Well, as usual, I get one day to see everything there is to see at Origins —
As I walked into the convention center, I was very pleased to see that the new registration system for badges worked efficiently and quickly. My badge request came in the form of an email with a barcode on it. I printed it out, brought it to any counter, it was scanned and my badge was printed up in seconds. Easy as pie. A vast improvement over badge requisition fiascos in the past.
As I walked it, I noticed that I was trampling on a trail of stickers…
The incredible thing is – these stickers started at the door from High street and continued all the way into the main gaming hall…
I wonder how much time (and expense) it was to have someone paste about 3,000 stickers in this trail from the door to the hall?
Entering the main hall, the first stand I run across is Stronghold Games. Stephen B. was all smiles – in part because he was just able to announce that he has the EN rights to Porta Nigra, the new strategy game that will co-produced with Eggert at Essen 2015.
They also were attracting people to the booth with a giveaway of Stronghold Games coasters. You’ll have to trust me that they aren’t as blurry in person as my Smartphone would lead you to believe. At this point in the morning, I was still a little caffeine deficient, and I think I was getting the shakes.
Then, as I like to do, I headed over to the 100 aisle and then simply worked my way up and down the aisles to see as much as I could.
IELLO was in my “starting” corner, and Keith took me through the Spring releases. Lots of fun stuff – both for families as well as for more serious gaming. The first few expansions for Guardian Chronicles were on the shelves as well as their version of the hilariously fun Dungeon Fighter and expansion. However, I did not see the Big Book of Madness there on Thursday – and that’s the IELLO game I’m most interested in.
There was a neat 2p steampunk-ish themed game called Steam Torpedo which a duel between submarines
Pingo Pingo is an interesting real-time family game – reminiscent of Queen’s Escape – where you use a 15 minute soundtrack to direct play. You’re trying to collect cards – different ones depending if it’s day or night. Also, some action cards might have you scurrying across the room to touch certain other things/cards. Though it was hard to hear the soundtrack in the din of the hall, it looked like a lot of fun.
Moving on, the great guys at Crash Games were having a lot of success selling Yardmaster. I’d show it to you, but the picture didn’t turn out. Sean from Mr. B. was constantly busy demo-ing his new release, Clockwork Kingdom. He also had Posthuman at the booth – I am eagerly awaiting this one!
SET Enterprises were there with some neat little travel games – in cool little tins. Each of them are slightly pared down versions of the full game – so that they fit into the tin. I took home a copy of Karma, so I’ll be playing that one soon with the kids and reporting back here
Next up was the first of many dice tower / dice tray booths. If anything, this might be the “theme of Origins 2015” for me. There were probably 5 or 6 different high end vendors. I love the idea of having a nice dice tray, but I’m not sure I would be willing to spend $200 on it.
Academy Games were also selling some nice handcrafted dice towers from one of the local Columbus guys. If I were more of a dice-rolling kinda guy, I’d consider it. Luckily for my wallet, most of my games involve pushing cardboard chits and wooden cubes around.
Also, lucky for my wallet, I’m not a Brony. There were 2, that’s right — TWO, My Little Pony dominated booths. I didn’t realize that this was such a big thing. For the record, I did not come across a single person, man nor woman, in Brony gear during my day at the show…
Hitting the back of the exhibit hall, I found the Thames+Kosmos booth – this is a company based in New England (Providence, RI to be specific) which used to distribute just the Kosmos Science kits. However, in the past year, they have decided to move into the games market. Their current lineup includes: Dohdles, Lost Cities, Kahuna, Dimension, etc. They are planning to announce more releases this summer – and at this time, they are going to pick and choose the titles that they think will do well in the market. They will also be going through the back catalog to find some of their releases.
Insider tip – in order to sound as if you’re in the know, the “Thames” in the company title is not pronounced in the British manner. Instead, rhyme it with Flames.
After that, time for lunch. I had heard a bunch about the new Chicken restaurant over in North Market, so I went across the street to give it a look-see. The place is called Hot Chicken Takeover. It is an attempt to bring Nashville style hot (spicy) fried chicken to the North. Having spent my college years in Nashville, I’m definitely a fan of the delicacy, and I wanted to try it out.
Essentially, it’s fried chicken with spicy spices in the batter – this version tasted mostly like paprika and cayenne. You stand in line, order at the counter, and then wait for your order to be made. You better come early. They only have so much chicken each day, and they constantly update the toteboard to let you know. If I were just getting in line for lunch, and the number was under 100 – I would be worried!
Pricy though. The meal pictured above (with drink) came out to $13. Yikes. Anyways, tasty enough, and I managed to get a free Monster energy drink on the way back to the convention center. Talking to the guys in the back of the Monster pick-up truck, they didn’t get (i.e. pay for) a permit to distribute cans inside the show, so instead their guerilla marketing plan was to park across the street from the entrances and give stuff away. If you’re at the show, I’d periodically peek outside and see if the truck is there!
OK, back to the games. First stop after lunch is the Blue Orange booth – they are a smaller company out of San Fran that is bringing over some Euros – mostly French. The big game, slated for a GenCon release is New York 1901. I’m hoping to get an advance copy over the summer to write up!
Other releases were Wink and Battle Sheep – both of which will be reviewed here in the coming weeks. Blue Orange’s summer release schedule has about 6 more games on it, and I’ll hopefully have more info on this come GenCon.
Next up is more high-end accessories. The Broken Token guys were there with their laser cut custom wood inserts for boxes. Man do they look cool, but I’m not sure how I feel about paying more for a game’s insert than the game itself!
They did have two storage solutions that were close to my heart though…
A quick stop at Dice Hate Me – they were swamped with people demoing their games, and Chris K barely had time to talk (which is a great situation for him!) Brew Crafters was selling well – and in fact, this small stack in the picture below is all that remains of the current printing. It does appear that a reprint is in the works though, so there should be more in the supply chain come the end of summer.
Renegade games was a new company that I hadn’t heard of before – and they had two games that caught my eye. The first is Gravwell, a game that was a finalist for the Mensa Select award. The other new game was the beautiful Lanterns which is a set collecting game.
I then had a short chat with Hassan Lopez, the designer of Clockwork Wars – in limited release from Gryphon at the show with full release this summer. Simultaneous planning and play promise a 90 minute game without downtime. I am definitely looking forward to my chance to play this one
Next up was a meeting with the CEO of Haba USA, Lea Cuillton. She is spearheading the effort to get these great children’s games into the US Market. Similar to the story at Thames+Kosmos, Lea initially started in the furniture line at HABA, and has since decided to expand her efforts to include new games. Also similar to Thames, HABA USA plans to pick and choose from the new releases.
Two games that caught my eye were Rhino Hero, a nifty stacking game and Taxi Wildlife, a “duel” of a game where you have to correctly choose wooden bits out of the sacks. Hopefully more on these games later after I get a chance to play and review them!
Then on to Z-Man, where things were hopping like usual. The big game of the show looked to be Flick ‘Em Up – which I had reported on at the Gathering
By the time I arrived at the booth, they were nearly sold out of the entire complement for the show! This is the first game in their new line of “beer and pretzels” style games, and I think it’s a great start. THis one is dying to be set up on my ping pong table at home – and I’m sure that it’ll be there by the end of the weekend!
Marco Polo and Cacao were the other games getting lots of play at the booth. One other game which I hadn’t seen before was Sylvion, a followup game in the Onirim world. I took a copy of that home to try out as well…
The last stop of the day was at at Action Phase Games. I spoke with one of the designers of Heroes Wanted, Travis Chance. (I had played and reviewed one of his earlier games, Infamy, last year).
In Heroes Wanted, players take on the role of budding superheroes as they fight their way through one of the four scenarios (pre-printed on 2 double sided boards). Both the heroes and villians are modular leading to a nearly infinite number of possible game setups. I’m also excited about the new expansion which converts the game in to a cooperative setup instead of the competitive base game. More on this later in the summer as I have a copy to play and review in my bag!
Well, that’s about all the fun you can fit into 7 hours at Origins!
More on these games once I get a chance to play some…
Until your next appointment,
The Gaming Doctor