Victor Cina's love for historical wargaming is shared with many in the Portland metro area.

STAFF PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER OERTELL - Victor Cina paints an English Civil War pikeman at his home in Forest Grove.
Victor Cina spends his days in another world, far from his Forest Grove home.

Or at least, a much older world.

A history fanatic to the core, Cina spends hours recreating and researching historical battles, immersing himself in the stories told on the battlefield.

Cina bring these battles to life on his kitchen table, using hundreds of tiny miniatures, 3D figures and pieces of terrain in a game that has been played across the globe for centuries.

Miniature wargaming, as the hobby is known, dates back to 19th century Prussia. Using tiny figurines, players simulate historical battles played out across sculpted fields, oceans and other terrain.

Sitting at his home, Cina holds up a 75-millimeter-tall figurine he calls "The Duelist."

Painted with brightly colored oil paints, the figure's clothes are reminiscent of 17th century France, the time-period portrayed in Alexandre Dumas's novel "The Three Musketeers."

Painting these figures and recreating these battles is Cina's way of escape, and his time to relax.

"Since I was a young kid, I played with the little green Army men," said Cina, who works at Intel's Aloha campus as a technician. "That carried over to building models when I was 10. When I got out of college and began to work, instead with plastic models, I went to miniatures."

STAFF PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER OERTELL - A battle scene is set up on the kitchen table at the home of Victor Cina in Forest Grove. His workshop looks like an artist's studio — strung with completed projects, projects in progress and projects-to-be. Cabinets line a wall in his home, each sorted by battle, like the War of the Spanish Succession. Each is filled with countless amounts of miniatures barely the height of a quarter. Cina is able to pick up parts of the battlefield and explain when and where it would have taken place.

Popsicle sticks with numerous figurines are primed and ready to paint. These, he explains, are game pieces being prepped for an upcoming battle, but first they have to go through more layers of paint before they look perfect.

Cina also shares his work on social media. His YouTube channel is a place where he says he feels he can connect with others in the greater wargaming community.

People from around the world, from the United Kingdom to New Zealand, have reached out to Cina.

He posts his work to Instagram weekly and plans to begin showing his work in local art shows this fall.

Pioneer in Wargaming

STAFF PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER OERTELL - One of Victor Cina's hand-painted figurines that he plans to enter in a local art show. The game takes dedication, time and lots of research, Cina said. Actual gameplay can take multiple days, depending on the battle being simulated.

While players can determine or invent their own rules, they sometimes turn to game books to decide the structure.

Above all else, historical accuracy is important to the players, he said.

Figures and miniatures are painted to reflect what was accurate for the set time period, as do the battlefields, which are built to show how the scene would have looked.

"We ask if we can actually recreate the battle on the tabletop and how to reproduce it," Cina said. "We do try to be as accurate as possible because there is a basis for it. That is part of the fun. You have those type of discussions like, 'I thought they changed uniforms by this date,' or, 'Maybe they didn't wear green after all.'"

Wargaming conventions are held all around the world, featuring competitions and plenty of examples of people's work.

Alyssa Faden runs Enfilade, the Northwest Historical Miniature Gaming Society's event in Olympia, Wash. A friend of Cina's, Faden calls him a "pioneer in wargaming" who helps organize the regional convention each year.

"He definitely brings exuberance wherever he goes," Faden said. "In the four years I've known him, he has been essential to the wargaming scene in Portland."

Cina acts as event coordinator and makes sure volunteers are running games at each convention, she said.

A New Jersey native, Cina graduated from William Paterson University with a degree in theater. He moved to Oregon with his wife and daughter in the early 2000s and began studying history at Portland State University.

After moving to Oregon, Cina said he came across a flyer for a group of wargamers and joined. The group, which has fluctuated from six to 25 people over the years, meets in North Portland twice a month.

"I have friends from there that have lasted for over 18 years," he said. "The hobby attracts all types of people."

Cina didn't know much about color theory or painting when he first started with the hobby, and he began learning from scratch. Most of his paint is bought in local hobby shops, like Tammie's Hobbies in Beaverton.

"I always tell myself, 'I can try that,'" Cina said. He finds his inspiration through reference material and other people's work.

While the amount of details may be intimidating for some, Cina said people interested in starting can begin by finding a time period they like and deciding what size of models they want to work with.

"Your imagination is the limit when it comes to what you want to do," he said. "If you don't have the patience to sit and paint (each figure), don't. There are people that don't paint their figures but will still come to play."

By Janae Easlon
Features Editor
Forest Grove News-Times and Hillsboro Tribune
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