Part 2 in my personal history of wargaming (part 1 here).
After experiments with home-invented boardgames, it was time to go to the more serious stuff. This happened when I was about 14 or 15, and took the form of board wargames, most notable Avalon Hill games.
I still remember the first AH game I played was Afrika Korps, which remained a favourite for many years. Others from that period: Tactics II, The Russian Campaign, Fortress Europe, PanzerLeader, Sicily '43, East vs West, and of course Rise and Decline of the 3rd Reich. Especially this last game provided us with hours of enjoyment, spending weeks in the garage during the school holidays to finish it. I'm still amazed that as 15 year old teenagers, we managed to understand the rather complex AH prose, being non-native English speakers. On the other hand, we probably played the game completely wrong ;-).
From this period, I sold many games, but I still have a few left (mostly because of the memories). I also de remember we tried to come up with variant rules for many of our games, trying to "improve" them. We even started working on a game about WW3, played on a large map of the entire world.
During my senior year in high school, I visited the Tin Soldier shop in Sint-Niklaas. Before that, all our games came from the Club bookstore in Leuven (they sold games back then), or WH Smith in Brussels. The idea was to buy another historical wargame, but I came back with Time Tripper, a SF game published by SPI. This was my first SF/F game, and I was pretty much hooked from that point on. Follow-up games were War of the Ring (also by SPI, which now seems to be quite a collectible), Valley of the Four Winds, and finally, the 1st edition of Warhammer (1983), which for the first time meant we were reading miniature wargaming rules.