Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Origins 2011, Part I

     Last week the wife & I were on vacation for one of our favorite annual events, Origins Game Fair!

For those of you unfamiliar with Origins, it is one of the largest gaming conventions in the country (~14,000 attendees), and is second in the Midwest only to GenCon.  I have been attending Origins for about ten years now - my wife first attended Origins with me several years ago (for only one day, and with great trepidation) and was instantly hooked.  Ever since then, we both take off work and make it one of our "mini vacations" for the year.

Although I would usually go in on the first night of the con to pick up our badges and play a few games, I actually skipped Wednesday this year, since I was recovering from a long week at work and none of my friends appeared to be going in that day.


Thursday my Origins trip began in earnest!  I didn't have an event scheduled until the afternoon, but I headed in around noon just to check stuff out and see what was going on.  The registration desk was incredibly smooth this year, and I had my badge & swag bag in no time.  Unfortunately, the swag bag was disappointing this year - the usual cool d6 from Crystal Caste,  but besides that just some flyers and a couple of keychains.  This was especially disappointing because the swag bag last year was amazing, with an Axis & Allies miniatures starter box, map pack, a dice bag from Mayfair, and lots of other stuff.  Oh well.  I headed to the food court to grab some lunch while I waited for my wife to arrive.

 "Yaaar matey!  I be needin' your finest Chicken 'n Eggs for my crew!"

After a bit, my wife sent me text that she arrived and I headed to Board Room:

The Board Room was a cool option that we tried for the first time this year: For $20, you received a "ribbon" you attached to your badge:

This allowed you unlimited access to the Board Room.  The Board Room was run by the Columbus Area Boardgaming Society, who hauls their entire library of 1000+ games to the con - you can go up to desk, check out a game, and play it for as long as your like!  When I got to the Board Room, I found my wife & lars4life's girlfriend playing Oh Gnome You Don't! from Gut Bustin' Games:

I didn't really stick around long enough to get the details, but they both seemed to really enjoy it.  At 4PM I left to go to my first event, Making Faces! taught by Don Goddard.

This was a sculpting class, specifically focusing on faces.  There was only me and one other attendee, so we got lots of individual attention, which was really helpful.  Don also introduced me to ProCreate Putty, which was a lot easier to sculpt with from scratch than Green Stuff, which I've heard (pretty accurately) referred to as "like trying to sculpt with earwax".   Overall, I was tremendously impressed that I was able to get something vaguely face-shaped:

After the class, my wife texted me that they were giving away free games in the Board Room, so I hurried back - everyone who had a ribbon for the Board Room was given a free game!  My wife got a copy of Loch Ness, and I got the Narrow Gauge expansion for Chicago Express.  Unfortunately I don't own Chicago Express, but I've never been one to turn down a free game!  The wife & friends were playing another game from Gut Bustin' Games, Trailer Park Wars:

We had actually played this at Origins last year - you operate a trailer park, with various wacky tenants that affect the game play in different ways.  The score is kept with pink plastic lawn flamingos - whoever finishes with the most wins.  After hanging out with them for a bit, I headed to my next event, Painting The 28mm Miniature Face with Heather Blush.  I got some good info in this class, mostly about what I haven't been doing (darklining my minis before painting) and what I've been doing wrong (painting eyes with pure white, etc).  I definitely learned some tricks that I'll be incorporating into my future painting.

After that class the wife & I were starving & pretty wiped out, so we headed home and stopped for some dinner on the way:

Note to self: sliders are always a bad idea.  'Nuff said.


Friday I headed in early and met some friends for lunch at the North Market:

Image shamelessly stolen from Trehops's Blog

The North Market is an awesome resource for Origin's attendees - less than a block from the Convention Center, it's part farmer's market, part gigantic food court, and has any kind of food you could possibly want.  I tried a place that was new since the last time I had been there, Hubert's Polish Kitchen:

Kielbasa w/ sauerkraut & pierogi

Lunch was awesome, and then I headed back and made my first lap in the dealer's room.  I headed to the booth for The Game Room,  since apparently he didn't get enough of my money at Adepticon.  I noticed that the Bitz Cannibal Tribe was out in full force:

After negotiating my way past these dangerous types, I made my first purchase of the con, the Khador Gun Carriage:

I asked the guys at The Game Room booth if they had brought any Warmachine blisters, as I still wanted to pick up another Mortar Crew, but he said he didn't have enough room to bring them.

Continuing through the dealer room, I ran across the booth for Free RPG Day, and they were handing out the leftovers from this year:

This was very cool, since I wasn't able to make it to my FLGS on the actual day this year.  Thanks guys!

Next, I stopped by the Looney Labs booth - Looney Labs is one of my favorites, but I actually own most of their stuff already (last year I decided to bite the bullet and spent most of my con money at their booth).  I picked up a copy of Seven Dragons:

This is basically a re-theming of one of their previous games, Aquarius, with all-new artwork by Larry Elmore.  I was more than a little convinced to pick it up because of this ridiculous video, featuring a Flash-animated Andrew Looney.

I wandered the dealer room for a bit more, then headed out to my next event.  I ran into lars4life on my way there and showed him the Gun Carriage, he was excited because he already bought the battle engine for his Warmachine army, and we're both eager to see how they face off against each other.

My next event was Building Terrain: Abyssal Gate with Ken McCutchen.  This was a cool project made mostly out of styrofoam - at the end we had a cool terrain piece:

I've taken a lot of terrain-building workshops at conventions, and they've really run the gamut in terms of cost and "coolness" of the terrain - I'm happy to say that this was by far one of the best.  Ken had "kits" made up for each attendee that had just enough stuff pre-cut that we were able to be mostly finished by the end of the class, but not so much that I felt like I was just gluing together someone else's project.  I pretty much just gave the piece a quick drybush & sealed it with Liquitex matte varnish when I got home, and it was done!

After grabbing a bite, the wife and I headed to our next event, the 20th Annual Smithee Awards:

The Smithee Awards are an annual awards show that celebrates the worst movies of all time.  With categories like "Most Ridiculous Premise", "Stupidest-Looking Monster", and "Cutting Butter With A Chainsaw", the Smithees are a favorite of everyone who loves movies that are so bad, they're hilarious. We had a great time, but The Smithees are a four-hour extravaganza and we were feeling pretty beat, so we headed home during the intermission.

Next time: Origins 2011, part two!

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