The mighty Card Kingdom in Seattle, father business of Mox Boarding House in Bellevue, is the grandfather of a glorious trend of bar/diner/gamer place. It’s the original and, to many, best of its kind in Washington. For a smallish property in Seattle, they have made excellent use of their space, and earned an extremely loyal neighborhood of customers. It’s a game den to covet.
The entrance of Card Kingdom presents itself much like my home store’s, with towers of games and open walkways and tables, all lit both well and moodily. I did not stop by the adjoined Café Mox (after which Mox Boarding House is likewise named) during my last visit, but just like Mox in Bellevue, one can eat, drink, booze, game, and ogle Seattle freaks, all in the same store.
The Magic players have their regular room, as these game shops tend to. I haven’t yet met an FLGS owner who didn’t credit Magic the Gathering as their bread and butter.
The tables here are lovely, and the décor, like its daughter-store Mox, is top notch and well-palletted. Nothing is gawdy or try-hard. It’s just a posh game shop for players who aren’t ashamed to love the hell out of their hobbies. Lots of stores are cropping up like Card Kingdom here in Washington State. Even my hometown of Bothell just picked up Zulu’s Board Game Café, a petite Shire-themed echo of the bar/diner/gamer getup.
You might know a forum user or two pictured here. Not pictured is the honorable ToadChild of Infinity Dice Calculator and Mayanet fame, who is a regular here on Mondays. Later that night I would break out my Joan+Teuton army by a box of artichokes against Corbeau.
Oh yes, in Card Kingdom, there are some Haqqislam fans like you wish you knew . The interior of this mosque is totally playable and Infinity-friendly, and was perpetually pored over by players during my visit.
However, the most beautiful wall in the store is on a lightly-trafficked corner facing the street window, where many boxes of curiously mesmerizing blue and orange shine gloriously out at the Warmahordes nerds, as if to say, look, look here you lost souls, look to this shiny anime future for true meaning to your life.
Scowl with envy, o brave brexiters. Être jaloux, continentals. Our yankee stores are the hippest.
You can see Card Kingdom’s age on a wall or two, and the grungy Ballard grit outside, but on the whole the store is a pristine and elegant experience.
Like Mox of Bellevue, the employees seem to straddle a happy medium of being chatty and amiable, if you have questions; but leaving you alone, if you don’t.
This was not the first time I walked into Card Kingdom, but it is the first time I have played Infinity within, as I recall. Attendees are cordial and courteous of course, but there is definitely that air of I’m going to beat you. Maybe it was all the mouthbreathing of MTG players in the next room…
When I visited, I told the clerk who asked me about the photos I was taking that I kept an Infinity blog, to which he responded, “Ah, the Loneliest Artichoke”? Yes! Staff here are very courteous and clearly attentive about their respective communities, don’t hear me wrong here. But this isn’t a mom’n’pop shop or a new business needed to stamp a good impression on the neighbors. Card Kingdom a business, a good business at that.
Though I haven’t toured every game store, Mox Boarding House is the stand-out of all I have seen, benefiting from larger square footage and designer’s experience from Card Kingdom. So, although I cannot say anything cynical about Card Kingdom, I also cannot give Card Kingdom the highest rating.
I rate Card Kingdom 4 out of 5 Artichokes.