The top 8 board game stores in Toronto
Board games in Toronto are becoming more popular than ever before. It's not a backlash against video games, but more of a maturing of both the gamers and the games. Board games have evolved from the days of Monopoly and Sorry! Modern games are better balanced, often easier to learn and encourage social group interaction more. Which is something video games lack. Instead of staring at a screen, the eyes of board gamers are on each other. That's why board game sales are up and board game cafes like Snakes and Lattes, GO Lounge and U Tea are popping up all over Toronto.
But the popularity of games has also resulted in an inflation of board games made, so picking the right one can be tough. Luckily Toronto has a number of exciting gaming stores all over the city. Though you could pick up a game from the big box stores, you'll find a much larger selection and better prices at the specialty stores (many of them sell their games for online prices). In addition you'll get expert advice on what game to pick from devoted people that have made gaming their lifestyle.
As an added bonus many stores offer free space for you to bring your friends and play your games at. There are even events running every night at most game spaces. Bring a friend or just head there alone. You're bound to meet friendly faces and it's a refreshing change from the big screen at home.
Here are the top 8 places to buy board games in Toronto.
The full name is 401 Games, Toys and Sportscards. The store started as a convenience store 20 years ago, but has grown to one of Toronto's busiest game stores. So busy that they're moving to a location that is three times larger at 518 Yonge street in August. Till then you can drop by for free board game nights (Wednesdays) or just marvel at the massive collection of games, action figures, sports cards, card games and more.
Snakes and Lattes
Located on Bloor, just west of Bathurst station, this board game cafe is also a game store. So if the place is full, and it usually is, you can just pick up a game and head home. They recently expanded and now look more like a bar than a cafe; which is awesome! Their collection of games to play is the largest in Toronto and for only $5 you can play them all for as long as you like.
The Hairy Tarantula
The Diagon Alley of Toronto's game stores; it's central, but difficult to find to the untrained eye. But look for the giant Zanzibar sign across the street and you'll find a staircase that leads to one of Toronto's oldest and most packed gaming stores. If you are looking for something rare or out of print; this is the store for you. Don't let its cramped interior fool you, the store is larger than it appears at first. And don't forget their location at 6979 Yonge St.
Not all the game stores are located on Bloor or Yonge. On Mt. Pleasant Rd, just south of Eglinton Ave, you will find Strategy Games. Though more focused on classic games (it's run by the Chess'n Math Association (CMA) a non-profit organization devoted to bringing the game of chess to Canadian youngsters), this store is packed wall to wall with new games as well. There's also a rentable space downstairs that seats up to 60 gamers.
Though more focused on war gaming and tabletop role-playing games, this is a hidden gem on Bloor street. Just a few blocks east of Lansdowne station. There's a large gaming area (1500 sq.ft.) in the basement and though it doesn't rival Snakes and Lattes, it's free and available. The medieval weapon collection on the walls also help set the mood.
You'll find the Silversnail just north of Dundas square. Though heavily skewed towards comics, you'll also find a great selection of board games here. There's also the Black Canary Espresso Bar where you can watch the busy streets while contemplating what game to get next.
Heavy Support Games
If you're in the west end of Toronto and don't want to bother going all the way downtown: stop by Heavy Support Games on the Queensway. Mainly a miniature gaming and card games store, it has great prices on most modern games.
Named after the small person-shaped figures used as a player's tokens, this place is more a warehouse than a game store. But it boasts a massive collection of board games. Shelf after shelf of multiple games awaits you...if you can find it. This place is tricky to discover, even if you have the address. Look for the very nondescript door at 290 Carlaw Ave and head upstairs.