Origins Game Fair 2015
Origins Game Fair 2015 happened, and we were there to wallow in the collective, frothing stew of plastic bits, wooden tokens and all around cardboardy goodness. It was four days of immersion into the world of tabletop gaming, and I’m glad to say we navigated the waters like true tabletop convention captains. I will try and let the pictures we took do most of the talking, but I can’t help but post a few highlights from each day we shared with nearly 16,000 other like-minded board game enthusiasts.
DAY 1: Arrival in Columbus, Ohio. We settled in at our hotel and promptly made our way to the lodging’s restaurant for a round of frozen lemonades (and one Arnold Palmer). Once fueled, we acquired our badges and proceeded to make use of them in the main hall. Many companies were still putting the final touches on their booths, but games were already being played. Highlights from the hall included playing Colt Express for the first time (spoiler… this was certainly our favorite game from Origins), watching Rodney Smith demo Codenames (Vlaada Chvatil’s new party game), and talking with Tom Vasel (patron saint of board gaming and king of the Dice Tower).
DAY 2: We spent a large portion of the morning mingling with gamers and peddling our wares. We joined the Iello League and played a number of awesome games they had on hand to demo and purchase. Welcome to the Dungeon and Pingo Pingo quickly found their way into our collection. One has you playing a game of chicken with three other players… each turn you place a monster in the dungeon until someone musters the courage (or is forced by the others) to enter the godforsaken den of creatures. Survive and you’re a hero. Die and you become fodder for the beasts. Pingo Pingo sees you racing the clock in an attempt to collect forbidden treasures from an island of feral penguins. I know what you’re thinking. Best games ever, right? We eventually made our way over to the Plaid Hat Games booth (with donuts in hand) to demo Specter Ops; their newest game of intense deception and clever hidden movement. It delivered in spades. We already had the game waiting for us at home, and after a test run, it had us chomping at the bit for another play.
DAY 3: Two words. Masters of Bloodiron. Wait… that’s three words. Never mind… the point is that this is a crazy fun and simple RPG set in the not-too-distant future where atomitonic skeletrons, laser mansers and man beasts are as common as chewing gum. If you are looking to dip your toe in the exciting waters of role play, then this is a game to consider. I won’t bore you with the details here, but be sure to listen to the podcast were we regale our audience with a thorough rundown. Thinking it would be awesome to podcast from the convention, we settled down at a table just outside the hall and unpacked our equipment. It was great. We were feeding off the energy of the crowd and the sounds of dice and cards could be heard echoing in the background. There was one problem, however. It turns out you need a license to podcast at the Con… and we were judiciously hauled away to Origins jail (a.k.a. told to move along quite curtly). No matter, because we spent the next six hours gaming with the super famous and multifaceted Alex Eding. The number of games played in said time was crazy, and I can do little more than to list them here and say you should play them all at some point. Here we go.
1. Coconuts (monkeys throwing coconuts at each other) 2. Colt Express (bandits robbing a train while on cactus juice) 3. A crazy game I can’t remember the name of where each player is trying to put colored marbles in a bowl before the other players using small wooden spoons) 4. Two Rooms and a Boom (a red bomber, a blue president and dozens of others in between) 5. Russian Roulette (as intense and exciting as it sounds) 6. Tiny Epic Kingdoms (as tiny and epic as it sounds) 7. News@11 (a mad-libs newsroom filled with as much potential as you can bring to the table).
DAY 4: Our last day at Origins. Photos were taken… cosplay happened… and we ate once more at a number of legendary establishments. Barley’s Brew Pub has been serving fantastic meals and brew to gamers for many years. Apart from the friendly services and excellent food, the speed at which the food was prepared surprised even this hungry gamer. If you are ever in the area, feel free to dine with confidence at this wonderful establishment. You may also want to check out the South Market. An old warehouse now divided into open air markets. Enter in and you will discover an astonishing amount of variety in gastronomy. Donuts, BBQ, ice cream and more can all be found under this single roof. And, like Barley’s, the service and quality will surely find you making a return visit.
Other highlights from the game room include Diamonds (a new take on trick taking), Fun Farm (grab a farm animal faster than your friend), Master Fox (a blind dexterity game of grappling for little wooden animals), Star Realms (the most simple deck building game you will ever play), Alien Labyrinth (tiles, space burritos and never-ending pie), Battle Sheep (take more pasture than your opponents) and so many more.
Like any convention, there is more to do and play than the space time continuum will allow in a four day span. Are we glad we went? Without a doubt. Do we recommend you attend? You bet your meeple we do. If going to a convention sounds like a lot of people, loud noises and stress, maybe give Origins a try. We found it to be a laid back experience that you can attend at your own pace. There are activities happening all the time for those that want to partake, but there is also open gaming happening all the time where people can sit down with a game and a small group of their closest friends in a quiet and respectful environment. There is plenty of space in the halls, and the lower volume of traffic means you actually get to talk with a lot of the designers of your favorite games. I have certainly not adequately put into words the experience, the fun and the fantastic people we met at Origins. The only thing I can say is that you have to try it out for yourself. And if you love games… my guess will be that you won’t regret it.