Room to play: Critical Hit Games moves to larger space in heart of downtown

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New Space Opening Event

Critical Hit Games (115 S Linn St) — Saturday, April 6 at 10 a.m.

Games line the walls at Critical Hit. — Talitha Ford/Little Village

The mosaic of uncommon and spectacular local business gems that line the Iowa City Downtown District has just been expanded. Critical Hit Games, an emporium of board, card and role playing games, has just moved from South Gilbert, and now occupies a central spot at 115 S Linn St.

Chance Kirchhof, co-owner of Critical Hit, shared a short tour of the shop and conversation just days into the big move. He said the goal was to increase space and open up the Critical Hit community to a wider range of people,

“The number one reason [for the move] was definitely size. Nine times out of 10, we made it work. But that 10th time, we just didn’t have enough space. We’ve been planning and working on this for about a year, but what convinced us that it was really the right move was when, in January, we had a pre-release event for Magic, and even with a foot of snow on the ground, we broke all our records.” Kirchhof said.

“I had to tell people they could not play … I had people standing to play, and to tell a gamer that they can’t play games at my shop? That sucked. We want to not have that happen anymore, so that everyone that wants to play here, can.”

Kirchhof and his co-owner, Wayne Hoover, bought Critical Hit in November of 2015, and they’ve been running it at the South Gilbert location ever since. This is the fifth Critical Hit location and the site of the previous Daydreams Dungeon.

Ready for play! Familiar mats adorn the gaming tables at Critical Hit. — Talitha Ford/Little Village

“The space sat empty for a few years, but then Zach [Power, owner of Daydreams Comics in Iowa City] gave it a go and showed that it could be a cool place.” Now separated by just a two-minute walk, Daydreams and Critical Hit can bring a more centralized space for the comics and games community into the Downtown District.

“With Daydreams, we’ve been business allies and friends for a few years now, and we refer to [each other] for comics or games. Now, we can do the same thing a block away from each other … it’s much easier now.”

In its surprisingly well-lit, expansive, new underground space, Critical Hit’s walls are lined with games, with the middle of the room now devoted entirely to seating and play space, for new customers or those who attend their weekly gameplay events.

“I’ve already had people and college kids walk in, who are obviously experienced gamers, but who I’ve never seen in my shop, so I think this will open up our community for some people.”

Critter welcomes all visitors just outside Critical Hit’s new location. — Talitha Ford/Little Village

This Saturday, April 6, will be the official opening day for the shop, with events, demos and cake to celebrate the big move. The doors will be open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., and events will take place throughout the day. Even Critter, the fuzzy, red, longtime Critical Hit mascot, is getting a slight celebratory makeover, and will now inhabit the shop’s signs, so he can welcome new gamers the space.

“My predecessor, Kate [Hoynacki-Fry], created and designed Critter … when we bought the store, we bought the intellectual property rights to him. We had to have him. Sadly, her previous sign did not fit the Downtown [District]’s parameters, but we figured this was the perfect opportunity to make a new logo, re-design Critter and make it truly ours.” Chance said.

“[My co-owner] Wayne did the coloring and the font, and I did the artwork. We made him a little less angular … a little more cuddly, hopefully; and [we] unveiled it with the new logo.”

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Look for Critter on the shop’s new sign in the coming weeks, sponsored by the Iowa City Downtown District’s CoSign program, which links small business owners, visual artists and fabricators to create one of a kind projecting signs that fit the Downtown’s sign parameters. In the meantime, Critter can be found on a temporary sandwich board outside the shop, welcoming those downtown to stop in and maybe find a great new game.

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