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How the Game Tables Have Turned … Into Even More

Local gaming-table company has expanded its line to playmats, shelves and even its own games, and is bringing it all as a Zealot Sponsor to Kansas City premier gaming conference, KantCon, in July 2024.

By Brendan Howard

allplay logo

When most people play board games or tabletop role-playing games, they usually make do with whatever table is biggest: kitchen, living room (if you’re sitting on the floor), or maybe a fold-up table in the game room or basement.

But for years that’s not been the only choice, with game-specific tables on the market. And one local gamer, Chad DeShon, worked with a local woodworking company to custom-build a table that would answer all his board game needs. Then people started asking him if he could build them custom tables of their own, and Allplay (formerly was born.

Both standard and custom tables from Allplay come with a variety of features to appeal to players with lots of little fiddly paper, plastic, and metal bits in their favorite games:

A sample custom board game table
A sample custom board game table
  • Recessed playing areas and raised armrests, so stuff doesn’t fall onto the floor

  • Padded playing surface so you don’t need to dig your fingernails between the card and the table

  • Cup holders, for less spillage and more convenience

  • Toppers to convert a full-sized gaming table into a full-sized dinner table without wrecking the fancy nooks and crannies

  • Chairs, custom-stained to match the tables

  • And various other add-ons and accessories.

The difference between a regular table and a game table is night and day, according to office manager Chris Garbett.

“Anyone who’s played on a game table knows how much nicer it is,” Garbett says.

“Everything’s a little lower, in your field of vision, and everything stays contained.”

Garbett himself owns one of the gaming tables, and he says guests are surprised to discover its versatility.

“I have a Jasper, keep it in our kitchen, and it has a dining-room topper on it,” Garbett says. “Whenever someone comes over, we eat on it, then I say, ‘Oh, by the way, we use this part for board games” and it comes off.”

If a gaming table is too pricey, Garbett says their water-resistant neoprene playmats in three different sizes and five colors can make a huge difference to a game with a lot of cards on the table.

Allplay has expanded beyond tables and table accessories as well. Its product list now includes board game bags and modular bookshelves—sorry, game shelves—as well as Allplay-exclusive card and board games (“Some call it Allplay’s answer to Azul,” Garbett says about the cozy, critter-covered River Valley Glass Works, available for preorder). The new inventory was helped to life by multiple Kickstarter campaigns, leaving the Jasper and Jasmine gaming tables and Jasper gaming shelves available now on their website. Allplay has also started offering outside publishing partners a suite of options, including pledge management on platforms like Kickstarter all the way to distribution and fulfillment services.

A premium board game bag
A premium board game bag
Jasper modular shelves
Jasper modular shelves

“Every couple of weeks, it seems like a new partner shows up,” says office manager Chris Garbett.

Garbett says when he came on, Allplay already had a presence at bigger national conventions like Pax and GenCon, with 50-by-20-foot booths featuring more than 20 demo tables. But he was excited to get involved at the local level, too, and pushed ahead with Allplay’s sponsorship and booth presence at this year’s KantCon.

“I want to bring the feeling of our big booths at conventions to a smaller space,” Garbett says.

Demo tables will feature a selection of Allplay-exclusive games. Garbett says games top of mind for him are the newly reprinted Reiner Knizia class Through the Desert, the hiking-themed Switchbacks, the code-deciphering game A Message From the Stars, and the Venn Diagram-focused Things in Rings.

Those games are all curated into five particular product lines to appeal to different players: 1 Minute to Teach, Tricky Card Games, Small Box Big Game, Fun For Everyone, and The Strategy Line.

“We know that the audience for board games doesn’t have a total overlap [in what they like],” he says. “Some of our games aren’t as meaty and dense as some others. [For instance,] our 1 Minute to Teach line means anybody can hop in, hear the rules in a minute, and understand the game in less than five minutes.”

A new label, Tiny Box, will fit card games at a $10 price point. The first two are the MahJong-inspired Panda Panda and hand-gesture card game Fairy.

Some of those selections are so hot off the presses that they might not be finished by the convention: “It’s too early to commit, but it would be a nice surprise,” he says.

So, Chris Garbett may work with an entire team of nine employees, but they’re still headquartered in Lenexa, Kansas, and work with the same woodworking company in Jasper, Missouri.

And they’re proud to be setting up shop this July 5 at KantCon to showcase their product for local gamers.

Bear Raid game on a green playmat
Bear Raid game on a green playmat

Brendan Howard is a freelance podcaster, writer and editor based in Olathe, Kan. His podcast is

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