Gathering for board games: New store in Eagle looks to create community space for fun and friendly competition
More than just a store, Hidden Table Games is a space designed to bring people together through board game play
Looking for a community-minded, fun activity to do with others in Eagle County at the end of a long day in the outdoors? Meet Hidden Table Games, a new board game store opening in Eagle this week with a unique concept: Half of the shop is specifically designated for folks to play games together.
The owner, Philip Lataille, is an Eagle resident who came up with the idea for Hidden Table Games while looking for social alternatives to going to bars for young people during mud season this spring. “I’m a mountain biker, I’m a skier, I’m a hiker and a camper and all of those things, but it was more of that, ‘what do I do at 7 o’clock on a Tuesday night?'” Lataille said. “Like, what are the options? And I just wasn’t really finding that there were any. So I decided to create my own.”
Lataille is a self-described “big board game person,” with a personal collection of 180 games. He has attended Gen Con, the largest tabletop game conference in North America, with an attendance of around 70,000 people in 2023, eight years in a row. “That’s just kind of a highlight of my year,” he said.
“But around here I’d ask people if they wanted to play games, and it was really hard to put a group together, the people that were interested in it or that would be regularly playing, and I felt like that community didn’t really exist. I did some searching, and I found the Eagle County Gamers Facebook group and saw that it had 130 members, but I still wasn’t hearing about board games or groups of people playing board games or anything like that,” Lataille said.
Lataille noticed the presence of gaming culture in Eagle County, but the absence of a space specifically promoting it, and decided to fill the vacuum. “The whole reason why I’m starting this to begin with is to develop a community and create a place where people can come to purely have fun,” Lataille said. “I’m really doing this because I want there to be an alternative to people drinking three to four nights a week.”
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In mid-August, Lataille bought the building that formerly housed North Coast Originals and NextGen Wireless, businesses that closed and moved, respectively, earlier this year. “When I bought it I basically said, ‘I’m only purchasing if the building is vacant’ because I wanted to have the flexibility to set it up,” Lataille said.
Since buying the building, Lataille has been hard at work renovating the space to see out his vision, making Hidden Table Games into a two-part store. In the retail section, a plethora of games will be available for purchase, from the relatively well-known Catan to more obscure games such as The Mind, in which players must play alongside a teammate without the ability to speak to each other, and Twilight Imperium, which, according to Lataille, takes eight hours to play. “There’s a huge range. I mean, board games have so much depth,” Lataille said.
The second part of the store — the “hidden table” of the store’s name — is a secret area filled with tables and seating for people to come together to play games.
Lataille expects that the variety of games the store carries will appeal to a similarly diverse selection of ages, though the game play room will come with the expectation of adult supervision for children. “I know that Pokemon is going to be a huge thing for people. I’ve already had little kids standing at the window, knocking on the window, and (saying) I need Pokemon cards,” Lataille said. “Magic: The Gathering is huge. There is already a pretty big Magic (The Gathering) community here in Eagle County,” he said.
There is one familiar game Lataille says he will never have in stock. “As far as board games go, I can tell you the one game that I will not be carrying is Monopoly. You will not find Monopoly in my store,” Lataille said. “It’s just kind of a board game thing. If you’re really into board games, you won’t ask people to play Monopoly with you or offer to play Monopoly with people,” he said.
Many nights of the week will have designated game themes, to encourage connecting those who play specific games. In the beginning, Thursdays will be board game nights, beginning at 5 p.m. Fridays will be for Magic: The Gathering, beginning at 7 p.m. Saturdays will feature Pokemon afternoons, beginning at 3 p.m. Sundays will be for Battletech, beginning at 4 p.m. “As the store is open longer, different communities will pop up for different games specifically. Those nights will develop over time,” Lataille said.
“People have been super excited when I was first starting this. I was like, I know five or six people that play games. I know there’s the Magic (The Gathering) group, right? But the feedback on Facebook and through email has been like, ‘I’ve been waiting for this since I moved to the Valley,’ or ‘every day I get more excited about this store opening’ and things like that,” Lataille said. “So the response from people as far as the store goes has been way, way, way beyond my expectations.”
In addition to games, Hidden Table Games will carry gaming accessories, such as hobby supplies, card sleeves, and card boxes. The store will also buy used board games, “as a way for people to kind of recycle games that aren’t making it off their shelves,” Lataille said.
“I’m just really excited for (Hidden Table Games) to open, and I know other people in the community are (as well). I hope it becomes a place where everybody feels like they can see themselves and enjoy themselves,” Lataille said.
Hidden Table Games opens at 228 Broadway Street in Eagle on Monday, Oct. 2. There will be a grand opening on Saturday, Oct. 7. The store will regularly be open Tuesdays through Sundays, from 11 a.m. through 7 p.m., with the game play area open until 9 p.m.