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Emporium caters to war game fans

September 22, 1998

Gamers EmporiumBy RICHARD F. BELISLE / Staff Writer, Waynesboro

photo: RICHARD T. MEAGHER / staff photographer




WAYNESBORO, Pa. - Kristina Ordona doesn't care if her new hobby, strategic war games, is played mostly by men and boys.

"I'm starting to get into this because it's fun to do," said the 11-year-old daughter of Tony Ordona, who owns Gamers Emporium at 11855 North Landis Ave. in Waynesboro.

Kristina comes to the store after school to help her dad.

The hobby is taking on renewed popularity as more companies put out new games. "Dungeons and Dragons," popular in the 1970s, was replaced by slot car racing in the 1980s, Ordona said.

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He has more than 300 different strategic games in his store, which also serves as a game room where customers play at no charge.

Hanging on display boards are hundreds of packages of figures used in the tabletop war games.

They run in size from 6 millimeters to 250 millimeters and come in hundreds of forms, including familiar military and historic figures from the times of Napoleon to the Civil War to World War II and beyond.

Fantasy and science fiction themes are equally popular. War game sets represent periods from prehistoric times to two to three millennia into the future.

"If you can put a date on it, there's a game for it," Ordona said.

The figures come in one piece or in multiple pieces that have to be glued together. Most are pewter, some are plastic. The average cost is $3.

No self-respecting war gamer would set out a piece for action without painting it, usually in a scheme spelled out in the rules book.

According to Ordona, war game enthusiasts buy individual pieces as they can afford them or, if posh, buy them in whole game sets, which can cost $100 or more.

Tim Lewicki of New Windsor, Md., a West Point graduate who works as a production supervisor for a private firm, was playing a war game Monday afternoon in Ordona's store with Pete Baxter, 35, an engineer who works for the Hagerstown Light Department.

Baxter's army of Dark Elves was trying to best Lewicki's Undead army of skeletons. The game began at the roll of the dice. It would last from two to five hours.

During weekend tournaments, up to 50 players play all night, Ordona said. About 35 percent of his customers are boys - the rest are adults, he said.

Lewicki said he has nearly $1,000 invested in war game figures.

He recently returned from a painting seminar. "I'm trying to get better at painting them," he said.

"I play the games because I enjoy the competition and the chance to work on my strategy," Baxter said.

Some hobbyists use their pieces in war games, some just paint them, some collect them and some do all three, Ordona said.

He's been in the hobby for 16 years and has a collection of about 4,000 pieces. He is also a champion painter, having won painting contests in tournaments.

"Some people have 40,000 pieces in their collections," he said.

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