My current collection – the “grognards” are primarily at the bottom, aside from SPI’s ETO game on the top shelf – most of my sports games are in another area
“I’ve found myself wondering: ‘Am I getting these to play them, or am I getting these simply to have them in my collection?'”
PLAYER… OR COLLECTOR?
A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away (ok, it was New Jersey), a young man discovered tabletop wargames – and tabletop sports games too, and they were even produced by the same company (that being Avalon Hill). The games were reasonably pricey for a kid with a paper route, but they were also fairly easy to find. That young man was me.
Alas, young no longer, but recently back into tabletop wargames (and sports games too), I discovered that I wasn’t the only thing that had changed. The prices have gone up, but hey, inflation, I get it (and we’re all getting it these days, aren’t we?). The stores carrying the games? Those are largely gone, sad to say. To (badly) paraphrase Madonna, “We’re living in a digital world and I am a digital gir…” uh, you get the rest.
I still have some of the games I had as a kid back in my youth; you could say they are the true grognards, the old soldiers who have survived my time in the Air Force, my time in college and most of all, my time as a parent with a couple of young children. The kids are 21 and 19 now, so I no longer have to worry about the counter for the 5th Marine Regiment disappearing on me because someone “likes the anchor” on it, so I can take some consolation in that at least.
My re-entry into tabletop gaming was likely precipitated by my kids both being off at college. For the first time in a very, very long time, there were no track meets, no basketball games, no swim meets to attend. So I was able to dust off my old stuff, and best of all, buy some new stuff.
And oh my, the sheer volume of new stuff out there. Even things that are considered “old” by most wargamers are new to me: things like say, Combat Commander, which has been around since “W” was President, are new to me. I was like a kid in a candy store, only this candy could hit triple-figures in cost and my wife had replaced my mother in preaching moderation.
I had purchased two wargames during the period in which I served primarily as “Dad” – Memoir ’44 and Paths of Glory. The former I purchased in a spectacularly unsuccessful attempt at getting my then 10-year-old son into wargames. The latter I got because… well, I love me some World War I grand strategy and the fact that I had no opponent to play against? Not a factor. Thankfully, a fellow named Stuka Joe came up with a solution to that little problem.
I started a YouTube channel in late March and launched this website about a month later. Since launching the YT channel I’ve acquired a not-insignificant number of games. Games I hope to feature on the aforementioned channel, and to also write about here on the website. Enough of them that in my lucid moments when I’m not poring over the internet reading and watching reviews, digging through the bowels of Noble Knight or Miniature Market or looking through the umpteen dozens of games on GMT’s P500 list, I start to wonder what the hell I’m doing.
I’ve found myself wondering: “Am I getting these to play them, or am I getting these just to have them in my collection?” Because, sometimes I look at what other wargame YouTubers are churning out and figure, “I can’t keep up with these guys.” I want to, and I feel like I might have something of value I can add to the discussion. But I swear, sometimes it seems like The Players Aid guys churn out five videos a day.
All kidding aside (I love the TPA and a slew of others that are far too numerous to list here), taking baby steps with this can be hard. I was an English major – writing for the blog should be easy. I worked in sports television for 20 years, how hard can it be to make a YouTube video? The answer there depends largely on your equipment and just how fancy (or barebones) you’re willing to be.
Then I agonize over what to do “next” – One of the Leader games? Combat? Band of Brothers? Nevsky? C & C Napoleon? (I just got that one yesterday and finding it, new and in shrink, was more thrilling than most people would consider sensible). But hey, my wife already thinks I’m nuts and she hasn’t kicked me out yet, so it’s all good.
Ultimately, I feel that I got the games I did because I want to – and will – play them. I don’t want to have a shelf of shame. But I still wonder, maybe I do have a shelf of shame and just don’t want to admit it to myself.