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Friday
Apr222011

Playing the Tables – My Experience with Geek Chic

Being a gamer dad with four kids can be a blessing and a curse. It's nice to have gaming slaves a built in gaming group, but at times my children seem to have more in common with devastating natural disasters than human beings. When you add three insane cats into the mix, any game on the table teeters on the brink of destruction if you step away for even a moment.

Last February I decided to take steps to rectify the situation. I embarked on a quest to find a gaming table that would allow me to play those epic, marathon length games that I've always longed to play, but still be The Sultan table.able to put my adventures on hold and take care of real life whenever it beckoned.  After sifting through the glut of pool tables, poker tables, and ping pong tables which didn't really address my needs, I started to feel a bit defeated. I even entertained the notion of learning carpentry to build my own table, but the childhood memories of the misshapen birdhouse deathtraps I built during arts and crafts brought me back to reality. Thankfully for me (and my limbs), I discovered Geek Chic, a company that builds heirloom quality, made to order furniture specifically for tabletop gamers.

I originally learned about Geek Chic when reading an article about their "Sultan" table, the game table equivalent of a Rolls Royce. It is made of solid hardwood, sports a dropped gaming surface, and has desks, drawers, and all sorts of hidden compartments. I flirted with the fantasy of owning one, but with the cost of the table easily reaching the $10,000 mark, the idea was exactly that: a fantasy. My daydreams led me to www.geekchichq.com, the company's website, where I discovered a whole line of tables that were much friendlier on the wallet.

All of the tables that Geek Chic makes are what they call "Heirloom Quality". This is a term that seems to be used a lot in the furniture business, but seems to have no definitive meaning. Geek Chic is not happy standing behind a vague term, so they define what Heirloom Quality means for their products: quality joinery, solid hardwood, no veneers over plywood or particle board - furniture that will outlive you. Geek Chic stands behind this quality, not just because it makes for better furniture, but because it is better for the environment as well. While a good majority of furniture is built to be thrown away in a few years, Geek Chic hopes that future generations of Geeks will be playing games on the same furniture that is handcrafted today. 

The Emissary table.I ordered the "Emissary" table, one of Geek Chic's middle-of-the-road tables. It maintains the same hardwood heirloom quality construction as the sultan, but comes in the guise of a stylish dining table that transforms into a gaming table. The gaming surface is recessed into the table, and a set of hardwood leaves can be placed over the recessed surface, turning it into a normal looking dining table. Geek Chic calls this feature the "Game Keeper", because you can keep a game in progress safe under the leaves, while still using the table for other activities such as dinner, or playing other games. For me, the game keeper feature will mean that I will be able to play those long, epic games that have never been practical for me.

GeParts of the LayerCake.ek Chic has put a lot of thought into the game surface as well.  Called the "LayerCake", it is designed to support many different types of tabletop gaming. The bottom of the play surface constructed from a neutral colored base, white by default, although I chose a light colored bamboo play surface for my table.  On top of the play surface, one can put their own maps or other printed game components, and Geek Chic also has a library of different maps and graphics that they can custom print for this layer of the table. On top of the map, a transparent Lexan grid can be added. This is a really neat feature, especially for wargamers or miniature gamers, because it allows you to use any printed map, and turn it into a grid. Grids can be ordered in different scales and as squares or hexes as well. Topping off the LayerCake is a sheet of clear Acrylic whiteboard. This whiteboard material lets you draw with wet or dry erase marker on top of your maps, which are kept safe below the Acrylic. This is a cool feature for Role Playing Games, as it lets the gamemaster draw and annotate the maps as the game progresses.

There are many other inserts that can be purchased from Geek Chic that rest on top of the layercake, ranging from plush surfaces for card games, to a LEGO brick surface. I chose to add a plush "lid" on my table for card playing. This lid rests on the top of the table, above the play area, so that I can get in a few card games as filler before continuing a bigger game in progress.

Geek Chic tables also support a large variety of drawers that can be ordered. These drawers can be customized to the needs of a particular customer. The most intricate of the drawers is the GM Drawer, which not only acts as a drawer, but pulls open to reveal a fold out desk, with a built in GM screen. Player Drawers can be ordered as well, which act as both a drawer and a desk, without all of the bells and whistles in the GM Drawer.

I chose not to put any drawers in my table, instead opting for the “rail system” that Geek Chic offers. The rail system utilizes a groove across the side of the table, which accessories can be latched onto, and removed at will. Geek Chic offers all sorts of accessories that can be attached to the rails: cup holders, wine glass holders, counter holders, bins, desks, even dice towers. You name it, and Geek Chic probably offers it, and if they don’t, may be willing to make it for you.

GM Drawer.Since tables are all made to order, there are plenty of areas to customize, from the height of the table, to the depth of the play area, to the dimensions of the play surface itself. I chose a 4’x6’ play surface for my table, but the Emissary supports sizes anywhere from 2’x3’ to 4’x7.5’.

Aside from the Sultan and Emissary, Geek Chic offers a variety of different styles of tables from coffee tables with the game keeper feature to dedicated gaming tables. Not content to just make tables, Geek Chic also makes chairs, barstools, dice towers, and storage cabinets for miniatures and comic books.

There is currently a waiting list for new furniture. I ordered my table in February, it is scheduled to go into manufacturing in May, and I expect final delivery by August.  Geek Chic recently moved to a larger facility to help decrease the lead time for their furniture, but due to the handcrafted nature of the furniture, a bit of a wait is understandable.

So far the process of ordering my table has been a delight. The people at Geek Chic are kind, and very attentive to my needs, offering advice for areas I hadn’t even considered. They asked me questions about where my furniture would go, my family, and what games we played to help me decide of the perfect configuration for my needs. All in all, my table cost around $3,500, including shipping and in-home assembly, which I consider a great deal considering the handcrafted nature of the furniture.

Ordering and designing the table was a breeze, the hardest part now, is waiting for it to be built. In a few months I’ll be able to follow up with pictures and my thoughts on the ordering process. Right now, I’m very excited! Although the furniture and pricing on the website isn't current (Geek Chic isn't updating the website until they can decrease the lead time on the tables), you can take a look at some of their offerings at geekchichq.com.

 

Since writing this, I have received my Emissary - click here to see my impressions.

Images are from the Geek Chic website.

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    Playing the Tables – My Experience with Geek Chic - Home - Board Games, Video Games, Reviews, Previews, Fantasy Flight, Z-man, Game of Thrones, Walking Dead
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Reader Comments (1)

I have an emissary on the way. I posted my configuration in part 2 of your review. (clickable link above.)

August 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBartowWing

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