Category Archives: Uncategorized

Dice – what are they good for?

Another BoingBoing post goes into depth on the use of dice in gaming. A very cool read about one of our favorite mechanics in board games.

Roll away:

(and yes, I really enjoy BoingBoing)


A short review of the new Monster Manual

Monster-Manuel-Cover-Art-782x1024-680x890You know the game industry is on the right track when game reviews start showing up on mainstream blogs. Here is a nice succinct review of the latest edition of the venerable Monster Manual:

BoingBoing review of the new Monster Manual


TableTop Day : April 5th!



International TableTop Day is a celebration for all the fans of tabletop gaming. A single day where the whole world is brought together in a common purpose of spending time together and having fun.

Fair Game would like to be part of your Table Top Day experience.  Stop on by for a few minutes, or stay all day. We will be gaming pretty much non-stop from 10am until 9pm!


Too cold for games? Fair Game closed Jan 27th

Well, not really. Hopefully all of you have a nice selection of games in your nice warm homes to keep you company for the next few days. Fair Game will be CLOSED on Monday, January 27th due to the extreme weather.

Stay warm, and game hearty!



A year behind, a year ahead

IMG_4471Happy 2014 everyone!

2013 has left the building, please move along.

Fair Game has chalked up another year on the books – graduating from the terrible twos, to the challenging threes. We are growing up!

Part of growing is looking forward to changes – but as a toddler we still need help from those around us. We are considering a few changes at the store and some new additions to our product lines. We are also starting to outgrow our current point-of-sale system and inventory control, so may take the leap at an infra-structure change this year (that will likely come with a few blog posts of it’s own if it happens). Any advice from retail owners out there would be eagerly devoured!

In terms of some expected changes, here is a quick list:

  • We are adding more board game tournaments this year – for example, Ticket to Ride (1/11), Game of Thrones (1/18), and 7 Wonders (1/25) will be featured this month.
  • Sometime in February we will be hosting a game auction. The comedic drama which unfolds when Eric, Amy or I take on the role as auctioneer should be priceless.
  • Role playing games continue to be an enigma for the business. Despite the fact that we all LOVE RPGs, they just do not generate the same type of business that the other gaming genres do. We have no solution to this yet – but it will likely involve more diverse content and possibly some organized play.
  • Miniatures have been a standout hit for us – Warmachine / Hordes specifically. We are strongly considering adding another line – and looking carefully at small scale (squad level) systems. Let us know if you have a favorite!
  • We will have some fixture changes coming – we have already switched all of our lighting to LEDs. Look forward to some ceiling fans and some more lighting in certain darker places.

Finally, it is with a heavy heart that I learned of the closing of our neighborhood toy store, “My Favorite Toy Store”. This is a huge blow to our town and also to Fair Game. Our two stores complimented each other quite well – there was rarely a day we didn’t meet a new customer who was referred to us by them, and similarly we frequently would send people over their way in order to find a toy or puzzle. Our two stores were symbiotic, and like the hydra who loses a head, Fair Game will be weaker without them around.

Mike – I wish you all the best in the future!


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!



Shields Up – Nostalgia incoming!

Federation_Commander_-_Klingon_Border_coverNOSTALGIA ALERT: I’m waxing on again about “those days” in this post – but WAIT! I actually have ‘real’ content hidden within (a demo being run of the great game Federation Commander). Click here to skip straight to the bizness.

Back in the day, when a gamer had to seek out like-minded individuals to drum up a game or two I stumbled upon the game Star Fleet Battles – a hyper-detailed simulation/game set in the Star Trek universe. SFB introduced quasi-simultaneous movement and a very innovative turn progression. Players track the status of their ships with record sheets showing systems (shields, weapons, sensors, etc.) represented with check-boxes.

My gamer-friends and I played this game at least TWICE. I loved it – some of my co-conspirators were a bit…underwhelmed. The problem was it was a bit too…complicated.

Now if you’ve been following my (sporadic) posts here at Fair Game, you probably already know that I’m a bit of a rules fanatic. I love rules; owning them, reading them, sometimes even following them. The ‘heavier’ the rule-set, the more likely I am to enjoy the game. My favorite two-player game is Advanced Squad Leader for crying out loud. Get it? I’m a kook.

So SFB not only appealed to my love of the Star Trek universe, but also my obsession with complicated, “simulate-everything-down-to-the-clogged-garbage-disposal” mentality.

Unfortunately, the game – while generally understood to be good, did not do that well in the ‘market’ so fell to the wayside.

Luckily, Amarillo Design Bureau had the great idea to simplify the rule-set (just a bit now!) to appeal to more gamers, yet keep the core ‘simultaneous movement’ system intact.

Welcome to Federation Commander. I game set in the same universe as Starfleet Battles, but with rules which have been rewritten and streamlined to make the game play faster.

Side bar (gadzooks, just get to the point!) – gamers are a wonderful lot; and every single one of them has a favorite game they want to play. One of our regular customers (and a colleague of mine) offered to run a demo of Federation Commander at Fair Game this month, simply because he loves the game.


Not only that, he wrote me some copy – which (because I’m a spotlight hog) – is shown below. Short version: come on out to Fair Game to demo Federation Commander on October 26th, starting at 1pm.

Without further ado – here is his copy:

Federation Commander

In an effort to declare peace, the United Federation of planets have declared where their border exists with the Klingon Empire. This border would represent the extent of the Federation’s exploratory and expansion efforts. Beyond the Neutral Zone the Klingon Empire would be free to rule as they see fit. However, the Klingons argue that this border declaration established the border well within their territory. Unwilling to accept defeat, the Klingon starships dash across the Neutral Zone attacking convoys, patrols and colonies. Join the struggle between the Klingon Empire and Federation by learning to fly one of several starships included in Federation Commander: Klingon Border.

A demonstration of this game from Amarillo Design Bureau will be held on October 26 at 1:00 pm at Fair Game where you will learn to fly the heavy cruisers of the Federation, the battlecruisers of the Klingon Empire, the drone launching Kzinti warships, and the Tholian patrol ships. On the fly energy allocation and a simple damage allocation system make this game easy to learn and fast to play. Introductory scenarios to playing the game as well as a full scale fleet battle scenario (with miniatures) will be run by Ken Krajniak until 5pm or all starship Captains have retired for the evening.

If you want to secure a spot for this event, drop us a line at:

Thanks Ken!


Get your engineering on!

photo (2)

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!



Value as a measure of worth

bar-chart-iconI’ve recently been thinking about the value of “things” – physical items, business decisions, career choices and whatnot. I’ve come to a sort of conclusion that is probably stating the obvious : determining the value of something is not only personally (or socially) subjective, but can also be the catalyst of an extreme fanaticism which sometimes approaches religious fervor.

sidebar: No real gaming content in this post. I’ve been wrapped up in a myriad of “real life” situations which have – unfortunately – precluded me from getting much gaming in. I have been remiss in not posting anything in such a long time – but could not come to any convergence on the “right” thing to post and still keep the content relevant. I’m not sure how relevant this post is – but at least I’ve got pen-to-paper (so to speak). TL;DR : Josh waxes on philosophical about making priority decisions in the day-to-day life of a human being.

So the situation which got me thinking about the subject of value and worth came right from my family life. I have a teenage son who has become enamored with “limited edition” basketball shoes (primarily produced by Nike). Supposedly these things can fetch large sums of money in the secondary market due to their rarity (and desirability). Each style has a story along with some crazy color schemes and occasional esoteric materials. Frankly it strikes me as marketing genius – but these kids (my son included) – find them extremely desirable and are willing to part with large sums of money to procure them.

This makes absolutely no sense to me. Why someone would save up hundreds of dollars to buy a pair of shoes that they are then too worried about wearing lest they get stained, scratched or even wet is beyond me. This opinion of mine flew completely perpendicular to that of my number-one-son; hence causing familial tension.

I had to swallow my (what I consider) well-developed common sense and allow him to spend some serious cash (money he had saved) for a pair of these wundershoes. Both his mom and I took a big step back – sucked it up – and “let” him spend his money on this endeavor. The shoes came and he coveted them as expected. In fact, he is wearing them today (after dutifully cleaning them and making sure they shone like the sunrise). I then got to thinking about “how crazy it is” that he spent hard-earned money on something so….frivolous.

Somehow I began equating this to the things in my life that I feel are “worth it” to spend that cash on; and realized – pretty quickly – that value is, without a doubt, in the eye of the beholder. I look at what I choose to spend my disposable income on and compare them to my wife’s choices, or my boys, and it quickly becomes apparent that we cannot expect to understand how someone places a value on a particular product, idea or concept any more than we can expect to understand any abstract, highly personal emotion. Explaining to Amy why I consider routinely spending double-digit sums for comic books is the mirror-image discussion to her explaining to me why she needs another shade of nail polish or lipstick when she “already has a billion of them” (my opinion mind you!).

Value is intangible; emotional; personal. It is decidedly not a simple math equation – which is where we often resort to in arguments. Justifying our “value” of something boils down to a personal opinion – and we should take it as such. “Dad, I want the shoes…because” is as valid an argument as any ( even more than the somewhat lame attempt at convincing me they are a good “investment” because they can be resold later).

Now – bringing this back to a somewhat relevant post regarding Fair Game- the term value can (and often is) applied to our store. In fact “valuing” our business is a concept done quite frequently – banks and investors do it all the time in order to determine if it is a good idea to loan money or invest in a business. The fact of the matter is, many (MANY) people we discussed the concept of Fair Game to before opening our doors did not see how we could make it work. “How do you compete with online sales? Big Box stores? How many people will you really attract?”

And my answer now – as it was 3 years ago – is simply “we don’t compete on price, we compete on service”; which given my realization above could be rewritten as “We at Fair Game do not compete on price, we compete on value.” Value – that intangible immeasurable term which loan officers, investors and accountants have a hard time grasping with because it cannot be quantified.

But we feel that we do offer value. In as many different ways as we have customers. That – in turn – makes Fair Game a success no matter how you measure.

Before concluding (and I apologize for the length of this – congrats if you have stay tuned for so long!) I wanted to kind of come forward and explain my lack of presence at the store as of late. I recently took a new position in my “real” job which has me doing some wildly different things than I had been doing for the last 15 years. It is very exciting – and something I went into willingly – however it has meant that I have been traveling a lot and getting familiar with my new position. Luckily Eric, Amy and Richard keep the store running smoothly; Amy keeps our family running at peak efficiency; and everyone involved seems to deal with my (OMG – AS_OWNER_I_NEED_TO____) panic attacks in a laissez-faire way.

I’m looking forward to seeing where my new position takes me – as well as how Fair Game grows. We have some exciting stuff in the works for the store – including bringing in some new lines. It should be a great summer for all of us.

When things are a little less hectic I might even get to play a game or two!



Red leader, Check Your Six! (or fifteenth)

Star-Wars-X-Wing-Miniatures-Horton-SalmWelcome to 2013! The first year in many previous years to contain 4 different digits. Near as I can figure, the last year to feature that was 1987; which is amazingly 26 years ago. But I digress…

Time speeds along at a breakneck pace. Fair Game has now been open for business for just over two years. Wow! We have learned a lot in the last 24 months; moved locations; hired some new people – and continue to marvel at how each new customer brings a new piece to our retail game. Still having fun too. Which – let’s face it – is kind of what we are all about anyway.

Speaking of fun – if you haven’t had a chance to sit down and play some of the new games we have on our demo shelves, do yourself a favor and stop in. We continually add new games – which sometimes may get lost among the plethora of other demos we have packed on the shelves. One game in particular has really taken us by storm – Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures. This gem combines fast Lucas-inspired “aerial” combat with wonderfully detailed miniatures and typical Fantasy Flight flair. A game can take from 20 minutes to over an hour depending on the number of ships in play. Players can field a variety of Star Wars favorites including the X-Wing, Y-Wing, Tie fighter and Tie Fighter Advanced. More ships are on the horizon too – with the Millennium Falcon, Slave One, A-Wingand the Tie Interceptor predicted to arrive any week now.


For those of you already familiar with X-Wing Miniatures (or anyone else ready to jump on board), Fair Game will begin a league event starting Tuesday, Jan 15th at 6pm. The event, titled “The X-Wing Map League of Universal Domination!” will run over a period of four weeks. During the event, participants may play in battles against opposing factions, contesting regions throughout the known Star Wars Universe. Certain regions will gain the controller bonuses for as long as that region remains in their hands.


Although the event officially kicks off on a Tuesday, players can meet at Fair Game any time we are open to play officially sanctioned leagues games – reporting their results as soon as they are done. With any luck, I will have a web page showing the results in <sort of> real time.

If you would like more information, please send us an email or stop on in.

May the Force be with you!