Wednesday, January 21, 2009

History On the Top of a Pool Table

My wife recently convinced me to start a Facebook page, and though I had till now resisted getting into the Facebook thing, I was really surprised to reconnect with an old friend of mine, Allan, from high school who reminded me of some of our early gaming experiences...

You see, there was this pool table...

As a more sane alternative to the motorcycle my brother and I really wanted, my father quickly realized that a safer alternative was required; thus a basement pool table was proffered—smart man my father. My brother and I took the bait, and played pool constantly for about a month, until music, girls, and "other things" began to monopolize our interest. My "other thing" was a budding wargame hobby and that pool table was soon commandeered and converted into a gaming table with a couple of plywood sheets.

Allan and I would regularly set up unpainted Airfix 1/72 scale Civil War figures individually and we used a Britans metal die cast 25lbr that could shoot toothpicks with decent accuracy. We used a 5 men to a shot rule and we fought to the death. Terrain was rudimentary—board stacks of hills, plastic model railroad houses and construction paper rivers. I had read a copy of Little Wars that I found in the school library so I'm sure that was the inspiration to use the "toothpick cannon". From there "The Table" became the site of many a Micro Armor game, the smoking Napoleonic fields of Europe using Scruby "N" guage (9mm) figures...and when figures we not available (or affordable on an 8 dollar a week allowance), we would cut out counters from colored construction paper and used them right alongside the painted minis. I still have a box that contains two Tolkein fantasy armies... that is, a box full of little construction paper rectangles with "ORCS" and "ENTS" written on them. WWII 1/72 Airfix worked into the lineup and eventually Minifig 15 strip figures.

The games on the pool table were supplemented by games at my other gaming friend Bob's apartment. A Viet Nam navy vet who befriended several of us students (his war stories were real eye openers!) and was an avid gamer. His table was "purpose-built" for gaming and in those days, was really top of the line. It was a 4'x4' and was surfaced with green felt and had edges to keep the figures from being brushed off. He also had built in shelves below...all in all a real "Cadillac" table for the time. I still have a pic taken in 1975 of Bob's table. (I was 19!):


Reb brigades mass for an attack!...Bob's table, circa 1975. (the minis are Minifigs strip style ACW 15mms)... and how about those stepped particle board hills...Old School indeed!

And amazingly, I realized also that I think I still have the 25lbr!...and now I'm on an "all points search" for it somewhere in my "stored stuff"...but I don't think my brother ever forgave me for taking over the pool table ;)

{...it occurs to me that it might be a cool web project to make a collection of everyone's early gaming photos...any interest?}

3 comments:

Bluebear Jeff said...

Sadly I have no photos of my early (or mid) gaming. Indeed I suspect that very few of us took any photos before the advent of the digital camera.


-- Jeff

Fitz-Badger said...

I had taken pictures of Sword and the Flame games played with Mikes Models miniatures (15mm, if I remember correctly) way back when TSATF were new rules, but I doubt I still have the photos.

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