In 1977, when I was 13, I was sitting in the school lunchroom and noticed an introverted kid near me drawing a map on graph paper. Being the friendly type and trying to get him to open up a little, I asked him what he was doing. He replied that he was preparing a dungeon that he would DM for his friends. I hadn't a clue what he was talking about so I enquired further. He gave a brief explanation of what D&D was and, since I was a huge fan of fantasy literature I asked more questions and ultimately petitioned him for membership in his venturesome party.
And that’s all it took. I was hooked on Dungeons & Dragons. I battled kobalds and dragons for the next ten years and, while bruised and battered…and sometimes killed…I enjoyed every minute of it. I will never forget finding my very first magic sword...oh the sweet memories! A few years later I received Dark Tower
for Christmas and my brothers and I got hooked on that too. It was truly an amazing game for its time.
Time went by, I got busy with work, sports and marriage and I no longer had time for playing games. One day, a few years ago, I received a notice on my doorstep that a new neighbor was opening an online board game store (www.Gameboardalley.com
) and would be having monthly game nights. She listed the games they would be playing (had never heard of any of them) and, intrigued, I and my kids RSVPed (The wife said she would just stay home and watch “Pride and Prejudice” for the umpteenth time). We played Carcassonne
, and Agricola
. WOW! This was no Monopoly! This was no Risk! I actually had to think and no longer relied on the luck of the dice. This was great! And the best part was, my kids were having a blast too!
So we bought Carcassonne and the kids immediately took to it, mastering the game very quickly. We had wicked fun trying to take over each other's cities, roads and farms. To keep them interested in the game (and to keep them away from the computer games) I bought a new expansion every month or two. But soon it was time to branch out and try new things.
Christmas was coming so I bought Race for the Galaxy
, Ticket to Ride Europe
, Shadows over Camelot
, and a couple of others. Those games kept us busy for a long time, especially Race for the Galaxy! We loved the strategies involved and how the game plays differently every time. We even made our own worlds and techs.
Time marched on and I watched with dismay as my kids, one by one, left for college, served missions for our church (one is serving in Poland right now), and got married. While my wife was supportive of my love of board gaming, she had no real desire to participate. Yes, she would play the occassional game of Settlers
or Ticket to Ride, She even tried Pirate's Cove
once but anything that required real strategizing was out of the question. So I began concentrating more and more on games that I could play by myself...thus my current Wish List.
I played a lot of Squad Leader
in college so I decided to look into that. Definitely took a wrong turn there! Not only was it out of print, but when I could find a copy, it cost ten times what I was willing to pay for it. Fortunately, I found Combat Commander
and Conflict of Heroes
…and I found a neighbor or two that liked to play them too. But when they aren’t available, I can still play them solo.
I still play games with my youngest son at least a few times every week when his homework is done. Also, the older kids come home from college most weekends so we have game nights on Sunday evenings after dinner. Good times, great fun and it’s a great forum for staying close as a family. And that's what board games are all about!