Gaming Convention Review

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Origins 2013 Report – Day 3: A Good Day

Friday, June 14 started bright and early for me again as I had a 9 AM game.  I was really looking forward to it because it was Fortress America, one of my favorite games.  My hope was that I would play with some experienced players and get a good game in.  That was not entirely what happened but it still was a very good game.

I am still new to all this but apparently there are several game groups that support Origins.  I get the feeling it is a voluntary thing but they get in for free for the work they do.  Like the Rogue Cthulhu group, there are several other board game groups that ran games in various sections of the main gaming area.  This room is HUGE.  You can easily fit a football field in there.  More about the convention space later.

In this room are a variety of miniature games as well as board games.  Each board game demo group is given an area and your tickets simply tell you to go to that specific area to find your game – no table numbers, just find the game.  If there are more than one sessions of the game, well, pick one I guess.

The particular group that ran my Fortress America game was Game Base 7.  There were others like the Rogue Judges and the Grand Gaming Academy.  All seemed like very nice people and were competent at their games.

Speaking of the big gaming hall, I probably should explain to any newbies what most would be most concerned about going in – the layout and how easy it is to get around.  Honestly, Origins is far easier to get around than GenCon, by a mile.  Of course, GenCon is 5 times as big (at least) and so it would be inevitable that the bigger con would be more complex.  But even for the size of this con, it’s incredibly easy to get around it.

There are two basic areas of the convention space – the Hyatt hotel and the Columbus Convention Center.  Both these buildings are attached and it is almost difficult to distinguish between the two.   Walking in from our hotel that is across the street, you first discover a food court area which is, I assume, part of the Hyatt.  The Hyatt has several ball room and meeting rooms upstairs where you could easily run a small gaming con alone.  Origins uses these for the role playing game rooms.  They average between 20 tables a room to maybe 5 or 6 tables a room.  There are rooms dedicated to Pathfinder, Shadowrun, Call of Cthulhu and several others.  Like the board game room, there are certain rooms that are dedicated to a specific gaming group, like Rogue Cthulhu.

Between the Convention Center and the Hyatt is this breezeway where they place a few fan tables and little else.  There could be a lot more in this room, like more RPGs, so I am not sure why that space is not utilized better.

The Convention Center layout cannot be simpler.  It’s basically a straight hallway, with the large exhibit halls on the right and other ballrooms, break-out rooms and extra space on the left.  The exhibit halls are divided up into three main sections – the vendor hall, the board game/minis room and the collectible card games.  The other ballrooms and meeting space is used for various other things like main events (the awards ceremonies, etc), panel rooms, the kids programming room (which is HUGE in and of itself), operational rooms including a press room, and other things.  There is space set aside for large scale games like giant sized Catan or the giant sized Star Trek Attack Wing.  Specific sponsoring vendors are given special space down these halls including Arcane Wonders, makers of Mage Wars, who have a large demo area set aside.  It took me less than an hour to figure the place out and it only took that long because they place is so big. So the last thing you need to be intimidated by is the layout of this con.  There are a lot more other things you can be intimidated by.

That afternoon, I made another vendor hall run, where I bought a few things and sat down for another demo.  This one was for a game called In the City: Origins.  Duncan Davis, the game designer is a really nice guy and demo’ed his game at MACE West, one of the cons I coordinate gaming for.  I was skeptical because at first glance I thought it was yet another deck building game but as it turns out I could not have been more wrong.  Stay tuned for a review of In the City: Origins on The Gamer’s Codex soon!

I also was shown a game called Pittsburgh, a zombie card game made by an old friend of MACE and Justus Productions – Larry Wickman of Gamewick Games.  This is a new twist on perhaps an overly-done game genre that I really liked.  Once again, stay tuned for a game review for that one too.

During this time, I also took a moment to vote on the Origins Awards, which all attendees have an opportunity to do. It’s a great opportunity to see what is hot in the industry and be involved in rewarding those who you think deserve it.  I have to admit that I did not know all the games on the list, but I knew a majority.

That evening, I played another board game – A Game of Thrones. This is by far one of my more favorite games and I thoroughly enjoyed playing it.  We played with a few experienced players and a couple of newbies.  I would put myself in the middle as I have played first edition of the game but there are some slight changes in the second game that made it a new experience for me.  It was a brutal battle where the Greyjoys immediately took to attacking as did the Lannisters, but unfortunately the Greyjoys were more prepared for it.  The Lannister player (the inexperienced player) was all but destroyed but mid-game.  I was Stark and outlasted most of the new players but eventually game Greyjoy the win.

This day was by far much better than previous days.  I thoroughly enjoyed today, and it wasn’t as much of a mixed bag as the last two days.  My satisfaction meter is well in the positive now.

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