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Playing and Collecting Board Games
I remember my interest board games started during the World Cup draw in 1965. I had gone to stay with one of my cousins at home in east London, my parents had moved to Surrey 4 years before. It was early January and we were approaching the end of the school holidays. I had watched West Ham play once during the holiday period and all the presents were piled up in cupboards, most of which would never see the light of day again.
Boredom set in and we decided to tackle Monopoly (a Christmas present), we were twelve years old at the time. I think twelve-year-olds these days have more alternatives to passing away winter afternoons during the school holidays. Anyway we played loads of games of Monopoly; we were both competitive but good losers (comes with a West Ham supporter).
When I got back to Surrey I drove out and bought a copy of Monopoly with vouchers I got for Christmas plus Spy Ring and Formula One. Games weren’t that popular in those days, except for the annual broadcast at Christmas, I really liked it, but no one else was interested in my group of friends.
Some years later I bought a copy of Diplomacy and quickly entered the postal gaming hobby; this must have been around 1973/4. The amateur magazines (‘zines) were excellent; although post-gaming is long winded, it was sometimes the only way to experience the lesser known games especially if you lived in an area where there was a lack of opponents.
In 1975 I developed a game called Cricketboss, this was a postal Cricket Management game very loosely based on Soccerboss (Commercial game) which ran by post at the time. The game ran for three seasons in a ‘zine called Chimera and also spawned a number of versions of the game on the national postal gaming hobby (long after I finished running it). Even now it is occasionally mentioned in dispatches some 25 years after the design of it.
In 1978 I met a number of like-minded people and we all met regularly to play board games. At the same time I infiltrated a Dungeons & Dragons Club (not a big fan I’m afraid) elected myself secretary and then started introducing fantasy board games into the meetings, soon I had them playing Sorcerers Cave, Mystic Wood etc. I finally left the group they played little D & D but a lot of board games.
In the 1980s the toy collection grew, well over 500 by 1988 when we moved to Hampshire. By the time we arrived in Cornwall in 1991, the collection was over 1,000. The house we bought had to have enough space to store them all.
1980 – 1995 saw a number of big games conventions. I remember the good old days at the Royal Horticultural Halls in London, when Games Day meant more than just D&D and painted figures. I remember meeting Major Pat Reid promoting Colditz, Alan Parr inventor of United and later Fireside Football, Andrew Neil the inventor of Kingmaker and Maureen Hiron of Quadwrangle and Continuo fame. I tried Midcon, Manorcon and Baycon; organized by the postal gaming hobby, all still going strong and always well worth a visit.
I continue to collect games, mostly but not only German and play games and I play with a small group of gamers in Truro. We meet semi regularly but hopefully in the future more regularly to play board games. Personally, it’s a great opportunity to blow the dust off a lot of games that have been pulled on my air before. Hopefully we will inspire more people in Cornwall to try the unique experience of competitive gaming board games which stretches the mind and imagination far beyond mine and most other people’s early experiences of Monopoly, Cluedo and Scrabble.
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