One of the biggest conversation starters with other tabletop gamers is ‘How did you get started?’ and it’s certainly one that’s come up a lot of late. So, I was thinking about this today and decided I’d put forward how I got involved with wargaming, role-playing and more and then hopefully you’ll share your stories of what and indeed who got you into gaming.
For me the beginning of this journey started in Secondary School where I was stood in a lunch line talking to my friend about Warhammer 40, 000. I think the entire of the lunch hour was spent talking about each of the different races you could play as and in particular the Eldar. I know now being the resident Dwarf this sounds like quite a change but I was obsessed with these Space Elves. I was totally enamored with the thought of playing as the desperate Iyanden or the eerie Ulthwe.
So, that weekend after school was done I headed up to Games Workshop with my parents and got myself a set of Eldar Guardians (they haven’t changed in all these years and the box I had was even older than the one above) and one of those starter sets they used to do with the tiiiiiiny pots of paint in them. Needless to say these miniatures were terrible caked on monstrosities but they were my first shot at the hobby. From there I bought myself a Farseer and played little games against my friends. I think in my first game of Warhammer 40,000 my Farseer managed to blow up a Dreadnought with his Singing Spear and I was very happy with the outcome.
The Eldar army slowly grew and I ended up with more badly painted Guardians, Farseers, Swooping Hawks and at one point I had a Falcon Grav Tank which I managed to mess up when I glued the plastic cockpit on and clouded it up. Still my bright red army was fun and it became my first step on the path to tabletop gaming taking over my life. All thanks to a talk in the lunchroom at school.
Next up I branched out into Warhammer Fantasy. This was a period where Games Workshop still did sales and so my first leap into this world of grim dark sword and sorcery was a £10 box of Skaven Clan rats! Yes! Much like with my Eldar these were terribly painted but I’d also learned the power of ‘Flesh Wash’ at this point – just not worked out you had to water it down. I had some very, very tanned Skaven at this point. I still actually use that same pot to this day.
From there the Warhammer Fantasy expansion continued but instead of Skaven I had opted to head down a more human route. So, on one of my birthdays I got the Empire Army Box and a metal hero on a massive Griffon. This was the coolest thing I’d ever had and I ended up with a reasonable 1000 point army I think. At the moment this army is lying pretty battered and broken somewhere in my cellar but it was brilliant. I played proper battles against proper opponents and even though I always, always lost to my friends Vampire Count army I managed to beat Dogs of War, Dark Elves, Dwarfs, Skaven and even High Elves with these guys!
At that point I think I’d found my niche. I loved Warhammer Fantasy from that point on and to this day I think it’s remained my favourite of the Games Workshop games away from Mordheim. Needless to say this love for Warhammer Fantasy also took me down a different route.
The love for Warhammer at school meant that we set up a Warhammer Club (we even got cool membership cards!) with one of the coolest teachers I knew as a kid. Every Thursday evening after school we took over the Graphics Tech room and turned their massive tables into gaming rooms. At one point we even controlled the Art rooms and were able to paint and game in there to our hearts content for two or three hours. This also became the point at which we were starting to find other games like the old Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay game. This was epic. I get to play IN the world I love wargaming in? Count me in!
And so we begun a selection of random campaigns that never went anywhere but allowed us to have a whole lot of fun. I will remember till the day I die the time where an explosion went off in a tavern and an ugly goblin baby shot out of a room window and knocked one of us out. This eventually turned into a massive expansive part of our geeking lives and my first ever real character, Ronan Bane, is still one of my favourites. He was sadly cruelly killed by snakes but he was brilliant!
Role-playing then continued as one of our main pastimes away from wargaming. A friend of ours picked up the Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Edition rules and we played some awesome campaigns of that over the years before turning to 3.5 and onwards. It was great playing it over a lunchtime with these funny looking dice and dunking a mayor into the well because he refused to pay us for our adventuring. We were decidedly chaotic neutral back then.
Board gaming also became a neat way of playing games when we couldn’t get to wargaming and I imagine RISK was, like us, one of the ways you got into it as a major exercise in patience! I think we played this for hours at one point at the top of my friends stairs just getting in the way for no other reason than there was a Warhammer 40,000 game going on on his floor.
From there we almost let it lie for a few years until we picked up Munchkin to fill in time during Dungeons & Dragons downtime and then, weirdly, the Sin City board game after we’d watched the movies much later on. That was quite the intense game back then with a lot of bluffing and ‘worker placement’ if you can believe it. Sort of a eurogame really! It’s only been in recent years that we’ve really dug into board gaming and it’s easy to see why. With wargames being a lot more expensive and time intensive board games provide you with a quick and easy way to get gaming straight out of the box.
I think that pretty much sums up my headstart in tabletop gaming across a range of genres and now I pass the floor over to you guys. How did you get started in tabletop gaming. I imagine most of you will have come through Dungeons & Dragons or Warhammer in its many guises but let’s see what it’s like past and present!
Comment below folks!
"I'd also learned the power of 'Flesh Wash' at this point - just not worked out you had to water it down..."