Underground Card Zone works to make card gaming an experience for its customers

Justin Reutter

| Chillicothe Gazette

CHILLICOTHE- Down a flight of stairs in a basement on East Main Street, a business catering to a niche hobby has opened.

Underground Card Zone will cater to fans of Yu-Gi-Oh, Magic: The Gathering, Pokémon, and other similar card games.

Owner Kyle Pack has been playing cards since he was around 4-years-old, he said, with particular interest in Yu-Gi-Oh and Pokémon.

“The first time that I went into an actual card store, not just like, Walmart or whatever, I fell in love. It felt like everything there was what I wanted – I wanted that feeling for another kid,” he said.

To market a niche hobby to the community, Pack says he plans to use a mix of word of mouth and social media. “If someone has a good experience, they’ll go out and tell 10 friends, but if you get one guest that comes in here and they’re not happy, they’ll go out and tell 100 people, so my plan is to make everybody have a great experience, a happy experience, and they’ll go out and tell their friends about it,” he said.

Along with selling cards, dice, comics, and assorted merchandise such as stickers and Pokémon-themed keyring attachments, the new card store plans to also host tournaments of two different styles- the swiss tournament and draft tournament in an adjoining room to the main display and register.

The number of players per tournament will be limited to about eight, due to the guidelines on social gatherings during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a swiss tournament, players bring their own cards and are initially paired randomly against each other. As the tournament progresses, players are paired against others with the same or similar win/loss records – for example, 3-0 players would be paired against other 3-0 players.

The Swiss structure awards 3 points for a win, 0 points for a loss, and 1 point for a draw, and the player with the most points at the end of competition wins.

In a draft tournament, a booster pack is opened at the beginning and passed around in a circle, each player selecting a card from the deck. Other players can’t see the cards that the other players draft. Then each player passes the rest of the pack to his or her left. This process continues until all the cards have been drafted. Next, each player opens a second pack, this time, passing cards in the other direction, and so on until all packs are drafted.

The Underground Card Zone is set to occupy somewhat of a unique niche in Chillicothe, as their only competition, Total Gaming Experience on Western Avenue, caters more towards E-Sports, board games, and tabletop such as Dungeons and Dragons.

“We’re trying to get the other variety in here. For those that don’t want to play computer games and want to come in and play in person,” said Pack.

For the 23-year-old who recently made the plunge of leaving his job as an assistant manager at Chipotle in Grove City to owning his own dream business, cards may give kids a positive outlet they might not otherwise have.

“In Chillicothe, there isn’t much to do. When I was in high school, I saw 14-15 year-olds out doing stuff that they shouldn’t have been doing,” said Pack. “Because there is nothing better to do. But if they’re interested in something like this, they can be here instead of out doing whatever they’re doing… and even if it’s for one kid, that makes a difference.”

Underground Card Zone will be open from 4 p.m. to midnight on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.

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