Taking The Plunge
Bruce Gibson
Canada
Alberta
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I'm nervous. Or anxious. Or both.

Did you ever stand on a beach on a warm summer's day and watch other kids play in the water? You really wanted to go join them but there was always that icky, slimy stuff on the bottom of the lake when you first stepped in.

And what of the Other Stuff that lurked in the water? Leeches that could suck the life out of you. Or snapping turtles that bit.

But those other kids were having so much fun you just had to go. So you sucked it up and took those first few steps on the icky, slimy gunk and hoped that nothing bit you.

So it is with me in this lake of gaming knowledge called BGG. I'm taking my first nervous, anxious steps and introducing myself with a short gaming life history.

A note to all snapping turtles, I'm not good eatin'.
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1. Board Game: Cribbage [Average Rating:7.03 Overall Rank:554]
Bruce Gibson
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Alberta
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I know I played Monopoly and Sorry and Yahtzee with my sisters growing up but the games I remember most were those played with adults.

Like Crib around the kitchen table with my parents, the smoke from their cigarettes curling into their eyes (yes I'm so old parents actually still smoked around their children when I was young). On the odd occasion when I won, there would always have to be a rematch.

Another was Scrabble. With my Aunts on Boxing Day, wearing those silly paper hats from Christmas crackers. Not exactly great visuals but still playing with adults and bonding, at least a little bit, with a generation very different from my own.
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2. Board Game: Formula-1 [Average Rating:6.65 Overall Rank:3013]
Bruce Gibson
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Alberta
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I don't remember who gave me this game (because I know I didn't buy it),but whoever it was, set me on a path that lead me here. So should I thank them or not?

I played quite a lot of this with friends and family, so much so that the cards were totally wrinkled and folded and fraying. But the metal cars were so cool and the dashboards too! But it was when I introduced it to a friend at school that it became more than just a game.

He was a big fan of Jackie Stewart and Emerson Fittipaldi and the game became his passion. He designed new tracks, stole cars from his sister's Game of Life, made new dashboards to update the speeds these new cars were capable of and I know he made a new deck of cards but I can't remember their purpose.

Needless to say, this game consumed an entire summer as we raced through a World Driving Championship.
 
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3. Board Game: Hearts [Average Rating:6.43 Overall Rank:1536]
Bruce Gibson
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Alberta
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This is a game taught to me by my father that had a profound impact on my life. Well maybe not profound,but it did have a big impact on my social standing throughout much of junior and senior high school.

I played with some friends who then decided we should play Hearts every lunch time in the cafeteria. We had a core group of 5 or 6, and 3 or 4 others who watched and harangued us. And they took places when other commitments took our regulars away.

Our group had the same table from grade 8 through grade 12, with teachers and even the Principal joining us for an occasional game.

The good thing was the people who gravitated to our games were high enough in the social hierarchy that is high school, that those of us who weren't as high, were elevated because of the game.
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4. Board Game: D-Day [Average Rating:5.64 Overall Rank:11538]
Bruce Gibson
Canada
Alberta
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Other games kind of took a back seat during these years. They were displaced by other interests, like girls and basketball. But one game stood out for me and that game was D-Day.

My Formula 1 friend moved away but before he left, he introduced me to this game and I remember the feeling of wonder and joy it gave me. Here was history at my fingertips. Tanks, paratroopers,life and death decisions, so many ways to achieve a goal, it was fascinating. I had to have it.

So I sought it out and found Battle of the Bulge as well. These were the first games I bought myself and I found people to play them with me.
My first choice was my father, of course. He had been in the war and in my teenage innocence I thought he would enjoy playing. And perhaps he did. But I only remember him playing once.

I discovered later in life,(on my own because he never talked of the war until only recently)that he had fought in Normandy, at St. Andre-sur-Orne, Verrieres Ridge, around Caen and at Falaise and had been injured twice. Bad enough, finally, to be evacuated to England. Who knows what memories were brought to the fore when I was destroying his little cardboard counters?

Still, I found friends who were willing to learn and play, and so we did, capturing the thrill of battle without the blood and horror.
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5. Board Game: War of the Ring [Average Rating:6.57 Overall Rank:2367]
Bruce Gibson
Canada
Alberta
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As cash flow started to increase, (we all must start working sometime) a couple of friends and I started to collect games. Blitzkrieg, Rise and Decline of the Third Reich, Panzer Blitz, The Russian Campaign, Fulda Gap, were all games that we found and played, sometimes having to pool money to buy collectively.

Then, as life happens, I met and married a very patient woman. And it happened, somehow, that our apartment became the place people gathered. to party, which was okay with her, and to game, which wasn't so much.

She just didn't see the sense of pushing around a bunch of cardboard chits and pretend they were tanks.

Then I found War of the Ring. It made more sense to her to pretend those chits were hobbits and ringwraiths and for that I was glad. She might not have been as committed to the game as my friends and I but she did actively pursue the opportunity to play it.

Civilization came through the door War of the Ring opened and my wife became a gamer.
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6. Board Game: Risk [Average Rating:5.58 Overall Rank:14511]
Bruce Gibson
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Alberta
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I came to Risk later than most. In an attempt to include my wife in more than 2 games, a game with plastic bits instead of chits seemed like it might work. And dice, lots of dice. And it did work, she liked it, as did I.

But it lead to Axis and Allies and all of the Milton Bradley Gamemaster series. Lots of plastic, lots of dice, but still games of decisions and conflict. Our little game group now included wives.

But with wives came families and so mammoth gaming weekends went the way of the dinosaur.

As our families grew, and grew up, we managed to commit one day a month for a game gathering and I'm proud to say we've managed that for about 25 years.
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7. Board Game: Catan [Average Rating:7.23 Overall Rank:279] [Average Rating:7.23 Unranked]
Bruce Gibson
Canada
Alberta
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But 25 years is a long time. You can only play Axis and Allies so many times. You can only see your best friend turtle in Australia so many times in Risk. You can only play so many variations of Trivial Pursuit. And Pictionary, well even once is too much.

Then one of our little group came with a new type of game. A German game? You actually build a little empire of roads and cities without attacking your opponents?

Settlers of Catan. It sparked an interest in everyone, male and female.

Carcassonne followed. What is this meeple of which you speak?

Games Magazine was my source for new games but still, raising 2 teenage daughters consumed a fair amount of time and money. New games were few and far between.

Tigris and Euphrates was one I fell in love with though no one else seemed to see it like I did. It felt as new to me as D-Day had so many years earlier.
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8. Board Game Publisher: Valley Games, Inc.
Bruce Gibson
Canada
Alberta
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Then the flood gates opened.

Rik and Torben opened their games store in our town. Only a short walk away. And my children were growing up and moving away. More disposable income!

A combination such as that could lead to divorce but I was lucky. My wife found all these 2 player games with such interesting names. Jambo, Dvonn, Zertz, Yinsh.

And though I've never dealt with Valley Games on the internet, I can assure you these 2 guys care about people as well as games. They never steered us wrong, (well okay, maybe Deluxe Illuminati wasn't that great), but everything else we tried have become staples.

Puerto Rico, Torres, Pueblo, Power Grid, Alhambra, Ingenious and, of course, Die Macher.

When they closed the store to concentrate on publishing, I was lost.

Where would I go for my game info?
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9. Item is no longer in our database
Bruce Gibson
Canada
Alberta
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Here, of course. This vast body of accumulated knowledge and opinions just a click away. I was stunned to see all that was available.

Sessions and reviews and lists, oh my!

Essen? Rondel? What's that? Really? Oh, wow.

And the game info flowed. Arkadia, sounds interesting. Viktory II,hmmmm. Thurn and Taxis, what's that all about?

And most recently, Race for the Galaxy, In The Year of the Dragon, Cuba, Hamburgum.

I've used it a lot and always meant to contribute. Honest.

And yet, I was still that kid on the beach not wanting to risk the chance of getting slime on my feet. It's funny what it took to push me in.

The contest for Risk: Black Ops. It's only Risk, and it will eventually be released in another form I know. But this looks so darn cool.

So there you have it.

I'm treading water right now, trying to comment on all the games I've managed to collect over the years. Hopefully I can take my water wings off soon and contribute to the community at large.

And if my swimming really improves, maybe I can get to that island called BGG CON, where I can see all the big kids having a big party.
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