Monday, June 11, 2012

10 games that define me


Prompted by Lead Addict and others who have done similar posts, I thought I I'd post 10 of the games that have got me where I am both as a player and a game master. They define the kind of game I want to play in and run.
Some are role playing games, some are wargames. All effect where I am now.
Dungeons and Dragons
The game that led many of us down the path to tabletop wargaming. I was twelve or thirteen when the definitive boxed set of D&D came. Talk about the right age, the right place the right time. When I wasn't playing or running a game, I was feverishly creating my own worlds and vast treasure filled dungeons. It fueled my creative writing, my drawing (I was the guy who drew everyone's PC) and my imagination.
Soon after I started playing, Grenadier released a boxed set of miniatures that came with painting guide and paints. We all know where this led.
It taught me how to share what was in my head.
Star Frontiers
I played the shit out of this game. The box and rules I still own in his held together with tape, stables and sheer will. Most sessions were fly by the pants, made up on the spot, free floating adventures. My wife once asked me if I could back in time to relive one day or night, what would it be. Without hesitation I answered. It was not the day we met, our wedding day, the birth of our children although those were close seconds. It was one muggy, summer night my eighth grade year. It was one of our free wheeling sessions that became epic. The adventure unfolded almost by itself. Space Pirates. A hidden base. An epic battle where heroes were created and lost. Try as we might later, that feeling was never recreated. It taught me what was possible.
Also, I think everyone was in love with the girl on the cover. Hmmm, that why I married a redhead? BTW I didn't get in trouble for my answer.
Villains and Vigilantes
I always loved superhero comics. So when I saw there was game where I could be one? Sign me up. The art was by Jeff Dee, and for years after my drawings aped his style. The group I gamed with expanded with V&V. I got everyone to play. More than once the high school football team wasn't at a party after a game. We were at my house, eating fresh from the oven cookies baked by Mom and fighting epic battles to save the earth. V&V taught me gamng could be for everyone.
Fistful of Lead
Moments after attending my first Wargaming convention I was pissed. KC has a large gaming community. Mostly great people, but some real dicks, too. I tried to play in a Wild West shootout game. The guy running it was one of the aforementioned jackasses. Rules can't be that hard, so I wrote my own. Thus, Fistful of Lead was born. It's pretty much unchanged since the first writing and has been a staple of the Basement Generals and local cons. For whatever reason there has been a jump in sales. Maybe people are tired of complex rules?
Ffol taught me I can write my own rules and also that a game can be easy and fun but still have depth.
Flower of Chivalry
I can't remember how I stumbled upon these rules from Canadian Wargames Research Group. I just know I'm glad I did. With a few modifications, it's become the rules we all love and hate. They give you plenty of frustration as those little guys just won't follow orders, and hillarious moments we still talk about. They're a subtle dance to me. You spend the first 4-5 turns jockeying for position, then 2 turns later, it's over. As you can see from our Campaign for the Kingdom, we play the crap out of these rules, of which the actual rules are 6 pages.
FoC taught me good things can come in small packages.
Fire and Fury
Missouri is steeped in Civil War history. The third most fought over state. And my family was right in the middle of it. There's still a few buildings in Lawrence, KS that survived the burning. Soooonnnn.....
Anyway, this is my go-to ACW set of rules. I think they give the back and forth of Civil War battles and the knuckle biting chance of failed orders. Often called Fire and Frustration, they're still one of my favs.
F&F taught me how to sit down and crank out some armies, and how to paint 15mm.
GASLIGHT
Thank you Buck Surdu and Chris Palmer. You were Victorian SciFi when Victorian SciFi wasn't cool. Hands down one of funnest games out there. Customize, build, let your imagination run wild. Want laser armed lizardman from Venus to fight steam powered unicycle Prussian lancers? We've got an app rules for that. Simple mechanics with fun results. This is definitely a club favorite.
GASLIGHT taught me you can mix historical and fantasy, and the sheer crazy joy of a well built game.
Commands and Colors
I was always a big fan of Battle Cry. It was rumored Richard Borg had originally pitched a Napoleonic game, but Avalon Hill thought the Civil War was more sellable. Soon after, a gamer hit town who had been part of Borg's original gaming/playtest group and indeed treated us to a Nappy version.
Now, I've always been fascinated by ancients, and much like Nappies have had zero interest in painting them. When I found out there would be a BattleCry-esque version for ancients I was very excited. And not disappointed. I love this game, but never seem to play it.
Taught me, you don't always need rulers and charts. A boardgame can be a tabletop game, right Cluck Amok?
Black Powder/ Hail Caesar/ Pike and Shotte
Just when I thought I'd never find a set of rules for some of my favorite periods, they showed up. We truly live in amazing times my friends. The rules lawyers, the debators and number crunchers will hate these rules. That's why I love them. Games that used to take days, now take hours. Something about these rules just clicked with me. Simple. Elegant.
Black Powder and its brothers taught me you can still kick it old school.
Super System 2
It's probably my love of comics and V&V that attracted me to Scott Pyle's SS2. His Goalsystem mechanics are, as you've seen me write above with so many other games I love, simple but elegant. A great core system, with endless layering. Our group never cared for the latest version. We still play this one at least 4 times a year.
SS2 taught me if you've got a great core mechanic that everyone gets, layering/fluff is easy.
Honorable Mentions
Crimson Skies- Two words: Flak Rockets
Blood Bowl- I've had every version since the players were card board and it took 8 hours to play.
Warhammer/40K- Taught me alot about what I don't want in a game
DBA- Same as above
Brink of Battle- Some Great Ideas here.
Anything by Sam Mustafa.


4 comments:

WQRobb said...

Great list. I'm in the KC area myself, but on the other side.

BaronVonJ said...

Welcome to come out anytime. We've got guys from Overland Park that make the trek.

Mik said...

Great list, again I see many similarities but just as many departures. I'm going to have to copy this...

BaronVonJ said...

I always played with toy soldiers, but as a wargamer, I started on the Role Playing Game side. Someday, I'd love to put on a mini-con where all you guys could play.