Anyone who has ever sat down for a session of games knows the drill. The players all gather around a table, or several tables, and start to spread out cards, dice, and meeples. Beverages are chilling in the fridge, and friendly banter is flowing. Then the games begin. Sometimes you sit down to a long, intense game of Arkham Horror. It could be a night of a few quick games of Ticket to Ride, Smash Up, or King of Tokyo. Or you look at the four games just mentioned and wondered what the hell are you playing. When you started gaming, it was Dungeons and Dragons and Magic: The Gathering. Of course, when you started gaming the drink options were Mountain Dew or Coke. Board games have expanded in the last five years like craft beer started to in the mid-to-late 90’s. There are stores full of European style and other modern games like there are stores full of craft beer from all over the world. These two forces have been emerging in other cities, and have finally made it to Dayton in the form of D20: A Bar with Characters.
The story above is probably familiar to Andrew Sparks, co-owner of D20. He has been a game enthusiast for as long as he could remember. His D&D game was strong, and it grew into a lifelong love of games and gaming. It is something that his wife and co-owner Chrissy Sparks have in common. They also share a love of craft beer, something he developed during his time managing Belmont Party Supply. D20 emerged from the realization that if this was something their friends enjoyed doing, why not invite other people to do it as well? After another bar concept had fallen through, he found a vacant cell phone store on Whipp Rd. to be the perfect place for his new concept. Then Andrew and his crew went to work.
When you walk in and look around, everything in the bar was hand selected and hand made by Andrew. Even the stacks and stacks of games were brought in from his collection. There is a handful that are donated, but the vast majority are his. The tap list, covering twenty taps in all, were also hand selected by them. Not a beer person? They have already thought of that. Knowing that a gaming place was going to attract a wide variety of people, they offer a selection of cocktails and mocktails. Mead and ciders are available, as are teas and other non-alcoholic options. You need to pace yourself when someone pulls out Carcassonne. If you are planning on playing through dinner, have no fear. The owners have worked that out as well. Their neighbors at Peking Garden are willing to walk next door to deliver, and a wood-fired, artisan pizza place will be moving in soon. During their soft opening, they had more than a few visits from Cousin Vinny’s.
Their soft opening was a huge success. So much so that the owners extended it an extra three hours to accommodate all of their guests. But they are not going to rest on the huge buzz of opening night. They have events planned soon. They are working with the Ohio Pathfinder Society (Dayton Chapter, of course) to set up some game nights at their venue. They are also planning their affairs, introducing people to games like Cards Against Humanity and Settlers of Catan. Andrew is looking for games that are easy to explain to new gamers, introducing them to games that are different that old standbys. Though if you want, Monopoly, Life, and Stratego are available for you to play. There are games for everyone.
Andrew and Chrissy want to turn D20 into a gathering place. With comfortable couches and plenty of tables, seating and unique games to explore, they are well on their way. The air was thick with chatter, and the bartenders were keeping busy with patrons celebrating a victory or tending the sting of a narrow loss. Craft beer enthusiasts in the area can come in and enjoy a few pints, and gamers can sit down and either learn a new game, like Hive, or play a familiar one with friends. Either way, Dayton has a great new hang out south of town. Game on!
D20: A Bar with Characters is located at 2144 East Whipp Rd Kettering, OH 45420. You can contact them at (937) 221-9873. Information about the bar, their tap list, and coming events is listed on their Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages.