Pen-and-paper gamers have 3 new places to call home around Tuscaloosa
By WVUA 23 Digital Reporter Jas Orr
Three new gaming stores have sprung up this summer in Tuscaloosa and Northport. Down to Game, One Up TCG and Gear Gaming are filling the void left in the gaming community after Tuscaloosa’s lone tabletop gaming store, Crimson Castle, closed for good during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Both Down to Game and One Up TCG are fully open, while Gear Gaming is still in its soft opening period.
“I’m pretty excited that there are gaming stores in town,” said Jacob Soler, a visitor of One Up TCG. “It’s pretty exciting to get to drive five minutes to pick up new D&D books, a commander deck (from Magic the Gathering) or spend all my money on dice.”
All three stores host events including tournaments for Magic the Gathering, Yu-gi-oh!, Pokémon Trading Card Game and Star Wars Legion. They also host board game nights, offering newbies and experts alike a chance to play unique board games or classics like Settlers of Catan.
One Up TCG hosts their own Dungeons and Dragons games that anyone is invited to join. Additionally, Down to Game plans to join the Adventurers League, an easy-to-join D&D campaign that spans gaming stores across the world.
The stores stock materials so anyone can get started with these games or buy the latest and greatest expansions, and offer gaming space for anyone interested in playing with others. Additionally, Down to Game has a D&D room available for community members to rent for their own games for $5. In the future, this room will feature a table with a built-in screen for battle maps.
“The big one we try to focus on is card games like Yu-gi-oh! and Magic, so that’s what we run the most events and tournaments for,” said Zack Middleton, manager of Down to Game “There are multiple communities inside the larger community and they each have their different nights. It’s spread out through the whole week, but each day you’ll have someone coming in for something.”
All three stores had previous locations, with Down to Game getting started in Starkville, Mississippi, One Up TCG in Mendenhall, Mississippi, and Gear Gaming in Birmingham.
“We had some people traveling from Tuscaloosa to our other store because they had nothing here,” said Middleton.“The response has been phenomenal. The community has just welcomed us with open arms. They’ve met us like family.”
Down to Game is located at 933 McFarland Blvd. in Northport. Gear Gaming is also in Northport, at 203D McFarland Blvd. One Up TCG is located at 506 14th St., Tuscaloosa.
“The thing about game stores is that they are really family and community based,” said Jonathan Frye, owner of One Up TCG. “Some people don’t really know that many people, but when they come to the game store, they realize really quickly that everyone here is like-minded. All these people come from different backgrounds, but they all enjoy the different games and that’s what brings them together.”