Gaming has been a hobby of mine for over twenty years. I received the red D&D box as a gift when I was about ten, and my dad bought Axis & Allies right around the same time, thus sinking the twin hooks of role playing and board gaming into me at a young age. In my teens I did my best to buy my parents out of house and home by devouring every RPG and miniature game product in sight, spending hours at the FLGS (Friendly Local Game Store, in internet parlance) playing, plotting, and idolizing the proprietor (John – who was godlike in my eyes, by simultaneously going to college, working at a game store, AND having an attractive wife who played games!).

Why my parents never cut me off is beyond me – being a spoiled only child has its advantages, I guess – and somehow my dad was able to feed the family alongside my growing habit. Naturally, though, it was mostly my mom who bought me the stuff (being both the master of coin and susceptible to my wheedling for more stuff), and this led to a shocking revelation one day when my dad took me there instead. The store had a kind of rewards program, with a punch card that got you $10 of stuff after spending $100; the cards were stored in a card file behind the register and John would keep all of your used cards stapled together, in some hall-of-shame type of deal. This was revealed when my dad went to pay for my latest purchase and John pulled my card from the file to add the punches – revealing the thick stack of already-filled cards. His eyes widened and he exclaimed, “how much has your mother spent on you in this place?” I just grinned sheepishly, knowing he could count the cards as well as I could, and he grudgingly forked over the cash. (Thanks, dad!)

At any rate, I proceeded down the parallel roads of Games Workshop hobby gaming and tabletop RPGs, eventually sinking vast amounts of my own money into the stuff. But after high school ended and my gaming friends went their separate ways for college, I found myself drifting away from the game scene. I had a hard time finding a new circle of gamers, being introverted but somehow not weird or socially awkward enough to fit in with game groups at the campus or game store – in other words, a regular guy, unable to mesh with the Asperger’s cases in the gaming population.

Some friends in college really got into Eurogames (or Euros, a genre of board games known for their abstract themes and wooden blocks), and I figured hey, I like games, let’s give this stuff a shot! I don’t remember what games they had us play (Catan was in there I’m sure, and maybe Carcassone – I didn’t do much drinking then but probably should have given his selections), but the whole time I had to make laser sound effects and pretend I was laying waste to the countryside every time I placed a wooden dude on an alpaca farm or whatever, just to keep from passing out. They laughed awkwardly and I’m sure thought I was weird, and I did too – like, hey, these are games, you used to like them, what happened?

That was ten years ago, and in the intervening years I didn’t do much gaming, mostly turning to video games instead. But recently, I figured out what bothered me about those Euros: I wanted to play games where decisions mattered, where you walked the razor-thin line between victory and defeat, life and death! Where the victor would be decided in a battle of wits and with bare bloody fists (expertly abstracted by a series of dice rolls, natch), not by using a spreadsheet to calculate the optimum path!

So, in the last six months, I’ve returned full force to the gaming hobby, buying boxes of cardboard and plastic shit left and right and geeking out on rulebooks and gaming websites nonstop. To Mrs. Melobi’s credit, she’s taking it in stride, as she has with all of my hobbies – and she actually enjoys this one! It’s great fun, but the stuff piles up fast. Hopefully we can move next year before our house sinks into the earth, because I’m pretty sure we’ve exceeded the load rating for this place, having crammed more stuff in here than I ever thought possible.