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Board (& Card) Games
I have loved games for just about as long as I can remember.   My parents tell me that I could play a good hand of Nap by the time I was five.  At eight or nine, I was borrowing library books on card games out of the ‘senior’ section of the library using Dad’s tickets.

Around the same age, I had an older cousin who introduced me to board games.  It was probably Monopoly but I can’t swear to it.  Rather like playing “Doom” hooked me on First Person Shooters, I knew board games were for me.  The highlight of Xmas morning  was opening the board game shaped present.  I remember when we used to go on holiday, my parents would give me some extra pocket money as a treat.   I would save this and buy a game when we got back home!  

At ten or eleven, I started designing my own board games. No computers, of course, all hand written and drawn.  In fact that’s something I’ve continued to do throughout my life.  There’s a little bit about my board game designs here.

As I hit my mid teens, I decided that I’d outgrown these games and sold most of them on.  What an idiot!  I’ve had a look around the Net and here’s the best recreation of that games collection that I can manage.  I’ve tried to use the cover of the version I owned wherever possible:
I’m sure there were others but this is the majority.  I found a lot of these covers on vintage games retail sites.  I saw Totopoly going at £70 and that old copy of Bucaneer at £85.   I suppose it would cost me around £750 to recreate my old games cupboard nowadays.  There should be a health warning on being a teenager :)

As I returned to games in my 20s.  The first new game I bought was Kingmaker.  For the first time, I encountered a game that gave you a set of rules but after that, strategy was entirely up to you.  This opened out a whole new range of games to play.  Diplomacy was another one from this era.  I even bought a new copy of Risk, realising I had only scratched the surface as a youngster.  However, I could never get into the super-detailed war games.  You know - hex board, 2000 counters and a rule book the length of “War and Peace” :)

Around this time, I got into pen’n’paper RPGs.  That didn’t take me away from board gaming.  Instead, I looked at the new wave of fantasy board games following in D&D’s wake.  In my collection from these days are the bizarrely named “The Creature That Ate Sheboygan - wreck a city with the monster of your choice”  and “The Awful Green Things From Outer Space” :)  This time, I kept them all, of course.  There’s more about my board game collection here.

Without a doubt, my favourite from this period was a wonderful solo game called “Chainsaw Warrior”.  On reflection, it bridged the gap between classic board games and the rise of the video game.  Here’s a description:
A New York building has been infected with something evil and it’s killing New York.   You’re up against the clock to find the source of the evil and eliminate it.  Every game was different.  I’ve only ever won once.  And you’ve got to love  a game that gives you a nuclear powered chainsaw as a weapon :)  I’m pretty sure the developers who made Doom were fans.

Chainsaw Warrior was also novel in as much as the ‘board’ was a place to keep cards and track progress rather than show movement.  That had a big impact on my own thoughts on game design and started to make me think of games that you could play with minimal rules and the game mechanism/cards telling you what to do as you go along.  
I moved towards more casual games after that.  “Quirks” was a clever little game in which your creature evolved & dominated or died.  “DungeonQuest” remains my first choice to pass some gaming time with “non-gaming” friends.  You can pick it up almost without reading any rules at all!  

And then “Wolfenstein 3D” came along, followed by “Doom” and I found a whole new genre to explore.  I don’t buy board games nowadays.  I no longer have a board gaming circle of friends.  Much as I’d like to play “Carcasonne” or “Settlers of Catan”, I no longer have the wherewithal.   Sadly, solo board games have been completely killed off by the PC and games console.  That’s as much my fault as anyone else’s.  

But I still pull out a game from time to time, set up the board, shuffle the cards, roll some dice - just for old time’s sake :)
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