I grew up playing chess, backgammon, Monopoly, Life, Risk, Parchisi, Scrabble, Battleship, Yahtzee, Rummy, etc. I still play backgammon, chess, Scrabble, or Yahtzee on occasion, but my game choices have evolved over the years. At age 12 I discovered Twixt and Othello. I was introduced to Dungeon and Dragons when I was 13 and was given the Advanced Dungeons and Dragons Game Masters Guide, Monster Manual, and Player’s Handbook for my 14th birthday. For a couple of years I met fairly regularly with others from my high school to play. We even started a gaming club supervised by my physics Instructor. Usually I was the Dungeon Master. I mostly ran published scenarios, but I wrote a couple myself. Next, I purchased Gamma World and Divine Right. While perhaps not a true war game, Divine Right introduced me to hex and counter games. Little did I know at the time how many hours I would spend moving card board counters across hexagon filled maps.
By age 16, I had become disenchanted with the class-based game systems marketed by TSR. I wanted a game that did a better job of simulating combat and movement, with rules for parries, hit locations, encumbrance and speed. It didn't make sense that common skills, such as climbing, were limited by character class. Thankfully, I discovered Chaosium’s RuneQuest, my first skill-based role-playing game. This was closely followed by SPI's Universe and FGU's Aftermath! I attended BayCon in San Jose when I was 17. There I was introduced to Call of Cthulhu by Sandy Petersen himself (the game's author). Naturally, he was the game master.
At age 19 I met a friend who introduced me to real war games. Originally, it was our mutual interest in Call of Cthulthu that brought us together, but War and Peace was the first game we played. I borrowed the rulebook and devoured the game system. After that I was hooked. I still considered role-playing games part of my hobby, but in practice I pretty much stuck with war games. I bought Imperium Romanum II, Guns of August, and Third Reich. I was given Arab Israeli Wars, Russian Front, and AirCav. Over the years my friend and I have spent countless hours moving panzer divisions across Russia, reenacting the Schlieffen Plan, over-running Egyptian APCs with Israeli tanks, and moving Roman legions across Asia Minor to conquer the Parthians. Twenty seven years after our first game, we still meet at least once a month for a gaming session. We still haven't played Call of Cthulhu.
For almost twenty years this friend was the only other person I knew who shared my interest in these kinds of games. Then about seven years ago, my friend met someone at work who shared our interest in historical/war boardgames. Turns out his father knew Gary Gygax and used to be a game designer! Suffice it to say, he is at least as hardcore about this hobby as we are. Imperium Romamnum II was our first game. We now meet about once a month with other like-minded game hobbyists to play multi-player games such as Soldier Kings, Advanced Civilization, Here I Stand, Successors, Onward Christian Soldiers, Russian Civil War, Black Beard, Origins of World War II, Conquest of Paradise, Republic of Rome, Dominant Species, and many others. I’ve also managed to entice a couple of other non-wargaming friends to play RuneQuest, Commands & Colors, and Dominant Species.
Number of plays
The number of plays that I've posted on BGG for older games (e.g. AH, WestEnd, etc.) are approximations, but aren't too far fetched considering that I played one of these games at least once a month for twenty years. With the exception of Commands and Colors: Ancients, the number of plays I've recorded for my new games is exact. I had already played C&C:A so many times before I began recording plays that I had to approximate, but C&C:A plays quickly. I can easily complete four or five plays in one night. Some of the other games I own require a lot of time to play. In those cases, if I did not manage to complete a game, I will still record the play session as a play if I spent the better part of a day playing it. Most of my plays represent face to face sessions, although if I've had a particularly involved solo session and played the game to its conclusion, then I might record that as a play as well.