Aside from the normal "board games kids play" (Monopoly, Risk, etc.) my first exposure to "hobby games" was when I was 10 or 11, and my friend Danny Crisp pulled out a game at his house called Verdict II
, by Avalon Hill. This was 1973 or 74. We sat on the floor in the middle of his living room and tried to play it. We succeeded at some level, but most of it was beyond us.
Later that same year I became aware of SPI games through seeing them at a bookshop the mall. Oddly enough, I was a "map-aholic" - had them all over my bedroom wall, and had often fantasized about being able to play some sort of game on them before I knew such a thing existed (besides Risk, of course). So while I was thrilled to find these wargames, the six to eight entire dollars
to buy one was just too much.
Soon after that, I stumbled on an Avalon Hill wargame, D-Day (first edition)
, at a swap meet, for fifty cents. That was my preferred price point for trying something new, so I was off and running as a wargamer.
After playing D-Day (first edition)
over and over again, I found the rest of the AH line in toy stores and began to invest in a collection, eventually adding SPI and GDW games in, as well as a subscription to Strategy & Tactics.
The above mentioned Danny was my first FtF opponent, and I even discovered PBM via The General magazine. I gamed steadily through 6th grade, Jr. High (where I found half a dozen like-minded fellows), and High School. Transitioned to AD&D in High School, and was exclusively an RPG'er in College.
Once real life took over, my dozens of games and RPG equipment followed me, and even survived a divorce, but it didn't survive a moving sale after a prolonged absence from gaming! I dumped all my stuff cheap in 2000. We're talking unpunched, detergent box SPI games for $4.00, S&T's for fifty cents, etc. I did keep two boxed games; War in the Pacific (first edition)
and Rise and Decline of the Third Reich
, plus a few S&T's.
In 2003 my oldest boy asked me if he could learn to play "those games". That was my reentry to the hobby, and now my wargame collection is larger than it ever was, plus we have taken up some Euro-style games as a family: Carcassonne, TTR, Puerto Rico, etc.
We have five boys and two girls, all of whom like board games to one degree or another - save for the oldest girl, who is severely autistic. My wife recently (2013) has decided that she really likes Ticket to Ride and Acquire. That's a landmark, as she has been stand-offish from boardgaming most of our marriage.