Saturday, 8 October 2011

It all started with Battlecars...

This article was originally a submission for the House of Paincakes, HoP Idol competition. I have no idea when or if they intend on posting it because they've scrapped the weekly challenges, plus I dropped out of the competition. It was the weekly challenge for week 3 of the competition, along with some Haiku, which can be found Here. While I've tended so far to re-post my entries here on my own blog, this challenge did get me thinking... how did all of you get into wargaming? What drove you all towards playing with toy soldiers and what was your first game like? Honestly I'm genuinely interested, let me know in the comments below.

My first gaming experience was roughly 27 years ago, and I was 5 (you do the math), and I don't really remember too much about it as a game... but I do remember an awful lot about how it made me feel! It made me feel awesome, and I don't think I've looked back since. The person who introduced me to this hobby was my dad and the game he did it with was Battlecars!!! For ages I thought it was called Dark Futures (this is what it eventually became), but I was reliably informed that it was indeed Battlecars and having seen the box art I now know that it was.

All of my memories of the game are really sketchy at best, you see my dad could be quite an intense person and was normally deep in thought and didn't really suffer fools gladly. I don't want to paint him as some ogre because he wasn't all bad, he could be lots of fun at times. However, for me the first real memory I have of actually having genuine fun with my dad was playing this game. I'd seen him painting and I knew not to feck around with his toys and paints... but they looked cool and I kept nagging him as only little kids can do, and eventually he agreed to let me 'play' the game with him.

The game I remember was played on a blue-grey grid board, with card buildings and some 3D buildings my dad had made. I was disheartened to see him get out his card tokens as opposed to his painted metal toys... but he was just teasing me! He did let me play with the real deal. I remember also that the game had these cool profile cards for your cars where you'd assign weapon systems, and that it used D8's, and that rolling dice gave me unbridled joy. The feelings I have looking back on that game were one of genuinely just loving spending a little time with my dad and how he made silly engine noises and gun sounds as we played, I may have picked up this habit myself!

I can't really tell you much more about the game from memory, although I'm sure if I looked it up on the internet I could tell you some convincing lies. Suffice to say my dad instilled in me that wargames should be fun. You can play to win and to be tactically challenged, however, in the end it's about being entertained and spending quality time with friends or family. I've taken this to heart and I try to bring the same animation and joy to the games that I intro for people. After the game had finished though my dad started me on my prime love with the hobby... painting. You see there was a new car on the board during that game primed white (black spray paint hadn't been invented in those days) and at the end of the game he told me it was mine!!! Although I think he instantly regretted it when I chose to paint it pink and yellow... oh come on I was 5. Peace out!


  1. Whilst it wasn't my entry to gaming my fondest memory was playing bloodbowl with my dad who I'm sure hated it as he didn't like my "silly toys"

    Awesome article thank you for sharing

  2. Oooh! I pretty much grew up on Battle Cars (or Combat Cars which it was inexplicably "translated" to here in Sweden)and we continued playing it for quite some time. While I haven't played it for at least ten years I could probably pick it up and start playing it pretty much perfectly without another look at the rules. They're ingrained...

    Anyway, this game certainly left its mark on me as well as I think this combined with Drakborgen (the original name for Dungeon Quest)cemented my interest in gaming and sci fi/fantasy.

    I remember us all shunning the car with the two turrets as it couldn't really take much heavy ordinance. That is until I discovered how nasty mines could be if used correctly, then everyone wanted to use it. Oh, the memories... should bring it back out one of these days!

    Also, neat that we seem to be more or less the same age. 78?

  3. @Martin, 78!!!! How old do you think I am? Pfft... oh, you mean born in 1978? Right... ahem... ignore the first bit, that was just me being dumb! I was actually born in 1979 so yep, probably very similar ages, apparently with very similar tastes in games and with shockingly similar gaming experiences. I too remember Dungeon Quest, although I didn't play it all that much because around the time we got it my dad went through what can only be described as a gaming splurge where we'd have a new boxed game every third day. lol. I have such fond memories of Battle Cars, I bet if I was to play it now I'd be soooo disappointed. lol.

    @Ishibei, Blood Bowl was another super popular game round mine. All my friends loved it, I loved it and we played multiple leagues. Happy days.

  4. Ah, that's the kind of phase I'm in now! Not that bad perhaps, but I do like new shiny toys...

    I'm really enjoying all these similarities. Guess it's the reason we seem to enjoy all the same things. :)

    I actually think the game holds up reasonably well even today, although the rules are very old school. Hmm, this gives me an idea for a retro-review. Yepp, it's decided! At the next opportunity I'll force my friends to play some Combat Cars and I'll write a review of it on Fire Broadside. Should be fun!

  5. Awesome Martin! I'll look forward to reading it when you're done. Plus yeah, all the similarities between us would go someway to explaining why it is we keep on 'bumping' into each other in hobby terms. If you're ever in the UK you'll have to drop me a message and we'll meet up. I'll do likewise if I end up in Sweden sometime.

  6. Absolutely! It would be fun comparing gaming histories. Or just have a beer. Hehe!

  7. Always up for chatting hobby and alcohol Martin!