NEW YORK (AP)
The morning sun has barely cleared the crest of the horizon, but for gamer Todd Nelson and his group, the day is already fully under way. They're taking turns washing their makeshift pots and cups, and the savory smell of bacon still hangs in the air. Others are pulling down their tents carefully, smiling and acknowledging the occasional honk from a passing 18-wheeler.
It isn't often you see gamers working together like this; more likely, they're busy arguing over which game is better than which, or if dice are a "bad" thing, or how many ducats to bid to impress the provost. Seeing this group operating as it does, it quickly becomes clear that these are gamers with a purpose, a mission, with a unifying goal bringing them together.
"It all began with Memoir '44," says Todd, as he finishes up the last of the pots to be cleaned. "We'd spent so long wandering, looking for that one great game that would bring us clean rules but with tons of conflict and a war theme."
And Memoir '44 was it?
"Oh, absolutely," Todd says, looking wistfully down the road. "And things were great for awhile, they really were; it's as if we'd found our home, you know? We had our great theme, our dice-chuckin', and our nice and easy rules...it was paradise, I tell you."
A few affirmative nods and grunts come from the gamers nearby as they are packing up the last of their sleeping bags. Todd's last statement begs the question--if things were so good, why are they leaving now?
"Well, after awhile, you know, things sort of changed," says Todd, pulling on his cigarette. "Those early days of glee sort of faded away, until eventually we were left with games of 'Left Flank! Left Flank! Left Flank!' By god, our troops could be getting just shredded on the right flank, but all we could do was push those guys on the left forward a bit more and hope for the best."
This draws a few chortles from a couple of the other gamers who have closed in to listen to the interview more closely; Todd gives them an affirmative nod.
So Tide of Iron is the new promised land, then?
"Yeah, I think so," says Todd. "I mean, we toyed with the idea of migrating to Advanced Squad Leader, but 'Acronym Soup' isn't quite as tasty of a breakfast as the bacon is, I'll tell you that. What we're looking for is a medium set of rules, but real clean still, you know? And we still want the war theme. We think Christian (Petersen, of Fantasy Flight Games fame) has built us something really good, a place we can finally call home."
And what if it doesn't work out this time? What if the bloom fades from the rose?
"I don't think it will," says Todd, "because this time, I think they've really done it."
But if not?
"We'll keep on travelin', then," he says with a wry smile. "All these other types of gamers have found their home, but we're used to lookin' for ours. A few more paces down the road won't amount to much, in the grand scheme of things."
Soon, they've packed their things and said their goodbyes. Before long they are small figures on the horizon that is now blazing with the early day's sun. One cannot hope but to wish them well.
You are a god amongst men