Mishra takes a good look at me as I walk in. I’m taken aback by her sheer size and beauty. She walks up to me with a confident grace while I offer my hand for her approval. She greets it with her nose as she looks back at me again, silently giving me the OK to pet her thick coat of fur. It’s official, I have now been welcomed into Knight Watch Games. I am now the newest member in an ever-growing community created by Paraic and Brenda Mulgrew.
Walking into Knight Watch Games is truly a unique experience, as evidenced by my very first interaction with one of the two gentle giant huskies who occupy the store on a daily basis. Upon entering Knight Watch Games, I quickly forget that I exist in 2016 San Antonio, Texas. I am instantly transported from the South Texas desert into a world of swords and dragons, complete with 2 huge common tables, accentuated by a table for the nobles with chairs pulled from an actual Danish Castle!
“These two long tables represent the common tables from medieval times, “Paraic explains, “In ancient times, you’d sit in order based on class. The people with the highest standing would sit closer to the noble’s table. The noble’s table would be reserved for the most influential people. We use this structure as a way to give our gaming tournaments a fun twist. The better you do, the higher up the table you move up.”
The little details made into every part of the design of Knight Watch Games highlight the amount of care put into it by the Mulgrews. The visual setting also represents a call-back to the chivalry of Medieval times. “Chivalry is alive here, “Paraic explains, “we make sure that everyone feels included and feels like they belong. We foster an environment of good manners.” Setting plays a large part into what makes Knight Watch successful. There’s an excitement among the patrons of Knight Watch that’s contagious.
“I fell in love with this place from the moment I walked in,“ one customer tells me. “Ever since I discovered Knight Watch, I’ve been telling all of my friends that they have to come here and see how awesome it is. I really want to help Knight Watch succeed.”
I walk with Paraic as he gives me a full tour of Knight Watch Games. We go from the grand hall to the retail space full of miniatures, books, and board games, and into the two private rooms, the Renaissance Room and the Dark Ages Room. Both private rooms are decorated with authentic tables, cabinets, and coats of arms and feature state of the art technology for full immersion. I realize how much passion he has in creating a world for people to fully lose themselves in.
The key to creating this world of immersion, Paraic explains, is to establish a strong community and foster its growth. “When people see that you are doing something you’re passionate about, they feel that energy and passion too. We’ve built a community that people can lose themselves in and be a part of. We’ve been overwhelmed by the sheer amount of support given to us by our customers. People have donated so many things to us. Every contribution means a lot. It’s something very special. When we opened Knight Watch, we didn’t know what to expect, but I knew that if we gave people something we were passionate about, they’d see that passion and come together. This has worked out more than we could have ever dreamed of.”
Ursa is taking a nap in front of the armory. He hardly notices us as we enter a room containing a large assortment of medieval ware, from pirate shirts to leather armor. The selection is incredible, and as Paraic further explains, is the only such collection of its kind in the United States. Ursa can relate to being one-of-a-kind. Prior to his life with the Mulgrews, Ursa lived in a world of neglect and abuse. “We rescued him in Arizona from a property that had over 100 neglected Huskies,“ Brenda explains. “He was in very bad shape when we adopted him, but as you can see, he’s living the life right now.” Ursa has the scars to prove his hardships, but with love and attention, the Mulgrews were able to help transform him into the peaceful and happy sleeping giant he is today.
Not many places of business in San Antonio have dogs roaming the storefront, let alone two Huskies. “There were some reservations about the Huskies while we were getting everything in place,“ Brenda explains. “They are in integral part of our store. They’re our mascots, but even more so, they are family. There was no way we were ever going to do this without them.”
Mishra and Urza's presence adds to the unique experience of Knight Watch Games, but what is equally impressive is their calm demeanor. With Huskies being a popular breed because of their apperance, it could be easy to initially overlook the amount of work required to have such a large-breed dog. "yes, huskies are big dogs," Brenda explains, "You really need to put in time and effort into caring for them and exercising them. Another important thing to do is be confident in yourself as their leader. The relationship is very similar to that of a parent and a child. If you exercise your dog and set good and fair boundaries with them, they will be well-balanced and happy."
Our final part of the tour concludes with the Sci-Fi room. The room itself is pulled straight from the Star Wars Death Star. Space-themed tables provide an appropriate setting for starship tournaments. “We are creating new events all the time,” Paraic says, “We have weekly game sessions and tournaments. We also have a Ladies Knight Out that gives women an opportunity to learn games in a fun and relaxed environment. We are continuing to create more events and are working to get more and more people included in this community of gamers.”
As I have walked throughout the entire store, I notice that Mishra and Ursa are always nearby. The fact that the Huskies are never out of sight is quite symbolic of the influence of the Mulgrews on this store. The influence and care they’ve put into every single detail of the store can be seen everywhere. After our interview, Paraic and Brenda resume their regular duties of giving game tutorials, laughing with customers, and sharing their passion with a community that has truly embraced them.
The story of Knight Watch Games is not only a story of a community coming together to help each other, it’s also the story of a community coming together to provide a gift to the people willing to bring it together. Paraic and Brenda have seen growth both in their store and in the customers that frequent it. Paraic tells us, “When you see people start off maybe in a bad place, then over time they grow and become better just by being here and being a part of something, that’s really special. It’s so much more than running a game store.”
Knight Watch Games
From Top Left to Bottom Left: Brenda and Paraic Mulgrew, Ursa, and Mishra of Knight Watch Games.
Our October feature article is all about fun and adventure with Knight Watch Games!
We spent some time with Brenda, Paraic, and their two beautiful huskies, Ursa and Mishra, to discuss the inspiration and dedication that makes Knight Watch Games the hottest destination for new and experienced tabletop enthusiasts alike.
Visit Knight Watch Games online by clicking their logo!