As a child I always loved family boardgames, which in those days in Britain were pretty much synonymous with the company Waddingtons. They always promised so much- business tycoonery, world conquest, flying to the moon and my early teens seemed to be an endless cycle of excited anticipation followed by vague disappointment. Which I suppose is what your early teens is really all about. Happy memories of Formula One and some good games of Risk, however.
Then came miniatures wargaming. Great. I still enjoy that but the painting is so time-consuming and why is everyone in the world better at it than me? There was a certain amount of dabbling with monster hex and counter games. Somewhere along the way came life, or at least student life which I still sincerely believe is not most productively or enjoyably spent painting Greek hoplites. There was howeverKingmaker
and most memorably of all Decline and Fall
. Also a bit of dabbling in rpgs (D and D, Cthulhu).
And after that a lot of dabbling in all of the above with work and travel rather getting in the way. My primary interest remained war games of one sort or another. When the Lord of the Rings films came out, I threw myself back into miniatures collecting again (I'm a Games Workshop sceptic but I did like those figures) and also discovered the amazing historical figures of Mark Copplestone which blossomed into an interest in all things inter-war.
Somehow or other, I stumbled across Board Games with Scott. At first I didn't think this was really my thing but Scott's enthusiasm is infectious. And I discovered that a lot of the games he talked about were really good. Now I haven't quite beaten my sword into a ploughshare but they do make a refreshing change from killing people, if only in miniature. So now I'm full circle back to all those exciting Waddingtons games, only this time done right.
Tom Vasel recently made a spirited defence of theme in games and I agree. Usually, abstracts leave me cold. I'm not however particularly bothered by whether a game is a so-called Euro or Ameritrash as long as I feel that somehow or other it nails the theme. Having said that the plastic in Ameritrash doesn't do it for me; I try hard not to be a miniatures snob but I don't like unpainted miniatures and I'm not sure I'd want to waste my 'painting time' on figures which don't quite cut it.
I love science fiction and fantasy literature but do generally prefer those games which adhere closely to a major work in one or other of the genres. Wooly, hastily cobbled together fantasy worlds where the objective is to collect 'magical crystals' or wotnot are just abstracts in disguise. Similarly, although I can see their attraction and each to their own, I have yet to be convinced that games like Caylus or Hansa Teutonica have anything much to do with history or, to be frank, anything else really. I'd much rather go with Martin Wallace or Friedmann Friese.
Increasingly, I find I'm drawn to social deduction games like Werewolf
and The Resistance
which straddle the divide between conventional games and RPGs. (Some people like a bit of structure and analysis in their gaming and some -extroverts, I suspect- like something a bit more freeform and creative). These games seem to find a middle ground.
If you have stuck with this nonsense this far, you are a patient and saintly person. Happy gaming!