Dan

Wow, if you are reading this there must be something wrong with you. Oh well, here goes. I was born under a bad sign... wait. No, we can't begin like this. 

I live with my family in North Richland Hills, TX. We are just a little north of Fort Worth. I grew up in Fort Worth and have lived here pretty much my entire life. I enjoy pro sports, movies, music, and most of all: GAMES!!!

All kinds of games. Board games, card games, billiards (known as pool round these parts), Role Playing Games (known as marriage round these parts), and of course table top war games. My gamer family tree can be traced all the way back to an espionage rpg called Top Secret SI. James and I spent many an evening in our 13th, 14th and 15th years jetting around the world getting into adventures. Whether agents of the Orion Foundation, Falkon Enterprises, or Shield (yes, we cannibalized Marvel early and often) we were sure to kill some bad guys, get some girls, and collect a experience points. While in retrospect this game was really obtuse, I remember it fondly the way you remember the junk food you loved as a kid that you wouldn't touch today. 

Of course, gaming took a back seat in my late teens to more exotic passions: beer and girls. Strangely, you couldn't get much of either hanging out in a dimly lit room pouring over dossiers and schematics for buildings you were about to attack. After a brief hiatus from organized gaming fate would reach out and grab me once more. After toiling every Saturday for 5 years at a shoe store I found myself suddenly unemployed and with nothing to do on a fateful Saturday afternoon. My friend James invited me over to his house to try out a new game he played on his ping pong table. I showed up and was treated to a few hills, sparse trees, and 5 Empire Knights, 5 halberdiers, and 5 archers to fight against the same. Think of it as a small border skirmish or a scrimmage game. This allowed us to work through the finer points of moving, shooting and fighting. It was totally cool. You get to buy each individual model and paint it yourself? Get out! Suddenly there was a new mania to satisfy my demented urge to collect. Comics had gotten cold. I had finally woke up to the folly of football cards. Spawn toys? How many golden Angelas does one man need? No, this army building thing; this was for me. 

My interest in this new hobby began at the perfect time: a new box set was just released featuring Bretonnians and Lizardmen. It was like starting at ground zero with the other players. I immediately bought in to the faux French Knight theme of the Brets and immediately began assembling my noble army. Knights Errant, Knights of the Realm, Questing Knights, and Grail Knights. Oh, and special characters a plenty! Tristan the Troubador,The Fay Enchantress, King Louen, and the lecherous Green Knight (as he is known at Medieval Times). Yep, I was a noble general in command of the finest (and prettiest) force in the old world. Nothing would change until...

My unit of 15 Knights charged headlong into this new beast of burden, a Bloodthirster or some such. What I was about to witness I cannot put into mere words. Whip and Axe and fists and spit and blood and all sorts of bodily fluids in a Tazmanian Devil like cloud of fury. When it was over all that was left was a bunch of armoured knight carcasses looking like opened and half-eaten cans of tuna. Now it's funny how these things work. Sometimes when you get your butt handed to you by someone you really hate them. That's certainly how I feel about the Undead or the San Francisco 49ers, no question. But sometimes you are in such awe at that power that you want to wield it. That was the day I became a devout follower of the Blood God Khorne. 

Warhammer brought me into the world of table top gaming, tournaments, painting and so on. When it was said and done my wife and I would have a decent collection of various forces: Bretonnians, Chaos, Skaven, Dwarves, and a few sprinklings of others. I tried my hand at 40K a few times, collecting a nice Imperial Guard force. I liked that the Valhallans looked like Soviets. However, 40K never caught my attention as much as I loved the miniatures. The specialist games, Bloodbowl in particular really got me hooked. At one point I had 1 of each Bloodbowl team plus a bunch we made up ourselves, played over 9 teams in 2 leagues at once. James and I created an NFL type league with 16 teams and a 10 game set schedule. When we began we were the only two players with 8 teams a piece. Thus was the beginning of the "Infinity League" of Bloodbowl. I went on to win multiple championships with my Wood Elf team, the Meadowbrook Buffalos. I would have won more but I was screwed out of the title one year because our final was the Dungeon Bowl. Man I hate that game. 

Also in my heart at the time was the Fantasy skirmish game Mordheim. I loved the aspect of building a team and gaining experience and skills over time, like with Bloodbowl. Like BB, this gave me the opportunity to collect and paint much smaller forces of other races. This allowed me some fun experiences painting. 

The next phase of my gaming life began one July evening. I was visiting family in Southern California and as I always do when I'm in Garden Grove, I stopped in to shop in Brookhurst Hobbies. These guys sell 2 of everything. While looking at various rules sets on the shelf I noticed a new WW2 book called Flames of War. I looked at the book and was immediately impressed with the layout and design of the thing. I grabbed a product catalog and when I returned home to Texas I showed it to James. I knew he was into WW2 and had heard stories (horror stories to me) of 6 hour plus games of Battleground WW2. This seemed like a much quicker and simpler game. We began by playtesting with some micro armor tanks that James had around from the old days. Once we realized the game was for us, it was on. James began with his beloved Fallshirmjagers and I with my cold war heroes: the Soviets. My first unit was a T-34 box set that I received from my girls for Father's Day. 

Flames of War was more than just a transition into a new game for me. It was a transition into becoming a more mature hobbyist. No more would I be buying any little thing I could get my hands on because it was on sale or available in the used cabinet of my local game store. No, I was going to buy, paint, base, and finish each and every unit I wanted before going on to the next. I think it worked out for me...

To be continued...