By Erin Fitzwilliams, Sebouh Majarian, Andrew McDonald and Ryan Ross
In a world unseen by most, the gamers who play at Four Horsemen comics shop at the Morgantown Mall spend their time creating their own armies and fight strategic battles similar to chess.
Warhammer, a game of miniature models and landscapes, is played on large tabletops. It takes hours to get through one game.
Jeff Second, 38, spends his weekends and free time putting together models and playing the games. He said the model kits come in pieces, which need to be cut out and sanded down and attached to a base. After putting them together, they must be primed and painted. He said, however, that it isn’t necessary to paint them – and some people don’t – they just want to play.
Second is from West Virginia, but moves around the country because his wife is in the military and is currently deployed overseas. He said his models have been all around the country and are showing wear and tear, even after the long painting process.
Second’s father, Joe Second, 65, is a Continental Airline Captain and also an ex-Air Force pilot.
“I took these models in a gun case. Like a gun pistol case, that I took through security all the way toTucsonand back,” he said.
Joe said he has been playing games like Warhammer since his son was 13 or 14 years old.
Founded in London in 1975, Games Workshop produces three core games – Warhammer 40,000, Warhammer Fantasy Battles and Lord of the Rings, based on the books by J.R.R. Tolkien. Popular comic conventions, like the San Diego Comic-Con, have helped raise Games Workshop sales and keep the industry of models moving forward.
Warhammer hobbyists shell out thousands of dollars to purchase the intricate pewter
pieces to make their armies, starting at about $20 per model. After gluing together the pieces, it takes an estimated three to six hours to prime and paint the models – depending on how elaborate the hobbyist wants to be.
Aaron Costa, a regular at the Four Horsemen, said his army has cost him about $700 so far and has been playing Warhammer for less than a year. He said he has made many friends while playing at the shop, and finds the game worth his time and money because of the people he’s met.
“It’s an easygoing, friendly environment. You sometimes get a few people who forget the rules, but you very rarely get someone who cheats,” Costa said.
He said that the game is a great way to meet people and at the Four Horsemen there are about seven or eight regulars who play.
Behind each game and each character, there’s a whole mythology, and to understand the game, you have to know the stories behind the characters.
“I wouldn’t expect it to take more than a couple months (to learn),” Costa said “They also do release new versions of rulebooks every couple years. It puts everyone into disarray for a few weeks.”
The game itself is complex and strategic, like chess. But, instead of a checkerboard, games are played on tabletops and movement is dependent on the rolling of dice. the moves are also dictated by that particular model and how they are allowed to move determines how far the armies can advance. Each model has different specifications and will react differently with the rolls of the dice.
The tabletops are not only covered with models and landscapes, but with Warhammer books, tape measures and an assortment of greasy pizza and energy drinks.
On Saturday, Jan. 28, a Warhammer tournament was held at the Four Horsemen. Six teams of two went head-to-head on a variety of different boards to come out with “victory points,” basically how much damage an army can put up against another army in a short amount of time.
League tournaments are held at the Four Horsemen each Thursday, but occasionally players will come in Saturdays and Mondays.
The games are set in alternate realities, like a steampunk version of World War II – only the Nazis are actually zombies and the good guys are ogres. Other games involve Space Marines, Orks and elves.
“I enjoy the tactics and playing at the battle. It’s like a real time strategy game with infinitely more details. The rules are fairly simple, there are a few contradictions and some special cases, but other than that it’s all spelled out. It’s how you move your army and how you use it,” Costa said.