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The FLGS of London

May 12, 2012

Once, with a really good Friendly Local Gaming Store (FLGS) closeby, I never really thought about travelling in search of games – you could usually find what you wanted (far more than you could afford) locally, or they would order it in without hassle. But, that isn’t the case anymore. So, I cast my covetous eyes towards London and seek my gaming-purchase fix there. Of course, you can purchase goods direct online, but sometimes one wants a good rummage – not to mention that sometimes things are unavailable for online order (for example, Orc’s Nest only has a few of its models available from its website).

Although there are numerous gaming and model shops listed as existing within London, it is difficult to discover whether many of them actually stock the sorts of things I want in an amount that makes it worth visiting. Which is odd – even if the shops do not want to splash out on a website (and they could always get a free one if all they want is a basic online presence), you’d think they would put some detail on their listings in online directories. But, no, the potential customer is left guessing whether they actually stock what they want.

So, although I had some other shops on my itinery as possibles when I made my recent foray along the railway track to London, I ended up limiting myself to the obvious contenders :  Leisure Games in Finchley and Orcs Nest in Central London and the nearby Forbidden Planet.

Leisure Games

Located in Finchley, close to Finchley Central Tube station, Leisure Games was easy to reach, the directions on its website being accurate. They have a very good selection of roleplaying games, wargames and boardgames to satisfy most tastes, and are an excellent source of indie games that are unavailable through Amazon.co.uk. Prices are what you would expect, and I managed to pick up a couple of books cheaper than from Amazon. They also stock models and dice (the latter cheaper than Orcs Nest, although slightly less varied in style). The shop itself is spacious and has a welcoming feel, and I enjoyed looking it over. If you are looking for unusual dice, you can find them under the counter glass, although you might be better off ordering online as the selection seemed limited instore.

Although I haven’t ordered from them online, their site is user-friendly and as well stocked as the bricks-and-mortar store. Orders over £80 are post free, unlike Orcs Nest or Forbidden Planet, making it well worth hunting down those books you want.

Addendum – I can also vouch that they provide excellent customer support. You can definitely purchase with confidence.

Orcs Nest

Orcs Nest is located between the Tottenham Court Road and Leicester Square tube stations and will require a bit of a walk – especially if you get off at Tottenham Court Road, as I did, and become disorientated by all the building work that is going on and end up inside a spatial anomaly for some time that leads you around in circles. Bearing that in mind, and given that they supply details of how to reach the store from Leicester Square, I would very much advise you to use the latter station!

Although still a good gaming shop, Orcs Nest doesn’t carry as many roleplaying game lines as Leisure Games, although it seemed to have a slightly broader selection of products for those lines it does carry, and lacks indie games. It is, however, well stocked with wargames, boardgames, models and dice. Prices are what you would expect. Despite their dice being more expensive than Leisure Games, they have a bit more variety, if you are looking for something out of the usual.

Overall, I didn’t find it as good as I have in the past or as good in comparison with Leisure Games. The main advantage with Orcs Nest is that it is located in Central London and is near to Forbidden Planet, Foyle’s Books and various other shops and venues, making it more accessible and able to fit into a broader ‘day out’, unless you happen to live close to Finchley.

Forbidden Planet

The main virtue of Forbidden Planet, from a gaming perspective, is that it is located a short walk up Shaftesbury Avenue from Orcs Nest. Of course, it is not a dedicated gaming store, so it cannot be faulted for a relatively limited stock of games. It has roleplaying games (major lines only) and boardgames, but no wargames, models or dice. Mainly, it is to be visited if other shops are out of stock of something you want, or to take advantage of the various books, DVDs and other genre merchandise that is stocks.

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