Games I cut my teeth on:
Dungeons and Dragons Basic (1991 black box with red dragon on cover)
HeroQuest (Milton Bradley/Games Workshop)
Above are the three games that I hold solely responsible for introducing my young mind to table top gaming back in the early 90’s. Specifically an older cousin that had gotten into gaming during his time in the military (if you didn’t already know, gaming is HUGE in the Army) ran me through Zanzer’s Dungeon after picking up a copy of the 1991 Basic Set at Toys R’ Us during a weekend of babysitting me. Within a couple of years, a circle of like-minded friends had started up a relatively regular AD&D 2nd Edition game that lasted throughout my later years in middle-school and most of high-school.
We played most of the campaign settings associated with 2nd Edition; Forgotten Realms, Dark Sun, & Ravenloft primarily, not to mention the occasional home-brew.
While 2nd Edition wasn’t the best rpg available at the time it was familiar to me and my group and above all else very easy to come by. There were no friendly local game stores in our town (or anywhere else nearby) and the only decent bookstore (a Walden Books no less) for miles just happened to stock an impressive selection of the then current Dungeons & Dragons catalog.
I sadly sold most of my older 2nd Edition books to my FLGS not long ago; primarily to make some room on my ever-shrinking game shelf…but I did happen to snag pdf copies of most of the core rule books and several campaign settings for future reference. I’ve actually been considering revisiting our old stomping grounds of late. Perhaps resurrecting 2nd Edition under the guise of Paizo’s new Pathfinder game, or maybe even going straight old school and using the various online resources by and for grognards, such as the fantastic 2nd Edition site run over at Dragonsfoot.
HeroQuest was not as popular with our group, and we almost NEVER used miniatures in our games, primarily due to not being able to afford the expensive metal minis that were prominent at the time (lookin’ at you Ral Partha), but HeroQuest has remaind on my shelf for all these years…eventually absorbing another friends core set and several expansions. It has remained a touchstone inspiration in the quest to create the perfect dungeon delve and the components have since those early years, found their way into various other games at my table. I might also add that I didn’t make the HeroQuest/Warhammer Fantasy connection until getting back into gaming just a few years ago.
What were your “gateway” games? Did you happen to play any of the above, and if so, how do you feel about them now?