The Middle Earth CCG by Iron Crown was out of print but I bought a lot of the cards on ebay (my first ever e-bay purchase if I recall) and got to work. Oh, and for those of you wondering for some reason monsters and wizards were okay with my parents if it was Lord of the Rings, I’m still not sure how that one works. Anyway, the game was very complex and exciting but the cards were out of print and I had no one to play with so I just played a few games with myself and lost interest. (Playing with myself will be a common theme for the next few years. Err...you know what I mean.)
Anyway, back to freshman year. With the release of the Fellowship of the Ring movie Decipher released a LoTR TCG. I was very excited for it to come out and even preordered a special collector’s edition starter set. I remember spending many nights on my computer listening to the Beatles and playing cribbage while waiting for my dial up internet to load image previews of new cards for the TCG. (Yeah I was a weird kid...) It took a good 2-3 minutes to load what was probably a 50kb JPEG so I would get very excited to see each card once it loaded, an excitement I wish I still had today. I got a few starter decks and plenty of boosters so that I could play with myself but with no community support I lost interest.
A few more bleak and gameless years passed until one fateful day I discovered a game called Mage Knight by WizKids (again now out of production, what is it with me?) It was a game very similar to Hero Clix (which I think is still around). They were pre-painted minis sold like a CCG with starters and boosters. Each mini had all its stats on the base and you would just click the base one direction when it took damage and the stats would change to indicate that. This was my first miniatures game and I fell in love. It had the strategy and collectability of a CCG, but a bit of the narrative feel of an RPG. My imagination was kicked in gear when I was playing a minis game, I would get down to each guy’s point of view and survey the battlefield planning my next move. They were pre-painted and pretty cheap, which overcame both my hurdles to miniatures gaming at a younger age. Once again, I only played with myself but I still had fun and was very entertained by my little shoebox full of plastic dudes.
By this time I was ready to graduate high school. I still had a casual interest in mage knight and the LoTR TCG and hoped that going to college I would find a suitable pool of nerds to pull from. I never told any of my friends about my geeky hobbies but I hoped that in a new environment I could test the waters and maybe feel out some people that would be interested in gaming with me. I had dreams of weekly gaming sessions and a new openness about my interests in the arcane arts of gaming. And so off I went to College and my storied history in gaming will continue next time...