Back in 2007, I used to own a tabletop shop in Tel Aviv. Not a lot of people get to say that, so I enjoy mentioning it whenever I get a chance (And when I remember to; everything before two years ago is somewhat hazy).

The store, Tactica, (“tactics” in Hebrew) was the second tabletop hobby store in Tel Aviv, and something like the 3rd or 4th in the entire country, it’s kind of a small hobby (and not that big a country, either). I learned a lot during my time there; for example, the importance of variety and speed to the hardcore, or even hardcorish, gamer – we love being able to choose just the right game out of at least two dozens, and if we read about something coming out on some website, we want it tomorrow. Shipping things to Israel is kinda expensive, and we – my business partner and I – gained nothing from economy of scale, since we ordered, like, 3 copies of something, usually by sea, and customs in Israel are a bitch. So our store never had enough variety for the hardcore gamer, and we usually got new games only 2 or 3 months after launch. Such is the case for the Israeli market. In London, though… things are different.

Merry Games is based on Leisure Games, and the inside of the store really does look like a boardgame tanker exploded to one side, followed by an avalanche of roleplaying books that covered the other side. It’s not big – most stores in London are sort of tight – but they utilize every free corner. They have most of everything, or can order it to next Tuesday. The first time you enter such a place, after growing up in the Israeli gaming scene, can be overwhelming! Unless you used to own a tabletop shop in said scene, in which case you’re jealous and salivating. Or maybe that’s just me. I should get that looked at.