Game Shop Review: Mox Boarding House

Game Shop Reviews

When I heard that a hobby and game store was opening in Bellevue, I pursed my eyes.  Bellevue has a sort of sterile quality that affects many of its shops, and I’d expected that to wash over its new store.  But let’s get the TL;DR right off the bat: Mox Boarding House has become my home store for Infinity.

Apologies in advance for shoddy photos—they’re all phone cam, and I was shaking with hunger when I entered…

Every time I walk into this place, it feels simultaneously like climbing into a limousine and plopping down on my friend’s couch.  Games line every wall like a Harry Potter wand shop, and employees are always running around with an equal appearance of friendliness, confusion, hard work and laid backness.  It’s an incredibly good vibe that I wish more stores—more retailers of every kind—could emulate.

I’m always happy to see employees like Joe and Frank, even if I confuse their names—and I wish they got paid time to play Infinity with us.

Might just be good staff, but whatever is going on there, it works.  Sure, there’s the occasional guy who looks like he’d rather be schmoozing gals or playing videogames—yet there’s none of the soul-sucking torpor so typical to retailers.

This was like the sixth or seventh picture that wasn't a blurry Dutch angle. While I wanted to get all my photos before the crowd arrive, I guess I think I really like that there are always people standing around or going places. It's a store with a Dickensian bustle.

This was like the sixth or seventh picture that wasn’t a blurry Dutch angle. While I wanted to get all my photos with the Washington sun still up, and before the crowds arrived—I guess that I really like that there are always people standing around or going places. It’s a store with a Dickensian bustle.

Clearly the community feels similarly—people of literally (yes, literally) all ages frequent the store.  There are always little boys peeking their noses over the wargaming table, ogling our little sci-fi men and asking ice cream parlor questions, while mum, dad, big brother or grandma is minutes away with a verbal leash.  Never any harm, of course.  I felt like Mr Ray in Finding Nemo tonight, walking around a triad of chirpy kids and explaining how models are assembled and painted…

There are four 6'x4' wargaming tables on the left-middle side of the store. You can pretty much find any wargame in the wreath of product, and a big box of terrain keeps tables populated for Infinity whenever my friend Big Chris doesn't arrive with his Micro Art Studios city. Tamrielo was also kind enough to drop by and donate to Mox a whole $200 set of laser-cut Infinity terrain. Great stuff!

There are four 6’x4′ wargaming tables on the left-middle side of the store. You can pretty much find any wargame in the wreath of product, and a big box of terrain keeps tables populated for Infinity whenever my friend Big Chris doesn’t arrive with his Micro Art Studios city. Tamrielo was also kind enough to drop by and donate to Mox a whole $200 set of laser-cut Infinity terrain. Great stuff!

I don’t frequent the tournament tables often, but in the back a generously spacious room with a proper score chandelier ruling in the center.  A long hallway leads from the tournament table room to the restrooms, restaurant, and eventually back to the lobby.

So classy. I could start up MTG just to justify playing in here.

So classy. I could start up MTG just to justify playing in here.  In a few hours, all these tables were packed with people playing Magic.

Oh, I mentioned a restaurant?  Not only that—a bar, too!  To prevent the 21 & older problem in American restaurants, alcohol imbibers like myself are not allowed to take party drinks about the store.  You are openly welcomed to take (good!) food and soft drinks, however, all throughout the store.

I used to do restaurant work, so I feel guilty about taking materials when not necessary, but Mox will totally give you a to-go box for your food, and you can walk your whole meal over to your game table. But we usually all sit down to eat before playing—again, such a good vibe here. Most of the servers are friendly, fairly punctual, and yes, even pretty. They rotate beer stock regularly, which for the current beer renaissance in America, is good, good news. (House burger, chicken capreze, and poutine are all great)

I used to do restaurant work, so I feel guilty about taking materials when not necessary, but Mox will totally give you a to-go box for your food, and you can walk your whole meal over to your game table. But we usually all sit down to eat before playing—again, such a good vibe here. Most of the servers are friendly, fairly punctual, and yes, even pretty. They rotate beer stock regularly, which for the current beer renaissance in America, is good, good news. (House burger, chicken capreze, and poutine are all great)

If you want a tête-à-tête card game, or to take a break and paint, the room pictured below adjoins the wargaming room, and is roughly centered in the store.  Many brands of paints are available to sell, and I thank the gods of the store for putting a trash can in here, because I walk through this place all the time with food trash still in my hands.

Kris, the house event coordinator and best kind of geekdom enthusiast, is usually seen here quickly answering questions or off to start new ones.

I haven't actually used this room yet except on my way between Infinity and the restaurant. If I have a day to justify driving to Bellevue to paint or learn Magic, I'll probably spend some hours there. Otherwise it's another posh sight along paths to other fun.

I haven’t actually used this room yet except on my way between Infinity and the restaurant. If I have a day to justify driving to Bellevue to paint or learn Magic, I’ll probably spend some hours there. Otherwise it’s another posh sight along paths to other fun.

This room—I don’t know how I didn’t find it sooner.  It’s the damn secret-wizard-Byzantine-library-gentleman-cigar-room.  I’ve been to Mox a half dozen times or more now, and I can’t believe how couture it feels back in there.  The picture hardly does it justice:  The room measurably quieter than the outer restaurant—which is noisy in a good boisterous way, but—the aesthetics, with woodwork and alchemical jars and decals and bookshelves that literally pile into the ceiling…

Get outta here.  Too cool in a too cool store.  Corner to corner, Mox has this gold, black, mahogany wash that’s ritzy and homey and great.

My friends Will, Jason, Tom and Big Chris are just off-camera below on a long table. Big Chris is the guy who originally got all of us into Infinity, and as luck would have it, there are now 6 or 7 Chrises (among 13 or 14 players) and we're still trying to work out a good nickname system.

My friends Will, Jason, Tom and Big Chris are just off-camera below on a long table. Big Chris is the guy who originally got all of us into Infinity, and as luck has it, there are now 6 or 7 Chrises (among 13 or 14 players) and we’re still trying to work out distinguishing nicknames…

A wibbly-wobbly 360° GIF may help to get final bearings as I go into the rating:

MoxBoaHou360Gif

Mox is clean.  Like, incredibly Bellevue clean.  I feel bad putting my coat down, everything’s so tidy.  High standards of living here in Bellevue mean you can be pretty cavalier about leaving stuff around, as nobody would steal your toys…

MBHPristinePartytime

Mox’s staff are certainly knowledgeable and happy to help, but they do tend to back off uniformly once you get your games going. I would actually enjoy if they were more chatty in general, but I do also respect their respect.

MBHHelpfulHandsoff

Oh, there’s certainly a competitive spirit at Mox.  But there is a nicer, we’re-all-just-people-who-love-games spirit, and I think the better.

MBHCompetitiveCasual

Everybody’s friendly.  The employees, waitresses, supervisors and customers.  Mox is very professional, but there’s a very welcoming vibe I can’t pin any of my fingers on that, again, I wish was everywhere.  But, I do bias in favor erringly polite than brusquely business.

MBHBusinessyFriendly

Overall, with excellent service, great store selection, the built-in restaurant, and flawless presentation, I have much to praise at Mox.  But most important of all, do they support the Infinity community?

Yes.

I rate Mox Boarding House 5 out of 5 Artichokes.

Artichokes5

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