Fantasy role-playing games are center of this community

By Maura Wery

A war is going on inside of Gamehounds, 1620 Fort Riley Blvd.

You can’t see it, but if you have the imagination for it, you can watch it in your mind.

It’s not the kind of war that features typical combat roles. This one requires magical spells, special cards and hand-made figurines to win.

This isn’t your normal combat, and participants are not normal types of warriors.

Everyday men and women gather in this game shop every week to assume fantasy roles and play “Magic the Gathering” (a card game) and “Warhammer” (a figurine game).

“We are a close-knit community,” Gamehound owner Rusty Schroll said about folks who visit his video game and comic store every week.

Both games are incredibly complex, but Schroll said new players are always welcome. If a player is looking to get into something quickly, Schroll suggests trying “Magic the Gathering.”

“There are several types of formats,” Schroll said. “There are Legacy, EDH, Standard and then booster drafts.”

The formats don’t change how the game is played, but rather they change what kind of deck of cards the players will use. To add some more complexity, the crowd that shows up will decide which format will be played.

Once the format is decided, players use a combination of the different cards — artifact, creature, enchantment, instant, land, planes walker, sorcery or tribal — to drain their opponent of life.

“It’s really complex,” Schroll said. “There are 60 cards in the standard deck and 100 cards in the EDH deck.”

For booster drafts, players buy three packs of cards and can only work with the cards in their deck.

“It’s a great way to get into the game,” Schroll said.

“Warhammer” is different because, instead of a set of pre-printed cards, players must read 100-plus pages of back story and rules — along with creating their own personalized army.

“You put together and customize your army the way you want,” Schroll said. “It’s kind of like chess with cool figures.”

Schroll said that most people who play “Warhammer” view it as more than just a game.

“We look at it as more of a hobby,” Schroll said.

Each player can buy different sets of armies — which they’ll put together with the weapons of their choice and paint them to their own color-scheme.

Schroll said that people who play the game can get involved in what they’re doing pretty easily. From start to finish, most armies take about a year to complete and most players develop a sense of pride from the armies they create. Some armies even have certain personalities — pulled from the rulebook and back story. 

So the question might arise why a store that caters to video game players and comic book readers would create a space for these games.

Schroll said it happened a lot more simply than you’d think.

After another local game shop closed in 2011, everyone who played the games came to Schroll and asked if he would start carrying the cards and equipment needed to play.

Once the items were in stock, players started congregating in the shop often enough that he started holding special tournaments and game nights.

“We encourage a friendly atmosphere here,” Scholl said. “We don’t ever discourage games and that has really got a lot of people into the game.”

On a Friday night, around 50 to 60 people are squeezed inside Gamehounds to being an evening of playing “Warhammer” and “Magic the Gathering.”

Contestants come from different backgrounds, but they’re all there for the same reason – to wage their unusual wars and get hours of enjoyment.

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