Running out of ideas about how to spend your quarantine free time? How about a new board game to play or a puzzle to puzzle over?
At these independent shops in the Bay Area game, you'll find new offerings like Betrayal at House on the Hill, classics like chess, and everything in between.
Gamescape SF and Gamescape North
The OG of San Francisco gaming, the Lower Haight's Gamescape is packed with games and puzzles to satisfy just about everyone. In addition to classic and newfangled board and card games, this store has brain teasers, models, word games and trivia, not to mention jigsaw puzzles galore. More serious gamers will find what they're looking for in Gamescape's collection of Magic: The Gathering cards and RPGs, and there are plenty of kid-friendly and cooperative games for households who'd rather work together than declare a victor.
// 33 Divisadero (Lower Haight), gamescapesf.store
If you're in the North Bay, there's no need to come all the way to the city to get your gaming fix. Gamescape North in San Rafael is currently open for in-store shopping, pickup, and online ordering. (Note that these two stores are not actually affiliated with one another.)
// 1225 4th St (San Rafael), gamescape-north.com.
One of the newest additions to the local game store scene, Game Post is a gamer's wonderland sprinkled with a hefty dash of art supplies, plushies, and miniatures. In addition to board games, RPGs, and card games of the collectible and non-collectible varieties, this shop has painting supplies and a family of soft, fuzzy Pusheen and Totoro creatures. If your wallet is looking a little thin these days, check out their selection of discounted used and dented games. Gift certificates are also available.
// Open for curbside pickup and online ordering, 689 Third St. (SoMa), sfgamepost.com.
Games of Berkeley
An East Bay favorite for four decades, Games of Berkeley has one of the largest selections of games on the West Coast. Their shelves are chock-full of jigsaw puzzles, board games, dice, cards and RPGs, as well as more active games like darts, frisbee golf, and table tennis sets. From flying and building toys like frisbees and Nanoblocks to arts-and-crafts supplies and STEM kits, Games of Berkeley's even got the kids (and kids at heart) covered. And if The Queen's Gambit has inspired you to take up the game of kings, check out the shop's extensive chess sets, pieces, boards, and books.
// Open for in-store shopping and pickup (no cash accepted currently) or online ordering; 2510 Durant Ave (Berkeley), gamesofberkeley.com.
D20 Game Store
Alameda's D20 Games doesn't futz around with time-wasters like jigsaw puzzles and model building. No, what D20's all about is right there in their name: games. Selections include games like the cooperative Harry Potter Hogwarts Battle, monster-lurking immersive horror game Betrayal at House on the Hill, and table-top Super-Skill Pinball: 4-Cade. Plus you'll find plenty of Magic: The Gathering, Pokemon, and D&D cards to keep you occupied. Pro tip: Try a loot bag for a bit of extra fun.
// Open for in-store shopping and pickup or online ordering; 1530 Park St (Alameda), d20gamestore.com.
It's Your Move
You don't have to commit to purchasing a game in order to play to your heart's content at It's Your Move in Oakland. Not only does the shop host almost daily events in store and online, with a store membership ($50 for up to two people) you can rent as many games as you want and bring them home for just $2 a day. Their game library has more than 600 options, everything from Clue to Catan. If you'd rather purchase your fun, It's Your Move can help with that, too. They offer a wide selection of classic and modern games and cards.
// Open for in-store shopping and pickup or online ordering; 4920 Telegraph Ave., Ste B (Oakland), itsyourmoveoakland.com.
Dr. Comics & Mr. Games
For over 30 years, Dr. Comics & Mr. Games has been serving gamers and comic book-lovers alike from its Piedmont Avenue shop. There's a selection of board games for households of any size, plus a wide range of graphic novels and comic books from just about every genre. Need a recommendation? Dr. Comics & Mr. Games' expert staff won't lead you astray.
// Open for in-store shopping and pickup; 4014 Piedmont Ave. (Oakland), about.me/drcomicsmrgames.
Isle of Gamers
In the South Bay, Isle of Gamers is the spot for all things game-related. For puzzle addicts, there's an extensive selection of jigsaws; for the miniature painters, plenty of figures and painting supplies. Board and card game lovers of all ages will find something new (or an old classic) in their stacks, and if you'd rather try out a game before or instead of buying, you can rent whatever catches your eye for a week for $5 to $15 (games are quarantined for a week between rentals). If your inner comic book geek needs a fix, check out Isle of Gamers' sister store, Illusive Comics, in Santa Clara's Franklin Square.
// Open for in-store shopping and pickup or online ordering; 2770 El Camino Real (Santa Clara), illusive-isle.com
Versus Game Store
While Versus has a solid selection of modern board games, their real strength lies in collectible card games. Whether you want single cards or full sets of Magic: The Gathering, Pokemon, Dragon Ball Super CCG, Final Fantasy TCG, Star Wars Destiny or YuGiOh, you'll find them at Versus. They also buy Magic: The Gathering cards if you're looking to offload a few of your own.
// Open for in-store shopping or online ordering; 1716 Taraval St. (Parkside), versusgamessf.com.