I never understood why some people have such a high regard for Greyhawk. Did I just come to it from the wrong angle, or is it not for me?
I no longer remember when I first heard of Greyhawk, but I know I've heard it was "that world Gygax invented in the dawn of the hobby". I knew nothing of Blackmoor or Braunstein then. The first memory I have of it is of an blurb in a catalog from a mail order game store. That product was From the Ashes, and I also remember seeing The City of Skulls. As you can tell, I came to Grehawk fairly late. It didn't seem all that interesting, though. There was a crowd of settings published for 2nd ed AD&D at this time, and they all seemed more interesting than the, to me, bland looking Greyhawk.
A few years down the line, when I first encountered the nebulous subject of "old school", I bought a bunch of the old adventures from eBay and Noble Knight to run an old school campaign with the then new 3rd ed D&D. Now I read some of the short snippets of background in these modules, and it seemed less interesting than ever. I still don't see how it could make anyone care much for Greyhawk. I actually borrowed a couple of later books from a friend, after having heard of the folio and realized it was out of print. Both of these products gave me the impression that you probably had to have been there from the beginning. They referred to wars, rulers and countries, but nothing hooked me. It still seemed, bland.
I have now later been exposed to more of Greyhawk, and still feel it is very bland. It has absolutely nothing that sets it apart, except that it was Gary's campaign world. Sure, not all fantasy campaigns needs three suns and purple elves, but still. I'm beginning to think that the reason so many fans of D&D have a soft spot for Greyhawk is that when they were exposed to it, it was about the only thing out there. Also, the fact that the AD&D tournament modules were a common experience for many players made Greyhawk a common ground of the D&D experience. Greyhawk was D&D, basically.
Maybe someone will now comment and say that Greyhawk is wonderful and the Folio is the best thing that ever happened to gaming. For me it was always just "a fantasy world" and even when I tried it wouldn't come alive. Considering I already from a earlier age knew of Dragonlance from the excellent computer games from SSI, I think Greyhawk is a good example of marketing failure. Considering what happened to TSR as Gygax left I guess it was inevitable.