Three year anniversary sale!


Quick Update: Fair Game will open at 9am on Friday, November 29th (otherwise known as Black Friday Our Third Anniversary)


As many of you know, Fair Game was opened on a Black Friday – almost three years ago! Blowing past our terrible twos, we are looking forward many more years of bringing great games and family fun to the Western suburbs.

In celebration, we are having a sale on November 29th featuring the following items:
Laser Maze – 20%
Wangle – 20%
Hello Sunshine – 20%
Orchard – 20%
Rise of Augustus – 20%
Pathfinder Minis – 20%
Selected Heroclix – 30%
All Playing Cards – 10%
Field Notes – 10%
All RPG Books and supplements – 10%
Select reaper bones – 30%
All FFG LCG – 20%
Plus, below is a coupon good for 30% any full-price item in the store.
Click, print and bring it in!

(note: this sale, and the coupon, are good for November 29th only)


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!



Second annual 24 hours of gaming at Fair Game!


This weekend (November 2 & 3) Fair Game is hosting a 24 (well, technically 25) hour marathon gaming session to support the Children’s Miracle Network via the Extra Life foundation.

Every year Extra Life hosts a 24 hour event to increase awareness of their cause and encourage gamers and their friends to donate to a great cause.

On an Autumn Saturday each year since 2008, tens of thousands of gamers have joined together to save the lives of local kids in a celebration of gaming culture that we call Extra Life.  From console games to tabletop RPG’s to even lawn sports, Extra Life gives people that love to play a chance to do what they love to save lives and make a difference.

Again this year, a local group of gamer-friends formed their own team, and asked us if we would host the event. Establishing a tradition only takes commitment so we agreed immediately – and now the time is upon us.

If you would like to participate, come in and play any time between 10am Saturday November 2 until 10am Sunday, November 3. We will close the store at 10am Sunday, but will be open again at noon as usual. We are encouraging (but not forcing!) gamers to donate during the 24 hour marathon – we can take donations through the register. As an added bonus, numerous Downers Grove merchants have generously donated prizes to be raffled away during the event. Thanks to Emmet’s, The Spice Merchants and Another Round!

UPDATED: More donations are coming in for the raffle! Thanks to Ballydoyle, and Edward Health & Fitness for generous donations of gift certificates. Also, one of the Naperville group has graciously donated Gloom and all expansions including exclusive promos from Table Top! Finally, game author WJ MacGuffin has offered some of his role-playing titles on PDF including Triune, Outlive Undead and the quirky variant of a classic: Personality Chess. Of course, we (Fair Game) will also be adding a few gift certificates of our own to the mix!

If you can’t make it out and still would like to contribute, why not go right to our part of the team page and give a little by pressing that big orange “Support Me!” button. Every bit counts!

Eric, Richard and I look forward to seeing the hilarity ensue as die-hard gamers and over-tired shopkeepers try to keep their sanity.

Play Games, Heal Kids


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!


GenCon 2013 – A New Hope

genconWhew! It’s been over two weeks since GenCon 2013 called it a wrap. A lot has transpired since then – Fair Game is back to normal operation, the kids are back in school and the summer heat has finally decided to descend on the Chicagoland area.

This year was a first for me at Gen Con – I had the distinct pleasure of bringing my family. It is always refreshing to bring someone new to the convention. After so many years of attending, I tend to almost get in a rut and not see what is transpiring as a whole. Bringing my wife and boys grounded my perspective a bit (which is a good thing!) and forced me to “take it all in” from a fresh point of view. Pretty neat.

Amy brought everyone down Thursday afternoon after I had attended the Wednesday Trade-Day panels and took advantage of the early entrance to the vendor hall on Thursday (decidedly not nearly as cool as it sounds). Sam and Wil (who are ten) wanted to experience two days of the convention, while Amy and Max (who is thirteen) where a little hesitant, so decided to just check out the happenings on Thursday. Needless to say, everyone has decided that next year we would all attend for the duration of the convention and take Gen Con by storm!

I shot some photos (as I always do) and, in a fit of laziness (or to spare you from slogging through my prose), decided I would just post a bunch up here with a quick caption or two. A familial retrospective on GenCon 2013.


Jon Speed Painting

Jon Speed Painting

Spectating at Super RoboRally

Spectating at Super RoboRally

The boys become enamored with the Lego Robo Rally game

The boys become enamored with the Lego Robo Rally game

Android Robo Rally Competitor

Android Robo Rally Competitor

Sam and Wil about to be pummeled by a Warjack.

Sam and Wil about to be pummeled by a Warjack.

Super Dungeon Explore - Painted Miniature contest entrant

Super Dungeon Explore – Painted Miniature contest entrant

My beast barfs in Rainbow!

My beast barfs in Rainbow!

Cardhall - day 2

Cardhall – day 2

Sam adopting some Evil babies.

Sam adopting some Evil babies.

Oh - that grabby baby is going to be trouble!

Oh – that grabby baby is going to be trouble!

The might of Menoth is evident

The might of Menoth is evident

The boys and I attend the D6 Generation Play-By-Mob event

The boys and I attend the D6 Generation Play-By-Mob event

Wil rescuing his brother Sam from the evil passenger car which materialized in the Crowne Plaza hotel.

Wil rescuing his brother Sam from the evil passenger car which materialized in the Crowne Plaza hotel.

I needed something for lunch other than "Gourmet Mac-n-Cheese"

I needed something for lunch other than “Gourmet Mac-n-Cheese”

Lego Superman. Enough said.

Lego Superman. Enough said.



Dad on Pins and Needles taking this photo....

Dad on Pins and Needles taking this photo….

The twins seem enamored with the Imperial Forces

The twins seem enamored with the Imperial Forces

Sam and Wil decide The Doctor needs two sidekicks!

Sam and Wil decide The Doctor needs two sidekicks!



Roll For It! - a nice push-your-luck dice game that plays fast!

Roll For It! – a nice push-your-luck dice game that plays fast!

David Malki! doing a Roll-A-Sketch for us. A Cactus-Tank-Rhino-Boba Fett.

David Malki! doing a Roll-A-Sketch for us. A Cactus-Tank-Rhino-Boba Fett.

A Bill Bricker designed miniature showed up in the competition

A Bill Bricker designed miniature showed up in the competition

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!

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.

photo (3)

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.


photo (6)

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!



All hail the duo!



I just wanted to make a quick announcement: Fair Game will be hosting a rather auspicious event early this morning before opening our doors to the public.

Our twin boys turned 10 this past week and we are celebrating today. Happy birthday Sam and Wil!

Never mind the Elder Gods – having kids will do a great job of driving you insane ;)

Love you guys!