Battleground Games & Hobbies is the brick and mortar store owned by Dungeons & Dragons aficionado Derek Lloyd located at 1501 Bedford St in Abington, Massachusetts (right over the Weymouth line on Route 18).
At this point I normally explain why I am reviewing the entity in question. To sufficiently do that would require a blog article of its own, which I may someday write. Like every great story it begins with a boy (or girl)…this one is named Steve D. Steve, who is now one of my best friends and was an usher at my wedding, and I gamed a lot together. He introduced me to “this new store that opened near me. They’re really cool there.” I walked into Battleground for the first time to play 40k with Steve. Seven years later I still go there at least once a week (soon I will be frequenting their Plainville store instead of the Abington location). As a result this review will be different than the usual, which are based on a small sampling of transactions or products.
This review is based on my almost decade long relationship with Battleground and innumerable transactions totaling more than $5,000 worth of business. I was not compensated for this review. In fact, I’m never compensated for my reviews and if the day ever comes that I am or am given special review only product I will gladly say so at the start of the review.
I have spent a lot of time at Battleground. Many days I would arrive there by 6pm and not leave until 3 or 4 in the morning. I have played numerous types of games with many different people. I have organized a tournament there and helped teach people new games. I have assembled, painted, and converted models there. I’ve eaten, watched movies, blogged, hung out, napped, and debated there. I have had many firsts there from my first game of Starship Troopers to my first Dungeons and Dragons campaign. My preparatory research really is innumerable when it comes to Battleground.
Battleground Games is a clean and well-lit store with plenty of gaming space. It is well-stocked with a combination of board games, RPGs, CCGs, tabletop miniatures, and hobby supplies. It has an XBOX 360 gaming center with LCD TVs and gaming chairs.
The owner and staff know all of the repeat customers by name along with their favorite beverage, usual games to play, and when they usual come to the store. The staff is incredibly friendly, outgoing, and intelligent. They create a gregarious and laid back atmosphere that makes customers feel comfortably at home. They don’t hesitate to alert customers of new product that will be of interest (I’ve received Google Talk messages alerting me to the arrival of new War at Sea product).
The store has six tables in the front to accommodate tabletop games like Warhammer 40k, Fantasy, Hordes, and Flames of War. There are a bunch of lunchroom type tables in the middle that are perfect for collectible card and miniatures games like Magic, World of Warcraft, Yu-gi-oh, and D&D Minis. There is also a back room, with door, used for quiet gaming such as Dungeons & Dragons or other RPGs.
Battleground runs numerous tournaments and leagues as shown on their calendar. They host an annual Warhammer 40k Mega-Battle, which has become so large that last year’s event had to be held in the grand ballroom of a nearby hotel. There are ‘Ard Boyz events, Doubles Tournaments, Friday Night Magic, Mordheim and Blood Bowl leagues, along with 40k and Fantasy leagues. A plethora of ongoing D&D campaigns are hosted there every night of every week. A very intriguing Mechwarriors campaign is run on the third Wednesday of each month.
If they don’t have, or don’t yet have, a desired item they immediately add it onto their purchase list. Doing this places no burden on the customer to buy the item when it comes in. They operates several great customer loyalty programs. You save $100 worth of receipts and you can turn them in for 10% off a purchase. If you purchase a box of CCG boosters (or case of CCG minis) you get 10% off and you can merge that with the $100 of receipts for 20% off. They allow some customers to use “held receipts” where you purchase product now, and get to take it, but then pay for it later. This is highly restrictive and only available for known customers who don’t abuse the program and who pay their debt.
There is always someone available for a pick-up game of just about anything you can want. Some nights are geared towards certain games, which makes it easier to find someone to play. But, there is never a bad time to look for someone to game with.
Finally, I need to draw attention to two people in particular. Derek, the store owner, is a superstar. He is part business guru, part therapist, part retailer, and part friend. He is one of those rare people in life who has a certain je ne sais quoi that draws people to him. He is the type of person you want with you if you’re ever in a Zombie movie trying to save the human race. Chase is yet another all-star. There is nothing this man can’t do. He makes everything look effortless. He is extremely humble and astute. He’s not afraid to offer words of encouragement or a kick in the butt depending on what is needed most.
All of the staff is terrific (from Beth down to new staffers Nick and Paul). But, Derek and Chase transform this great game store into game store utopia.
The store is lacking in space. A decent sized but unnecessary storage closet takes up too much square footage. This dead space does not make money for the store and does not provide gaming space. There is insufficient display space for the products. One vertical display cabinet in the store’s posterior shows off a limited sample of painted miniatures while two small horizontal display cabinets form the countertop for the cash register. There is a large display cabinet full of dead collectible game product that never moves.
Other dead games adorn all other retail space. Dead board games, collectible minis, collectible cards, and tabletop games. This is one of the few stores I know with Dreamblade, Heroclix, Warlord CCG, and Starship Troopers product. They take up valuable space and the store would benefit from heavily discounting those products (even at a loss) to open up the space.
The bathroom is old and tiny. No matter how hard the staff maintains the restroom all it takes to get befouled is one occupant. The store is very noisy. Except for during the day or very late at night you cannot hear yourself think. There are times that the noise level is so high that you cannot hear an opponent sitting next to you while you play.
Price 10/10Prices are on par with other physical game stores. You can save a lot using their customer loyalty programs. Also, they retain the old price on product until new product arrives. If there is a price hike for a game, then you can save some money buying the older product.
Storefront 10/10 The store is decently sized but slightly limited due to its odd configuration. It gets very noisy as a result of being incredibly popular. There is tons of parking in the lot for the strip mall. The store is very accessible. It is located on Rte 18, which is fed into by I95, 93, 128, and numerous back roads.
Customer Service 10/10 The gold standard. They use all means available to communicate with customers. They’re helpful, efficient, and speedy. They go above and beyond on a regular basis to satisfy.
Atmosphere 10/10 It is incredibly friendly. It gets loud but this is a result of so many people going there to have a great time. Everyone knows each other, which makes for a real life Cheers.
Contentment 10/10 I have never been happier with a brick and mortar store. The best way to sum this up is to cite from an e-mail I sent to Derek.
It is truly difficult to adequately state how meeting Steve D and going to Battlegrounds has changed my life. Almost all of my current friends are people I’ve met at BG and most of my free “playing” time is spent at BG or working on stuff to do at BG. There are few places in the world that I would rather be and few people I’d rather be with than the friends I’ve made there.
Overall 50/50 or 100% or A+
There is no better brick and mortar game store in eastern Massachusetts and perhaps all of the commonwealth. It is THE standard for a retail business. This review is partly specific to the Abington location and partly about Battleground as a whole. Please note that the Plainville location will help remedy the problems cited in this review. That is why, despite the negative, BG has received a perfect 100%. When the Plainville store opens we will review each location independent of the other. As such, this review should be considered a review of the Battleground Games & Hobbies company and its staff…not a review on a specific location.
I first went there as a customer and now they’re like family.
If you do game or or buy from Battleground Games & Hobbies please tell them Jonathan at the CWF GameCast sent you.
I am a long time customer of Battleground Games. I regularly game there, am friends with the owner and staff, and spend significant amounts of time there with my friends (almost all of whom I met from Battleground Games). My friendship with the owner, staff, and gamers has not inappropriately influenced this review. If you feel that this review is disproportionately slanted, please leave a comment.