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Michael Groll
Germany
Marburg
Hessen
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Michael Groll
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MY GAMING LIFE

I was born in 1980 in the former GDR and grew up quite happily, but unaware of the wider gaming world.
My early years were dominated by Parcheesy, Mau Mau, Mastermind, the occasional game of chess and lots of sessions of Rummy and Schnapsen.
After the breakdown of the GDR and the German reunification my life became quickly enrichened by Monopoly, but the real breakthrough in my gaming "career" came a bit later, when a friend of mine introduced me to HeroQuest and Space Crusade. I quickly added Key to the Kingdom to my collection, but HeroQuest remained my favorite.

Fast forward a few years to round about 1993 when I stumbled across a book by Michael A Stackpole called Natural Selection. This introduced me to the world of Battletech and I devoured a dozen or so Battletech novels over the course of a single summer break. In the back of those books FASA advertised their Battletech starter set (the box with the Warhammer on its cover and the plastic minis) which was a must have for me. During the next years Battletech was our primary game. I love the granularity of the game system and the endless options for creating your own mechs, but eventually we wanted to play larger games with more minis, but that proofed to be too unwieldy with the ruleset. Again, pure chance lend its hand and I stumbled across issue number 3 of the German White Dwarf magazine in a supermarket. Seeing those gorgeously painted miniatures and most of all a battle report with more than a dozen models on each side was like an eye opener. We quickly got into Warhammer 40K (2nd edition) and I came to love the hobby side of things as well. The next big change in my gaming life came in the mid to late 90s when Magic the Gathering splashed across the big pond. Portal was my entry point into the CCGs, quickly followed by 5th edition and the tempest cycle. I played Magic for a couple of years and got into other CCGs as well (Legend of the five Rings, Behind, Star Trek CCG, the Sabertooth Warhammer 40K CCG, Game of Thrones CCG), but during my years in University Roleplaying games became my main focus. I joined a D&D group (actually AD&D and then later D&D 3rd ed) and we also tried Shadowrun, Hyperborea and Engel).
After moving and starting my PhD I had a hard time to find a new Roleplaying Groups that would commit to a weekly schedule, so we more and more drifted towards board games (Puerto Rico and the Mystery of the Abbey being the first additions to my collections since my teens). From there on I slowly aquired more games, but board gaming only became my main focus after I discovered listening to podcasts (it all started with the Dicetower, thanks Tom) in 2012 and since then there is no holding back.

MY DESIGNERS LIFE

I started designing games pretty early on. My first attempt was promted by Games Workshops release of Battlefleet Gothic. The game looked interesting, but as teens already invested in Battletech and Warhammer 40K, we could not justify spending the money for another starter box. So, after reading a few articles and battle reports in the White Dwarf, I designed a space fleet combat game myself. In many ways it was a simplified version of Battletech without the hex grids. The ships had hit zones and hull points, weapsons fired in different arcs and movement was done with a measurement tape and a turn template. It worked very well and thanks to the granular ruleset we did not need many models per side to have entertaining battles, keeping the costs low.
When Magic came around I dabbled in creating a Warhammer 40K version of it - but without a proper computer, scanner or printer that never got off the ground (I think I ended up with a few dozen hand written cards with xeroxed pictures of Space Marines and Orks pasted onto them, hardly enough to play, but hey, I invented the carbon copy ;)).
My first real (in the sense that a larger group of people got exposed to it) game design however was not in the field of board games but my own roleplaying ruleset (and campaign world). In the early 2000 I just had gotten into D&D and wanted to share this rich experience with my old friends. But as they now lived in other parts of the country, I came up with the idea of a play by email RPG campaign. And as they were all new to this whole RPG thing, full on D&D would be too much to handle. i started with a simple choose your own adventure style gameplay and gradually introduced more detailed rules. The final ruleset feels like a very basic version of D&D (hence the name BASIC), though many gamers told me that it also reminded them of the Dark Eye RPG (which I had never played). Fleshing out the campaign world and the ruleset took me several years and though it never got really finished, the German documents can still be found on www.ashnadar.de.

During my PhD phase I did not have time for designing anything not work related and so I took a hiatus until 2011/2012, when we spent a year in London and I had more free time at my disposal. That is when I started designing my first card and board games, most of which can now be found here on BGG.

Designing games is a hobby and will remain a hobby for the forseeable future, but it would be neat to see my name on a box in a game store one day, so I will keep at it ;).

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