By Jay Cook |
FAIR HAVEN – John Croddick has been a passionate card game aficionado for years.
Since the days of playing Dungeons and Dragons with a bevy of friends during the mid- 1980s, the 46-year-old Rumson resident has now turned his love for card and tabletop games into a business where locals can play in a friendly, welcoming environment.
“It’s been great,” Croddick said about the first month of Peninsula Games, his board and card game store. “Thanks to social media, we are getting our name out there.”
Located in the heart of Fair Haven, diagonally across from Fairwinds Deli and just a half-block down from Booskerdoo Coffee Co. on River Road, Peninsula Games aims to serve those who are stepping back from traditional online gaming and looking to play with tangible trading cards.
In the first month since the shop opened, Croddick said the store has focused on some of the most popular cards games in the world. At the top of that list is Magic: The Gathering, Hearthstone, and Pokémon, all of which can be found and played in Croddick’s shop.
Currently, Croddick and shop manager David McNamara, 25, run different Hearthstone and Magic tournaments for local people to play.
“It’s a nice experience to be able to get together with your friends instead of play- ing with somebody random online,” McNamara said.
Hearthstone is an online collectible card video game framed around the Warcraft franchise, which can be played from a mobile device or a laptop. Magic is widely regarded now as the premiere trading card game around, and is based around gameplay where players can “cast powerful spells and summon monstrous creatures,” according to Magic.
With entry fees ranging anywhere from $5 to $12, reasonable for even the youngest of fans, players can bring their binders and backpacks and be part of some of the nearly four-hour tournaments that take place weekly at Peninsula Games.
Outside of the tournaments, traders can come to play one-on-one with different people, trade cards or even buy different booster packs to upgrade their own collections.
Cataloguing cards has been a task that Croddick and McNamara have tirelessly taken on. Between his own collections and those purchased online, Croddick has gathered approximately 25,000 Magic and Pokémon cards in total. They nearly fill 33 full school-style binders to the brim.
Add that in with the glass case of rare and collectible cards – which range any- where between $25 to over $100 – and Peninsula Games boasts one of the most impressive card collections around.
Besides the Big Three of trading card games, the store also sells YuGiOh packs as well as the newly released Star Wars Destiny game. Along the side wall of the shop are board games like Scythe, Sea Fall and Smash Up, all of which offer their own style of gaming experience.
Peninsula Games fills a void and differs from stores in the local gaming, novelty and collectible scene, which are patronized equally by preteens, high school and college grads, along with the not-so-rare middle-aged player.
HobbyMasters, a Red Bank staple, focuses more on its namesake of hobbies rather than collectible and trading card games, though it hosts a Friday night open gaming forum. YesterCades, also of Red Bank, bases its business around the classic video/arcade game industry. According to McNamara, Peninsula Games’ biggest competitors would be the local comic book stores – Jay and Silent Bob’s Secret Stash and Comic Crypt – but those stores’ main focus remain in comics.
“It’s really community building when it comes to a store like this,” said McNamara. “Being able to interact with people in a more social manner than just talking online is big.”
With many more months to come, Croddick looks forward to watching the crowds of players grow. All in all, he said, “with every generation, it’s the same kids that are playing.”
Peninsula Games is open on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 2 to 8 p.m. and on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. For more information, visit Peninsula Games on Facebook or call at 732-747-3445.
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