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Game Store to Bring Fantasy to Staten Island

By Nicholas Rizzi | January 10, 2013 9:06am

BULLS HEAD — A new store will let customers battle orcs and dragons, attempt to save the world from diseases, farm in medieval times and become the best trader in the Mediterranean — without leaving Staten Island.

Myriad Games, which has two stores in New Hampshire, will open its third location in Bulls Head next week.

The Richmond Avenue store will carry more than 1,000 board and card games, none that require electricity to work, and employees serve as “game guides” to help customers decide which one is right for them.

“We can pair you — kind of like a wine-and-cheese pairing,” said Dan Yarrington, the managing partner of Myriad Games and CEO of Game Salute. “We can find a game that's good for you and your game group.”

Aside from well-known classics like Monopoly and Sorry!, Myriad Games will also sell deeper, sometimes more complex and strategic, “designer games"  like Settlers of Catan and Ticket to Ride.

“We obviously have all the classics,” said Yarrington. “We also have a lot of new, unique games. They're similar to Monopoly, but actually, playability wise, they're nothing like it.”

People interested in trying out a game, but not dropping around $25 to $50, can also subscribe to the store’s Netflix-like service that lets people rent games for $20 a month.

The idea to open a dedicated board game store on the Island came from Zev Shlasinger and Paul Gerardi, who partnered with Yarrington to open Myriad Games.

Gerardi, 54, a lifelong Staten Islander, worked with Shlasinger for 12 years and helped start Z-Man Games, a company that published popular games like Pandemic and Agricola.

After Shlasinger sold Z-Man to a Canadian company two years ago, Gerardi decided it was time for Staten Island to finally have its first dedicated board game store.

“I’ve been to Des Moines, Iowa, and there's four or five games stores. Staten Island has a population of 500,000 and it didn’t have a single game store,” Gerardi said.

“New York City is vastly underserved with game stores. It just seemed like a good business opportunity and a nice way to help the gaming community out.”

Gerardi said for many years, the only game store in the city was The Compleat Strategist in Midtown, but because of its small size it can’t accommodate tables for people to play and demo games.

Myriad Games will have tables for gamers and groups to use and Gerardi said he’s excited the store will help bring the board gamers of Staten Island together.

“It will create that kind of meeting place for gamers to hook up with each other,” he said.

On average, the “designer games” sell at a higher price than more well-known games — some going for more than $70 — because of better components and more pieces, Yarrington said.

However, Yarrington said the value per dollar for board games makes it a cheaper form of entertainment than going to the movies.

“We actually look at the kind of cost per play,  and it's one of the cheaper forms of entertainment we could have,” Yarrington said.

“It's more a specialty kind of boutique setup, and even at the most expensive, it's still a tremendously good value.”

Yarrington said the nice part about these games is they let families and friends sit across a table and interact with one another without phones or laptops.

“It’s really nice to be able to sit down across the table from a real person and interact without an electronic screen,” he said.

Yarrington, who also does distribution and publishing for Game Salute, said that he has seen a large increase in the popularity of board games because it gives families a fun way to spend their free time.

“It's just like you go bowling, or you play golf,” he said. “You play games once a week.”

The store plans to have a soft opening next week, and a larger grand opening in February or March featuring game publishers and designers, Gerardi said.