My entry point to the hobby came in 1984. I saw Axis and Allies in Toy's'R'Us that Christmas as I began the annual scheming to maximize my holiday haul. Of course, I had played Risk and Stratego, but this looked like something that would really appeal to the budding history geek in me. Still, somehow it did not make the list. Yet, to my father's neverending credit, he found it on his own and bought it for me.
I spent most weekends with my dad at that time. We did nothing but play Axis and Allies. We would play three and four times during a weekend. It was a mania.
I bought all of MB's Game Master line (except Broadsides and Boarding Parties for some reason, I can still see stacks of them at Toys'R'Us sitting unsold in my mind's eye). In my quest to find yet more games like Axis and Allies, I happened upon Origins during its one brief foray into Los Angeles in 1986. Instead of more Axis and Allies, I uncovered the world of Historical Miniatures. Mania number two strikes.
I spent a ton of time and money on little lead men, and also started looking into Avalon Hill's board games. When I left to go to college, I met Doug Austin, life-long friend, gaming partner, and occasional roommate. He had also played A&A, and we started there. That led to a whole host of Avalon Hill classics. Mania number three.
Afterwards, I went to Southern Illinois University for law school. I was a wargame snob and had not been exposed to many multiplayer games. However, I quickly learned that the "game is the thing." So I played train games, I played economic games, I even played (gulp) fantasy games. So long as there were interesting decisions to be made, I would play. Along came Settlers, and Mania number four took off.
Now, I proudly call myself a DC gamer. We have a great group of people who meet every Saturday from 3:00 until the wee hours of the morning. We mostly play Euro stuff, but we have a few wargaming hold outs (myself and Doug Austin, from undergrad in CA being among them). This group is one of the few anchors of my sanity.
The other is my wife Vonda, who is also an accomplished gamer. In Southern Illinois she chose "join 'em" over "beat 'em" and we have been playing together ever since. Now, I have two little gaming larva to train and ensure that the hobby lives on. XBOX RECENTLY PLAYED