Jay’s Boardgaming Journey: Chapter 2 – The Brock Factor

For Chapter 1, click HERE.

Where we left off, I had just started college, but found that the school’s gaming group, which I joined so that I could play role-playing games, only played these games when I was unavailable. However, I noticed that they were all playing Magic: The Gathering. It was an intriguing game to watch, and the way they carried on and trash-talked in the basement of the Student Center, it looked like a lot of fun. I bought a couple decks and tried to teach myself and my girlfriend how to play.

If you’ve played Magic, you know that a 5-color deck is not really viable. I did not know that, so my girlfriend and I could not figure out what the big deal was. The game was OK, but too random. I knew I had to be doing something wrong, so I made a decision: I would fight my social anxiety and talk to Brock.

Brock was a guy in my Honors English class. He was also the guy I saw playing Magic most often, and the guy who seemed to win the most often. I went to him and asked if he could teach me what I was doing wrong. He pointed out the obvious problem that the starter decks sucked, and then he actually gave me some cards to flesh out a 2-color deck. I was taken aback: he was actually giving me cards?

I wonder if any of these are worth anything…

This was my first experience with how great the gaming community could be. He taught me to play Magic, and while I never got good, I had fun, and I met the rest of the gaming group. And, because I didn’t drive, so I was stuck at school between classes until my dad could pick me up, I played a lot of Magic.

From there, it was a natural progression to playing other games. This was in 1995, so gaming wasn’t what it is today; The Settlers of Catan wouldn’t have an English edition for another year, and it would be over a decade before the deckbuilding craze would start. But we had games. And that’s when I was introduced to The Brock Factor.

The Brock Factor was something I’d witnessed in Magic. No matter how silly his deck’s theme, no matter how he handicapped himself, Brock won games. He wasn’t cheating as far as I could tell, and he wasn’t necessarily outsmarting his opponents; he just won. A lot.

We played Axis & Allies, with Brock playing Germany and taking the United States in the 3rd round through a series of questionable tactics and lucky die rolls.

A historical reenactment.

We played Battletech, which was a game I’d fiddled with in high school but never really got to play a real game of. In one game, my Warhammer got its leg blown off, so I left for class and let Brock take control of my mech. When I came back an hour later, Brock had destroyed two other mechs from the Warhammer’s prone, damaged state. It was ridiculous.

I was instantly hooked on these games. The most complicated board games I had played before college were HeroQuest and Risk. These games were like those, but on steroids.

I remember that we played Mutant Chronicles: Siege of the Citadel, and I immediately went out to buy my own copy so I could recreate the fun at home. I also managed to get a copy of Axis & Allies, and a few of the other games that I had only just heard of. I was ready to live the life of a board game hobbyist.

Pew! Pew! Pew!

Unfortunately, my girlfriend at the time was not as interested in these games, and so they would sit on my shelf at home. And a few years later, I transferred to a local satellite campus of a different school (partially because the gaming group was too much of a distraction and I was missing classes to play games!), and lost touch with the gaming group.

And so, the games would get put away in the closet, and my boardgaming hobby would come to a sudden end. Fortunately, my gaming hiatus would only last a decade.

Who introduced you to boardgaming? Let us know in the comments, or find us all over the internet!

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