“Someone thought it was a law firm,” cracked Ian Pietila, store operator, at Warhammer, the gaming store at Lamp Post Plaza. Indeed, the elegant, serifed white-on-black sign in all caps does look like something that would be chosen by a law office or maybe a financial analyst.

From Nottingham, England, Warhammer has been around since 1985. There are now about 100 stores in the U.S.; the one in the Lamp Post Plaza opened last winter. Warhammer is, roughly speaking, a competitor of Dungeons and Dragons. Pietila says there are several versions, and he could get into fine distinctions, but when you boil it down, there are two Warhammer games: the medieval Age of Sigmar and the futuristic Warhammer 40,000.

The store serves several purposes in addition to selling boxes of toy soldiers or armaments that range from $20 to $200. On a weekday afternoon, half a dozen men were piecing together and painting game pieces–the store also sells tools, paint, and glue and provides free workspace. A few others were getting ready to play Warhammer. Pietila says Warhammer has female devotees too, though it sounds as if they are generally part of a couple.

Twenty-something Kyle Shahinian is carefully snapping together a tank to back up his army of Orks–he plays 40K. He’s chatting amiably with John Funk, though they had never met each other until today. Funk also mainly plays 40K, but he just began to play Age of Sigmar. He’s assembling an army of “skavens” (“they’re like rat men”). Funk is a few decades older than Shahinian, and his technical knowledge of models and gaming is deep and vast. He has a degree in art and another in electronics and explains that a sheet of plastic parts he’s working on is called a “sprue”; he’s removing the “mold lines” with a special knife before he paints his figures.

Pietila says you can play, paint, assemble, and generally hang out and talk about this stuff at his store. In a glass case are intricately painted game pieces that were part of a competition. But painting is optional: the Warhammer website says, “Painting miniatures needn’t hold a beginner up. The important thing is to get those troops on the battlefield.”

Warhammer, 2416 E. Stadium (Lamp Post Plaza), 975-9193. Wed.-Sat. noon-3 p.m., 3:30-8:30 p.m., Sun. noon-3 p.m., 3:30-6 p.m. Closed Mon. & Tues. (and always closed 3-3:30). games-workshop.com