story, this game (brought to us by CoolMiniOrNot) was over-funded by some ridiculous amount. One of my friends was part of the initial funding run and brought his recently received copy to GenCon for all of us to play.

What a disappointment.

The bits and pieces of the game are fantastic – and there are plenty of them. However, after playing the first three scenarios, it seems clear that the game design process took second stage to the production quality of the components.

The scenarios seem wildly unbalanced and too easy for the players. The automobiles are very over powered, and the tracking of sound from each player seems overly fiddly and unnecessary.

In an nutshell Zombicide appears incomplete and inadequately play-tested.

Given the fantastic pieces within the box, I really wanted to enjoy this game – as I believe did everyone else – but we just couldn’t muscle through any more scenarios when there were so many other good games to play. In fact, after that last scenario was played, the owner of the game stated that he would likely sell it when he returned home.

It sold on eBay quite quickly.

Well, that’s it for now. I promise to write some more GenCon coverage in later posts once I get my notes *ahem* organized.


Pilgrimage – Fair Game CLOSED for 4 days!

In case I haven’t made it clear in most of my previous posts- Fair Game was opened primarily as a vehicle to spread our love of games to other people within the community and beyond. Eric, myself and my family are all gamers through-and-through. Our store was opened out of passion, not capitalism.

We really love games.

In that regard, we are closing Fair Game for 4 days starting Thursday August 16, and re-opening on Monday August 20. These are four very important days for gamers throughout the country – and indeed the world. The convention known as GenCon has come around again. We decided that as important as it is to “run a business,” it is still secondary to our enjoyment at playing games with good friends and fellow gamers – so it wasn’t too hard of a decision for us to close down during the convention.

If you can spare the 3 hour drive from Downers Grove, come on down to Indy and check out the convention. It has something for everyone! I plan on playing boardgames, Warmachine and others until my eyes are drooping from fatigue. Four days straight. I will also be tweeting random thoughts and photos as I experience the ‘con, so if you are interested make sure you follow us by clicking the button on the right, or clicking .

If you do come down and happen to see us wandering around with a Fair Game T-Shirt, make sure you stop and say ‘hi!’.