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Published on February 27th, 2016 | by Colin


Cardcore Gamer: The Again Beginning


Ay up,

This is the story of how table-top games came into and eventually more-or-less took over my life.
I call it “The story of how table-top games came into and eventually more-or-less took over my life” and it goes like this:
Back in 2005 I bought a game called Zombies!!! to play with my university housemates. This blew my formerly Monopoly-based games experience wide open with it’s grisly art, unique (at the time) theme, and numerous, tiny, plastic undead. Doom: The Board Game was next, which I played with my then-girlfriend, now wife, and which we both thoroughly disliked. Surprisingly undeterred by this expensive dud, and with the discovery of the excellent shop Spirit Games in a nearby town, Last Night on Earth and Arkham Horror followed, becoming our earliest breakthrough games.

At this point, I was very much taken by what is often fondly referred to as ‘Ameritrash’ – games with big, cinematic themes, fancy components, and lots of cards to draw and dice to throw. Games which left us and our gaming friends with stories to tell and memories of heroic deeds, dismal, if hilarious failures, and the sort of bizarre quirks such game systems throw up at random – ask me about the horse in the antique shop, the magician who got drunk, was mugged, and then died an insane hero, or the wonky, bum-pinching zombie. We hosted regular games nights at our house, until strangers started showing up; we were left with no choice but to take our games out into the wider world. We bravely stacked our game boxes and, never looking back, we went to the pub.

The staff at our local were kind enough to let us have a small function room upstairs for free one Friday evening per month. They were also grumpy enough to regard us with wary suspicion, but we kept out of the way and bought drinks, and D6+Beer! was born. Our group grew along with our games collection, and before long I was also attending Wednesday night gaming at Spirit, whose friendly, inclusive patrons opened up a far wider scope of games to me, and around this time we discovered another fledgling crowd who met at a cafe near the city centre. I also started a Youtube channel in my spare time, mostly reviewing games; some I already owned, and some cheekily sourced from publishers, aided by my joining this very website. A house move brought with it a change of venue for D6 – another pub of course – and at yet another pub, this time on our street, we identified and invaded a dead-end Xbox night, establishing a Monday evening table-top session which brought the combined number of events to two per month and one every single week.

Things couldn’t run completely without incident. Our Mondays became a battle of wills with an entrenched clique of obnoxious drunks who didn’t want to give up ‘their table’ to us moderately-drinking pretenders, and no matter how much discussion or compromise was attempted with the management it was clear that they felt unable, or unwilling to intervene. We also had our cafe venue whipped out from beneath us without notice despite reliable attendance and zero trouble from our group. In the meantime, however, something else had changed in my life; in 2013 our son was born.

Being immobile and portable, babies aren’t much of a barrier to board gaming. They do, however,  change your priorities. We still made it to events, including the group’s first all-dayer, but my Youtube videos and blog posts slowed to a mere trickle. Ironically I found myself far less able to make it to the shop for their late-night Wednesday sessions because they employed me – initially to cover one of the owners’ recovery from surgery, but it’s been nearly two years and they’ve not kicked me out yet. With game time increasingly scarce as my son grew older, my taste took a swing toward more concise, focused, satisfying and ultimately ‘Euro’ fare, though I still love some good old D6 chucking and plastic toys.

This brings things nearly up to date; last year I attended my first UK Games Expo (working of course), and there have now been four all-day events with more to come, though I’ve taken a bit of a back-seat when it comes to organising. I’m still working at Spirit Games, dishing out friendly advice, introducing people to new games that I think they’ll love, and vicariously enjoying other people buying the games I can’t generally afford, though how long this will last is a little up in the air with baby number 2 due soon. More than anything now I’m thinking about the future, and about what games we might play with our children when they’re older.

That’s my excuse for buying Cat Tower and I am sticking to it.

Hi, I’m Colin and I am a Cardcore Gamer.

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