Looking to learn from the most elite of dungeon masters in Singapore? The team from TableMinis is here to guide you on your next role-playing experience into the world of Dungeons and Dragons. Why did they start their DnD studio and store? We find out in an exclusive interview!
Q: Please give the readers a short introduction about yourself and your company. What is your role? What is your company about and when did it start? What is your “origin” story?
A: Hello. I’m Dennet and I run TableMinis – a Dungeons & Dragons and Tabletop RPG Studio & Store in Singapore. We run Dungeons & Dragons games for public and private groups, and immersive tabletop roleplaying experiences like Call of Cthulhu, Alice is Missing, etc. We also sell a wide range of tabletop gaming merchandise at our store.
I started TableMinis in 2017 on Carousell, where I met many in the gaming community who shared my passion for the hobby. I found the courage to dream of starting a small studio to serve this community.
Come 2020, I started putting together the building blocks of a studio. My goal is to bring the highest level of Game-Mastering and a level of compassion rare to any industry.
We finally opened our doors on April Fool's day 2021. We have been growing ever since!
Q: The store focuses a lot on tabletop roleplaying games. Give an introduction to the reader on what is the TRPG scene like in Singapore and how do new players usually stumble into the hobby.
A. In Singapore, TTRPGs are played daily in homes all over our island. Dining rooms, living room, and bedrooms even! Usually played with close friends, but it is also played amongst family members.
Play long enough, your ragtag group eventually becomes family. This is some of the joy many Singaporeans, or at least people in Singapore, experience weekly. Besides playing at home, some brave adventurers play at Studio and game stores like TableMinis. These places are great to make new friends and meet like-minded fantasy enthusiasts.
Most times, new players are invited by friends to join games. But nowadays, with shows like Critical Role, Big Bang Theory, and Community, they are exposed and get interested. From those shows, they seek out places like TableMinis to learn how to play.
Q: There are many non-gamers who are confused with the difference between a TRPG and a Miniature war game. Can you share a bit more on the difference between them and the cost of starting off with either of the genre.
A. The central theme of TTRPG is roleplaying, developing, and nurturing your character. When played together, the game's main attraction is the narrative and collaborative storytelling components. The table works together, roleplays special moments, and solves problems as a team.
In a sense, TTRPGs are co-op-centric games.
In the case of war gaming, the central theme of war games is combat, strategy, and outplaying your opponent. In a sense, Wargaming is chess with dice. This type of gaming has a high learning curve and a steep buy-in. Because of this, the investment both in cost and time bonds you with the armies you develop. The excitement comes from testing them in battle. Tweaking strategy and discussion “builds” are what gets people coming back for more. Wargaming is also more expensive, as you will need to purchase an army, get a paint set and invest time to build your miniatures first. Learning the rules from guides may add to the starting cost, but you can find the info free on the internet as well. You will also need quite a lot of dice to start playing.
On the other hand, the cost to starting out on TTRPG can be very low. All you need is a set of dice, your character sheet (digital or printed), and your imagination. Player’s Handbook for rules can also be purchased between $50 - $70.
Q: With the popularity of Stranger Things and other dramas that uses TRPG as a plot device, do you see a surge in interest in TRPG in recent years? How is the interest in TRPG like before this surge?
A. Most definitely. With D&D being a central theme in Strangers Things Season 3, we have had parents come by as their kids gain interest. A lot more people are looking to start playing D&D with their friends and family, and a lot more people are getting the Starter Sets.
There was steady growth in TTRPG before. With COVID-19 also, there was a surge cause I think people were bored at home.
Q: What differentiates you from the other board game shops? Any quirks or interesting stories you would like to share?
A. People generally do not see TableMinis as a traditional board game store. We are a studio with fully immersive gaming rooms. The rooms feature 3D sound, RPG lighting, spotlights on the table, super comfy chairs, and an ambiance that draws you away from your life and into your imagination.
Fully playable sets of Terrain and Maps, enhance the immersion as well. The most important element - is the privacy to play and be yourselves.
We build this studio to be as comfortable and inclusive as possible. To our surprise on Reddit, we are the friendliest and the go-to place for people who want to learn and play D&D. We are proud that the verdict was community-based and not influenced by us.
People who play regularly with us, have become fast friends - they often hang out and make the space come alive with laughter and chatter. They are always welcoming to others and they make newbies to our studio comfortable and looked after.
We find this happens from the organic nature of TTRPGs as players look after each other and are very welcoming. It has spilled over into real life.
Q: What is the biggest challenge you face while starting up or operating a board game shop? What are you doing to overcome them?
A. I think with most businesses in Singapore, getting an affordable space to rent is a big challenge. Because of that, hobby shops like ours are pushed to industrial areas, instead of key shopping belts and high-footfall areas.
I think we do well because quality and service to our clients are of a high level, word travels fast and many come and sample what we to offer. A majority choose to play with us regularly. They travel as far as Jurong weekly to play at our studio.
Q: What kind of games do Singaporean often request to play? What do you think attract them to play such a game?
A. Everyone wants to play Dungeons & Dragons.
The attraction of making like-minded friends and nerding out through the hobby, and spending 3 hours a week roleplaying and immersing yourself into the character you created and love, is a huge draw. Roleplaying is very fun.
Q: Other than selling tabletop RPG, what other services do your store provide?
A. We do miniature painting workshops, improv workshops, run games for corporate, and work with Co-Curricular Activities (CCA) leaders to introduce RPG in school. We also do commission paintings, 3D printing, and many, many others. I’d say we are a one-stop shop for everything you need for this hobby and lifestyle.
Q: What are the future plans for TableMinis: Activities, competition and promotions?
A. We will be moving to a bigger location next year, and we are very excited about that! More games to satisfy the demand, as well as live shows in 2023. We hope you come and experience TableMinis for yourself! We are a very unique studio.
Q: Where is your shop located?
A. Come find us at 6 Ubi Road 1, Wintech Centre #07-13. Singapore 408726. It is a stone throw away from Macpherson MRT station and parking is plenty during evenings and on weekends thanks to the thinner industrial estate crowd.
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