Gathering place in CBD for Magic players

Players engrossed in a game of Magic: The Gathering at Grey Ogre Games. The shop in Club Street can seat up to 54 people and it is often packed with players on weekends and event nights. The shop's facilities are free, but players would typically buy
Players engrossed in a game of Magic: The Gathering at Grey Ogre Games. The shop in Club Street can seat up to 54 people and it is often packed with players on weekends and event nights. The shop's facilities are free, but players would typically buy cards to start a game.PHOTO: MATTHIAS HO FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

Fans of the card game can get their fix at Grey Ogre Games after a hard day's work

Nestled among fancy restaurants and noisy bars in Club Street is a five-month-old shop where card- game fanatics gather. Called Grey Ogre Games, the 1,300 sq ft shop is a space for players to meet and play Magic: The Gathering, a well- known deck-building card game.

For the uninitiated, the aim of the game is to reduce your opponent's life points from 20 to zero - before he does the same to you.

Mr Mark Tan, 25, one of the founders of Grey Ogre Games, said they set up shop near the central business district (CBD) to reach working adults who used to play Magic: The Gathering when they were students.

Mr Tan and three friends invested about $100,000 in the fourth- floor space in a shophouse. Nearly half of the funds went to decorating the shop.

"We wanted a nice, conducive environment for Magic players in a central location," he said.

"Ten years ago, when we were in secondary school, we were playing Magic in neighbourhood shops. But now this group has grown up and many are working in the CBD, so this is our target demographic."

TARGET MARKET

Ten years ago, when we were in secondary school, we were playing Magic in neighbourhood shops. But now this group has grown up and many are working in the CBD area, so this is our target demographic.

MR MARK TAN, one of the founders of Grey Ogre Games, on the shop's location

Mr Tan, who is studying economics at SIM University, estimates that there are 20 other shops - mostly in the heartland - for some 7,000 Magic: The Gathering players here.

Grey Ogre Games can seat up to 54 people and it is often packed with players on weekends and event nights.

The shop's facilities are free, but players would typically buy cards to start a game. The price of a pack of cards starts from $4.50, and can go up to $125. Players can also buy individual cards, which cost as little as 25 cents, and up to $1,005.

Mr Tan added: "We aim to be an events centre, to build a community of players. For us, playing Magic is a way to know and bond with other people too."

Mr Au Kian Lee, an insurance assistant underwriter who works in Raffles Place, said playing the game is "a way to destress after work".

The 32-year-old said: "This is near my workplace too. Magic is an interactive game and you see players face to face rather than play with virtual characters."

Strategy associate Koh Jin Rui, 28, added that players can go for drinks in the Club Street area after the games.

Mr Jocelyn Allard, 35, a consultant at Singapore Exchange who moved here from Canada six months ago, said: "Magic is a game of strategy and there's the infinite possibility of deck-building.

"There's also social interaction, and it's easy to make friends."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 11, 2016, with the headline 'Gathering place in CBD for Magic players'. Print Edition | Subscribe