Saturday, March 1, 2008

Just So Much Road Kill

My Gamma World post got me thinking about the measuring stick for what our gaming group considered a ‘good game’. We were so busy playing D&D and it’s variants, supplements and home brewed campaigns that anything else was normally just cannon fodder for the fantasy behemoth unleashed upon the world half a dozen years earlier by Gygax and Arneson. Everyone in my immediate gaming group, and really in our school D&D Club, had limited funds. I’m sure there were adults out there at that time that could just buy pretty much everything that hit the hobby shop shelves, we really had to pick and choose (and I made a lot of bad choices back then, I have plenty of games that are really just space wasters in my gaming collection, such as it is). This led to the majority of available funds going to the ‘sure thing’, that which we were all playing, D&D.

Nevertheless, someone would always show up, either at the Club, or at the Saturday Gaming Group, with some new fancy sounding game. There were so many that sounded fun, looked good, and were presented in a very professional manner…but just didn’t stick (with us anyway). Other than D&D, there were constant debates about what was good, and what was bad. Many of the Club members hated Arduin, that much I do remember. My Saturday Gaming Group loved it, though. I think that series of craziness by Hargrave was one of the dividing lines between the ‘fun’ camp and the ‘serious’ camp. The serious camp seemed to be more into wargames in general, turn based hex map table top games filled with hundred of tables and thousands of tiny cardboard chits that were impossible to not loose or find years later semi-mutilated under a sofa cushion. The fun camp were the guys who spent several sessions playing The Mansion of Mad Professor Ludlow, or talking about how great Booty and the Beast was.

Regardless, fellow gamers would inevitably end up touting some new title which they had invested their hard earned gaming money into. We played them all, at least once. Most were played once, and then forgotten, placed on a shelf, and are probably to this day in some middle aged former gamers musty basement, or like so many of mine, lost somewhere at a parents house, in a box in the attic. Some of those games, though, resonated with us. Perhaps it was the owner investing enough of his own time in making the game fun and playable, or perhaps it was a game like Titan, a classic that you just couldn’t NOT enjoy if given the time to play. Provided you didn’t lose the chits it came with.

Here then are the games I actually remember playing more than once, games that we enjoyed, whether it was twice, or a dozen times, these games seemed to capture our gaming sensibilities long enough that we could set aside D&D for more than a single sitting.

Champions - Tom ran a fun campaign, Some of the players got sick of it, though. I never did.
Dragon Quest - an old SPI D&D type game. Tom ran it for us a handful of times.
Elric/Stormbringer - we were all HUGE Moorcock fans. John ran a nice series of games for us.
Top Secret - we always ended up ruining the plot with Walthers and Uzis blazing. Larry ran this one for us.
Call of Cthulhu - one of my personal favorites. I ran this one and had a never finished campaign.
Gamma World - as mentioned before. I love this one.
Arduin - mainly as a D&D supplement, but I did have a mini campaign for it.
Titan - ‘nuff said. Dave C was infamous for his Titan gaming.
Diplomacy - an evil game, my first wargame ever. My older brother was goooood.
Illuminati - I never really played a full game of this, but it was very popular. Chris planned to run it PBEM.
Car Wars - I ended up making this into a campaign, ended up taking too long to play this way, though.
Traveller - nice game, ahead of it’s time. Too sci fi for me, but I have a ton of the mini books. Mike ran this.
Rolemaster - those tables, those tables!
The Fantasy Trip - very early, old school, played it with Lee a lot.
Talisman - Tom and Mike loved this one.
Warhammer 40K Epic - We really got into miniatures for a long while.

There were others that I’m probably forgetting now, unfortunately.

Ones that got away that I always wanted to try, and never did:

Paranoia - don’t hear much about this one. I always liked the look of it on the hobby shop shelves.
Tunnels and Trolls - looked like a well supported game with a good fan base.
Rune quest - I’m told it’s a great game.
Metamorphosis Alpha - went with Gamma World instead
Boot Hill - I don’t know anyone who played this.
Empire of the Petal Throne - just sounded so cool.
Squad Leader - probably best that I didn’t get into this one. I’d still be finding chits in the basement.
Harn - I actually own this one.
Skyrealms of Jorune - just based on the ads in The Dragon.
Space Opera - again, I don’t know anyone who played this.

Much later we got stuck, thanks to me, in a CCG rut. I was a MtG addict. Never again! More on that in a later post, though.

The moral of the story is then that there are simply TOO many good games, and not enough time.

I think I’ll stick to D&D, and just remember fondly most of this cannon fodder for the fantasy behemoth unleashed upon the world thirty years ago by Gygax and Arneson.


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