Student group brings wargaming to U campus

Members meet every weekend to play futuristic science fiction games.

Computer Science senior Stew Wilson checks his line of fire during a game of Warhammer 40,000 on Friday, March 12 at Coffman Union.

Computer Science senior Stew Wilson checks his line of fire during a game of Warhammer 40,000 on Friday, March 12 at Coffman Union.

mackenzie collins

Unicorns, dragons, orcs and space marines square off in battle every Friday night for four hours in a third-floor room in Coffman Union. Members of the University of Minnesota Campus Wargamers club spend the beginning of each weekend, 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., sharing their interest and love of wargaming. âÄúWargaming basically covers a broad variety of games,âÄù said Stuart Wilson, one of two students who founded the group two years ago. âÄúThe ones we play involve building miniature models and then battling them against each other.âÄù The group has about 30 members, with an average turnout each week of about 15 players, Wilson said. Members paint their models and play tabletop games like Risk, But Wilson said they mostly play Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War and other futuristic science fiction games. Wilson and fellow senior John Hogue started the group in 2008 to offer a no-pressure environment for fellow players to find other students on campus who share the same passion. Samuel Howard, a junior, joined the group as a first-year student and has been going every Friday for the past two years. âÄúWith games like these, itâÄôs hard to find other people to play,âÄù Howard said. âÄúItâÄôs not like you just walk and see people playing soccer on the field and ask to join.âÄù Hogue, an economics major studying actuary science, echoed HowardâÄôs sentiment. âÄúItâÄôs kind of a weird hobby to go up to people and say, âÄòHey, do you play with toy soldiers?âÄô âÄù Wargaming is more than just an opportunity to relax and blow off steam, said Hogue, who works at Galliard Capital Management as an investment analyst. âÄúGaming definitely provides some sort of perspective on whatâÄôs a good strategy, when is an acceptable time to pull back and when is a good time to push forward and take those risks,âÄù Hogue said. Wargaming stretches beyond the University of Minnesota, especially Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War. Comic book stores often hold open events for people to gather and play. âÄúItâÄôs not just a game, itâÄôs an entire hobby,âÄù said Travis Winter, event coordinator for Source Comics and Games in Falcon Heights. âÄúYou donâÄôt just buy a box of Monopoly and play. Imagine you get the rules and then you have to figure out how you want the pieces to look.âÄù However, Hogue said the in-store gaming can be frustrating due to the age differences between players. âÄúOne of the complaints is that parents drop kids off and use [the store] as a mini babysitting site for 10- and 12-year-olds,âÄù Hogue said. âÄúItâÄôs nice to have a college one where you can relate with other people.âÄù All three group members agreed that the group provides more than just a place to play the game but also a group of friends that share similar interests. âÄúI mean, weâÄôll play wargames outside of the club or watch science fiction movies,âÄù Howard said. âÄúOr weâÄôll just go out to dinner and do things like normal friends do.âÄù The group recruits members through their student group Web site and have a painted panel on the Washington Avenue Bridge. With founders Wilson and Hogue graduating this year, they plan to pass the torch to Howard and some other members.