CINCINNATI — Zach Leopold was not surprised by the excitement when he announced the Rook OTR, a board game parlor and bar, would open in Over-the-Rhine in May.
What he was not prepared for was the number of text messages from friends and online inquiries he received afterward. He said that is why he agreed to take part in an Ask Me Anything (AMA) question-and-answer session on Reddit, a forum-structured site where people share news and interests.
Leopold, who had never participated in an AMA before, ended up answering questions about the Rook, from both serious and casual game players, for three hours.
With Leopold’s blessing, here are nine things we learned about the Rook from that Q&A session:
It’s family friendly: Feel free to bring your kids to the Rook up until 9 p.m. any day of the week. After 9 p.m., the Rook will switch to an 18-and-older establishment. (Remember, there is a bar component to the Rook.) Leopold plans for the place to be open 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. seven days a week.
Supporting the community: The Rook OTR will sell some games but do not expect too many. Leopold told Redditors (those who use Reddit) that he’s “passionate about adding to the board game industry in Cincinnati and not taking away from it. So, I want to make sure I’m supporting the board game shops.” He hopes the Rook pushes people to visit places such as Arkam House Games, located at 1609 Madison Road, Suite B, in Walnut Hills.
Speaking of games: Visitors can expect to see roughly 25 percent classics, 25 percent party games, 10 percent card games, 20 percent gateway (more serious strategy games) and 20 percent heavy strategy games. Specifically, Leopold hopes to have around 400 Euro/Strategy games (Catan, King of Tokyo, etc.) for the more hardcore players. He also emphasized that he wants to maintain the broadest appeal possible to all level of gamers. So far, Leopold has purchased the top 100 strategy games and the top 20 games in most of the other categories.
How may I help?: Hosts at the Rook OTR also will play the part of gamemaster. (Leopold says he’s “still working on a cooler word for that.”) The host will be there to suggest games for visitors and explain the rules of new games.
Let’s eat: There also will be servers. The Rook OTR is working on a system where servers stop by tables without interrupting game play or appearing rude. Though play is free, Leopold’s business will depend on people ordering snack food and drinks, preferably during every hour of play. Leopold said the "drink and eat every hour" guidelines won’t be enforced too strongly, unless the parlor is at capacity.
What’s on tap? Beyond craft beers and cocktails, there also will be soft drinks, coffee and other non-alcoholic drinks. Operating as an all-ages place, people likely will have to pay for the latter, too (unlike strictly bar establishments that sometimes offer soda for free).
Game on: Leopold promises the Rook OTR will hold tournaments for series players. Those tourneys, though, probably will not be held at peak traffic times such as Friday or Saturday nights. Tournaments and scheduled events likely will take place on weekday and weekend afternoons.
It’s a party: The Rook OTR is working out rental rates for gaming groups who currently meet regularly at various locations across the Tri-State (libraries, bars, etc.). Leopold said groups interested in renting space can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org with questions. The parlor will be able to accommodate groups of up to 100 players.
My battleship’s gone AWOL! The one thing not revealed in the AMA is which poor soul will be responsible for fixing damaged games and finding lost game pieces in the parlor. Not to worry, though: Leopold is developing a plan to laminate game cards, pieces and possibly boards as well. He already has begun stockpiling duplicate games and replacement pieces. The Rook's website also will have a place to report missing pieces or damaged games once it is up and running.