The best thing about war games, as opposed to war, is that nobody dies.

While on post a few weeks ago, I stopped by one of the shoppettes and noticed one of the vendors was selling an array of card games and board games, to including my favorite genre: strategy war games.

That’s nothing new for military bases. Twenty years ago, when I was a young private in the 1st Cavalry Division, there was a similar vendor at the 1st Cav mini mall on post. Fantasy-battle card game “Magic: The Gathering” was big in those days, and it wasn’t uncommon for me and other guys from my unit to walk to the shoppette to go by some card packs or see what other games the vendor had to offer.

Card games are popular in the military because they are easy to store in the barracks or bring to the field. And as hard as young soldiers work, they get a lot of down time, too, especially E-4 and below.

Well, in my day, a lot of that down time was spent playing games, especially Spades or “Magic.”

I don’t play “Magic” anymore, but I still have a fondness for games.

These days, I like to play strategy board games. Games like World War II board game “Axis and Allies” or “Commands and Colors: Ancients,” which is a series of battles between Rome and Carthage.

Whatever the title may be, a good board game can transform a boring night in the barracks into something entertaining and memorable.

I don’t live in barracks any more, but I still make it a point to get together with my game-playing friends for a game session every three or four months.

That’s what I did last weekend in Huntsville, an East Texas town about 160 miles from Fort Hood.

A friend of mine who lives there — and is also a former tanker — collects strategy board games. He owns hundreds of them.

We usually make a weekend out of it, and play various games. Last weekend, we played “Warfighter” — a tactical special forces game — “Imperial Assault,” a Star Wars role-playing type game, and “Descent: Journeys in the Dark,” an adventure game similar to “Imperial Assault.”

All are fun, and we bond over the games with good food, drink and laughs.

We had another old tanker buddy that joined us last weekend, too.

In some ways, it was kind of like getting together in the barracks and playing games on a Friday night or Saturday.

I think I’m just now realizing how much I enjoyed those days.

Contact Jacob Brooks jbrooks@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7468

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