I was born & raised on the West Coast (Seattle, Portland, L.A.)... but
through a weird twist of fate, ended up going to college (Baylor
University - Sic' Em, Bears!) & seminary (Southwestern Baptist
Theological Seminary) in Texas. (Even married a Texan...) I was a
youth minister for over 13 years, serving churches in Alabama,
Colorado, Texas, Mississippi, Arkansas & Tennessee. (Yes, you guessed:
youth ministers in my denomination don't tend to have long tenures.)
In 1997, I resigned from the church I'd served for the last five years
in order to plant/start a new church in the Nashville, TN area... it
was a rock-tinged coffeehouse "come as you are" kind of church - and
for the next five years, I loved being a pastor to people who'd burned out
on traditional church structure. We closed the doors (well, actually,
stopped meeting & sold all the equipment) in the fall of 2002 - and,
oddly enough, after 20+ years of living in the South, returned to the
I now live in Fresno, CA, with my wonderful wife, Shari, and my two
boys, Braeden (5) and Collin (1). I'm the pastor of a small-ish (125
in worship on Sunday mornings, 40 in an innovative service on Sunday
nights) church in Easton, a rural community just south of downtown
Fresno. (With the freeway, I can be anywhere in Fresno in 25 minutes
But this is Boardgamegeek and you kids came here for the gametalk...
so, here's my gaming timeline:
1974-5 - I begin using my allowance to buy boardgames - The Sinking of
the Titanic, Dogfight & my first non-American game, Project CIA.
(Titanic & Dogfight are long gone - but I still have Project CIA!)
1977 - My aunt takes me to a games store in Burbank to buy me a game
for my birthday... I choose Avalon Hill's Outdoor Survival, which
leads to nearly a decade of wargaming (Arab-Israeli War, Wooden Ships
& Iron Men, Third Reich, Squad Leader, Civilization, Diplomacy, etc.)
1979 (I think) - My friends & I read an article in Games Magazine (I
was a charter subscriber) about this new phenomena, "role-playing
games." This is all it takes for us to get insanely immersed in
Dungeons & Dragons, as well as a bit of Dragonquest & Traveller. I am
the GM for all but a few of these games... and when I bow out
following the infamous "red dragon" incident (see my blog -http://akapastorguy.blogspot.com/2006/06/day-i-quit-playing-...
for details), we pretty much stop playing D&D.
1983 - I buy my friend Keith a copy of 2nd edition Talisman for
Christmas... and then buy him an expansion for birthdays & Christmas
for the next couple of years. Every time we're together in So Cal, we
play multiple times. Rule of thumb: "Don't let Ken have the
soul-sucking sword... he stops trying to win the game & just goes
around beating on the rest of us." This begins a 5 year love affair
with Games Workshops board games - Fury of Dracula, Warlock of Firetop
Mountain, etc. (There is no love affair with Rogue Trooper, which is
1984 - I buy my friend Tim a copy of Axis & Allies as a "thank-you"
gift for transporting to a church job interview halfway across Texas.
(I didn't get the job.) As we drive back to his family home in
Corsicana for our spring break, I read the rules to him as we drive.
When we finally get there at nearly midnight, we decide to set up the
game, "just to see what it looks like." When that's done, we decide to
play "just the first turn." Sometime around 5 am, the game is over
(Tim won, as he did EVERY time we played.)
1987 - I buy my first "German" game - Hare & Tortoise, thanks to a
good review in Games Magazine. (Say what you want to about the Games
100, but back in the day, it was one of the best sources for
information for gamers.) This is followed by purchases of a number of
other Ravensburger titles - Flying Carpet, Enchanted Forest, etc.
1989 - I'm getting ready to get married... and begin selling off two
things in order to prepare financially: my comic books (Batman: A
Death in the Family helped pay for Shari's engagement ring) and my
wargames. Over the next few years, I'll use trade credit to help
purchase a full 3rd edition Talisman set - and then, much later, sell
it to a nice man in Sweden to pay for a major Adam Spielt order. Ah,
the circle of life.
1990 - I get married. Is it any surprise that the aforementioned Tim
is my best man & Keith is my only groomsman? Over the next few years,
I pretty much divest myself of GW and AH games, leaving only the most
non-wargamer/non-fantasy gamer friendly stuff in my collection. At the
same time, Roborally enters my life, as does Perudo & Family Business.
1995 - I've learned enough over the years to know that a red pawn on
an imported game box means "Spiel des Jahres" - unfortunately, I don't
get the difference between nominee & winner. Either way, I spend over
$100 in a game store in Cinncinati, OH, to purchase Linie 1 and
Manhattan, and the Euro collecting frenzy begins. Thanks to Mayfair, I
start snapping up their uglified versions of German classics: Modern
Art, Detroit/Cleveland Grand Prix, and this newfangled trading game,
The Settlers of Catan. (Man, what an ugly mess the first two editions
of THAT were... sigh.)
1996 (I think) - Again, thanks to Games Magazine, I find out about
Alan Moon & White Wind Games... and decide I want to order Phantoms of
the Ice, because I really enjoyed the old AH game, Slapshot. Ordering
consists of calling up Alan Moon (really!) and chatting with him -
then sending him a check. In 1997, that connection leads to my
invitation to the Gathering... which I was unable to use until 2002.
1997 - I make my first forays onto the rec.games.board usenet group
(wow - doesn't that seem dated... and it wasn't even a decade ago.)
There I meet Rob Wood, who lives across Nashville from me. We game
together (he brings Die Hansa - blech) and he & his wife, Cindy, help
me start Game Central Station, a gaming group in Nashville, TN, that
is still running. They teach me Bohnanza & Lowenherz & a plethora of
other great games. Also in 1997, I make the pilgrimage to San
Francisco (during a 7 week trip around the western U.S.) to Gamescape,
where I buy German copies of El Grande & Siedler von Catan das
Kartenspiel. I am officially hooked - I am now buying games I have to
1998 - Fed up with the inadequate rules for Titan: The Arena (a GREAT
game), I create my own website, Game Central Station. (It is now athttp://www.theswitchingyard.com
and sponsored by the good folks at
Games Surplus.) Lots of stuff ends up there - including a massive pile
of translated Settlers variants - which is sadly lost when Yahoo dorks
out & eats my website. (The information still exists on my computer...
I just don't have a way to load it up without massive re-editing.
Sigh.) That same year, I also begin tracking the Five & Dime lists and
publishing my results. But the biggest news in '98 is my connection to
Ted Cheatham, one of the founders of Gulf Games, through Rob Wood.
Thanks to a great friendship with Ted, I end up being invited to Gulf
Games 2... and my gaming world is never the same.
2002 - Yes, I finally attend the Gathering of Friends... and also
create The Apples Project (check out the 2nd incarnation of that athttp://applesproject.blogspot.com
2003 - My move to Fresno means I have to create a new gaming group -
but thanks to the kindness of Ray Mulford, I get to take over the
leftovers of a group he'd formed years ago. The Fresno Gamers (aka
PNDH) rise from the ashes & begin meeting at my house every Monday
2004 - My appearance on Geekspeak generates a lot of interest... and
is the first of many podcasts I have the opportunity to sit in on.
(Boardgames to Go, Garrett's Games & Geekiness, The Dice Tower and
finally the Boardgaming Roundtable.) I think it was '04 that I also
was the "owner" of the Pub (aka Nigglybits yahoo group) for about six
weeks - I'm still miffed at Nick Danger for tossing me the keys &
running away "like a leetle girl!"
2005 - I start my own personal blog (http://akapastorguy.blogspot.com
as well as act as the publisher of Stephen Glenn's The One Hundred
(otherwise known as "The Official & Completely Authoritative 100 Best
Games of All Time Ever Without Question"... so there!) athttp://fluffysnoop.blogspot.com
. BTW, it still makes me go "huh?!"
that no one could figure out that we were using a bit of sarcasm with
that title. Evidently, we needed an emoticon... or a stinkin' neon
2006 - My son is finally coming into his own as a gamer... and is
trying desperately to learn how to play Memoir '44 and Battlelore.
(Yes!) In other news, I make a 2nd run at The Apples Project, which is
still going on.
1) I played keyboards & sang lead in a rock'n'roll band.
2) I played the part of Horace Vandergelder in a community theater
production of Hello, Dolly.
3) I got thrown out of Disneyland by a security guy wearing a Main