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Subject: Geek of the Week #306 - Cleitus the Black rss

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I first bumped into Andrew here at the Geek about 5 years ago. I don't know for certain, as I tend not to document that sort of thing!

Andrew is a long time patron of the Geek and has contributed some wonderful material. With a real flare for quality over quantity he has submitted some of the best game reviews I've read. Click here for some killer reviews!

Another thing Andrew is famour for is his elite skills, check these out!:
The DIP Method: A Step by Step Guide to Painting Miniatures
Is that a gaming table suspended from the ceiling?
(Both have been officiall endorsed as Pyuredeadbrilliant!)

In addition Andrew is a Golden Image Upoader and was running the GMT p500 list for a bit over a year in 2008 and 2009. Well, enough of me talking, I'm certain you'll "discover" Andrew for yourself this week.

Without further ado, I introduce to you the long overdue Geek of the Week #306:

Andrew C
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Quote:
While growing up my family played boardgames pretty frequently - I fondly remember many games of Masterpiece, Clue, Risk and Mille Bornes. Later, at around age 10, my parents gave me a pair of books on WWII aircraft, and I became fascinated with military equipment, and started studying tanks, planes, and ships. (Also, two years later my parents gave me the Sword of Shannara which got me hooked on my other great interest, fantasy, but that is a tale for another time.)

In any case, when I was twelve I walked into a small toy store with about $10 burning a whole in my pocket. A black and yellow box caught my eye, it had a very striking silhouette of a tank on the front, and some great drawings and commentary about WWII tanks on the back. What struck me about the box was how heavy it was. My imagination went wild thinking of all the cool pieces that must be in there, so I bought it. Well, any wargamers reading this know where this leads...the game of course was Panzer Leader.

I'd like to say that Panzer Leader immediately launched me into an avid wargaming career, but really, when I left the store and tore into the box, I was really disappointed. I had no idea what a wargame was, but remember thinking that I had just spent my hard earned money on a bunch of paper and cardboard when I was expecting plastic or metal tanks. The rules were pretty overwhelming for me, having never been exposed to anything like it, and none of my family or friends knew what to make of it either. It took me two years, when my family moved to a new neighborhood and I made friends with a few wargamers, before I really tackled Panzer Leader. Once I got started, though, I really got into wargaming. Even with a few local chums who were interested in wargaming, though, most of my game time was spent soloing games. I strongly preferred Avalon Hill's mounted maps and collected probably a few dozen titles including Rise and Decline of the Third Reich, Luftwaffe, and later a few Victory Games like Gulf Strike. Most of the more complex games I played with bastardized rules that ignored much of the chrome, I really just liked moving the pieces around and rolling dice against the CRT. We also played a bit of AD&D, but it was the kind of adventuring where everyone was a paladin and the DM's (we all took turns) dropped +5 Holy Avengers like they were on the clearance rack at Walmart.

In college, other interests, including the first video game consoles, drinking, and girls (mostly the latter two) crowded out wargaming, and I threw away (ugh) just about all my games. The only ones I kept in the back of my closet for the couple of decades before I discovered BGG and got back into boardgaming were Clash of Arm's Napoleon at Leipzig, and a couple of S&T and Command magazines Napoleon at Eylau and Alexandros.

In my 20's and 30's I was an avid computer gamer. I loved strategy and wargames and felt most console games were too shallow, though I did, and still do, greatly enjoy shooters. I got sucked into Everquest pretty hard, and obsessed badly over it for about 2 years, including some time on as a beta tester. After that experience (it really felt like an addiction) I swore off MMORPG's and have never tried another one, not even WoW. Instead I was addicted to Magic for a year, and then Mage Knights for two years, amassing a massive collection that fed our huge 3-5,000 point conquest battles played out on a 8 foot by 5 foot table. Mage Knight was the reason I built my first gaming table suspended on pulleys in my garage, and I've continued to refine my designs in the ten years since - I now have two tables that I can raise and lower with a power drill (I posted about the tables in a "how to" geeklist and in the "show us your wargame room" thread.)

Fast forward to about 6 years ago. I was writing a master's thesis on Alexander the Great, and I thought back to my wargaming youth. I figured wargamers must have some kind of mapping software on the web that would allow me to create custom battle maps. I googled "wargame maps" or something like it, and found what I was looking for, but also discovered BGG. It was a revelation! I was amazed that wargaming so going so strong... I had thought it was nearly dead, but when I saw the quality and quantity of new games I was immediately sucked it.

With a rather obsessive personality and a penchant for collecting, I've gone from zero to near 300 games in 6 years - averaging the purchase of one new game a week every since I discovered BGG.

I met a few good friends on BGG that, happily, live close by and are also long time gamers. Apart from my sons, these guys are my primary gaming partners. I now play way more games than I ever did, but my rate of acquisition still outstrips my rate of play.

My sons, 8 and 10, have completely adopted my gaming habit and we play at least one boardgame pretty much every day. I just started my older son on hex and counter stuff, though after watching me play Victory Point Games solitaire game Astra Titanus I recently came home from work to discover my 8 year old playing the game on his own. That was a proud moment for sure, but I'm sure the little rascal either misplayed it or cheated because he won his first game - no way!

We're on vacation right now (we live in San Diego, but spend 3 weeks every summer at my parent's lake house in Maine) and I packed about 20 games in a single suitcase for the trip. I remove the games from their boxes and just bring the bits and boards, to make more room. Last year I did a geeklist of the games we brought and played, and I probably will this year as well.

Anyway, this was supposed to be a short bio, but since I'm on vacation and busy with family stuff I didn't have time to write a short one, so instead you have this rambling piece. And now for my completely lame 2 truths and a lie.

Poll
Which is the lie?
  Your Answer   Vote Percent Vote Count
1. I can still remember how many pounds of thrust each engine of the F-15 Eagle has.
19.4% 21
2. It took me over 10 years to complete my master's in history.
38.9% 42
3. I have read, and own, over a hundred books on Alexander the Great.
41.7% 45
Voters 108
This poll is now closed.   108 answers
Poll created by GeneSteeler
Closes: Thu Jul 28, 2011 6:00 am



Ok Andrew, enjoy your week and here are some questions to get you started!

1 What is your most "underrated" achievement on the Geek?
2 Terry Brooks + 80's = Good Time. What is your favourite Terry Brooks novel?
3 What is your opinion of Michael Moorcock? (I have a pie ready in my hand. Your answer will determine if I give it to you to eat or hit you with it!)
4 What are your sons favourite games?
5 Did you play any PC turn-based computer wargames? If so, which were your favourites?


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Dan Hyer
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Woo-Hoo! Congrats Andrew

Glad so see your boys are into games as well. I love taking games up when I visit my relatives, and playing with my nieces.

I'm going to pick #3 as the lie. I'm sure you've read over 100 books on Alexander, but I'm sure some of them had to go to make room for games.

If your boys had to put together a list of their top 10 games what would they be?

When you're playing with your boys do you handicap yourself, just not play as well as you could, or are they happy winning just the occasional game?

Have a great time in Maine, and catch some fireflies and put them in a bottle for me.
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☆ ✧ ☆ ✧ ☆
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Congratulations Andrew!
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Jonny Lawless
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Long overdue! Congrats.
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Paul O'Connor
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Well, look what we have here! A hearty Huzzah to you, Andrew, you geek God you!
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Robert Wesley
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GRATZ! Andrew and WHEN within your 20s and 30s did you get into 'computer games'? Which ones specifically then.
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Andrew C
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GeneSteeler wrote:
I first bumped into Andrew here at the Geek about 5 years ago. I don't know for certain, as I tend not to document that sort of thing!

...

Ok Andrew, enjoy your week and here are some questions to get you started!



First I want to thank you Randy for nominating me for GotW. Honestly there are many more interesting geeks but I appreciate the nod. I'll do my best to promptly respond to everyone quickly, but I may have a lapse or two as my wife's whole family just flew into Maine to join us for a week - we'll be quite busy enteraining this week! I will get to ever question though for sure.

To respond to your questions:

Quote:
1 What is your most "underrated" achievement on the Geek?


I wouldn't call any of my contributions "underrated" as any feedback I recieve is most appreciated. Instead I would say that the most underrated game that I have written a review for is Iron Tide: Panzers in the Ardennes. It really is a great game that doesn't get the buzz it deserves.

Also, I haven't contributed much in the last year or two. I really need to get some reviews done but with video reviews now, I'm not sure my written reviews would add much value. I've toyed with the idea of makes some video reviews, but with folks like Marco making so many great wargame reviews, I'm just enjoying everyone elses contributions!

Quote:
2 Terry Brooks + 80's = Good Time. What is your favourite Terry Brooks novel?


Has to be the Sword of Shannara, since it was the one that got me into fantasy literature. My favorite series is probably Steven Donaldson's White Gold Wielder trilogy (all six books). I'm also really enjoying Steven Erikson's Malazan Book of the Fallen series - I'm on book 9 here while on vacation. My other favorite is the entire Drizzt series by Bob Salvatore.


Quote:
3 What is your opinion of Michael Moorcock? (I have a pie ready in my hand. Your answer will determine if I give it to you to eat or hit you with it!)


I really like the entire Elric series, he is a fantastic anti-hero. I recall some of the books were a little "wierd" and its been a looong time since I read them, its probably time to revisit the series.

Quote:
4 What are your sons favourite games?


Alex (ten) would definitely say Runewars, but its so long that we have only played it three times. Christopher (eight) would say Descent: Journeys in the Dark, which we play more often, but still reserve for special occasions since it too is lengthy. Lately we've be playing a LOT of Conquest of Planet Earth: The Space Alien Game which I have to admit to really liking alot myself. Aside from those we play mostly euro's like Stone Age, Ticket to Ride, Pirate's Cove, Vegas Showdown, etc. (All of which, not including the FFG monsters, we brought with us along to Maine, along with a bunch more - we just played Vegas Showdown today.)

Quote:
5 Did you play any PC turn-based computer wargames? If so, which were your favourites?

Easy: Doom: The Boardgame. The boys like it since its like Descent, and I like it because it has the core mechanic's of Descent (which are great) without all the extra bells and whistles - which means its easier to set up and play. We also finally got around to playing Age of Mythology: The Boardgame right before we left on vacation and they liked that too - it was better than I expected based on the bad press it gets.
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Congrats, Andrew! Excellent choice, Randy!

I'll ask my typical line of questions:

1 The Avatar: who is it? How did you select it?

2 Do you have a preferred war and/or theater to play?

3 Do you have a funny story to share from your gaming?

4 Which game surpassed your expectations the most and which one disappointed you the most?

5 What has been your best bargain acquisition (exaggerated examples: finding a Space Hulk in shrink at a thrift store for a dollar or acquiring Up Front in a trade for Monopoly)?

And a special one just for you:

6 During your Maine vacation, have you gone to Acadia National Park?
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Andrew C
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autumnweave wrote:
Woo-Hoo! Congrats Andrew


Thank you!

Quote:
If your boys had to put together a list of their top 10 games what would they be?

Descent: Journeys in the Dark Christopher
Runewars Alex
Munchkin This and Star Munchkin are a recent favorite for both. We picked up Star Munchkin at the recent Strategicon game convention (the first game convention I've ever gone to, and I brought the boys for part of it). We play this alot and when their neighborhood friends come over they play this all the time. (Brought on vacation.)
Heroscape Master Set: Rise of the Valkyrie We've had a game of this set up on a suspended table for the last 5 years or so. We change up the board every 4-6 months, and sometimes go months without playing, but we always go back.
Modern Naval Battles Christopher loves this game - but he won't play unless he can be the US Navy and take the aircraft carrier and battleship. (Brought on vacation.)
Dungeon Lords Alex. Christopher likes this one too but can get upset if the heroes trash his dungeon too harshly. They handle all the building themselves, I help when it comes time for combat (what a brain burner that is!)
Ticket to Ride A old standby. (Brought on vacation.)
Catan This is our Monopoly. Another standby. (Brought on vacation).
Conquest of Planet Earth: The Space Alien Game A new favorite for all of us. We've been playing this one a ton. I also like this game since Alex actually picked it out...I took them to a FLGS to browse and Alex saw the box and just took to it for some reason, and convinced me to buy it. I usually won't spend full retail but in this case I'm glad I did. (Brought on vacation.)
Claustrophobia This is more like one of dad's new favorites but they like it too and humor me by playing with me. We just divide up the humans between two of us and it works well. They both like playing the "bad guy" (which is a common theme in games like this).


Is that ten? Maybe not but I think I mention some other above like Vegas Showdown which is in the top 10 too along with Stone Age.

Quote:
When you're playing with your boys do you handicap yourself, just not play as well as you could, or are they happy winning just the occasional game?


Great question. I don't ever take an actual handicap, since Alex won't allow it. Whenever I try to give them some handicap, he says he wants to play by the rules and doesn't want to "cheat to win." He is also against most house rules for that reason. I sometimes will play sub-optimally, but honestly that is very rare for me. Once the game starts I get pretty competitive. What I do consistently, though, is offer strategic guidance and point out obviously poor moves. They are content with Dad winning most of the time, but they get their share of victories too, and they can be justly proud that they have earned them.
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Chris Schenck
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Congrats!

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skippen
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Congrats!
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Andrew C
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frumpish wrote:
Congratulations Andrew!


Thanks T.R.and Jonny and kiraly and Chris and skippen!!
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Andrew C
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goldenboat wrote:
Well, look what we have here! A hearty Huzzah to you, Andrew, you geek God you!


Paul here is my primary wargame partner and one of the geekiest and most interesting (and just damn intelligent) geeks I know. We met on the geek and have been playing together for a few years now.

Unlike me, Paul has never stopped being a gamer, and has worked in related industries his whole life. For you old D&D'ers out there, remember Grimtooth's Traps? That's Paul. And he has worked in the video game industry forever as well, wrote some comics, and as a kid managed a FLGS. He's also played pretty much every wargame and euro and Ameritrash ever made, and taught me ASL and the DIP method of miniature painting (about which I wrote the geeklist that Randy linked to above).

I can't pick him for GotW since I know him personally, but someone take note and pick him later - he really has a lot more interesting stuff to talk about than me!
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Andrew C
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GROGnads wrote:
GRATZ! Andrew and WHEN within your 20s and 30s did you get into 'computer games'? Which ones specifically then.


Man, there's a few decades of favorites in there, but those that immediately come to mind:

Neverwinter Nights
Steel Panthers
Unreal
Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War
Baldur's Gate
Fear
X-COM: UFO Defense
Star Wars: X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter
MechWarrior 4: Vengeance
Dark Sun: Shattered Lands
Master of Orion
EverQuest


Thanks GROG's!
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Sean Chick (Formerly Paul O'Sullivan)
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This geek of the week has been in the making for sometime. Congrats Andrew!

Here is a question:

What is your take on the death of Parmenio?
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Chris Hansen
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jonnylawless wrote:
Long overdue! Congrats.

Agreed. I'm surprised he hasn't been GotW before now. Very well deserved!
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Andrew C
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airjudden wrote:
Congrats, Andrew! Excellent choice, Randy!


Thanks!

Quote:
1 The Avatar: who is it? How did you select it?


He is the mul (half human half dwarf) for the Dark Sun Campaign setting for D&D. Brom is the artist. Ever since I first saw the artwork, the picture just screamed "bad ass" and I adopted it for my image of my avatar in every fantasy game I've every played. I merged that art with the name Cleitus the Black. Cleitus was a general (and friend and bodyguard) of Alexander the Great, and when I first came across that name I thought that it was pretty bad ass too.

If you ever see anyone online or in any game with the name Cleitus the Black it's probably me.

Quote:
2 Do you have a preferred war and/or theater to play?


Civil War and WWII mostly. Eastern front in both.

Quote:
3 Do you have a funny story to share from your gaming?


One time an old friend was roleplaying his favorite avatar, an extremely charasmatic monk/sorcerer. At one point, a new player joined the campaign, and as he introduced his character, he said his character, Anthany, is so good looking that "even the marginally gay are attracted to him."

I'm sure it's one of those "you had to be there" moments (and with mind suitably altered) but we all just busted out laughing so hard I'll never forget it.

Quote:
4 Which game surpassed your expectations the most and which one disappointed you the most?


Recently I was blown away by how great Claustrophobia was, and was really very disappointed in Stronghold. For wargames, I tend to like them all, and find redeeming qualities in every one, but I don't get to play them as much as I'd like. One of my absolute favorites, though, is Napoleon's Triumph which is a brilliany piece of design, and I hate to say this but I finally got The Devil's Cauldron: The Battles for Arnhem and Nijmegen to the table for some solo turns, and it seemed very procedural to me, with some kooky terrain. That said, I only played the first few turns of the first scenario (which everyone says stinks) so I need to give it another go.


Quote:
5 What has been your best bargain acquisition (exaggerated examples: finding a Space Hulk in shrink at a thrift store for a dollar or acquiring Up Front in a trade for Monopoly)?


Maybe an unpunched copy of Streets of Stalingrad (third edition) for $75 from a fellow BGGer (thanks Mark!)

Quote:
6 During your Maine vacation, have you gone to Acadia National Park?


I haven't. We tend to stay on the lake and swim, water ski, tube, hike, etc. Should we make the trip?

Thanks again!
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Jim O'Neill (Established 1949)
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Randy,

This is an inspirational choice and one that has been long overdue. Andrew, congratulations and I am still annoyed about your review of Bitter Woods that caused me to buy the thing and spend a wee fortune tarting it up.

The above REVIEW should be compulsory reading.

Question: What, in your opinion, are the three main attributes that make a great wargame?

Regards,


Jim
Est. 1949

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Steve McIlhatton
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The Dip painting guide occupies one of my Quickbar spots... excellent resource...

Congrats on GotW
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Magister Ludi
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Inspired choice...

Happy is the man whose Sons are following in his gaming footsteps!
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Matthew Williams
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Congratulations, enjoy your special week.meeple
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Lucius Cornelius
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No matter where you go, there you are!
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Congratulations!
Enjoy your well-deserved honor!
Love your Avatar!
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Pete Belli
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John Bandettini
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Congratulations Andrew, have a great week.
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M·ANTONIVS·M·F·M·N
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Congratulations.

Have you ever smelled something so bad that you vomited?

If so....what was it?
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