Not to put to fine a point on the matter, but when I was in High School and on into the Navy, I was a Wargamer.
Along with my best friends, Lee, Mike and Mick, we recreated every major battle and war you can name, and even a few imaginary ones. We even had our own FRPG that involved a Wizard who was to teach us our needed skills who had a bladder control problem. It’s a long story, and basically it involved the fact that we thought ourselves “too cool for school,” as it were. We did learn a valuable lesson, but frankly I have forgotten whether it dealt with the fact that he (the wizard) managed to take a leak on all of us while laughing at us or whether or not we ever got our revenge. Which now that I am in my 50’s with the standard issue enlarged prostate I am uncertain that I would be able to help much if we ever did decide to take him on again.
Anyway, back to my point which was not to demonstrate once again how much of a nerd and geek I was at Ogden High School from 1979-1981, but that I still have a trunk full of these games which, despite the prices that some of them fetch on eBay (example), I cannot bring myself to part with because (wait for it…) the last time we were all together (circa 1984?) we had a long discussion about “getting together” in the future, renting a big hotel room and spending a vacation playing all of our old favorites.
So naturally, I have to keep them all.
Not that you really care, but our group favorite was “Rise and Fall of the Third Reich,” which when we started playing it was in the 2nd Edition (now in the 4th and “Advanced” versions). I cannot even begin to add up the hours we spent playing the game on Tuesday and Saturday nights for the better part of two years, but for my own part I can tell you that the planning and contemplating of what was going to happen on Tuesday and Saturday was easily another two days worth of not paying any attention whatsoever to various Algebra and Science teachers at school.
Later in the Navy, other games became entertainment and stress relief at “A” and “C” schools, including my all time favorite, Victory Games’ “The Civil
War,” which I once played entirely solo in the Weapons Department Office on Patrol 13 because I was off the watch bill since I was supposed to go ashore early, but ended up not going for reasons that scarred me for life (not really, but did cost me the price of two tickets to see the Denver Broncos disassemble the Seahawks). Not having anything else to do while the ship tooled about the Pacific for a Engineering inspection, I sat in the office for hours playing the game until I figured out that the watchbill was screwing over my WEPS, who was not an nuke so they were short cycling him port and starboard as Office of the Deck. When I found out about that I put the game away and made it my mission to take care of him. See? Games are not “all consuming.”
To my point, I was surfing the interwebs the other night because when I am on vacation my mind freezes up if I don’t, when I came across something… wonderful. The VASSAL Game Engine system. Yep, some kids waaaay smarter than me, who actually paid attention in Computer Sciences class in High School, have created a way to pay all of our games online. Not computer games… real Avalon Hill (and others) War Games, through the computer. I may have had an orgasm right then.
So now I have spent almost five days downloading modules for all my games, and plotting how to tell Lee, Mike and Mick without sounding like I am a 51 year old with an enlarged prostate and a four year old that we need to give up even more of our copious free time to once again hurl digitized cardboard counters and sarcastic insults at one another for hours on end while all the people who matter in our lives stare at us with barely concealed bemusement at how the more we change, the more we stay the same.
Except now technology will be on our side!