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Last month, Thor Johnson opened the Emerald Game House, a space for tabletop gamers in the basement of the Kodiak Masonic Lodge. Complete with snacks and drinks for sale, Warhammer paraphernalia, and table space for rent, Johnson hopes it will be a new gathering point for Kodiak’s gaming scene.
“What our main thing here is providing the space for people to come and play and have that… because it can take quite a bit of space playing some of these games and so not everybody has access to it,” Johnson said.
The Emerald Game House has a large number of tables for Warhammer 40k, which is a favorite among the game house’s patronage, Magic the Gathering, a card game not dissimilar to Pokémon, and classic roleplaying game Dungeons and Dragons. Classic video game consoles hooked up to TVs line the walls, all of which are available for a $5 to $10 cover fee.
Many tabletop gamers in Kodiak are grown men and women well into their adult lives; often they’re working parents, and many of them are active or retired Coast Guard. Johnson, an Army veteran himself, says that the presence of veterans in the tabletop gaming space is not a coincidence.
“There are a lot of cases where young soldiers and sailors and airmen; they are involved in these communities- Magic the Gathering, or Warhammer and it helps- they’re very therapeutic hobbies. Magic teaches like sequencing, problem solving and Warhammer teaches also probabilities, math, tactics on a level,” Johnson said.
Describing Warhammer usually opens by comparing it to chess, and then giving up- the game attempts to simulate an infantry engagement of warriors 38,000 years in the future on a tabletop map, along with vehicle support and abilities that veer on the edge of magic.
It involves considerable setup time involving tape measures, meticulous placement of dozens of plastic models on an area the size of a large dinner table, and followed by several hours of rolling dice and consulting rules.
Kolt Foreman recently won a local Warhammer tournament. He’s in the Coast Guard, and says that for him Warhammer provides a much-needed break.
“It’s also a way to also step out of being in the military just to relax and do something totally different. Here I am, like I said, I’m 40 years old, and I’m playing with plastic miniature models like I’m still a kid, I’m still a Toys R Us kid. I have a blast with it. It’s great,” Foreman said.
Those interested in finding a space for their gaming of all types in Kodiak can find the Emerald Game House at 1117 Mill Bay Road. It’s closed Sundays and Mondays.