Bits Of My Brain

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Gamer Credentials


“Why should I listen to this guy?!?”

     For those who may be asking the above question while reading my game-related posts, I provide the following illustrated (and hyperlinked) history of my gaming experiences to date.  Please note that this is not necessarily in chronological order, but I will begin this history with where it all began for me…

Role-Playing Games

Star Wars: the Role Playing Game

     I began to play pencil-and-paper RPGs while in the eighth grade (1988) with the first edition of the West End Games SWRPG.  My friend Mike traded his Transformers “Jetfire” toy to a friend who was really into RoboTech for the main rulebook and the sourcebook.  Mike was the Game Master and I was the player.  After a while, our friend Ray got in on the action.

     After about three months or so, I wanted to try my hand at Game Mastery.  I absorbed all of the rules.  (In addition, I found out that Mike was screwing up royally with several key items, like character advancement.)  Mike and I would alternate GMing, depending on who had material ready for play.  Due to our small gaming group, my former PCs became NPCs, and vice versa with Mike’s when it was his turn at the helm.  (This is a horrible idea.  Never do this.) 

     By the time second edition came out, I had taken over as full time GM, and we played that until the revised second edition was released.  By then our play group had grown to about six regular players.  We played the heck out of Star Wars until we went our separate ways in college.  Then I played with a completely new group of five players in college.  Once again, I started anew with a new group while in the Navy.  By the time I got out, Wizards of the Coast took the game over with the d20-style rules.  Of course, these were hastily added to the collection and played until around 2003.

Dungeons and Dragons

     Many begin their journey down the role-playing turnpike with this classic, but for me, it was the second stop on my trip.  In the summer before I started High School, circa 1989, Mike broke out his collection of first edition Advanced Dungeons and Dragons books.  He and Ray began playing in between our sessions of Star Wars.  I was raised in a household where it was believed that “Dungeons and Dragons is a tool of Satan”.  While I did not believe this way, I was still hesitant to take part.  The guys laughed at me for this and invited me to sit and watch a game, so I did.  It turned out that they were not summoning any dark lords or sacrificing virgins after all.  It was just like Star Wars with different rules, in a different setting.  Therefore, I got in on the action. 

       We played for around six months before Mike said he was feeling “burnt out”.  I asked Mike if he would mind if I took over as DM and he handed me the books.  We played until second edition came out, and around that time, we were joined by Ron, Jeff, “Haz”, and Randy.  We ate up second edition and once again played regularly until we went our separate ways.

      In college I ran a campaign, but with a different group of gamers than those with whom I played Star Wars.  I had a nice game going in the Navy when the Skills and Powers revision came out, which was a huge improvement in my opinion.  It’s too bad that TSR took so long in getting the system to a point of such character customization.

    After my discharge, the Wizards had bought out TSR and gained D&D.  I ran towards third edition and did not look back.  It was with that edition of the rules that I introduced my soon-to-be son to the world of role-playing games.  After only a few sessions, Tracy and Becca joined in on the fun.  Once version 3.5 was released, we switched over. This has been my longest running continuous campaign ever, and by far the best. 

     One of the best gamer gifts my wife got me was the original white box set from 1977.  We have never actually played this edition, but it is so sweet to have a piece of gaming history in my possession.

Other Role Playing Games

     Let us rewind the tape a bit to around 1990.  Our group rotated mostly between Star Wars and Dungeons and Dragons, in several month cycles and a near-daily game schedule.  Nevertheless, every now and then, we would get a wild hair and try something completely different. 

     The third runner up in the rotation was Shadowrun from the FASA Corporation.  I bought some of the sourcebooks for that game to convert over for my Star Wars game, became intrigued, and we gave it a whirl and liked it. 

     Fourth most played would be the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles RPG by Palladium.  If you have never played it, I suggest you do.  There is nothing more fun than being a human-sized mutant porcupine, armed to the teeth, running covert ops for the government.  (I speak from experience.)

     We tried out several others, but none got quite as much play as the above four.  We would learn the rules, make characters, play a few times, and then move on.  To list the ones I remember:

Collectible Card Games

Magic: the Gathering

     I cannot relate to you the number of times that I have wished I had got on board with Magic: the Gathering when it first came out.  I finally bought my first two revised edition starter decks in 1994.  Then I realized why so many people referred to it as “crack for gamers”.  I played and bought, played and bought, etc. until the Visions expansion.  By then, finances were tight, and the whole “Shadow” ability really pissed me off.  (That is a whole other story.) 

     Then, in 2003, when my son declared his intent to get some cards, I dusted off my old decks and started back up again.  It was not long before we got the whole family to join in with us.  We now literally have a closet full of cards.


     My friend Jim introduced me to this game while I was at the University of Akron.  There is no better multiplayer CCG on the market.  The political aspect of gameplay is astounding.  ‘Nuff said.  I stopped playing because a) I left college, b) lost my cards, and c) am not going to start up again, as I feel the Vampire themes are ot appropriate for my son.

The Star Wars CCG

     I am a Star Wars nut (in case you have not figured that out already.)  So naturally, when Decipher released its collectible card game, I bought up pack after pack.  I played a great deal in the Navy, and then again with my son. 


     I began wargaming in a way that some probably would not consider “true” wargaming:  BattleTech from FASA.  That box set was used and abused over the years.  That was followed (some years later) by MechWarrior from WizKids.  My son has a rather impressive collection of these wonderful, self-contained, wargame figures.

      Once the whole family got involved in mini painting (and involved at coolminiornot) we got quite a bit of exposure to Games Workshop’s Warhammer Fantasy and 40,000 games.  We tried them both, but never really were satisfied with the results.

     Then a miracle took place.  My old friend, and likely one of the most influential folks in my gaming development, Jeff Rector from high school told me about Warmachine.  This game beats the snot out of anything that Games Workshop has got on the market.  The whole family plays and loves it to bits.

     I’m sure that there were some games that I missed.  I have not listed video games because (personally)  I don’t feel that video games are really the meat-and-potatoes of what makes a gamer, though I’ve played my share. 

     Whether this listing adds to my credibility or is just me showing off is up to you.  But I can tell you this:  I’m coming up on my twentieth anniversary as a gamer and I’ve loved every moment.

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