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Games with my brother - a tribute
Wendell
United States
Twin Cities
Minnesota
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My younger brother Steve died June 29, entirely too young (46), after four years of battling with cancer. He was a father, husband, brother, computer programming whiz, and a great person (believe me). And as time permitted, he was a board and computer gamer. Some memories of games that Steve and I (and usually our kid brother Scott) played over the years.
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1. Board Game: The Game of Life [Average Rating:4.05 Overall Rank:11060]
Wendell
United States
Twin Cities
Minnesota
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This is a stand-in for all the "normal" games that American (and English) families all have. All five of us (there are two sisters in the mix too, though they are not gamers) plus Mom, Dad, grandparents, etc would play this or games like Parcheesi, Yahtzee, Candy Land, Clue, Monopoly, Chinese Checkers, etc. We really played a lot as kids.
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2. Board Game: Risk [Average Rating:5.59 Overall Rank:9592]
Wendell
United States
Twin Cities
Minnesota
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The gateway game, perhaps. Steve and I, with various other family members and friends joining at different times, played a LOT of Risk when I was a young teen. We came up with the classic strategy of holing up in Australia... This was probably the first game where Steve and I argued over rules!
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3. Board Game: APBA Pro Baseball [Average Rating:6.73 Overall Rank:2914]
Wendell
United States
Twin Cities
Minnesota
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When I was 12 (and Steve 8) I first got APBA Baseball, and I loved it. I played thousands of games over the years, drafting my own leagues, and even making cards for players with significant playing time who didn't make the 20+4 player cut.

A bit later, when I was doing other things and playing APBA less, Steve and Scott really got into it. We played a lot of games, and Steve & Scott also organized their own leagues. Steve also designed cards for him, Scott, and me. We were all all-star caliber (naturally) players, but Steve was better than Scott who was better than me. A fair assessment - Steve was pretty good at baseball and Scott was too, while for me my love of baseball was not matched by my talent for it. I was bad field, no hit, so making my APBA version a good player was definitely an act of charity by Steve.
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4. RPG Item: Dungeons & Dragons (Woodgrain Box & White Box Sets) [Average Rating:7.76 Overall Rank:253]
Wendell
United States
Twin Cities
Minnesota
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Here's where our gaming paths diverged somewhat. I got into this in a big way when I was 14, and eventually Scott (eight years younger) became a core part of our D&D group for years, which resulted in many of MY friends also becoming friends of Steve and Scott. But Steve didn't really go for the RPG thing. He played it only once or twice with me (though if memory serves, he may have played some Paranoia with Scott and others). Also Steve was getting to the age where naturally he had his own friends and interests - drawing, playing baseball, and some typically stupid teenage stuff that I may or may not have also done with my friends.
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5. Board Game: Canasta [Average Rating:6.34 Overall Rank:2142]
Wendell
United States
Twin Cities
Minnesota
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When I was 15, my dad suddenly began to spend a lot more time with us kids. He taught us how to play canasta. For what was probably just a few weeks, we played it a LOT - all five kids and Dad. That shortly preceded my parents' separation and divorce. No doubt, not a coincidence.
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6. Board Game: Talisman [Average Rating:6.42 Overall Rank:1329]
Wendell
United States
Twin Cities
Minnesota
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Either Steve or Scott bought this game when it was new, when I was in college. We played it a ton, often with Scott's friend who lived next door. Seemed like I was always being turned into a toad. For some years, this was the last game I played regularly with my brothers, because after I graduated college, I moved away from Ohio to Washington DC, and then on and off to some places overseas.
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7. Board Game: Kings & Things [Average Rating:6.59 Overall Rank:1222]
Wendell
United States
Twin Cities
Minnesota
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How could I forget this? Steve, Scott, and I (with some friends) played the heck out of this one back when I still lived in Ohio.
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8. Board Game: Scrabble [Average Rating:6.36 Overall Rank:1131]
Wendell
United States
Twin Cities
Minnesota
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A family game that all of us kids and Mom played over the years. Steve was good at it, though it seemed like if Mom played, she'd usually win.
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9. Video Game: Civilization [Average Rating:8.46 Overall Rank:23] [Average Rating:8.46 Unranked]
Wendell
United States
Twin Cities
Minnesota
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Steve was the one who introduced me to Sid Meier's Civilization. Once while visiting Ohio in the early '90s, he demonstrated the game to me. I subsequently went to his apartment to play Civ I while he was at school and work, and was hooked, although apart from Civ and its successors and cousins, I didn't much get into computer games.

But Steve was very much into computer games of all types, as he was into all things computer related. I remember when I was a teen, we got a Commodore home computer (not sure of the specific model) - the sort you would hook up to the TV. I did practically nothing with it, but Steve spent hours and hours programming on it. For him, programming came easy - he had an intuitive grasp of code and could walk people thru computer problems (easy and complex) even by phone. He ended up majoring in computer programming, and worked in the field until his death.
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10. Board Game: Trivial Pursuit [Average Rating:5.22 Overall Rank:10973]
Wendell
United States
Twin Cities
Minnesota
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Steve and I could be competitive, to put it mildly. He had the nerve to not agree that I was always right. And I have some memories of this game bringing out the worst in us both! I heard second-hand that at least one member of the extended family didn't want to play this if Steve and I were both playing. I can't say I blame them.

This over-competitiveness between Steve and me was something I later tried to curb on my part, and I sensed Steve did the same over the years. Maturity, I guess. It's not something I really noticed between me and my other siblings, or between Steve and them - o0r at least, not to the same extent. Steve and I probably had the worst case of sibling rivalry in my family, though it wasn't nearly as bad as I'd seen in other families - I mean, we still liked each other and sought out each other's company!
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11. Board Game: Russian Front [Average Rating:7.12 Overall Rank:1417]
Wendell
United States
Twin Cities
Minnesota
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Steve wasn't a wargamer. He liked games but didn't have the time or space to keep long games going. But once, probably almost 20 years ago, I came back to Ohio on vacation and brought this. Steve thought it looked interesting, and so we read the rules and set it up in his apartment. His Soviets put up strong resistance. Some hours later, we wrapped the game up - and my Germans had lost. With Steve's intelligence and analytical ability, I know he would have been an outstanding wargamer, if he'd decided to go that route.
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12. Board Game: Mexican Train [Average Rating:5.50 Overall Rank:9415]
Wendell
United States
Twin Cities
Minnesota
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Hey, get your stinking cursor off my face! I got nukes, you know.
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Is this the best game ever? No. But it is a game I have happy memories of. Steve's wife really liked this game, and it is a game that we could play with wives, sisters, and my mom. I would give up wargames for the rest of my life to play Mexican Train with Steve again.
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13. Board Game: King of the Elves [Average Rating:6.25 Overall Rank:1915]
Wendell
United States
Twin Cities
Minnesota
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This was probably the first euro I owned. It was always fun - again a game that my sisters and young nephew could join, along with Steve and Scott and me.
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14. Board Game: Arena Maximus [Average Rating:5.94 Overall Rank:3065]
Wendell
United States
Twin Cities
Minnesota
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I was introduced to this game at a Washington Gamers meeting at The Game Parlour in Chantilly, Virginia, when it was new. I immediately bought a copy, and introduced it to my brothers when I was in Ohio next. It was a hit and we played it quite a lot.
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15. Board Game: Warriors of God [Average Rating:7.39 Overall Rank:700]
Wendell
United States
Twin Cities
Minnesota
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Hey, get your stinking cursor off my face! I got nukes, you know.
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In spring 2008 Steve told me he had just been diagnosed with cancer. I immediately flew to Ohio from Australia to visit. Naturally, I brought a couple of games. Steve really liked Warriors of God; we played it several times. He even bought it, though his work and family life (two young kids) didn't allow much time for gaming. Except when I was in town - he and Scott always carved out time then for us to do our gaming thing.
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16. Board Game: Catan [Average Rating:7.35 Overall Rank:161]
Wendell
United States
Twin Cities
Minnesota
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Hey, get your stinking cursor off my face! I got nukes, you know.
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This was a rarity - a game Steve introduced to me. Steve and Scott had friends in common from their jobs, and one of them (Kevin) had discovered Settlers and introduced it to Steve and Scott and others. When I was in town, we tried to organize game nights with these friends (Kevin, Chris, Tim, Brian), and Settlers was one of the regulars. The habit my brothers and I had of introducing friends to our other brothers continued...
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17. Board Game: Dominant Species [Average Rating:7.90 Overall Rank:24]
Wendell
United States
Twin Cities
Minnesota
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Hey, get your stinking cursor off my face! I got nukes, you know.
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I tried to get back to Ohio more often in recent years. In September 2011 I took Dominant Species with me. Steve loved it. He was very much into science - he would read science books and magazines on all sorts of topics for fun, and he and I often traded reading suggestions. The last books I bought him, while he was in the hospital, were about numeracy and science. I think if I had had the chance to introduce American Megafauna or High Frontier to Steve, he would have eaten those games up too. I was hoping to introduce Steve to Dominant Species: The Card Game, but his time ran out.
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18. Board Game: Monopoly Junior [Average Rating:4.18 Overall Rank:11038]
Wendell
United States
Twin Cities
Minnesota
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Hey, get your stinking cursor off my face! I got nukes, you know.
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At Christmas 2011, I kibbitzed as Steve and his young son played this. Steve loved kids (all of them, not just his) and was really patient with them. He was also willing to get down and goofy with little kids, and children responded really well to him. They knew Steve was just a big kid at heart.
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19. Board Game: Small World [Average Rating:7.42 Overall Rank:108] [Average Rating:7.42 Unranked]
Wendell
United States
Twin Cities
Minnesota
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The single game I will always associate with Steve is Small World. I introduced it to Steve, Scott, and various Ohio friends in July 2011 and it was an immediate hit. When I was visiting last July, and September, and December, we played a bunch of games, often with our teen-aged nephew and/or other friends. At one stage, it became a tradition for Steve to say, after the game ended, "Fuuuuuck, I love this game". Usually followed by "Let's play again."

Last December, as we played our last game before I had to return to Washington (and as it turned out, the last face to face game I would ever play with Steve), I mentioned casually that there was this thing called Vassal, and Small World could be played by email. Steve jumped at the suggestion. He and Scott had downloaded Vassal, found the module and organized a game via Dropbox almost before I finished the eight-hour drive home. From then, Steve and Scott and I had PBEM Small World games going constantly.

On April 10, Steve uploaded his latest move. It was the last move in a game he would make. Later that day he went in for surgery. After a long period of being pain-free and (allegedly) cancer-free, the pain and the cancer was back, and bad. The pain Steve was in had been very obvious over Christmas, but the extent of the cancer's recurrence shocked us all and Steve's doctors. The next few weeks were bitter; the less said, the better.

Our last game of Small World remains incomplete. Like Steve's life, cruelly curtailed.
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