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It’s all fun and games at this midtown hangout

September 3, 2018

Four men gathered around a table in midtown Omaha on Sunday playing a board game that required cunning and strategy, but coming out ahead wasn’t their only goal.

“It is what we generally refer to as a worker placement game,” Eric Adamshick said. “It’s more a social activity for me personally, but I like to win.”

Adamshick, Peter Evans, Drew Taylor and Sean Mitchell hovered over a game called “Nusfjord” with drinks and snacks from the cafe perched nearby. Each man was playing the role of an owner of a major fishing company with the goal of developing the Nusfjord harbor and the surrounding landscape by clearing the forest, erecting new buildings and attempting to satisfy the local elders.

Who wins, the four players said, is usually secondary to the social interactions that draw them to the cafe at 3229 Harney St. On Sunday, Spielbound co-owners Scott O’Dell and Kaleb Michaud celebrated the cafe’s fourth anniversary with free admission. Typically, the cost is $5 per day to play any of the cafe’s 2,500 board games. A monthly membership is $15, and a yearly pass costs $150.

“I’ve been here at least once a week ever since they opened,” Evans said. “I’m a big collector of (board) games. I have a healthy, some would say unhealthy, number of games myself.”

Taylor, who recently moved to Omaha from Houston, was pleased to find a board game cafe just a short walk from his home. He said the vibe at Spielbound is more laid back than a couple of the cafes he frequented in Houston.

“This is a much chiller environment,” Taylor said. “The places in Houston were kind of wild.”

A relaxing atmosphere is exactly what the owners were striving for, O’Dell said. Spielbound’s library has more than 2,500 games, and every day, staffers demonstrate games for customers of all ages. It also offers special programs, including one called Stay Sharp Seniors.

“We have a number of outreach programs,” O’Dell said. “We try to give people, maybe (those) who are not comfortable in social situations, a place to sit down and have fun with others. When you’re sitting at the table playing a board game, you’re not alone on the phone or watching TV.”

The game library has the staples — Monopoly, Candy Land, Trivial Pursuit — but the bulk of the games involve strategy. There are war games, fantasy games, role-playing games and games of dexterity.

The board game portion of the cafe is a nonprofit company. There is also a for -profit snack bar that offers coffee, pastries, minipizzas and craft beers.

Jeff Garst, a volunteer game coordinator at the cafe, said most of his social interactions are now with people he met at Spielbound. When they’re not at the cafe, Garst and his friends do all of the typical things such as movies, concerts and just hanging out.

“During the weekdays, it’s a pretty relaxed atmosphere with a lot of people who work from home hanging out and working from here,” Garst said. “On weekends, it’s a more energetic feel, with a lot more party games and a lot of talking and laughing.”

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