Field Notes: Game Night

Field Notes explores Honolulu's vibrant and varied scenes and subcultures. This month: Fantasy Game Night at Ward Warehouse.


A regular Monday evening gathering of Honolulu’s fantasy tabletop gaming community, free of charge and sponsored by Other Realms, a game and comic-book store.


Roughly 40 to 60 gaming geeks, fantasy freaks and other escapist enthusiasts. Some are teenagers, a few are precocious children, but most are men in their 20s, 30s and 40s. Female players are rare.

Warhammer 40K players send their forces into battle, including this jetbike-riding Eldar space warrior.

Photos BY Elyse Butler and Matt Williams


A squad of Gray Night space warriors.

The players of tabletop miniature wargames meet in a conference room to march toy armies into battle in games such as Warhammer 40K and Hordes. These games typically involve thick rulebooks, dice, measuring tapes and battlefields filled with model trees, hills and other scenery. They also involve battalions of plastic model soldiers. The troops—with names such as Beastmen Gor Herd, Dark Elf Black Ark Corsairs and Plaguebearers of Nurgle—are custom painted with fine-tipped brushes by their generals. Craftsmanship counts as much as tactical acumen.

Civilization: The Board Game.

The players of fantasy card and board games meet in a separate conference room. A perennial favorite is the 20-year-old trading card game Magic: The Gathering. Popular board games come and go. A current favorite is Civilization, in which players advance through human history and can win in various ways, such as developing a vaccine that saves humanity, or inventing nuclear weapons.

A tabletop war gamer in the thick of battle.

 Those into role-playing games, such as Dungeons & Dragons (yes, it’s still around) sequester themselves in a small, windowless room away from the other players. One gamer explains Game Night’s self-segregation like this: “The tabletop miniature players are nerds who come here to hide from society. The board gamers and Magic players are nerds who are hiding from the tabletop miniature guys. The role-playing gamers are nerds who are hiding from everybody.”


At the online message board, players organize games, buy and sell tabletop miniatures and discuss the pressing issues of the day. Recent posts include: “Anyone have a spare plasma gun?” “Robot Unicorn Attack!” and “How do we get more girls to play?”

Warhammer 40K’s Sister Superior, hand-painted leader of an army of heavily-armed nuns.


In general, the gamers don’t take themselves too seriously—but there are exceptions. One tabletop miniature player, known for trash talking his opponents’ troops, leans over the models upon which he inflicts casualties and yells: “Suck it! Suck it!” He’s equally tough on his own soldiers when they fail to perform, leaning over them and yelling:  “Suck it! Suck it!”


New players are encouraged. They are typically allowed to win, or are at least beaten gently. Female players are especially welcome, and especially hard to find.


Game Night happens every Monday, 4 to 9 p.m., in the second-floor conference rooms of Ward Warehouse, 1050 Ala Moana Blvd. Call Other Realms, 596-8236.