Down the gaming rabbit hole

I was at Gen Con this year with my Gen Con 1996 shirt on.  It was Saturday of Gen Con, which is my “Gen Con 1996 Shirt” day.  It comes out once a year and, even though it is 27 years old, I am hopeful it outlives me with being only worn once a year.  

My first Gen Con was 1986, and I can remember what that t-shirt looked like, but it is long gone as I am sure I couldn’t fit in it past 1990.  

Anyway – I always get a comment or two from random folks when they see the old T-shirt.  So many have no idea that Gen Con wasn’t always in Indianapolis.  In 1986 it was in Milwaukee, WI and that was after it moved from Lake Geneva, WI.  This year, another old timer like me noticed the shirt and commented, “Hey, another Milwaukee alumn!”  We chatted about the days of Gen Con in Milwaukee – Major Goolsby’s, the MECCA center, the Calderone Club, all the good eating spots.  The conversation ended up with “how did you start gaming?”  For me, and I am sure it was for many many people, it was Dungeons and Dragons.  Now, if I can remember Gen Con 19, I can remember the beginnings of AD&D.  Before that, it was card games (of the 52 suited deck variety), Monopoly, Trouble, and “roll the dice and move your piece” kind of games.  Talking about the early days of D&D is another kind of rabbit hole, but where I was really heading was – what game led you into Board Gaming?  While D&D introduced to me to the wonderful world of gaming outside of Parker Brothers, it wasn’t a board game and it didn’t drive me to start looking, buying, and coveting new games.  I have to give that award to Talisman.  I think that was the first board game I bought that we played ALOT.  Then all of the expansions – the first edition expansions – The City, the Timescape, the Dungeon, and the ultimate crazy expansion Alternate Endings.  Which could take an already looooong game and make you start over after playing for four hours.  Beautiful madness.   The card game Nuclear War was probably the first fully card based game we played constantly (5 million Mikeys! – serious inside joke there…).  And Cosmic Encounter was also an early game for us.  You may not realize that game goes back to the early 80s.  

I would love to hear what your first board games were – how did you come by them and if you ever return to them?  Dust off those memories and share!