I’m going to take a bit of a departure from my normal format tonight. I’ll be going back to it,but for now, I just want to share a few thoughts about my last couple of years as a board game enthusiast. When I started this blog, I didn’t ever intend for it to be read by anyone besides people who already knew me. To that end, I never really introduced myself. My co-contributors have all introduced themselves. I guess I should follow suit.
I’m a 38 year old new father. I’ve been gaming since the late 1980s, and have been involved in the industry, at the retailer level, since 1994. Like most people, I had games as a kid, but nothing more in depth than Monopoly and Trivial Pursuit. My first introduction to tabletop gaming really came in 1988 when I borrowed my uncle’s basic D&D set (which he’d never played). I ran the game for a few neighborhood kids, and was hooked pretty quick. This was the pre-red box version, and I only had it for maybe a couple of weeks. Role playing remained a pretty strong hobby for me, and I found myself immersed in systems like Marvel Super Heroes, Twilight 2000, Rifts, and Vampire, as well as a regular ongoing D&D campaign.
In the ’90s, I went to work for a local comic shop, and was introduced to Magic: the Gathering. At the time, it was the only game they carried. I played heavily from The Dark through the Urza block. The store changed ownership in 1996, and eventually, we started moving more into games. When I took over ownership in 1998, we eliminated comics altogether, and became a full-blown game store. When I say game store, I mean CCGs and Roleplaying games, mostly. I remember seeing solicitations for games like Settlers of Catan, but not thinking much of them. We continued until 2002, and closed when the building we were located in was sold.
When I opened a new shop in 2003, we still followed the same model, though we carried some of the collectible minis games like HeroClix and MechWarrior. Sadly, that shop didn’t stay open very long either, and I missed the opportunity to expand my horizons. During this time, games like Raw Deal (the WWF/WWE card game), Star Wars d20, and Warlord: Saga of the Storm dominated my time. The shop re-opened in 2006, almost completely focused on Magic: the Gathering. In 2008, we moved to a larger location, and re-introduced comics to our lineup.
It was in this location that I started to see some of the great things that were going on. Finally, I discovered Settlers of Catan, and Carcassonne, and Ticket to Ride, and all the other great “gateway” games. Still, I moved slowly into board gaming as a hobby. Games like Pandemic and Forbidden Island became staples for us. Indeed, when Jamie and I got married in 2010, we had board games on each of the tables at the reception, and gave out custom d6s as wedding favors. I had personally drifted away from Magic as a player, but continued to run events on a weekly basis. I also had gotten into Warhammer Fantasy Battles and amassed a decent sized Vampire Counts army. I wasn’t very good at it, though, and never got knowledgable enough to teach it very well. Our latest D&D campaign had ended, as well, and the next one never quite got started.
I found myself without a steady hobby for the first time in a long time. I turned to board games as a “one-off” kind of thing, as I had access to a smallish collection, with a decent amount of variety. I can’t say there was any one specific board game that sucked me in, but in the last two years or so, I’ve really found a hobby that I can love. All types of games, with so many ways to interact with friends and new faces. I also feel that I’m a passable teacher for these games, so in general, I really feel at home with board games. At the beginning of 2013, I started a quest to talk about each of the games in my collection. Give my thoughts on the ones that I’ve played, and at least talk a little about the ones I haven’t. I’m still in the As, so this might take a while. I don’t think I’m quite done with this interlude yet, however.
In my next segment, I plan to talk about new games, old games, and the direction I plan to go with my hobby.