Game players go to war for good cause
The room is filled with boisterous laughter, tiny models of fantasy battlefields and stacks of donated canned food.
Thrall Harvest at Knightfall Games is under way.
Twenty-four contestants arrange their miniature playing pieces and measure the distances they can move them, depending on the roll of 20-sided or six-sided dice. The contestants are playing Warmachine, a strategy game that combines the hobbies of model making and board games.
Warmachine players buy and paint their own playing pieces, placing them on a large felt table top - complete with model barriers, such as rivers and forests - to play against one or more players.
At the Dec. 15 Thrall Harvest tournament, players paid their entry fee in cans of food and donated extra cans of food to be able to gain special abilities, move obstacles, and other things that would be considered cheating in a normal round.
Derek Osborne, a volunteer in charge of the tournament, said a terrain piece worth $100, as well as other prizes donated by Privateer Press, helped encourage players to bring in as much food as they could. The day's events garnered 2,837 items for the Oregon Food Bank.
Eli Smith, who won the top prize for bringing in the most food by donating his entire monthly gaming budget, said the tournament was a marked success.
'This event really brought people from all over,' he said. 'This was a great turnout because we all really want to help.'
The players, most of them adults, alternate between chiding themselves for 'playing with dolls' and enthusiastically describing the intense interaction and 'metal-smashing madness' of the game.
'You're either getting your head kicked in, or kicking somebody's head in,' contestant Alaric Karczag said. 'There's no midline in this.'
Chris Slovik, co-owner of Knightfall Games on Beaverton-Hillsdale Highway, agrees.
'You're at war on that table top,' Slovik said.
The players say they like the social interaction that is typically lost in online or video gaming.
'I sit in front of the computer all day and the last thing I want to do is stare at the screen at home,' said Smith, a quality assurance programmer.
Slovik said that was why he and his friend Ryan Callison opened Knightfall Games in June.
'True players want to interact,' Slovik said, adding that he and Callison used to just play at home until they dreamed of opening a public space where players could come and interact.
The 6-month-old gaming shop already has a full schedule of events, from family board game nights, to video game tournaments, to Wii bowling tournaments for seniors, Slovik said. The seven tabletops are always free to use, and players can use the 70-inch projector screen and comfortable chairs to play video games, such as Halo 3, for a small Internet usage fee.
Slovik said he wants Knightfall Games to be a part of the community, a gathering place for gamers, which is one of the reasons for hosting the Thrall Harvest tournament.
'It's our little way of giving back,' he said.
Knightfall Games is at 9955 S.W. Beaverton-Hillsdale Highway in Beaverton. Call 503-626-9067 or visit knightfallgames.com.