Along with sharing my own Magic: the Gathering journey, I like to share what's going on with others in the Magic community. Not just the players, but the people that provide a place to gather. I was visiting family and had an opportunity to stop in Cookeville, Tennessee over Memorial Day Weekend. Here's a glimpse into the gaming community of Knighthood Games.
Come On Down!
What's your name, the name of your store, and where are you located?
I'm Eddie Walker and I'm the Manager of Knighthood Games in Cookeville TN.
How long has Knighthood Games been around?
That is a multi-part answer. We began as Bob's Collector's Den in 1983 dealing largely in sports cards and comics. When Magic came out, the original owner, Bob, started selling it as well. While still just a player, I started to run events at another shop because Bob didn't have much play space. Then in 2005, I approached Bob to see if he would be interested in making some room and running events. He agreed, and I became his tournament organizer.
Magic soon became their biggest seller and in 2015 Bob asked if I would like to manage the store. The increase in Magic play meant we needed a larger play area. With that in mind, we moved to our current location in 2016. Bob retired and passed the store along to his son in 2018. Since our main source for sports cards was enjoying retirement, we started to focus exclusively on gaming products.
When are you open?
We're open Wednesdays through Sundays.
How do you connect with your customers?
Even when I was just organizing events, before I became the manager, I had a lot of the resources for the store already set up. Our main ways to connect are through our Website and our Facebook page.
What gaming experiences do you offer?
In addition to Magic: the Gathering, we host Yu-Gi-Oh! tournaments on Thursdays, a Blood Bowl league, and an active Warhammer community; mostly 40k, but some Age of Sigmar as well. There is also a Pathfinder Society that meets up on Sundays. Of course, we have an open table policy for any games that people want to come in and play.
Tell us about your customers? Who comes to Knighthood Games?
We'll see just about anyone stop in, but being in Cookeville, a good portion of our players are college students attending Tennessee Tech. Still, we recently had a father and son attend our Standard FNM for the first time. They got started on Magic: Arena and wanted to play in person. From what I could tell, they had a great time. Everyone was very accepting and helpful. It was nice to see that sense of fellowship between our players, both old and new.
What Magic experiences do you provide?
We run two Friday Night Magic (FNM) events. We always run a Standard event and rotate weekly between Modern and Commander. One of our judges is also heading up a casual Pauper league. Drafting has started back up, but only on a monthly basis so far. We are working to expand it.
One Magic area that we are blessed with is our Magic Judge community. We have probably one of the largest judge populations per capita in the area, possibly the country. For our store, we have a Level Three judge, seven Level Twos, and I believe five Level Ones. I'm pretty sure it's more than the rest of the state put together. They are our ambassadors and have helped encourage the players, support the store, and in turn, our Magic community.
Do you host any special events?
Nothing outside of the normal Magic pre-releases, but we are set up for the Regional Championship Qualifiers on July 23rd.
What are your most popular formats currently?
Commander is our most popular. You can stop by any day and there will more than likely be a Commander game running. Modern is currently our most popular competitive format, but Standard is coming back. It's not as strong as Modern overall, because it's been difficult with Covid and the various format changes. With Modern, most people already have the cards. Though we did have more players for Standard this past week than we did for Modern, so hopefully that's a good sign.
How did Knighthood Games deal with and adjust to the pandemic?
When Covid first hit, it was tough. Tennessee was completely shut down for April 2020. At that time we didn't have any online presence, so I quickly worked to develop it and we were able to offer curbside services. We couldn't offer any in-store play for months after that.
We were and are very fortunate that we have many loyal customers. People still wanted to play, not just Magic, but anything, board games, D&D, etc. So that kept us going through the dark times.
How did you get started with Magic?
I started playing in 1997 during my freshman year of high school. Blake, Jeremy, and Jesse were a few of my friends that I would play with back in the day. It's been awesome because we all still play here, even after 25 years.
What do you personally enjoy playing?
I used to attend the various Opens, GPs, etc., and play just about anything I could while I was strictly a player. Once I started running the store, I haven't had a lot of time, so my Cube is a fun way to still get in some games. Cube has been my favorite way to play lately. We drafted it last night and had a great time.
What type of Cube do you have?
A Legacy good stuff cube. It's non-powered and has been modified many times, but very fun.
What is your favorite Magic card?
Liliana of the Veil, no doubt.
To finish up, is there anything else you'd like to share?
Running a game store is difficult, don't let anyone tell you differently, but I love what I do. I love providing a place where people can relax and let themselves go a little. It was important for me when I was just a player and I'm happy I can give that to others.
LGS Is Where the Heart Is
I want to thank Eddie for providing us a glimpse into Knighthood Game's Magic life. I hope you enjoyed the visit and look forward to the next! Do you know the story behind your own LGS? Feel free to share in the comments. And if not, maybe now's a good time to get up to speed...