people inside building

Killer Queen, an Arcade Cabinet Rocking a Riverside Bar 

Story by: Judd Barczak

Keg and Coin, Jacksonville’s first “barcade,” has made quite the reputation for itself regarding the atmosphere that it holds. With the more classic bar games like darts, to more colorful options like pinball and retro arcade cabinets, either way this craft beer bar has something for everyone to try. 

One cabinet stands out from the rest though, set up in the middle of the main floor, its flashing blue and yellow screens drawing attention from across the bar. When looking more closely at the machine you may notice that this isn’t your classic Pac-Man or Galaga style cabinet, Instead of the familiar button and joystick setup this machine has five sticks on each side, with buttons to match.  

Killer Queen, described as the “first and only 10-person strategy arcade game,” brings in quite the crowd to Keg and Coin. With competitive events being held once a week every Wednesday night, teams of five are able to come in and compete with other teams in order to earn their arcade supremacy. Anyone is eligible to join and leading up to that night’s tournament patrons of the bar are encouraged to try out the machine on free play throughout the day. 

For those curious as to how the game plays, it seems to be a strange hybrid of classic fast paced arcade action combined with the strategy decision making of chess, all wrapped up in a somewhat bee themed package. With each team of five starting out with four “worker drones” and one “queen.” Each team must choose one player who plays the queen at the start of the match, and similar to chess the queen is considered to be the “strongest piece on the board.” 

The ultimate goal of the game is to knock out the opposing team’s queen three times by utilizing your team’s drones and queen. 

Much of the interest for the game is driven by the fast paced action combined with the on-the-fly decision making that the game requires of you. While this interest gets people into the game, what keeps them coming back is the community. Events that are held by locations like Keg and Coin help to keep the community alive. 

These events are symbiotic, as players are able to find a place to convene for tournaments while the venue gains more foot traffic from new and returning customers. All of this comes without having to compromise the distinct atmosphere that Keg and Coin has cultivated, still offering a comforting and nostalgic environment where people can gather to play games and enjoy a cold beverage.