Nov 1, 2008
On my twelfth birthday my grandparents bought me a red box with a dragon on it that they thought I would enjoy because I had such a vivid imagination. It was, of course, the Basic D&D box, and so my gaming life began. None of my friends had ever heard of the game, however, and so many of my early friendships were formed as we discovered the joys of Monte Haul adventures and mass monster killing.
For years off and on I played D&D and painted models for myself and the others in my various gaming groups. I still have my first set of Ral Partha miniatures . . . and I’d like to say, hey, at least I improved. I mean, I was only 12.
In high school, in addition to playing the occasional D&D game, I also discovered the Milton Bradley Gamemaster series of board games with a group of reprobates that make up the core of my group of friends to this day. Things like Conquest of the Empire, Fortress America, and of course, Axis and Allies gave us something to play around with while we discussed philosophy, politics, and religion.
Clarification: Philosophy: “Do you think frozen pizzas are round to symbolize the circular nature of reality and how all things are interconnected?” “Shut up and take off your city. I just killed you with my catapults.” Politics: “Where would we hide, do you think, if the Russians and Cubans invaded and shot up our high school during Mr. Veril’s history class?” “Shut up and take away your partisans, the jets just took you out.” And Religion: “Do you think God looks down on us like we’re looking down on these pieces, moving us around with no regard to our free will?” “Shut up and move, will you? Or are you planning on just sitting on fortified Australia and keeping us up until dawn?”
Through a strange mix of events and coincidences I ended up attending Norwich University, the Military College of Vermont, and the second club I joined, after the theatre group, was NUTS, or the Norwich University Tactics Society. As a small boy Ihad seen historical wargamers setting up massive tables with beautiful terrain for huge WWII tank battles a few times in a local mall. I’d never thought of playing myself, but I was very intrigued. NUTS was mainly playing Johnny Reb when I first joined, and I played a few games and was hooked. Just as I got interested, however, NUTS transferred its focus from historicals to Games Workshop’s fairly new games, Rogue Trader:
Warhammer 40,000 and Space Marine (Epic).
I LOVED it! I had always been a huge fan of SciFi and Fantasy, reading voraciously to the point that I would forego lunch at school so I could secretly save up my money to buy books (many of which are still with me, gracing the shelves of McNerdigan’s Pub in the basement). I didn’t collect an army for myself right off, but I played a bunch with club-members’ models. I knew that I wanted my friends back home to play these games with me, but to introduce them to 40K would have been overwhelming. So I started to collect the models for multiple armies for Epic, and that summer I introduced Games Workshop to Russ and my other friends.
Soon, though, Epic gave way to full on 40K up at Norwich, and in one academic year I built a Space Marine army, Imperial Guard, Squats, and Tyranids. My painting was getting better and better but was still . . . not great.
Grad School at FSU for Theatre Production and Research was a dry spell for gaming . . .although anything but for a lot of other, more colorful elements of my life. I continued to read non-stop (not easy with a grad-school reading load on top), and frequented a game store I stumbled upon wistfully, although all I bought the entire time I was down there was one MechWarrior starter box.
When I returned to the North East after my sojourn through the South and Theatre, I fell right back in with my friends and we delved back into 40K, and then Necromunda, and then Warhammer Fantasy, and then Mordheim. Somewhere in there the store DakkaDakka, the brain child of Russ and his brother John was born, and I helped make a bunch of their tables, discovering my deep love of terrain making. At the same time my painting had greatly improved, culminating in a bronze Golden Daemon for my original Space Marine Chapter the Divine Wind.
And since then things have just gotten crazy. Dakka closed under the growing pressure of child-rearing, and we became gaming nomads in the deserts of New Hampshire, and we ended up playing whatever the local games of note were. We discovered and discarded (all but) Babylon 5 and Flames of War. Everyone but me eventually jumped into Warmachine, and then that’s all anyone played for awhile. I jumped in so I could play games with my friends. I worked for Games Workshop for about a year, was offered a position as a regional manager, but regretfully said no because I didn’t want to leave my home.
It was at this point that we rediscovered ‘Hobby Game’ board games, and we never looked back. Regular game nights with friends introduced these games to my wife, Karen, and now she loves (some) of them as well.
Gaming, painting, and modeling have made hard times bearable and good times great for years now. My circle of friends has grown through games more than through any other avenue. And since the podcast began in 2008, my ‘gaming group’ has expanded beyond my wildest dreams to include folks from all around the world that I speak with regularly. From ‘normal’ gamers like me right through to dozens of the ‘lucky ones’ who have found a life in the gaming industry.
Games . . . yeah, they’re ok.