OCEANSIDE — Last weekend was busy for Alex Davenport, who spent most his time introducing residents of Oceanside to Warhammer.
A popular hobby and tabletop game that simulates battles using miniature models, Warhammer Oceanside officially opened its doors on Saturday, Nov. 17, joining the ranks of hundreds of other Warhammer storefronts nationwide.
“We sell everything that you would need to fully enjoy Warhammer,” said James Bell, Warhammer’s marketing coordinator for North America.
Bell said the game has a huge following in Southern California, noting the company’s first store was in Santa Monica.
According to Bell, there are now roughly a dozen Warhammer stores in Southern California with locations in Murrieta and San Diego.
The game itself involves building and collecting models to create an army, Bell explained. It involves critical thinking from the players, who need to be evaluating moves that they should make multiple turns ahead of time, and rolling dice to determine what happens to the mini soldiers.
Players quite literally build their miniatures by piecing them together and painting them to look however they please. Warhammer stores have tables for hobbyists to come in and play and offer model building and painting lessons for free — which is where Oceanside store manager Davenport comes into play.
“I’m here as everyone’s resource for everything Warhammer,” Davenport said.
A brick-and-mortar storefront is designed to help facilitate interest in the hobby, whether it’s playing the game or just building and collecting miniatures. Warhammer stores stock miniature models, paint, books and other tools for those interested in the hobby.
For those who may not be interested in playing the actual game but want to learn more about the Warhammer world, there are novels centered around the hobby’s lore.
Upon walking into the store over the weekend, visitors were greeted by two setup demos of the game complete with miniatures. On one side is the Warhammer 40,000, the science fiction version of the game that takes place in the distant future; on the other side is the Warhammer Age of Sigmar, which has more of a medieval fantasy theme.
Though the miniatures are specifically designed for the Warhammer games, Bell noted they can be useful for other games, like Dungeons & Dragons. Warhammer products are also available at other retailer locations.
Hobbies can get expensive, especially when they require a lot of tools and equipment. Bret Smilyk, a Warhammer trainer who helps new stores open, said the beauty of the Warhammer store is that it helps people determine what they need to enjoy the hobby before they buy anything.
“It’s all about the test drive,” he said. “You’re not going to know until you give it a try.”
Smilyk said one of his favorite things about the hobby is the sense of accomplishment it gives to people after they finish building their own model.
Warhammer offers a school club program for students between 12 and 18 years old to learn about the game and play with others interested in the hobby. School clubs are open to schools and other community organizations, and participants will receive a support package that includes models, paint and tools as well as a two-part curriculum pack that includes lesson plans and guidance on the game.
Bell noted Warhammer School Clubs help to encourage critical thinking in students and help them to develop social skills by playing with others. There’s also math and reading involved, he added.
Those who are interested in starting a Warhammer school club can email firstname.lastname@example.org. Applicants will be vetted to confirm they are from eligible community organizations or schools.
Warhammer Oceanside is located at 4140 Oceanside Boulevard, unit 147, in Oceanside. The store is open Wednesday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Sunday from 12 to 6 p.m. The store is closed Monday and Tuesday.
Samantha Nelson covers Oceanside, Camp Pendleton and the decommissioning San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station. She earned her journalism degree from the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University, and has previously reported for The Athens Messenger in Athens, Ohio, and USA Today in McLean, Virginia. Follow her on Twitter: @samm1son