I’ve been able to explore some of the stores in the greater Canton/Akron, Ohio area (CAK as our airport is called), and I’ve formed a few thoughts. My primary interest is board games, Netrunner and LCGs if I ever could play them, followed by roll playing (never get to play those either, but hey…), and then on from there. I list Canton first as I’m closer to Canton than Akron. I live between Alliance and Hartville, and work in Akron (and sadly this new job takes me out of the gaming arena for the moment due to the schedule).
This is by no means a full list of the stores, I’m sure I’m missing some, and they are in no particular order. If I am missing any, please leave a comment with a few details.
The Keep, in Perry Township/Massillon. Sadly no longer in business, but list it as it was a decent store. Fair collection of board games, decent selection of miniatures and a good play area.
Underhill’s Games (Facebook page) in Cuyahoga Falls (map). Large selection of board games, including the latest and greatest. Good selection of RPG material. No real miniatures outside X-Wing. Great, friendly knowledgeable staff. Large play area. Full event calendar. Large selection of LCG and CCG as well and many MtG singles. Holds regular Magic the Gathering pre-release events and a weekly event. Also has a Pathfinder and Living Forgotten Reams events every week. Open 7 days a wee. EDIT: The club that used to meet there, BOGA has moved locations at Underhill’s request, see the clubs/meetups section for details. Underhill’s is still a great store to check out and they have plenty of events.
Sapphire City (Facebook page) in North Canton (map). A board game parlor. Good selection in both the library and retail side. Nice friendly owner. We didn’t try more than a cookie and a coffee, so we can’t comment on the rest of the food and drink options. Really nice store.
Malted Meeple (Facebook page) in Hudson Ohio (map… location has moved, this map link isn’t up to date). Not just a game store, but a place to enjoy craft beers, milkshakes and snacks as well. I haven’t managed to get into this place yet to see their collection and game space, but I know the space is good. Their collection for borrowing appears good, though I don’t know if they sell much. Good calendar of events and they are a regular meeting place for some groups. While it may not be top choice for buying games, it’s way up there for playing and meeting people.
Wings, Wheels and Waves (Facebook Page for Massillon store) in Massillon (map). Small board game selection, and the last time I was there they weren’t familiar with the latest and greatest, but it’s been a couple years now as of this edit (Dec 2015). Good selection of miniatures and supplies. It has a decent play area. It has a regular Magic the Gathering and Pokemon play groups as I understand it and of course miniature play groups. If MtG or miniatures are your thing, then check them out. They also have plastic models and supplies, one of the only choices for that sort of thing in the area that I know of. They are closed Sunday and Monday (or was as of the original post in 2013, I haven’t checked their hours out recently). Edit to add a small aside, one of the few places in the area to actually pick up plastic model kits. Since I originally made this post back in April of 2013 (this edit May 2014), they have expanded their boardgame selection. Still not overflowing with as man boardgames as I’d like to see in a local shop, but decent selection of newer titles.
Ahzz’z Arena (Facebook page) in Massillon/Jackson Township (map). Had a large selection of board games, fair selection of miniatures, and a small play area that will serve well for most groups hitting the store. Doesn’t have the latest and greatest in stock, but he can get them. Little to no LCG or CCG selection, and didn’t know Netrunner was re-released, but says he has some boxes of the old one left in his back room. Last time I got something there they didn’t take credit cards (over two years ago, so that may have changed), so cash or check only, but otherwise a good store and if you are in the area well worth checking out. They have regular groups there. So far as I know, none of the local Meetup groups use it which is a bit of a shame. Now only open on Saturdays or for special events.
Taz’s Gaming (Facebook page) in Alliance (in Carnation Mall) (map, best to park behind the mall in the cinema parking near the parking lot below the water tower). They briefly had a small boardgame selection, but didn’t see any last time I stopped in. But for Magic the Gathering, and other CCGs, it is a very good place. They also have new and used video games (I believe you can rent games to play in store). Good play area too. I don’t know what the cover charge is off hand. Primary mission seems to be to keep kids off the streets and give them a place to go and have fun and play MtG.
Universal Comics (Facebook page) in North Canton/Jackson Township (map) that has a small boardgame selection. The store seems more a place to gather and play Magic than a comic store… at least during my very brief visit I didn’t see many comics, but lots of people playing Magic. So for Magic players it might be worth checking out.
Freedom Gaming (Facebook page) in North Canton/Jackson Township (map). I haven’t been here at all yet. I found it on the Wizards of the Coast page while looking for places that might have an active D&D 5e group (they don’t seem to).
Gaming Grounds (Facebook page) in Kent (map). Small selection of board games, decent selection of minitures and supplies. Large selection of RPG material, including used books. Very large play area when you count their “annex”. Sort of an odd out out of the way place (semi-residential), and the only real negative is the limited parking. Magic the Gathering of course and CCGs have a solid presence there, but for singles you are best going with Underhill’s and Taz’s. Regular events, and a regular Meetup meets there. Some sort of Brony thing going on too… Anyone in the Kent area should be sure to check it out.
Kenmore Komics & Games (Facebook page) in Akron (map). As one can tell from their name, their focus is on comics, but they do have a very good board game selection that makes them worth noting here and indeed is better than some of the ones above. No gaming space that I know of.
Auto Masters Automotive (Facebook page) in North Canton is a body shop for cars, but they also have a Warhammer 40k and war game area. They also sell some gaming material for those.Their FB page hasn’t been updated for a year as of this edit in Dec 2016, so I don’t know if they are still around or not.
Great Lakes Game Emporium (Facebook page) in Cleveland (map). I don’t really want to cover Cleveland stores as it is well outside the Canton/Akron area, but I’ll toss this one in even though I’ve never visited it yet myself. Based on friends notes, good sized board game selection, nice play area and regular events both board gaming and CCGs like Magic the Gathering. As I said, outside of the area I’m covering so I won’t go into much detail. Regular Netrunner events (more of Learn Netrunner events), be sure to check out the Ohio Board Gamers Google Plus group for more information on those.
Immortals Inc. (Facebook page, Twitch Stream, YouTube Channel, more social media links on their homepage) in Cleveland (map). Again, not really covering Cleveland, but the Netrunner Regionals for this region were held there, and I wanted to note their Twitch stream, which is a nice feature, and I wish more stores did it.
This is very far from a complete list, there are many more, especially for card games and the like. If I’m missing any boardgaming related clubs/Meetups in the area, please leave a comment, I’ll leave it to Meetup itself to suggest card gaming, Magic the Gathering, mini gaming and the like to the users on Meetup itself… though if there is a local Netrunner group let me know.
Cuyahoga Go Club. So far as I know this is gone, which is sad, but list it, like I listed the Keep in the stores section as it was good. Would be nice if this could be brought back… anybody? Please…
Boardgamers of Greater Akron (Facebook group, BGG Guild, Yahoo Group, Google+ Community). Perhaps the best opportunity to do board gaming in the area. They meet the 2nd Friday and 4th Saturday of every month at the Quirk Cultural Center, 1201 Grant Ave, Cuyahoga Falls, OH 44223. This requires a $3 covercharge. They also have a couple sub groups, BOGals for the ladies (the guys generally meetup while the girls are out too) and BOGA Development and Prototype where they play test games.
Social Meeples Not just for the Akron/Canton area. This isn’t so much a club, or even a group like the ones below, but a social website for gamers to gather themselves. Started locally. Be sure to check out their page and Social Meeples: The Next Boardgame Website? video from Dice Tower to get a better idea of what is going on. Basically a Meetup.com, but focused on gamers and without the hefty fees of Meetup, while also including the game store in the loop.
Ohio Board & Card Gamers Google+ Community. Good Google+ Community for people in the area to join.
Cleveland Area Star Wars LCG and X-Wing Group. A Facebook group for people looking to play the Star Wars LCG or X-Wing in the Cleveland area. In the Akron area, Underhill’s has a regular X-Wing group on their schedule, not sure what the status of a regular Star Wars LCG there is, though I’m sure people would be happy to play it at either a BOGA event, the X-Wing event, or perhaps after the Netrunner events.
As for Meetups, I’m mostly just going to note a few in the area and leave it to Meetup itself to suggest which you should join from there. I’m not going to provide too many details either as most of them provide enough information on their own.
Canton Tabletop Gamers. A fairly new meetup as of an edit in 2015. Presently meeting about once a month. I believe some of them meetup a bit more unofficially though.
There may be a group related to the Canton Tabletop Gamers group that will be meeting at The Front Porch in Hartville on Saturdays or Sundays. Keep an eye on the group. If it becomes regular I’ll update this with info.
The Cleveland Boardgamers Meetup. Despite their name, they have events in the Akron area (mostly just BOGA events).
North Coast Gamers – Akron-Canton-Massillon Chapter Meetup. As one can tell from their name, they have other chapters as well. Very active group, well recommended to join. However, they don’t seem very active in the Canton/Massillon area, despite their name.
Canton Card & Board Game Club Meetup. I’ve never made it to one of their meetups yet.
They are down until the fall. This group never did restart. The fee of running a Meetup tends to be a bit much, so perhaps it was too much?
Akron Cards, Board Games and More Meetup. I’ve never made it to one of their meetups yet. Very regular group.
There are several other Meetups in the area for various RPGs, card games (I’m speaking mostly of traditional card games) and a few other gaming groups, as I’ve noted before, Meetup itself will suggest others to you, and going to the groups the people at those events may be from other groups that share the same event.
Now for a couple misc links…
A really good Board Games Google+ Community. Growing in popularity. Friendly community.
Board Game Geek. The default source for most board gamers.