06 August 2012

My Gaming Top Ten

     I've been a pretty avid gamer since 5th grade when I met a guy named David Green who was a year older than me and we were both fascinated by Dungeons and Dragons, although we had no idea what it really was. We would see these awesome books, but since ten-year-olds have very thin wallets, we had a notoriously tough time getting in the game. We constructed a huge board game based on the monsters and drawings we saw in the books at Waldenbooks in the mall, then played it quite literally all night long, until Saturday morning. Months later, his older sister bought the D&D basic set and we started playing for real.
     Every other gamer has had his or her moment like that - the *boom* moment when you are hooked for life. Over the years I've had so many great experiences and very memorable moments and I just want to write about them. In no particular order, other than the order I remembered them...

Blood Bowl at Comic Box - During the Summer of 1995, Rich Hyde at Comic Box was organizing a Blood Bowl league. I was sort of familiar with the game, being a reader of White Dwarf, so grudgingly signed up and bought a Chaos team which soon became the renowned Horus' Heresies. Until that point, I had always just gamed with friends, not strangers, so the league was a bit of a gaming jump for me. I won my first 9 games of a 12-game season, then lost to David Peabody and his damned Skaven. My last game that season was against Chris Ziegler's 1-10 Dark Elves. He ran roughshod over me and we've been best of friends ever since. The season was a tremendous success and continued to run for many years, one Spring league and one in the Fall. I won season five, in the Fall of 1997 with the same Horus' Heresies. That season I went 12-1, including the three-game playoffs. Caused 50 casualties and gave up no touchdowns in the playoffs. I played in one other championship game with a Chaos Dwarf team and lost to Chris Hodgkins many seasons later. Playing league Blood Bowl at Comic Box in Savannah is easily my fondest gaming memory. There was drunk bowl, outdoors bowl, wall-pounding, the peanut gallery, dice-throwing, BoJangles, Spackle & Skittles - I am PLEASED! and a whole host of other wacky fun in the "golden age of gaming."

WH40K - I was introduced to tabletop wargames in the Spring of 1990. I was in Comic Box and saw this book "Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader." I flipped through it and was immediately fascinated. It was just so freaking cool. I played a lot. A whole lot. I spent a lot of money. A whole lot. I saw the game progress though two rules updates before I gave it up in 2003 when my son was born. I loved second edition the best. Mission cards, wargear cards, card-driven psychic powers and over-powered everything made it a tremendously entertaining game. There are so many contenders and pretenders, but Games Workshop was the only company with enough resources to make a game so deep and varied. I played a lot of third edition but the "fun factor" was stripped away leaving a dice-rolling game with too many miniatures on the table. 40K, you were a great game!

D&D 3e - When 3e D&D was released in 2000, a group of us went in whole-hog and decided to get back to old-fashioned role-playing. I rolled up a human cleric of Pelor, Vince Clartho and Jamey Luikart ran us through a campaign of his invention. Vince made it to 9th level before life got in the way and we stopped playing. We played some amazingly entertaining games of D&D back then for a couple of years. The stories and doings would take quite some time to relate and I may detail them in the future. It was a complete blast and I thank Jamey for putting up with us.

Gamma World - My RPG Game Mastering pinnacle was achieved somewhere around 1992 or 1993. My fiends Winston and Tim and I began playing Gamma World. I had one of those brilliant creative flashes and pretty well winged the whole campaign for about 2 years. Other people played with us from time to time, their characters becoming supporting actors in one long quest - for Winston's character's memory and for Tim's origins. A. Hugh and Lynch made their was through a very entertaining story that was played out wherever we had a spot to crash and play. My favorite character from the campaign was Winston's brother Chris' character, Rufus Cooter McCoy. I can still see that crazy bastard with his cowboy hat...

WHFB 4th and 5th - After we put the wraps on Blood Bowl after our first season of that, many of us who had played decided to jump into WHFB. Since most of us had played with different race teams in Blood Bowl, we kept those affiliations in Warhammer. I put together a Chaos army. We played a bunch of Warhammer. I eventually put together a whole host of armies - Orks, High Elves, Wood Elves, Skaven and Lizardmen. The Wood Elves and Lizardmen were my favorites. My shortest game ever took about five minutes. I was using Lizardmen against Dwarves. My opponent got the first turn. A cannon shot my Slann Mage Priest, killing him and causing all but one of my remaining units to flee off the board. Comedy!

Necromunda at Flight of the Phoenix - At various points in Savannah's history, we have been blessed with two game stores. Comic Box was always the best, but Tim McGraw's Flight of the Phoenix was fun and close to the house. Plus it had a much bigger gaming area. When Necromunda came out, there was much interest from the nerd community. At some point, either Chris Beatty or Neil Brabham concocted a massive multi-player game which was semi-cooperative. The players' gangs (and it was about 10 gangs) started at one end of a heavily-terrained 8x4 table which had 20 "encounter" locations on it. When a ganger triggered an encounter, a group of Tyranid nasties would pop out and wreak havoc until it was smacked down by the gangers. Casualties were heavy. Gangs made alliances and worked in groups. It took some work to figure out the right way to trigger an encounter - should you send in a Juve or the baddest guy in your gang? We all had a great time with it - my gang of Eschers was wiped out by a Zoanthrope which was the last encounter. Someone else finished off the monster and only one gang had any survivors. I'm really going to have to re-do that scenario for some game system or another.

WarZone - When Mutant Chronicles WarZone came out it generated a good bit of buzz. Here was a worthy competitor to 40K that was deep, fun and just plain good. I put together a Dark Legion army. Ziggy collected some Imperials. There was one tremendous incident where his jet-pack trooper was shot down and crashed into my demon general, killing both. I picked up Chronopia too when it was released but sadly the company didn't stick around very long and soon WarZone and Chronopia were just fond memories.

MLB Showdown - In 1999 Rich started pushing this collectible card game on us - MLB Showdown. I didn't know jack diddly about baseball. Boy did I learn! We put together a small league and had a good time with it. Then we ran a much more ambitious league - 100+ game season, full roster draft, you name it. I finished in first place in the American League. Rich took the NL pennant. I swept him in the World Series. He was not happy. Rich always had a bit of a temper. Great guy, love him to death, but his emotions were always just a little too close to the surface. MLB Showdown introduced me to baseball and for that, I will always be grateful.

Rifts - For a little while, when Blood Bowl wrapped up for the day at Comic Box, some of the guys would come over to my apartment and we'd play games. Matt Saint ran a Rifts campaign over a few months. I rolled up a Crazy (name unknown), who travelled with a Glitterboy and some other power-suit wearing wannabe. Somehow we got captured by Spluggorth slavers and got to be contestants in a gladiatorial arena. My Crazy whipped the shit out of whomever he was fighting and managed to win his freedom. I think I had to purchase Josh and David's characters out of slavery to get them out of Spluggorth possession. Ah, good stuff.

Risk - I own a lot of copies of Risk. I played a lot of Risk over the years. It's a fun back-stabbing affair that brings friends to fisticuffs. I really need to break it out again one of these evenings. REMEMBER KAMCHATKA! I have never upset the game board, but Jamey Luikart got me the closest.

There are lots of other games that could have been on the list - Call of Cthulhu, Cults Across America, Magic, Flames of War... maybe when I expand the list I'll expand on them.


  1. I use to play Magic and D&D at flight of the Phoenix from about 95-97 before I moved away. I also played a little Necromunda and Bloodbowl there as well. I remember that large gaming area in the back the little snack area they had. I have been reminesing about all the days I spent there playing games and they people who were regulars. I'm not sure if we ever met, but do you remember a guy named Joe Tipido, Steven Pena, or two roommates that were locksmiths? I remember one's name was John and he was a tall Italian guy that always wore a hat that had a gun on it. My name is Chris Paul by the way.

    1. Your name sounds familiar. I certainly remember Steven Pena, as well as John and his friend "Daisy Dukes" - that guy always wore cut-off jeans shorts. Ahhh... good times.

  2. Yes he always did wear cut off jean shorts! I forgot all about that. So when did Flight of the Phoenix close? I moved away in October 97 and it was still there.

    1. FOP Moved up to Parrot Plaza - across Montgomery Cross Road from KMart at some point and lasted maybe a year at that location. It closed before WH40K 3rd edition was released - I don't remember ever playing it there. 40k 3e was released in the Fall of 1998, so it wasn't around too long after you left. I only played there a couple of times after Tim moved the store because he started charging to "rent" the game tables.

  3. I liked the store and most of the people that went there but I was never a big fan of Tim. I remember at one point he banned the trading of Magic cards in his store. And charging for gaming tables is just insane. I remember when he would set up at Armstrong on Sundays before he opened the store, he maybe should have stuck to that.