While I have written a lot of role playing and table top miniatures gaming material (and novels) over the years, my start in gaming was with board games. Like so many people, I started with Avalon Hill and SPI. I had a copy of Tactics II that I played long and hard. A veteran on my paper route had a game collection and we played almost every week – starting with Panzer Blitz, Strategy I, Panzer Leader, Squad Leader, Blitzkrieg, Soldiers, and other titles.
A bunch of us traveled to MichCon at Oakland University one hot summer, staying in the un-air-conditioned dorms and gaming to all hours of the night. In 1978 I went to Origins (I think in Ann Arbor) and actually got to play D&D under Gary Gygax himself.
During my recent move (we are building a new house) I came across two relics of that era. One is the photograph of Tim Hopkins and me, in February of 1978, playing Arab Israeli Wars. I’m the goofy looking kid on the right. That was a great game. It made me do research into the weapons and the war itself, which was what was great about gaming. It’s a gateway drug to broader learning.
The other relic I found was my Origins 1978 coin they gave out. Note: RPG’s are not mentioned on the coin! It is odd, but I think traveling to these colleges helped me decide to further my education – so another positive byproduct of my gaming.
One summer I played Terrible Swift Sword with some guys…and we played weekly, all summer long. That was wild. I also got into miniatures, playing Tricolor Napoleonic’s using Airfix minis. No matter what you did those Airfix minis would not hold the paint.
I started with RPG’s in high school, 1977-ish and still have my white box D&D first edition. I never lost my love of board games – but I did lose the time needed to play them.
In college, my Freshman year, I fell in with a gaming group. We played D-Day, with Panzer Leader. It was on a series of maps that covered four ping-pong tables and we played round the clock, all weekend. Thousands of counters – tons of fun. My airborne forces (I was the 101st) were scattered but managed to cling onto our objectives…barely.
Of course I moved on to RPG’s, hell, many of us did. I still have a good collection of board games though that I cherish. There was something about those early days, moving the counters, rolling the dice, that was pure fun.
Anyway, I thought I would share these with you and I invite you to share your origin stories in gaming in the comments.