Part I: Back to where it all started . . .
I think I seriously began my gaming habit five years ago. It was Last Night on Earth that brought me to the hobby I've come to love in the capacity that I do. I no longer own my copy but I probably played it over 100 times and am glad it's seeing some play in another happy gamer home. But what LNOE did was bring me here, to the vast and confusing forum displays of BGG.
Like anyone else I'm sure, it probably took me a year of browsing and exploring to really get a grip on the expansive features of Board Game Geek. In that year I also discovered what I really liked in my games. A good amount of strategy with a healthy dose of theme and interaction maintaining a certain level of simplicity so that it doesn't intimidate new players. My best example of this is "Caylus Magna Carta." A perfect post gateway game in my opinion.
Dry as bone, but that don't stop me from loving it.
I'm the type of person that doesn't do anything halfway. If I pick up a hobby, I must know everything about it. Yes, I'm that student that often corrected the film history teacher on editors, release dates, screen writers, foreign influences and a variety of other arguably trivial information. And so I went on an info binge learning everything I could about games. In doing so, I became fascinated with the various videographers who post those reviews that we all enjoy so much. First I took Tom's word as Gospel. Then, as I began to love euro type games, I hovered around Joel's Drive Thru Reviews. This has to be a relatively common progression that many of us would find familiar.
Then I came to Calandale's video's. And what a character he is. Wildly thoughtful reviews coming from clearly what must be at the very least the best case of someone knowing a little about a lot all wrapped up in a disheveled looking loner. I suspect that doesn't do him justice though and it might betray the respect I have for him. Anyway, I remember watching him move around those little square counters across paper maps and at first thinking,"How needlessly complex?! How dry?! Who even really plays these things?! I enjoy watching this Calandale guy but these games are not for me! Give me a mounted board with wooden bits, meeples, and Michael Menzel paintings!" I stood at the brink and looked in though, still. Something kept me coming back. Probably his quirky presentation and persona and probably that more than 3/4's of the game he reported on I had never even heard of before.
Gaming went on for a couple years and I found a few euros that really scratched the euro itch that had so plagued my cube gripping fingers. Belfort, Ghost Stories, Pandemic, Glen More. Great games and fantastic good times.
And the rabbit hole went deeper. I wanted something more complex but I knew my friends would never go for it. It would be too much. They would be too deterred from playing games in general and I didn't want that. So by the sidelines I would stay watching Calandalic session after session show up in that video box. Samurai, Infidel, American Megafauna and many others. Some wargames, some not.
WHAT ARE YOU???!!!
Eventually I realized there was a hole in my collection that must need be filled. I am a first class sci fi addict. I love my Star Wars with a side of Star Trek and an Asimovian chaser. There was nothing of the genre in my collection. So I picked up Eminent Domain. Didn't fix anything. I needed more theme. Eminent Domain is great but it just won't satiate a hardcore scifi player's needs.
Colorific tuck boxes help . . .
Around the same time Space Empires 4x was released. I was fascinated by the title. Calandale's video sessions of the game were my favorite yet. This one had to be on my shelf. That was the call . . . But as those beginning journey often do, I refused it . . .
In my next post, I'll discuss the course that lead me back to the path that had perhaps already been chosen for me by an unlikely goofy little classic that would serve as a gateway into tactical war gaming.
Thanks for reading