There’s far from a shortage of unique gaming shops in Western New York, but one particularly interesting game haven is Great Escape Adventures. They offer a massive and diverse selection of board games, card games, tabletop RPGs, miniatures, and more, along with a back room with table space for gaming and an exceptionally welcoming staff. They carry everything from Warhammer 40K to Fluxx. This isn’t dissimilar to the many other tabletop gaming stores in the area, but they do have their own characteristics that distinguish them from the rest.
Great Escape Adventures’ name may have jumped out to you, as it sounds like it fits an escape room more than a gaming shop. That’s because their first location at the Arnot Mall in Horseheads, NY also has a puzzling escape room for guests to explore. This is a perfect combo, as it allows you and your friends to have an adventure in your game and then in real life (all in one place).
Aside from the Arnot mall, their other locations are at the Oakdale Mall in Johnson City, at the Ithaca Mall in Ithaca, and (the one closest to us in Buffalo) at the Walden Galleria Mall in Cheektowaga. Their Walden Galleria location is their newest store (which opened right before the COVID-19 pandemic) and is the one that I’ve visited. The Walden Galleria may be a fantastic venue for any store due to visibility, but Great Escape Adventures is actually hidden away in the corner underneath the escalators. No, finding them is not part of an escape room challenge. It does mean, though, that they can unfortunately be harder to find compared to other shops, so keep an eye out for them while you’re at the mall. The Walden Galleria location unfortunately does not offer an escape room, but hopefully they can eventually add one. In the meantime, they do have countless tabletop games and gaming accessories along with plenty of space for those looking to play.
Something I’ve noticed at their shop compared to others is… there’s a fairly sizable section dedicated to games for smaller children. This is a fantastic addition to their selection as not all gamers are quite old enough to get into Star Wars: X-Wing or Gloomhaven. Plus, it can help kids gain an interest in board games at an even younger age.
For their freeplay area, not only do they have a fair amount of games for everyone to try out, gamers are welcome to bring games of their own in as well. This is an activity that recently resumed at the store, once CDC guidelines eased up – it’s nice to finally hear voices of people gathering around games and having fun together now that we’re able to.
Great Escape Adventures also stands out from many other gaming stores thanks to its events. Before lockdown, they regularly ran Dungeons & Dragons events and Magic the Gathering drafts; both of which are expected to be picking back up soon (if they have not already). While they may have some exciting events in their stores, they even run a major one outside of it. From August 18th to the 22nd, guests are welcome to attend Great Escape on the Lake 2021.
Great Escape on the Lake is a board game convention and “geek adventure camp” located in the heart of the Finger Lakes on Lamoka Lake in Upstate New York. There, you will find an extensive lending library of free-to-play board games and 24/7 board gaming. If you happen to be a fan of LARP, then you’re in luck. There are live adventure guild experiences during the event where you can even purchase LARP weapons on site. Attendees can expect medieval-themed meals, and countless camping activities such as pottery-making and gold-panning demonstrations, ziplines, swimming and canoeing, bonfires, archery, and much more. Best of all, daily entry to the grounds, playing board games, and the LARP are all completely free. Camping activities, renting a cabin, meals, and some other amenities are surprisingly cheap. This is one of the most unique conventions anyone can attend, and it’s thankfully not too far away. If you’re planning on taking a camping trip this summer anyway, you might as well make it the nerdiest adventure possible.
Great Escape Adventures may look like any other gaming shop at a glance, but there’s a lot more to consider, like their multiple locations, an escape room at at least one of those locations, freeplay areas, a children’s board game section, and incredible events. The next time you’re at the Walden Galleria Mall, or near any of their other locations, be sure to stop in, say hello to the friendly staff, and check out some games.
You can read more about their upcoming events and other news regarding their stores at this website.
To learn about more Nerd Scene adventures, click here.