My Life (with woodworm)
Matt Green
England
Horsham
West Sussex
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I am cursed with a good memory for trivial things.

I grew up in High Wycombe (don't worry- nobody knows where it is), a sink town for south Buckinghamshire that had a USAF base there until relatively recently. It was a tinderbox for class and race related agitation, a safe seat for the Conservative party, run by Tories, for Tories revelling in it's selective education system and stockbroker commuter belt location. It was pretty miserable at the time and at least as much in retrospect. I met a few really good people during my time there, a good number of whom are on here.

The title comes from an unpublished book of the same name by Norman Hickin, an entomologist and natural history writer blessed with an ability to communicate well and cursed with having to take a position at a pest control company to pay the bills. A (the) position I currently hold, as it happens. My previous employer owns the only copy of the manuscript, having met the man himself years ago and kept it in our old office. We looked at timber defects in old buildings which was a great if fairly dangerous job at times, and often very cold, that took me away from my family a lot. As an autobiography, My Life with Woodworm makes for melancholic reading but provided some black humour potential between my former colleagues to describe comments and behaviour that was perhaps 'a bit far down the rabbit hole' for the normal population to relate too.

So. Following on from others, notably Mssrs Bateson and Cline, it's time I finished this list now that I'm 40 and all that. There's probably some profanity in it. Consider that fair warning.
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1. Board Game: Happy Families [Average Rating:4.71 Overall Rank:16732]
Matt Green
England
Horsham
West Sussex
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1979, aged 3

I think this is where it started. My earliest game memory and with the pictured box too.

 
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2. Board Game: Checkers [Average Rating:4.86 Overall Rank:16982]
Matt Green
England
Horsham
West Sussex
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1980, aged 4

Draughts. Wooden ones that felt chunky.
 
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3. Board Game: Chess [Average Rating:7.10 Overall Rank:430] [Average Rating:7.10 Unranked]
Matt Green
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1981, aged 5

A fantastic BBC childrens TV show called Play Chess got me hooked.
 
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4. Board Game: Trap the Cap [Average Rating:4.77 Overall Rank:16795]
Matt Green
England
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West Sussex
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1982, aged 6

The family moved to a housing estate in the middle of nowhere.

Played with an aunt and uncle who visited periodically. I still have a soft spot for it, one that wasn't shared by my wife or daughter.
 
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5. RPG Item: Book 03: The Forest of Doom [Average Rating:6.93 Overall Rank:1035]
Matt Green
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1983, aged 7

The Forest of Doom got unpacked one day in a school library book sale. The world stopped spinning for a moment. After this, nothing was the same again.
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6. Board Game: Go For Broke [Average Rating:4.64 Overall Rank:16962]
Matt Green
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1984, aged 8

I know this is a bad game now. I think I new it then too, but it was shorter than Monopoly and seemed to end rather than drag on.
 
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7. Board Game: Traditional Card Games [Average Rating:6.57 Overall Rank:2693]
Matt Green
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1985, aged 9

Newmarket (Stops or Michigan). The family played a lot of this. There were a lot of board games in the house though: Stay Alive, I Vant to bite your Finger, Stratego, Crossfire, Rebound.

Newmarket and Contract (104 card) Rummy being played around the dining-room table and in the trailer tent are the biggest memories of the time.
 
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8. Board Game: Talisman [Average Rating:6.36 Overall Rank:1921]
Matt Green
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1986, aged 10

I get a new next-door neighbour, Rob "The Reaper" Treasure. He has a copy of Talisman. This starts a long relationship with this game which is about the playing, not the winning. The end game is terrible. And badly tested. And takes too long. And triggering it is often a bad thing.

Other than that: a fine game. After many years we learned how to play very fast, evaluate the power of characters very quickly and know what to do to win and win fast.
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9. RPG Item: Dragonroar [Average Rating:4.50 Unranked]
Matt Green
England
Horsham
West Sussex
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1987, aged 11

It came with an introductory cassette, which was fantastic. As a way into RPGs this was outstanding: War Hedgehogs, hit locations, Killer Penguins. What's not to like? Years later I find that Alan Paull had a hand in this, which still blows my mind.

The Ghostbusters RPG should definitely have a nod here too. I ran it in primary school with Simon, Ian, Kevin and sometimes others. The fact I could do that and we all had a good time is testament to the game.
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10. Board Game: Block Mania [Average Rating:6.42 Overall Rank:4035]
Matt Green
England
Horsham
West Sussex
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1988, aged 12

Secondary school, block collapses and more Talisman. Rob and I got nearly all of these GW bookcase games as soon as they were released: Warrior Knights, Kings & Things, Blood Bowl, Curse of the Mummy's Tomb, Chainsaw Warrior, Rogue Trooper and more. High Wycombe had a great hobby shop called Not Just Stamps, closed now, and that's a loss. I spent a lot of my life in there browsing and plotting what to save up for.

Talisman had the most replayability at the time, but Block Mania is the only one I clearly remember playing and thinking it was somehow different. This wasn't just a re-skin of another concept: there was thought behind it and it was genuinely exciting to play. It's the only game from that era that I still own (although Kremlin was out, I didn't discover it until years later).
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11. RPG Item: Advanced RuneQuest [Average Rating:6.78 Overall Rank:1406]
Matt Green
England
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West Sussex
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1989, aged 13

The GW edition- because it was cheap and it was available. Rob and I played the spines off these books. If you start playing RQ early enough level system based RPGs just seem odd, which they have always remained. I never really bought into D&D, I always found it far too straight-jacketed by the rules and levels and stats. Which is the antithesis of why anyone would play an RPG, surely?

"-but we need to quantify our achievements!"
"Why? Nobody wins."

The arbitrary magical items (there are only a defined few- there's a table) particularly annoyed me in D&D. You can't make your own up, and all Gauntlets of Orge Strength are purple. They just are. RuneQuest, in contrast was always more of a sandbox in that respect, although it led to it's own problems in that everyone broadly ended up playing the same character with a different weapon proficiency or magic school.
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12. Board Game: Car Wars [Average Rating:6.36 Overall Rank:2207]
Matt Green
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Horsham
West Sussex
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1990, aged 14

GW had stopped producing good games by now.

High Wycombe had a branch of a model shop chain called Beatties that had an eclectic range of stock when it came to RPGs, boardgames and wargames. I got quite a few TSR Marvel Superheroes source books from them (that I would come to enjoy in the following years) and almost all the early Car Wars releases.

Car wars is a strange game. It's not quite an RPG, not quite a boardgame. It's a design optimisation exercise, really, a nice creative distraction but a not a fantastic game.
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13. RPG Item: Shadowrun [Average Rating:6.48 Overall Rank:1953]
Matt Green
England
Horsham
West Sussex
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1991, aged 15

Predator II, Ingram Smartgun, and Mikey "Tingles" Tingay. Shadowrun was the only game in town. I started going to the Wycombe Wargames Club that played RPGs and boardgames rather than wargames (the name got changed eventually). I hooked up with Eric, Roj, Simon and his Yamaha FZR600 Genesis, Mark, and Ed. This and Marvel Super Heroes were the games of choice.

I started running this for Mikey and Big Stu at school. Jules and Nitro Dream managed to beat most of the published adventures for the first edition right up until we played The Universal Brotherhood. I own very few RPG books, but I still own this one. Nigel Findley and Christopher Kubasik hit the ball out of the park with it. Get it and read it, or the related novel: 2XS. Years later I am writing this on a tablet with Shadowrun Returns installed, and the insect shaman still make me wary.
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14. Board Game: Family Business [Average Rating:6.09 Overall Rank:2637]
Matt Green
England
Horsham
West Sussex
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1992, aged 16

This was THE game of the lower sixth form common room. Mikey, Big Stu, Hag, Dave, Tim, Danny and whoever else was around. We made our own cards and played the deck until the print fell off. The only game I have ever worn out.
 
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15. Board Game: Magic: The Gathering [Average Rating:7.47 Overall Rank:152] [Average Rating:7.47 Unranked]
Matt Green
England
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1993, aged 17

Well, of course. My last full year at school: it trashed my grades.

Got my first bike: A Suzuki GP100. Bought from a bloke on an industrial estate for cash with non-matching serial numbers, non-standard clocks, a coked up exhaust and finished with Hammerite red coachwork. A worthy steed.
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16. Board Game: Vampire: The Eternal Struggle [Average Rating:7.13 Overall Rank:1024] [Average Rating:7.13 Unranked]
Matt Green
England
Horsham
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1994, aged 18

Where do you start with this one? It plays long for a CCG, but not for a boardgame. It has voting, deal making, all manner of bomb cards that can upset a game under the right (or wrong) circumstances. The rules are arcane, fearsomely complicated, but I always felt more for this one than Magic. It's the human element, the fact you play the table not the deck. The hardcore Magic players hated that, largely, they want their optimisation and practice to pay off. Me? I like the fact you can build a deck and win with it. That's the bit of Magic the internet killed and the optimisation wallahs sucked half the fun out of it.

Some of the best games of my life have been games of Vampire. Some of the worst too, mind you. High investment, high risk, high reward.

My mother died this year. She wasn't great at games but always played anyway because she was there for the times that amazing things happened like rolling five sixes in a row at Coppit or getting dealt four aces. We are what our parents make of us, and whilst winning can happen when I play; it's not the reason I play.

The Suzuki blew up on the way home from my failed bike license test where someone opened a car door on me. As days go....I've had better since. A Saturday job kerbed my Magic and got me a Yamaha TZR125.
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17. RPG Item: Chill Horror Role-Playing Game [Average Rating:6.39 Overall Rank:3062]
Matt Green
England
Horsham
West Sussex
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1995, aged 19

It has gone OOP by then and was starting to turn up on discount shelves, particularly in Virgin Megastores. The source material for this game was fantastic, I still have it. I ran a Quantum Leap style horror campaign at the Wycombe Club, which made a nice break from Magic: The Gathering.

Red and purple Kawasaki ZZR250.
 
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18. RPG Item: AMBER Diceless Role-Playing [Average Rating:7.63 Overall Rank:147]
Matt Green
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1996, aged 20

The Diceless RPG and my first real introduction to the often abstract concept of gaming with Sebastian Rogers. We played a good campaign of this on Sunday nights. Mostly I was just playing Magic and Vampire.

Another ZZR250, blue and silver this time.
 
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19. Board Game: Liar's Dice [Average Rating:6.92 Overall Rank:608]
Matt Green
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1997, aged 21

My favourite game.

At some point, and I'm not quite sure when, Steve suggested we play. And we did. And then we played after every gaming and Magic session, and I'm still playing it today. Phil remarked that every game session with myself and Alice was a 'slow spiral to drunken Perudo'. This is not a situation I wish to change.

Ah, student grants. I had a pink and purple ZZR600 this year that looked a great deal better than the description. I got from a breakers yard and spent every Thursday on the phone getting parts for it when the new copy of Motor Cycle News came out. It was complete for 2 weeks before a bread van swiped me into a roundabout and wrote it off (again). Never one to shy away from a challenge, I put it back together again.
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20. RPG: Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (2nd Edition) [Average Rating:6.87 Overall Rank:128]
Matt Green
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1998, aged 22

It was all about AD&D. I was working at Wizards of the Coast, because what better thing to do with a biology degree, dreaming of working my way into games design. I was young and foolish. It quickly became clear that if you weren't in the Renton Office you were irrelevant. Internal promotion was a bit difficult too and I found the Magic Organised Play Team to be pretty nasty to work with.

Before I left to go back to University to actually do something with that degree, WotC took over TSR and I met Jon Brown the RPGA UK co-coordinator. Jon is a man long on vision and even longer on deadlines but a safe pair of hands when everything is collapsing around you and assassins stalk your projects. He's also a mean DM.

AD&D 2nd ed. in Berkhampstead with tournament RPG players. A weird roleplaying experience for certain, but I met some great people.

One side effect of working fro WotC was the crazy amount of accrued leave I piled up and the near total loss of all time in which to shop. It was great: when I left I got paid for another 44 days and I ended up dropping a load of money on a Kawasaki ZX7-R and chopping in the 600 to a shop that didn't background check it. I regret nothing.
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21. Board Game: Magic: The Gathering [Average Rating:7.47 Overall Rank:152] [Average Rating:7.47 Unranked]
Matt Green
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1999, aged 23

Masters Degree, more Magic, more Vampire, fast motorcycles and a Dutch girl.

This year was all about Hemel Games Club on a Tuesday night. Drafting Magic with Phil, Brett, Tony, Alice, Scott, Paul and the one man ranking vacuum Harry Brill. The friendships stuck, which just goes to show what a great scene the early Magic days were: it seemed to drag so many like-minded people together and galvanise them (with the advent of the internet). Tuesday night at Snooks was like the Sargasso Sea for geeks. I got pretty good at Magic too. I miss that place and the people far more than the tournament scene.
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22. Board Game: Lunch Money [Average Rating:5.63 Overall Rank:11509] [Average Rating:5.63 Unranked]
Matt Green
England
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2000, aged 24

My last Magic UK National Championship (18th).

Walking out of the venue at the end of day 2, knowing I had had a real shot at the last 8, despite having qualified through a grinder:

Chris Senhouse: "Was Merfolk the right deck to play?"
Me: "I think it was- just not with me playing it"

Trinity Green was the deck to beat. I didn't know about it because I didn't have the right friends, and didn't want them. Riding home on the ZX7-R it struck that Lunch Money with Tariq and the Bath Magic Team had been more fun than the constructed day, by a big margin.

I played a bit of Sealed and a bit of Extended after that but that was the event that broke me. Mikey had drifted away from Magic and we decided to sell our joint Magic collection to Labyrinthe CCG who ripped me off. I started dating Alice.

I met my future wife and some of my best friends playing Magic, no point getting obsessed about the money.
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23. Video Game: Asheron's Call [Average Rating:8.12 Overall Rank:1681]
Matt Green
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Horsham
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2001, aged 25

With such limited diversity in videogames in recent years in terms of mechanisms and experiences it's rare to come across something that you might consider to be 'ahead of its time'. Asheron's Call was, though. It's like RuneQuest in that there were no defined character archetypes: you want a girl with 100 Strength that knows axe wielding and sorcery? Sure. Where you put points determined how good you were, rather than whether or not you could be good at all.

Alice and I play with The Source and GTMoney519's Silent Spearman guild on Darktide, a server for which the words 'hive', 'scum' and 'villainy' were created. Brutal...so, so brutal. None of this zonal PvP malarkey: it was all in, all the time. Shopping for arrows and spell components was frequently a lethal experience.

My daughter was born! I sold the last of my Magic cards to pay for food for the week at one point (thank you Chad and Cutting Edge Collectibles, you were amazing). Still playing V:TES, White Wolf are doing a good job with it.

Sold the ZX7-R and got/inherited a Yamaha Diversion 900 and a Volvo 440. Quite the step down, but sensible.
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24. Board Game: Vampire: The Eternal Struggle [Average Rating:7.13 Overall Rank:1024] [Average Rating:7.13 Unranked]
Matt Green
England
Horsham
West Sussex
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2002, aged 26

The gaming wilderness years. Monday night vampire at Yates' in Milton Keynes Theatre District. They were quite a nice bunch, but really into LARPing and only playing VTES between LARPs. They were pretty obsessed and there were some who didn't like those who took the game too seriously. They didn't like tournaments much- they thought is was a bit non-cannon. That and they were quite bad at it, as the vast majority of V:TM and Mind's Eye Theatre players were. Knowledge of the source material doesn't equate to playing a CCG well at all.

Better than that were the Luton V:TES players: Martin, Adam, Tony and Tony who all played a good game of cards. Playing in the Working Men's club and at Dave's House in Watford with regular tournaments at The Flag were the salad days of V:TES. There were even new cards available.

Alice and I were living in a rented place in Milton Keynes. I was working for a timber care company around Oxford by day and writing up my PhD at night whilst helping to look after my 1 year old daughter. Long stressful days with nasty sales work. The V:TES kept me sane.
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25. Board Game: Carcassonne: Hunters and Gatherers [Average Rating:7.14 Overall Rank:429]
Matt Green
England
Horsham
West Sussex
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2003, aged 27

I moved to Stourbridge. We bought a house with a bookcase. I put all my games in one place at the same time and it turned out a lot of them were not worth the space on the shelf. I bought a few, sold a few and kept too many that were never going to get played. It was all over the place: don't cling onto bad games with good memories. The memories don't take up shelf space.

I had Carcassonne from somewhere with a few expansions and played with Gordon and Phil from our Magic Team (we still met up, just didn't play Magic) and at some stage I got this. It's a real classic: my daughter has grown up playing it and it hasn't aged at all badly in 13 years. I think it's the best tile laying game out there.

Sold the Diversion and got a beaten up GSXR750 slabside: a skeletal widow-maker of a machine.
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