Started this journey back in '77, U.S. Naval Base, Yokosuka, Japan. I kept passing a window of the Supply Officer. He had Avalon Hills Russian Campaign set up on a table getting bleached by the sun. Of course I didn't know what it was. Every now and then the counters shifted, new ones appeared, and others disappeared. Obviously something military. Eventually, I introduced myself and asked the Lt. Commander what was that laid out by the window. He was playing The Russian Campaign by snail mail. He also turned me onto the bases' Hobby Store. There were shelves upon shelves of games and The General, Avalon Hills' magazine. This was the fork in the road. Gaming ever since. Went hog wild on Panzer Blitz and Leader. And along came Squad Leader. For a year Eric Fukimiso, Data Systems Tech 2nd Class Petty Officer, and I spent nearly every hour off-duty pushing counters and debating rules; sucking down Heinekens and eating mixed nuts. Russian Campaign, Fortress Europa and Blitzkrieg followed.
Eventually, I realized that there is some skill required here. Skill that is akin to the real world of military tactics and the operational art of war. But where to go for this knowledge. Hence, another fork in the road lead to reading military histories. Like a man building his dream house in his spare time I've been able to cobble together a working knowledge of these skills. It helped some to be heavily involved in paintball since '84 to get a feel for the tactical side of action. What you might call applied tactics.
My dream games are those played with a blind between me and my opponent with a monitor adjusting enemy counters on my board of those that I have a line of sight. This is an intense and a stressful way of playing. There's a lot of butt wiggling here. You don't have a full picture. Any move could be the losing game move. Those hidden mine counters and ambushes felt dreadfully real. I also enjoy those games that can be shared with three to four players per side. Units and space is allocated to each player. An overall commander, the one with that vision "thing", is picked who broadly lays out the goals and parcels out the top echelon resources. The lieutenants are allowed freedom of action within their sectors under the coordinating guidance of the of the top commander. These were never short games. Once a week meets with a lot of discussion over the phones between those times.
God, I love this stuff. There I said it. Is it any wonder I've become a member of an organization that has the word "Geek" in it? There ought to be retirement homes featuring these kind of activities.
The only thing I don't understand about this mania are you guys who own hundreds of games. I'm in the 30s category and not all of them have been punched, played or read. How do you do it? I've focused on a few games which continue to remain fresh. It didn't take me long to realize that if I read one more rulebook my head would pop like an gourged tick. I say this while looking at the un-played issue of the Korson Pocket. An operational level game that speaks to me. Okay, Okay, damn you, I'll read one more rule book.