Thursday, June 19, 2014

Origins 2014 Recap, Part II


Saturday morning I hit the convention bright & early for an RPG - a Cartoon Action Hour game featuring the characters from He-Man & The Masters of the Universe.  It became fairly obvious what table my game was at when I walked into the ballroom and saw this guy:

...and of course, since it was Saturday morning and we were playing a game based on cartoons, the GM gave out sugary cereal:

...and the game was periodically interrupted by 1980's toy commercials:

Overall, this was one of my favorite events of the con.  The GM, Bryce Whitacre of Fearlight Games, did an amazing job of giving the game just the right mix of engaging action and absurd silliness, and the Cartoon Action Hour system was a lot of fun - I would have bought the book at the convention, but apparently it's in the process of being printed right now.

I had an hour or so to kill before my next event, so I wandered over to the minatures hall to see the sights:

Hey there, handsome

Some nice looking armies in the 40KOrigins area next event was a demo of Infinity - I had seen the game on blogs and at my FLGS, and had been impressed with the models, but never actually had a chance to play it.  The setup was two small teams on a 4'x4' board:

I liked the game well enough - unfortunately the team that was teaching the game was a man short, and our GM was trying to run two tables at once, and my opponent was on the phone dealing with some minor crisis involving workers at his house several states away, so... yeah.  Not the best intro to the game.  I also (out of complete blind luck) managed to stomp my opponent pretty badly, which isn't actually a lot of fun when you're trying to learn the nuances of a new game system.  I chatted with the GM for a bit afterwards to get a little bit of a better feel for the game, and it might be nice to have a small skirmish-type game around for a quick play.  And I do love me some terrain.  (I find it funny that "line-of-sight" has inspired more rage through the various versions of 40K than probably anything else over the years, and this game seems to revel in it).

After the Infinity demo, I headed back to the Board Room to meet up with my group.  I got there right as they were setting up Ticket to Ride: Nordic Countries from Days of Wonder:

Ticket to Ride is one of my all-time favorites, and I had never played the Nordic Countries version.  The game incorporated two new mechanics - "ferries" and "tunnels".  I won't go into it here, but the short version is that I really liked the "ferries" mechanic, but hated the "tunnels".  There is also no hand limit in this version of TtR, which I liked a lot - overall this is one I'll definitely consider purchasing in the future.

After the game we decided to make a lap of the vendor hall before it closed - I stopped by the Mayfair Games booth and picked up the alternate maps & mini-expansions that I didn't own yet for Settlers of Catan:

I also browsed their clearance rack and found a copy of Horus for $7.00 that looked interesting:

After that, we headed over to the Paint 'N Take by Reaper Miniatures - this is something we do every year.  Everyone who buys a badge at the con gets a free miniature, plus use of paints & brushes - thanks Reaper!  I almost always choose a fantasy-themed model, but I'm still sick of them after building my Dwarfs army, so I picked a big stompy robot:

Not bad for 30 minutes, 4 colors, and a crappy brush

We finished right as they were shutting the hall down for the day, so we headed off in search of dinner...


Sunday I was back in bright and early for a game of X-Wing Miniatures:

I've been both excited and apprehensive to try this game - excited because I'm a Gen-X male and it's frickin' Star Wars, people! And apprehensive because it looks like it could be waaaay too easy to drop a ton of money on.  Funderhammer & I have discussed this problem in the past:

...and I did have a blast:

...and I did have to talk myself out of buying the starter box in the vendor hall - the only thing that stopped me was that I checked Amazon and it was a lot cheaper there.  I think it is feasible to keep it to a modest investment, as long as you stayed with a few small ships per side, and didn't buy the Rebel Transport or any of the ridiculous-sized ships.  I've added a basic setup to my Amazon wish list, I'm hoping maybe Santa will come through this year...

After the game I made a final lap of the vendor hall (I didn't see anything I couldn't live without), grabbed some lunch, and headed home - another Origins in the bag!  See you next year!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Origins 2014 Recap! the wife I have returned from one of our favorite cons, Origins Game Fair!  Here's the recap:


We lost a day this year due to some family coming in to town on short notice, so we got started on Thursday.  I headed in early for a Justice Society of America RPG - the GM, Doug Kern, did a fantastic job running the game, and all of his games throughout the con had a continuous story, which was a neat idea.  Unfortunately being effective in this game meant knowing a lot about the Golden Age JSA, which isn't really my strong point.  Still, it was extremely well-structured and a lot of fun.

After my game, I headed to our regular base of operations at Origins: the Board Room.  For a flat fee of $20, you can get access to the Board Room - the Columbus Area Boardgame Society brings their massive game library to the con, and you can check out games for free all week long.  It's really a killer deal, plus it gives our group a central base of operations/meeting point for the duration of the convention.  As Funderhammer's kids were in attendance Thursday, kid-friendly fare was the order of the day, so we started off with Fill The Barn:

This was a fairly easy-to-learn card-drafting game with a cute theme, but a good bit of planning & strategy came into play - I'd recommend it to someone looking for a kid-friendly board game.  I came in dead last, of course.

After Fill The Barn, Funderhammer took the kids to play the BattleTech pods, and we played an old favorite, Zombie Fluxx:

...if you've never played the Fluxx games, I highly recommend them - they're super easy to learn, easy to teach to your non-gamer friends & family, and cheap enough to pick up as an afterthought.  They all basically play the same and come in different flavors like Original, Zombie, Eco, and Monty Python.

After the game I made a lap of the dealer hall and stopped by the Z-Man Games booth - I primarily wanted to pick up some card packs I needed (which they didn't have, I had to go home and order them online), as well as a the most recent Pandemic expansion, In the Lab:

After wandering around and grabbing a bite to eat, we headed home for the night.


We headed in fairly early on Friday.  We wasted a lot of time BS'ing in the Board Room, and by the time our group started to set up for a game, I had to leave for a seminar, Intro to Marker Techniques.  In the past year or so I've been playing around with doing some sketching, and have primarily been using technical pens & Prismacolor markers, but I didn't really feel like I was using them to any great effect - I saw this class taught by Heather V. Kreiter and thought it could be just the ticket.  Heather is extremely talented, and I was blown away by what she's able to achieve using art markers - I would have sworn her work was done with brush/acrylics, or even an airbrush, if I hadn't seen her do it in person.  She also tipped me off about a great site to get markers on the cheap.

After a quick bite for lunch I headed to my next seminar, Podcasting.  There's no shortage of gaming podcasts out there, but I'd be lying if I said the thought of making my own hadn't crossed my mind - to get a better idea of what's involved, I went to a seminar hosted by Gregory A. Wilson of the Speculate! science fiction podcast.  This seminar was full of great information - everything from formats, how to interview effectively, editing, software & hardware, etc.  Podcasting, like a lot of other things, is easy to do, but hard to do well.  I don't see a podcast in the near future, but it gave me a lot to think about.

While I was in the podcasting seminar, my wife texted me - I had won a game!  See, in the past, CABS was able to give a complimentary game to everyone who bought a Board Room pass - but this was entirely dependent on donations from publishers.  This year, every time you checked a game out of the library, they would give you a raffle ticket.  A couple times a day they would draw raffle tickets, tape them to copies of a new game, and place them on the table - if you had the matching ticket, you won!  I won a copy of Tahiti from Minion Games:

When I got back to the Board Room, our group was wrapping up the first play.  Overall it got pretty good reviews - it appears to be a tile placement/farming mechanic similar to Settlers of Catan or Agricola, but simplified.  It sounds like this could be another good one to have around to induct non-gamer friends.

After Tahiti, our group played a game we had really liked from the previous year, Wasabi! from Z-Man Games:

Wasabi! is a tile-laying game, with a unique theme: you're collecting ingredients and trying to make sushi rolls.  It sounds silly, but it actually involves quite a bit of strategy and can get tense at times.  I would have bought this if it had been available in the Dealer Room, but it appears to be out of print at the moment.

Next: Part II!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Origins 2014!

     It's time for one of my favorite events, Origins Game Fair!  I'll be around all week, check my Twitter feed for pics & updates.  Back next week with a full write-up!