Tales from the Jungle: “Humble Beginnings.”

Used without permission.

If you’ve read through my “Bio” page then you have gotten a small taste of what I’m about to talk about. I was going through all of my stuff last night and getting it organized, pulling out stuff that needs to be fixed, painted, or thrown away… As I’m going through it all I get to my beloved bitz box… if you play in this hobby then you have some form of a bitz box, that much I can guarantee. About 6 years ago, I bought this tackle box that is pretty good size and I have been using that ever since. It’s two tiered and it holds all of my bitz that I need. And, it’s great for organizing as well, as there are several small pockets to put random things in. Anyways, as I was sifting through there, I stopped and noticed a few things that brought back some memories. Some memories that have been wonderful and that have all been made possible because I was introduced to this game over 10 years ago… That brings me to my latest “Tales From the Jungle: Humble Beginnings.”

The Fenbeast from the original Dark Shadows campaign.

So as I sat there, sifting through what seems like an endless amount of bitz… I came across a Fenbeast, which reminded me of the Dark Shadows Campaign (you gotta be somewhat Old School to know what I’m talking about here…) and the summer that we all participated in it. I picked up the model (still in the blister) and just held it, smiling… reminiscing… I remember that we all decided to have a mega battle to participate in that summer’s campaign, and decided that we would use a long table that was 24 feet in diameter, I believe we played a 16,000 point game (8 players, 2k points each). We used the weather chart that was included in the Dark Shadows campaign book and threw in a couple of house rules like being able to ally with other armies, and support them with troops from your army. It was a good turnout and what I remember most about that day is not so much the armies, or individual models, or even how the weather affected the game… Hell, I don’t even remember who won! But what I do remember most is the camaraderie of all of my friends on that day. I remember taking a lunch break and we all went out to eat, talked about how the battle was going, laughed about things that had happened so far, and made predictions on what was to come… And it is this memory, and countless others, that makes me happy that I play this game. I have met lifelong friends through this hobby and am thankful for the many people that I have encountered along the way. But to go even deeper, I have to think about what got me into this game, and how me and my brother wouldn’t have the experiences that we have today had we not decided to go in half on the old school game of Mordheim…

Used without permission.

I remember being a senior in high school… and one way or another my brother (HRR) had come across “Mordheim” somewhere on the internet. He did some research on it and found a store about 40 minutes away that carried it and he started talking to me about it. We were looking at what all the box came with, how much it was going to cost, and when we were going to get it. Now you gotta remember that I’m a junior in high school, which means I was working at a grocery store about 10-15 hours a week for $4.75/hour… So you can imagine the look on my face when we found out the game was somewhere in the neighborhood of $65! So after some debate / convincing, my brother and I decided to go in half on the game of Mordheim, and that he would take Marienburgers (I think that’s what they’re called) and I would take the Skaven, both of which came in the original boxed set. So we set out to go get it, drove the nearly 2 hour round trip ride, paid our $70ish, and booked it back home to try it out. I remember that we didn’t even open it up on the car ride home! We waited until we got it back on the table of our house and then we unwrapped the shrinkwrap…. I remember opening it up and finally getting to lay eyes on the plastic sprues and it was at that point that I realized how small these things were! Rob went through the rulebook and tried to make sense of it and I started pulling my portion of the figures out… (It’s amazing… but to this day I still have my original Mordheim Skaven warband!) After taking the time to put together our first miniatures of the next couple of days we tried our hand at painting… it was so tough the very first time and I wish I still had my original model to show the difference between then and now. We eventually gave up on the whole thing as we were getting ready to go off to college. We still kinda went through it every now and then and gave it a try a time or two more… but it really collected dust for about a year… and then we went to Wichita, Kansas our second semester of college. And again, Rob started looking for places that were nearby that sold Mordhem. We were anxious to try to get back into it and wanted to give it a second try since we had a little more time on our hands and the market for it was much bigger there. That’s when we found Agents of Comics game store. I will never forget walking into that store for the first time and how the owner greeted us and asked what we needed… you know, all the customer service stuff. He had some miniatures on display and we looked at them in amazement and I even asked if he knew of anybody that we could pay in order to paint our miniatures! He asked me, “Why would you want to have somebody paint them when you can paint them yourself?!?” I explained to him that we tried it before, wasn’t very good at it, and that I didn’t have the patience for it. So he suggested that we come in some time, and he explained that Saturdays were the busiest times for them, and we should sit down with him and he’d help us. He also indicated that they didn’t have any Mordheim stuff, but that the more popular games there were Warhammer Fantasy and 40k. And that’s when he introduced us to the hobby of tabletop gaming. We went through all of the stuff he had there on display and he even helped us out by giving us a few bottles of paint to get started… It was because of this that we came back to his store on the following Saturday. And it was that Saturday that I met most of the people that I still game with to this day. We quickly learned the game, made several new friends, learned how to paint, acquired some “free” models to get started with, and the rest is history!

Throughout my college career I never once stopped playing Warhammer or 40K. We even learned how to play other games like Battlefleet Gothic and Blood Bowl. And the thing that I take the most from it all is the people that I have met through it. I enjoy playing the game so much and being able to use my knowledge of tactics and maneuverability to try to get a decisive victory but it is the friends that I have made that keep me interested in it. After college, I get my first “real job” and still continued to play and have been playing ever since, ranging from cities like Dallas to Seattle and now in Washington D.C. However, the group of guys that are my original gaming group will always hold a special place in my heart… and when I go back to visit (which is a few times a year) I make sure to always bring my stuff with me because I know I’ll be able to get a game in. I’m thankful for being introduced to the game and the hobby in general and I’m thankful that I have maintained it through the course of over 10 years now. So as I sat there last night and came across that Fenbeast and my original Skaven warband… and even the old school Blood Bowl Dwarf Deathroller… it reminded me of how lucky I am to have walked into Agents of Comics that day and had the owner show so much interest in helping us out. It is because of his hospitality and introducing us to the guys I game with today that I am still engaged to the hobby, my friends, and why I sit here typing this blog right now…

So what are your beginnings? Maybe a cousin / friend introduced you to it. Maybe you just walked into a gaming store by chance one day and it caught your eye. There’s always a story. Let’s hear it! Thanks for reading.


6 thoughts on “Tales from the Jungle: “Humble Beginnings.”

  1. My beginnings… Was a big Lord of the Rings fan. When the movies were coming out, I joined the LotR Fan Club, so got a magazine for that. In the magazine, they had ads for their LotR CCG and it looked cool, so I got into that. I found a shop (Blue Horse Trading) in Wichita where they had tournaments and leagues for the card game. While I was in the store, I noticed the Warhammer box sets, and was interested by the models and art, but deterred by the price, being in college at the time. After the card game fizzled out, I got into the LotR miniatures. I collected them for a while, but never really found anybody to play against. I was lured to a podcast (World’s End Radio) by talk about LotR miniatures, but they also covered the other GW games. Listening to them talking about Warhammer on an episode really interested me, and I started listening to other Warhammer podcasts and eventually I decided to buy my first Warhammer army.

  2. I got into the hobby through the ‘gateway drug’ of Heroquest. I noticed that it was part branded with Games Workshop, and that there was one in my home town. I remember dragging my Dad in there and being awed by all the sweaty, bearded rocker-men listening to death metal and playing with toy soldiers… and the rest is history. Indeed, without this part of my life I never would have met some of my closest friends.

  3. Grry, those were the good old days! Man, we had some good times at the old shop. I still enjoy talking about all of those times with the group. This hobby promotes an unbelievable amount of camaraderie and I’m thankful that I started playing.


  4. @Argentbadger: Oh man! I forgot… we actually used to play Heroquest with a buddy of mine growing up! Then it eventually rolled into Mordheim! Man, that brings back some memories! That’s cool that you got into the hobby.

    And it seems like most people find some of their best friends playing. Quite an awesome concept…

  5. Well, Ro, being as I was the one who owned and was running Agents of COMICS at the time that you started in Wichita, I have to say that you and your brother Rob were an instrumental driving force for gaming in my shop. Thank you for all those memories !!
    Outside of all the marketing and business “customer service stuff” that one has to do to keep a small business afloat, I really liked the guys that would hang out in my shop. I wanted them around more and I knew that they wanted an outlet for creativity, comradere and competition.
    My original start was painting figs for playing D&D when I was about 9 years old but my complete start in Tabletop gaming came much later.
    On a “new comic day” (wednesday) I told a couple of the guys, that I knew were ‘joneing’ for something different, that I was going to demo a game on Saturday and that they should drop by. It, actually, was a do-or-die moment for the shop. I had three expensive Necromuda games on the shelf so I opened one on Wednesday night and read the rule book and put the models together. I had no clue as to what I was doing.
    Anyway, intelligence and arrogance pushed me through understanding a complex game from a book. I worked on the figs during the day in the shop and more guys asked and were invited to my demo. I started to get a little overwhelmed with getting all the rules right and from memory. I had never gone to a game demo, let alone, RAN one!
    I guess that I did okay. I never let the action lag. I never got bogged down in the rules. The point was to have fun and we did. Oh, yeah, don’t forget, I ran the register and answered comic book questions at the same time.
    By the end of the morning, I had sold all of the Necromunda boxes and had orders for more. During the next week, guys would come in and ask rules questions and painting questions and, again, my intelligence and arrogance pulled me through. We were on the road to being a game shop, as well as, a comic shop.
    I, personally, was on the road to a level of creativity that runs my whole life, now. Converting and sculpting on minis gave way to sculpting in high fire stoneware clay and the techniques that I learned and developed in painting figs help me paint my artwork. Now, I travel the country and make a living off of selling my sculptures

    • Sounds like a good story, Fek. Thanks for checking out the blog and responding to this post. I’m often reminded of how things might have been had we never walked in the store that day. It’s cool that we can look back on it now and reminisce. And, I’m glad that you got out of it all so that you could pursue what you really love to do, being an artist. Congrats! BTW, the masks made it across the country (again!) to here in DC and they are now hung up and on the wall… Still, they get all kinds of comments. You better have ’em ready when i come to town next week!

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