Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Origins 2013 Recap, Part II

On Friday, we got up early again, went out for breakfast, and headed into the con.  All of us headed into the Dealer's Room and I headed to the Mayfair Games booth - they were giving out some pretty cool cloisonne pins:

(It was two pins per attendee, but I whined until my friends gave me their doubles).  Soon after, my wife & her friend got sucked in to a demo of Cheap Shot at the Gut Bustin' Games booth - I think my wife has bought a game from them every year at Origins.  Their games are extremely silly and light, but lots of fun - the best way to describe Cheap Shot is "Rummy with 'yo' mama' jokes".

Next, I headed to the Catalyst Game Labs booth and made my first big purchase, a copy of Levithans:

Leviathans is a fleet-combat miniatures games with a steampunk theme - basically flying battleships.  I first played Levithans at GenCon several years ago when it was still in development and was just paper cutouts - I tried to buy it the next year, but the shipping container didn't make it from overseas in time for the show.  This year I grabbed a copy, and it looks beautiful - it rivals the Fantasy Flight "coffin-box" games for quality. I'm looking forward to doing a complete write-up on this one in the future.

Next, I headed to the Z-Man Games booth and grabbed a copy of Pandemic: On The Brink:

I tried to buy this last year, but all the Pandemic stuff was out of stock due to a new version being printed.  The parts in this expansion are really cool (little petri dishes with "disease" labels).  I need to dig out my copy of the base game, because you need to affix a sticker to the original board for the expansion.

Next, I went by the Rio Grande booth and bought the copy of Dominion: Alchemy shown above - I really like Dominion, and have been meaning to start pickup up all the expansions, but so far Seaside is the only one I have - Alchemy was on sale for crazy cheap, so I decided to grab it.

We took our purchases to the car and headed to The North Market for lunch, where we ran into a big group of friends.  While we were eating, I saw the man himself, Kevin Sorbo heading in for a bite.  He's shorter than I expected.

After lunch we headed back to the Board Room to play some games.  We started out with Ticket to Ride: Europe:

I love the original Ticket to Ride, and I'm pretty good at it (thanks to obsessively playing the phone app version of it), but I didn't like the Europe variant that much - I didn't grasp the "passenger" mechanic until pretty late in the game (by then it was too late to do me much good), and it's surprisingly hard to plan your routes when you're completely unfamiliar with the cities - you have to spend five minutes at the beginning of every turn making sure you know where you're going.  I'm sure it would get easier with more plays, but I'll stick with the original for now.

Next, we played a few rounds of Zombie Fluxx:

My wife with an impressive collection of creepers by round 3

The Fluxx games are a favorite of ours, and our friends caught on quick.

After my wife kept insisting we play Clue (which frankly isn't that good, and I don't come to gaming conventions to play games that you can buy at any K-Mart) we talked her into trying Kill Doctor Lucky, which we thought would scratch the same itch, but be a bit more challenging/enjoyable:

...luckily, we were right - we wound up playing two games, and added the ...and His Little Dog, Too! expansion the second time:

My wife did nothing to prevent this little wooden terrier's terrible demise

Funderhammer was the runaway winner of the Doctor Lucky games, and his celebratory antics might have seemed a bit... strange, to some people:

You feelin' okay, bud?  You sound a little hoarse...

After this we tried to play Carcassone, but the CABS volunteer gave us a different version - this was the "City" variant that none of us were familiar with, and we tried to muddle through it, but it just wasn't working.  We decided to take a break and make another pass through the dealer room.

I stopped by the Offworld Designs booth to pick up my official con t-shirt, and decided I also needed a cool way to display the Mayfair pins I got from their booth:

I stopped by the Chessex booth to take advantage of their "cup 'o dice" deal, then Funderhammer & I headed to the Q-Workshop booth, where I picked up a really cool leather dice cup with Dwarven runes:

Funderhammer's fiancee was buying him Warmachine faction dice, and my awesome wife saw them and decided to get me a set, too:

Next we headed over to the artist's area, and my wife found a print at the booth of one of our favorite artists. Mike Bocianowski.  On the way out, I stopped by the Cheapass Games booth and grabbed a game:

After dropping our purchases off at the car, we headed over to the Mongolian barbecue for dinner:

The food was great, but we were right next to the grill during the dinner rush, and couldn't hear ourselves think.

Afterwards we considered heading back in to the con, but we were all pretty tired, full, and broke, so we decided to call it a day.  Another Origins in the bag!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Origins 2013 Recap, Part I

...as I mentioned in my previous post, my wife & I spent most of the past week at Origins Game Fair.  Origins is by far one of our favorite cons - it's the first gaming convention I ever attended, and having it 10 minutes from home is massively convenient -  we can come home and sleep in our own bed every night, pack food for the day each morning, etc.


We got moving Wednesday afternoon and headed in to meet our friends at the con.  There was one problem - we couldn't get in:

Apparently there was a small fire in the basement, and the convention center was evacuated.  After standing around the main entrance for a while, word passed through the crowd that the food court was open, so we walked several blocks down High St., met up with our friend and her son, and went in to get some dinner.  After dinner, we went to a sitting area by the shops to kill time.  I haven't been able to find any of my dice since I moved last fall, but luckily there is a small comic book shop in the convention center - on their clearance table I found the cheapest dice set available - $3.50 for prison-issue gray:

Not pretty, but they would get me through the con.  Soon after, we heard they were letting people back in to the main areas of the convention center - we headed over, because our friend hadn't pre-registered, so she still had to buy badges for her & the family.  One problem: due to the fire, all the cons computer's were down.  We set up camp at a nearby coffee shop - the ten-year-old boy that was with us was getting antsy waiting around, but luckily my wife had the foresight to pack some coloring books:

This kept everyone occupied for the next hour, when our friend was finally able to get her badges.  At this point, Wednesday was pretty much a write-off - not a huge deal, since we started late to begin with.  We made plans to meet the next day and headed home.


Thursday we got a much earlier start, and my wife even made us awesome french toast with fresh strawberries from the farmers' market for breakfast:

After breakfast, we headed into the con.  My wife headed down to the Board Room to meet our friends, while I made my first trip through the dealer room to do some recon.  I made a note of my "must-visit" vendors and headed to meet them.

One of our favorite parts of Origins is the Board Room:

Run by the Columbus Area Boardgaming Society, It's a huge convention hall filled with tables.  For a $20 flat fee, you get access to their entire library of over 1,000 games.  In addition, for the past several years everyone who buys a Board Room pass gets a free game, and drinks/snacks/other goodies are routinely put out throughout the con.  The other nice thing is that if you have a large group and everyone buys a Board Room pass, you can pretty much set up a "home base" in the Board Room for most of the con - people can come & go for their scheduled events, everyone else can play games or just hang out.

After getting to the Board Room, the ladies were already involved in a game of Flowerpower, so the boy & I got out our Nintendo DS's, and played some Super Mario.  After they finished, we tried Wasabi!

This was a tile-laying game where you're trying to gather the ingredients to build sushi rolls - it was actually quite fun, and involved a good deal of strategy later in the game.  It was challenging enough to keep the adults interested, but the ten-year-old didn't have any trouble playing it either, so I'd say this has great potential if you're looking for a family-friendly game.

Next my wife came back with a copy of Those Pesky Garden Gnomes:

(My wife is a total sucker for any games with a garden gnome theme, of which there are surprisingly quite a few).  This game was okay - it's basically Pinochle with a garden gnome theme hung on it.  It was worth a play just for the laughs we got out of me scoring negative sixty-one points during one round.

I got a text from some friends and when to meet them for lunch across the street at The North Market.  After a slice of pizza, I headed back and was making another round of the Dealer's Room when I got a text to meet my group at the BattleTech Pods:

I had seen these every time I've gone to Origins, but never tried them - the boy had played them the previous year, and was eager to give it another go, so I was enlisted.  They ask you what your want your nickname to be, and it's displayed on a LED screen on the side of your pod - the boy picked the nickname "Poop" (which, I assure you, is hilarious to a fourth-grader), so of course I picked "Poop Squisher".  After several rounds of combat, Poop Squisher emerged victorious, defeating Poop 1 - 0.  The pods were pretty neat, but at six bucks a pop are kinda expensive - I guess they're worth it if you have a large group that wants to try it together, or you're a huge fan of the BattleTech universe.  They did offer a discount if you bought three plays at a time.

At this point our friends had to leave for the evening, so my wife decided to head home and pick me up later.  I grabbed a bite to eat and headed to my last event for the day, a DC-universe Mutants and Masterminds RPG.

I met up with my friends and we headed into the game, where we were told we would be moving.  In the past few years Origins has started a neat idea where randomly selected games are "upgraded", usually meaning you get to play with one of the industry folks or a celebrity guest.  We followed an Origins employee to a private dining room off of the food court, where we were seated at a table with white linens, and someone took drink orders.  We were told we would be playing with the designer of Mutants and Masterminds, Steve Kenson.

The GM had pre-gen characters rolled up - I'm actually not terribly familiar with the DC universe (I've always been more of a Marvel guy - most of my knowledge of DC comes from the Batman cartoon from the early 90's.)  We were a team of villians, and I was hoping for Clayface, but by the time it was my turn to choose the only character left that I knew was Metallo.  I won't get into the whole game scenario here, but suffice it to say that it was tons of fun - the GM was excellent and rolled with the punches, instead of trying to pigeonhole us into doing what he wanted (this can be a big problem when playing RPG's at cons, where you're dealing with a very limited time for a game).  Everyone in the group contributed a lot, was funny but kept everything moving, and Steve was a lot of fun and seemed to really enjoy the game.  (Plus, I got to knock out Superman AND Wonder Woman - Booya!)  After the game I texted my wife to come get me - I jumped in the car and headed home for the night.

Part II next!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Origins 2013!

     It's that time again - for the rest of the week, the wife & I (as well as Funderhammer & his familial unit) will be attending our hometown con, Origins Game Fair!  I'll give a complete write-up when I get back, but you can follow my Twitter feed for up-to-the-minute coverage!