As I prepare for GenCon, I thought I would share some meaningful gaming experiences. These are in no particular order, just the top ten I can remember. As I post this list, I am attending a lecture on using Pop Culture in the Classroom.
GenCon 2010 has truly started.
1. As my gaming interests grew, I was introduced to Risk while visiting a new boy who had moved into my school in 8th grade, Jim. I remember during a snow day, my mother drove me over to Jim’s house, where we played Risk for hours. He had a wonderful game collection that included Axis & Allies, and Broadsides. Eventually, I got my own copy of Risk, and I spent even more hours adding additional territories and expansion.
2. While playing cards and dominoes was a regular part of the Endres family tradition, each summer I would spent several weeks with my grandmother Endres in Wichita. During that visit, I would beg and plead to spend the night with my great uncle Walter. After dinner, he would set up the dominoes on his kitchen table. While playing, he would tune in a radio station on his world band radio. While I don’t remember many of the games outcomes, it was always a wonderful time.
3. My dad was the original card shark. He loved all types of card games. He kept a deck of cards on the first floor, his bedroom, and in all of his suit cases. During quiet times, I can still hear him shuffling the cards and dealing a hand of solitaire. Eventually, he taught me how to play Kings on the Corner. He was notorious for hold cards that he could play, or that would benefit me in any way.
4. My dad was a very hard worker, and my mother and I spent many evening waiting for him to come home. When my mother’s chores/tasks were finished, she loved to play Scrabble. My mother was a very smart individual. Before marrying, she was an artist with Hallmark Cards. She insisted that we play without using the dictionary. It was her opinion that if you could not spell or think of a word, using a dictionary was cheating. I still have our scoring sheets in my childhood copy of Scrabble. A great treasure indeed!
5. I have taken all three of my sons to GenCon. Granted, when they go, it is a very different experience than when I go with just my buddies. I purposely pick games that I think they will enjoy. The requirements are that they must be easy to learn and teach. During Ryan (10) and Hunter’s (8) first GenCon, I convinced my wife to let me take Ryan to a late night game of Zombies by Twilight Creations. Ryan is so bright, that within a few turns, it was clear that he just might beat a table full of adult men. Subsequently, a few opponents also realized this, and began to plot against Ryan. As they cornered him (cutting off his path to win the game) I drew a card which allowed me to switch player token positions. I switched my token with Ryan’s, thus allowing him a clear path to victory. Several of the other players were annoyed with me as I “kingmade” Ryan. Ryan had no idea as he was proudly sporting a new Zombie t-shirt.
6. Usually my personal gaming rule is to not play in any competitive tournament (after all its just a game; isn’t it?) During GenCon 2007, I played in a Warmachine/Hordes combination tournament. I ended up placing first in my faction, the Cryx. Despite feeling an incredible level of satisfaction, I recommitted myself to my personal gaming rule; avoid mindless events that attract poor sports.
7. A truly break through game appeared in 1993 at the Origins Fair called Magic the Gathering. I was captivated (my wife would say addicted.) Eventually I stopped buying and playing the cards as it became overwhelming to keep up with the onslaught of new cards, game mechanics, and evolving rules. While I no longer follow Magic, I kept a dozen or so very playable decks. My very dear friend, Rob was introduced to Magic much later, and it became a bond between us. Several times a year, we have gotten together and found time to play game after game. We have played in restaurants, on-line, in an airport, and at our homes. His rats have attacked my slivers who attacked his goblins who were being attacked by my elves. While I am not nor plan to renew my addiction to MtG, I hope to play endless games in the future with Rob. I hate rats.
8. While preparing to attend GenCon in 2004, a truly imaginative game was hitting the shelves; Pirates of the Spanish Main (POSM.) GenCon hosted a unique tournament that required you to buy in using POSM coins. I was crazy out of my mind trying to find POSM so I could attain the coins that would allow me to buy into the event. The tournament was great fun, and I returned from GenCon eager to find someone to play POSM with. While reading the gaming forums, I found a post by Kansas Bob whose email was linked to a social service agency. My first thought was he is a gamer who worked in social services, which lived in Kansas who liked POSM. Eventually, I met Kansas Bob, and he lived in Missouri. We met at a new gaming store called Pulp Fiction. We were both hesitant as some gamers can give gaming a bad name. Subsequently, we have become great friends which evolved into a weekly Sunday evening gaming group. Because of POSM and Kansas Bob, I game with a great group including Andy, Paul, Dawson, Dustin, Brady, Amy, Jason, Kevin, Mike, and Brian.
9. My first Euro game was Wallenstein. Gaming on a week night is difficult for me as my son’s schedule, and my work keep me very busy. However, I did manage to attend a Thursday game night at Table Top where I was introduced to Wallenstein and Big City. As I was leaving, a fellow gamer suggested I check out a web site called Board Game Geek. It opened the world of gaming to, and introducd me to the Euro gaming movement. The typical euro game is a game that minimizes random play, and gives the player an equal chance to win up until the end game mechanism. Rather than who has the most money as in Monopoly, the euro game often rewards bold play with victory points. While both games were amazing to me that night, I do not own Wallenstein, and eventually purchased Big City on Ebay.
10. While coming home from GenCon in 2005, Paul, Andy, Ryan and myself decided to host a winter gaming party (that celebrates mine and Pat’s birthdays.) Thus White Dragon Con was born. While not a huge event, we have had 20 or so gamers attend the past several years. The gaming swag is a pair of specially designed dice. During White Dragon in 2007, my father joined us and was enthralled with a dexterity game call Crokinole. It was my father’s last White Dragon Con.