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Gathering of Engineers

Ludographic considerations from the Silicon Forest

Thursday, April 27, 2006


First of all, a big “Howdy” to everyone – I’m excited to be joining the Gathering of Engineers crew! As is, apparently, semi-traditional, my first post will be something of an introduction – with a focus on my gaming history.

I grew up in Milwaukee, WI, in a family that did a lot of gaming – everything from cribbage, Yahtzee, Mille Bournes, and the like, including some chess, although I never played competitively. In high school, I played a lot cards – mostly Sheepshead (aka Schafkopf auf Deutsch), a trick taking game that I’ve never seen played outside of Milwaukee (although apparently it’s also still played in Germany). We played before school, during free periods, during lunch, and occasionally on weekends – keeping track of “points” while at school (since playing for money was, erm, frowned upon). I also got into more serious board games a bit in HS, including Diplomacy, and also RPGs, especially D&D and Traveller.

After high school, I went off to college at Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE), and while a lot of people remember college as the pinnacle of their gaming lives, for me there wasn’t much in the way of gaming during college. What with working quite a few hours at the local newspaper, to DJing at the college radio station, to actually studying now and again, I found I didn’t really have the time!

After graduating college in 1990, I got back into gaming – one of the guys I met through my first job introduced me to games like Cosmic Encounter, Shanghai Trader, Rubout and the like (hi Gerry).

In early 1993, I moved to Dallas, Texas to take a job there, and found the local gaming store through asking on Usenet (probably rec.games.board, although it could have been one of the RPG groups as well). This being 1993, I got sucked into Magic: the Gathering pretty heavily – I think the first cards I bought were black-border, and I definitely was playing prior to the release of Arabian Nights, as I bought a lot of that set at it's release. While I enjoyed MtG, it eventually paled for me – the main knock on it was that the deck-building portion was pretty much a solo activity, and with MtG deck-building was a big part of the game. I played MtG mostly in the back of the Game Chest, the local shop, and as a result met a lot of other game players, and was able to expand my gaming horizons to include board games – I remember play testing a set of expansion powers for Cosmic Encounter for Mayfair just before they lost the Cosmic Encounter license.

In 1994 or so, I discovered “German” games, primarily through a combination of UseNet (rec.games.board), Ken Tidwell’s Game Cabinet, and Mike Siggin’s Sumo magazine. My first purchase of a German game was Modern Art (the German version), which the owner of the Game Chest in Dallas had brought back from a trip to Germany. I was immediately hooked – not sure I can point to exactly why, although the shorter time commitment needed for a German game vs. a typical American game of that era probably had a lot to do with it! I bought quite a lot of German games – many that were imported (my first copy of El Grande was a German edition, pre-SdJ, for instance) from various sources, mostly mail-order and/or online.

In 1998 or so, Derk Solko posted to rec.games.board about trying to get gamers together in the Dallas area, and after meeting Derk I was invited to join the Dallas Metrogamers. This group met primarily on weekends, usually Saturday, and mostly at people’s houses rather than in public spaces. This invite is what eventually led to my being invited to the Gathering of Friends, as one of the guys (howdy, George!) in the Saturday group had been going for quite a few years, and was able to arrange an invitation – I think 2000 was my first Gathering, and I’ve been back every year since. I’ll have more to say about that other Gathering in my next post!

Eventually, Saturday only proved too infrequent, so some of us started gaming on Tuesday evenings as well, playing in the café at a local Border’s bookstore. We named our Tuesday night group the Card Benders, as we were there to have fun and enjoy gaming without having to worry about people being tense/uptight about using the components of the games. In 2003, Chris Brooks was in Dallas for a conference, and had contacted one of the other Card Benders about joining us for a night – this would later become important when I found a job in Oregon, and relocated to the Portland area in August, 2004.

In 2004 (in March) I was married to my lovely wife Carrie – who, luckily (for both of us, probably) is also a gamer, though not quite as obsessed as I.

Through Chris, I was introduced to the Rip City Gamers, and have been gaming (less regularly than in Dallas, but as regularly as I can) with them here ever since. It’s been a lot of fun, and I’m looking forward to sharing my thoughts on games in this forum – as well as attending my first “Gathering of Engineers” (an only semi-joking name for the gaming retreats the Rip City Gamers take) in just over a week, and I’m really looking forward to it!

So, happy gaming, and I’ll see y’all next week!


  • At 2:12 PM, Blogger KC said…

    Sure glad to have you on board Tim!

  • At 3:23 PM, Blogger dave said…

    "Through Chris, I was introduced to the Rip City Gamers"

    I thought that the main connection was with Eric & me via the nigglybits yahoogroup...

    Gotta say that "Card Benders" is a great name for a gaming group. I would love to profile them in the Game Group series. :-)

  • At 5:28 PM, Blogger Tim said…

    You may be right - my memory of that couple of months is fuzzy at best, what with moving, new job, crazy level of work at new job, etc. etc.

    The Card Benders was a good group, but they've fallen on hard times due to people moving away - first me, then one of the guys joined the Peace Corps, and another is about to become a parent very soon . . . but I'll hook you up with 'em, and you can work it out (maybe a bit of publicity will get 'em some recruits).


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