Playing at home can be a wonderful experience, but creating a great gaming space with limited time and resources can be a massive challenge itself! Each week in our Gaming Spaces series we’ll be looking at an author’s gaming space, how they built it, and the interesting flourishes that make it theirs. This week we’re looking at the space Selnaric built in their garage.
Rather than show you my own dreary, unfinished basement where I paint my minis, I wanted to write about the space where I do most of my actual gaming, which as it turns out is at the home of a long-time friend and fellow Goon who goes by Selnaric on the boards. Or rather, not his home but his garage.
Selnaric is one of those rare folks in Midwestern America who lives within easy walking/biking distance of where he works. I mean, he has a car, but unlike the rest of us he’s not a slave to it. And because he doesn’t generally worry about having to clear shit off it to go to work, he can use his detached, 2-car garage as something else. Something better. Something wonderful.
It all starts with the floor. Conscious of the fact that standing around on a concrete floor for hours sucks, our host built a riser for roughly 3/4 of the floor area. There’s technically room to pull his car in if he needs to, but for reasons which will become clear later, that’s a rarely-used feature. Anyway, the riser itself not only gets you up off the concrete, it also has both padding and carpet.
The focus of the space is the main table, a custom build with a 4′ x 8′ playing surface (the table itself is actually a little bigger, but there’s a nice, slightly raised lip of trim that helps keep minis and dice from falling off the edge). As you can see from the photo above, the table base is wired for both power and USB, so if you need to power a gizmo or recharge a device it’s convenient and easy.
Selnaric is an accomplished carpenter, and he put a lot of thought into what he wanted out of his main table. In addition to simply being a gaming surface, the table also works as storage for gaming mats! The table-top itself is removable – the wood finish on the side shown here is great for board games, and the other side is painted with chalk-board paint should you need to draw maps on the fly.
In the background here you can see one of the other fantastic features of the space – the copious amount of terrain storage! All of the drawers along an entire wall are given over to organizing all of our terrain. And when I say organizing, I mean organizing. Every drawer is labeled, so you always know where to find stuff (or where to put it back when you’re done playing). We play a lot of Infinity here and there’s one entire thin-aspect top drawer that’s internally subdivided for storing all of the markers used in the game. The drawers themselves are pretty deep, and it’s amazing how much stuff you can stash in them. Above the drawers is a counter, and over that are cabinets that make great storage space for scads of miniatures and vehicles.
Coziness is important in a gaming space, and because the garage does not have central heating other alternatives had to be considered. During the summer the windows and the main garage door itself can be opened, making the space nice and airy. If the heat becomes too oppressive there’s a portable A/C unit that we can use that does a decent job of keeping the area around the main table cool. And for the cooler months, this little beauty (paired with a blower mounted near the chimney) keeps the place pleasantly toasty. There’s also lots of insulation in the walls and ceiling, so once the place warms up it stays that way pretty efficiently.
Another thing that makes this a great space for gaming is the lighting. Each of the tables (did I mention there’s another 4′ x 6′ table in here?) has adjustable overhead LED track lighting that throws a ton of illumination on the tabletop.
You can just see it here, but over the center of the table there’s a camera mounted on the ceiling looking straight down. This is hooked to the computer such that we can record games, or so folks sitting in the comfy chairs across the room can watch the action on one of the big monitors.
I say “one of the big monitors” because there are two – the one on the wall shown above and another on a swing-arm to its left. This can be turned around such that the people standing at the table can see it. This is great for displaying special rules, deployment zone maps, mission objectives, or other useful reference material.
The computer itself is a nice feature. Of course there’s wifi (although side note, the password is some ridiculously long bullshit that’s best input by QR code), but having a dedicated computer is nice too. It makes it easy to order pizza online, or look up the various rules or FAQs or wiki entries for whatever game you’re playing. And there’s an attached printer such that you can zip off a copy of your army list (and/or courtesy list in Infinity). Pro-tip: check your settings before hitting print, lest you inadvertently “print” your document on the 90-Watt CO2 cutting laser.
Did I fail to mention the giant laser? In addition to being a great gaming space, Selnaric’s garage is also a pretty well-kitted-out maker space. This home-made monstrosity is the end result of countless hours of planning, fabricating, tinkering, and refining by Selnaric and fellow Goon BlackIronHeart, who teamed up to turn their dream (a massive laser tube mysteriously sourced from somewhere in mainland China) into a reality (a fully operational battle station). For real, this thing is terrifyingly powerful. It cuts 1/8″ MDF like it’s nothing. It etches brass. I can only assume it eats kittens. With a massive 40″ x 24″ bed, it’s big enough to tackle even large terrain or craft projects. It instantly made the old cutting laser – a 40-Watt CO2 unit from Full Spectrum Laser – obsolete (though that unit is still fully functional and for sale, inquire within if you too want to cut stuff with lasers!). The only downside is that unlike the old unit, the new laser doesn’t quote old kung-fu movies and yell, “You must die! I alone am best!” when it finishes a cutting job.
No maker space is complete without a 3D printer, and we’ve been using Anycubic 3D resin printers for a while now. BlackIronHeart just upgraded to a new model, and shelled out for the washing and curing station (which is in the bin in the photo below). I’m going to be taking the older, smaller version, and my 10-year-old son is already planning all the stuff he wants to print on it.
And if you just want to do all of the other kind of stuff that happens when hobbying, there’s a workbench that has all of the useful tools and materials you might need. It’s especially kitted out for terrain projects, and it is here that BlackIronHeart spends most of the time on game nights – when he’s not curb-stomping people with his Combined Army lists, that is. There has been talk in the past of installing a small spray-booth here (there’s a conveniently-placed window just off to the left, out of frame), but I don’t know what the status of that project is. I suspect as the weather closes in, people will be less willing to spray outdoors and that idea may too become a reality.
I was talking with one of my gaming buddies today and we were lamenting the lack of established “gaming clubs” here in the US. We’re mad jealous of some of the stuff we see in the UK (for me especially, as I play a lot of historical games). But honestly, what Selnaric has set up in his garage is a lot like an established club; there are multiple tables and lots of terrain, we have a really good gaming group with consistent attendance, everyone is super chill, the atmosphere is great, and we have a ton of fun. It lacks the diversity of members and regularly-played rule-sets of a big club, but here in the US it’s probably the next best thing. I’m stoked to call these guys my friends and look forward to more great games (and great times) here in the future.
…just as soon as we get all the wood for the stove put away. Winter is coming.
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