The Origins Game Fair was held June 3-7 in the Greater Columbus Convention Center, Columbus, Ohio. Registration this year was via bar code, emailed to those who pre-registered. The wait time in line was a lot shorter: during peak hours (Wednesday around 9am), we waited about 20-25 minutes. This was much better than in previous years.
This year was the 40th anniversary of the show. Attendance was up quite a bit from last year, from 12,902 unique badges (39,214 turnstile) in 2014 to 15,938 unique badges (43,791 turnstile) in 2015.
This year’s prices:
- Full Show Badge: Pre Reg $55, Onsite $65
- One Day Badge: Pre Reg $15, Onsite $20
- Family Day passes were only available for Sunday, June 7, for a family of up to 2 adults and 4 children (under 18): $15
Future Dates – I’m happy to report they have finally moved back into June and out of the school year (hopefully) for most schools.
- June 15 – 19, 2016
- June 14 – 18, 2017
The Board Room is run by CABS (Columbus Area Boardgaming Society). This year the Board Room Ribbon cost $20 (in addition to the price of admission). There were about 50 games donated and given away by Plaid Hat Games.
Here is the list of games that received 20 or more check outs (provided by Ken Hill, CABS):
Splendor – 83
Five Tribes – 45
Cacao – 29
Castles of Mad King Ludwig – 29
Nations: The Dice Game – 27
Elysium – 25
Roll for the Galaxy – 25
Dominion: Adventures – 24
Dominion: Base Cards – 23
Stockpile – 23
Marco Polo – 22
Dimension – 21
Abraca…What? – 20
The Dice Tower at Origins
Tom Vasel and Eric Summerer, along with others from The Dice Tower, were on hand to film demos & interviews, and even do a live show! To listen to The Dice Tower Live audio podcast version, check out episode #410.
By the way, if you have never heard of The Dice Tower, GO LISTEN! Do it NOW! Every gamer should hear at least one show (even if they then decide it isn’t for them!). You can download it from iTunes, or go to the show link and click on the show number. From that page you should find a link to the audio.
Here’s the video version. If you want to skip to the good parts (ahem, me!) go to – 22:36 then 40:33. My sister watched it then called me on Skype just to laugh at the “crickets chirping” for one of my answers. Thanks sis. My husband was in the audience – he said people couldn’t hear my answer (although it’s clear on the video because I had a mic on). In any case, it was a fun show.
Origins Award Winners 2015
The Origins awards were held Saturday, June 6. The board gaming category winners are below. Information taken from the Origins Academy website.
Best Board Game
- Sheriff of Nottingham, Arcane Wonders, designed by: Sergio Halaban, Bryan Pope, Andre Zatz
- Fan Favorite: Dead of Winter, Plaid Hat Games, designed by: Jonathon Gilmour
Best Card Game
- Splendor, Asmodee, designed by: Marc Andre
- Fan Favorite: Star Realms, White Wizard Games, designed by Robert Dougherty, Darwin Kastle
Best Children’s, Family, & Party Game
- The Hare and the Tortoise, IELLO and Purple Brain Creations, designed by: Gary Kim
- Fan Favorite: Gravwell: Escape from the 9th Dimension, Renegade Game Studios, designed by Corey Young
Best Collectible Card Game
- Magic: the Gathering Khans of Tarkir, Wizards of the Coast, designed by: Wizards of the Coast R&D
- Fan Favorite: The Spoils, Arcane Tinmen, designed by Ken Pilcher, Josh Lytle
Best Historical Board Game
- Heroes of Normandie, IELLO and Devil Pig Games, designed by: Yann and Clem
- Fan Favorite: Heroes of Normandie, IELLO and Devil Pig Games, designed by: Yann and Clem
Exhibit Hall and Gaming Hall Publishers
In the past, vendors were only allowed to sell in the Exhibit Hall. I believe this changed last year – now you can find vendors in both the Exhibit Hall and the Gaming Hall. The wall is left open between the two (with security of course) for easier access, i.e. so you don’t have to go out into the hall and walk around to the other set of doors. Hey, it’s a BIG convention center! Any convenience is appreciated. (You can see the opening in the wall, far back, in the photo below).
The following is a list of the latest releases and soon to be released games from the vendors at Origins, along with a short summary to give you an idea of what each game is about. I linked up to Board Game Geek and/or the vendor’s site whenever possible for more information.
Consider this a starting point for your next birthday or holiday list!
– Mage Wars Arena: Battlegrounds Domination – Origins pre-release. This is a 2-player expansion for Mage Wars Arena. It adds puzzle cut tiles, and a scenario game. Full release in July.
– Mage Wars Academy was being shown. It is described as a cross between Magic and Warhammer (a sort of hybrid). This version is physically smaller and more portable than Mage Wars Arena; it also plays faster (20-30 min). There is no board so you can play anywhere.
– Arcane Wonders also was showing Sheriff of Nottingham and the reprint of Mage Wars Arena Core Set.
– Thee more games were shown from the Dice Tower Essentials line:
- City of Gears (reprint) fantasy steampunk worker placement. From Scott Morris, VP Business Development: “City of Gears … has been put through a major development cycle. The game is, at its core, the same, but we’ve added several mechanisms that make for more enticing, strategic choices that really bring out the flavor of the game. We’ve also updated the artwork and set it in a new, rich, unique fantasy steampunk universe.” Planned release Q4.
- Onitama (reprint) a 2 player abstract Chess variant “sublimely teaches your brain to think like a Chess player but you don’t realize it.” Expected to release later this year with upgraded production – board, cards, and pieces.
- Royals is a streamlined version of Heads of State, with less luck. Releasing late 2015/early 2016 with new artwork.
– Just shipped (end of May), Mini Rounds, at just over 2 inches in diameter (!), are small versions of Set, Karma, Quiddler, and Five Crowns. These tiny tins of their larger counterparts play faster and are small enough for convenient travel. For example, Set has just the solid colors (but not the advanced patterns); the full sized versions of other three games usually hold up to 6 or 8 players but these are limited to 4. Mini Rounds are great to bring to restaurants to play while waiting for your food! They’re so cute, I had to have them all…
– Boss Monster 2: The Next Level – (MSRP $24.99) limited edition, comes with a set of halo cards, released at Origins. It was initially released as a Kickstarter. Currently shipping. Stand-alone or add in to the original game, Boss Monster. This version adds more cross table play and interaction through new mechanics – epic spells, basic effect, and advanced effect when certain conditions have been met. Rooms have more cross table effects as well (i.e. influence opponent’s hand).
Boss Monster was inspired by the old 8-bit video games. (Hey, I still play them!) Players are the bosses of a side-scrolling dungeon; they want to lure in heroes (but not too powerful heroes) and defeat them.
– Tiny Epic Kingdoms Heroes’ Call – this expansion requires Tiny Epic Kingdoms (second edition information available on their website). The expansion introduces new mechanisms, new heroes, and new factions to the game. It will be releasing Q1 2016; on Kickstarter June 22, 2015. Kickstarter: Base: $16, Deluxe: $24; In store MSRP $25 Base.
– Realm of Heroes – (MSRP $34.99) released late April 2015, is a fantasy strategy game with little luck. Players decide on how to upgrade their heroes (variable powers) while maintaining support for them through area control.
– Clockwork Kingdom – (MSRP $59.99) released late April 2015, is a worker placement game (no dice!). It is a game with a Steampunk theme, including robot workers, in which players may train their robots to be specialists, e.g. these specialists can gain certain bonuses. Ruins are cards that grant special powers, some are one time use, others ongoing. Players send their workers to get resources to build buildings that may grant special powers. For example, factories produce raw materials (must be built) rather than having go to the market. Resource management and planning are a big part of the game.
L4 Studios and Mr. B Games (Coproduction)
– WarQuest – (MSRP $125) release date Q1 2016. You take on the role of a warlord in the lands of Myrathia. Win by gaining most victory points through accomplishing quests (location driven on the map) or conquests (control kingdoms, eliminate other player’s troops, defeat another player’s army). At the start of the game, players receive starting money with which to hire an army. On a turn, you get 3 actions of 5 – recruit (location dependent), move/combat, take control of a region, if you control a city you can tax, may buy a power card (side board of 5 available): weapons, spells, artifacts. Each player has two quest cards and two conquest cards. Whenever a card is completed it is turned face up to show that particular objective has been accomplished. Completed quest and conquest cards are replenished. The game has 115 highly detailed miniatures (12 different sculpts), plastic coins (two denominations), a big ass board, 5 player boards, 4 card decks, 12 dice (10 specialty dice) and tokens/counters. Paul Niemeyer created the map (same artist who did Attack, Conquest, Bootleggers, Railroad Tycoon, and Age of Empires III: The Age of Discovery).
Released at Origins:
– Letter Tycoon – (MSRP $35) Players take turns trying to form words given a hand of 7 cards and a display of 3. Words earn a player stocks and money; money may be used to purchase patent letters. Patent letters give a player a special ability or money when another player uses that letter in a word.
– Circular Reasoning – (MSRP $30) This is an abstract strategy game. Be the first player to maneuver three shaped objects, each with their own movement, to the center of the board by passing through movable doorways from one level to the next.
– Twirk – (MSRP $15) This is a game of spelling quickly. Roll dice (vowels) and play cards containing combo letters or single letters, plus some special cards, to spell longer and longer words (previously played cards may be used). An eight letter word triggers the end of a round. Score the most points over several rounds (up to a point total) to win.
– Funemployed – (MSRP $29) Funemployed is a party game of real jobs and unreal qualifications. It’s a light card game. Players are given a hand of qualifications: you are applying for a job, you must convince the interviewer, which rotates from player to player over different rounds, that you are good enough. Similar to Apples to Apples.
– The Amberden Affair – (MSRP $25) This is a dinner party/clue type game. Action driven, with a traitor in the group, played over three rounds. Players, as domestic servants, earn points by completing orders (pick-up-and-deliver mechanic, bringing items to recipients) while attempting to identify the impostor who is secretly trying to poison certain targets.
– Poop in a Bag – (MSRP $25) This version is a mailable repackage, containing two decks of Poop: The Game – in a bag of course. Poop: The Game released Q1 2014.
– The Voyages of Marco Polo – (MSRP $59.99) Origins release. An interesting twist on a worker-placement, specifically dice-placement. Each round, players roll their own set of dice then they take turns placing some number of those dice in action spaces and take the associated action. Character powers and pick-up-and-delivery are part of the game.
– Cacao – (MSRP $34.99) Released May 2015. This is a tile-laying game. Each player has a personal deck of worker tiles from which a hand of three will be drawn. The board starts with two jungle tiles. There is a stack of jungle tiles off to the side with two turned face up. Each turn one tile will be played from a player’s hand, followed by a jungle tile if there is space. Depending on what the workers are next to, the player may receive goods, sell goods, or do other stuff.
– Abraca… What? – (MSRP $34.99) Released May 2015. Other players see your spell tiles, and you see theirs, but no one sees their own. The object is to be the first to earn 8 points over some number of rounds. This is done mainly by getting rid of your tiles (3 points each time). You may earn bonus points under specific conditions. To get rid of tiles, you must cast them as spells, but this only works if the spell you want to cast is in front of you. In addition, each correct spell allows you to wield a power.
– Flick ’em Up! – Origins prerelease – to be released at Gen Con. This is a flicking game with a western theme. It comes in a wooden box – the pieces are amazing. There are 10 scenarios in the game. Pretzel Games will show the expansion at Gen Con, although you won’t be able to play it yet; it’s slated for release at the Essen Spiel.
– Dark Moon – (MSRP $59.95) Prerelease Origins, full release July 22, 2015. This is a hidden traitor semi-coop game. You are a Miner on Titan, the dark Moon of Saturn. One or more people are infected; they know they are infected but don’t know who else is infected. Non-infected humans are trying to survive to the end by going on four different missions.
– La Granja – (MSRP $59.95) Prerelease Origins, full release in July 22, 2015. Players each control a farm, trying to create La Granja, the Grand Estate. They try to earn the most VP by the end of the game through careful planning. The interesting part of the game is how cards may be used in four different ways depending on which side of their player board they are placed.
And now for a little Dice Tower break… let’s see what Eric and Tom are up to.
Greater Than Games/Dice Hate Me Games
– Bottom of the 9th – (MSRP $19.95) Kickstarter just finished; release date October 2015. This is of course a two-player baseball game. It’s the bottom of the 9th, as the home team you need that last run, while the away team wants to strike out the home team. Card, dice and token game in a small box.
– Monster Truck Mayhem – (MSRP $40, Expansion $15; Kickstarters receive both for $39) Started on Kickstarter June 16, 2015. This is a real time dice rolling monster truck racing board game. Everyone is rolling at the same time, trying to get their truck around the track. This usually lasts 5 to 10 straight minutes. Throughout the (modular) track are obstacles (printed on the boards). Custom dice faces: 1,1,2,3, tire, boost (lightning bolt). Players roll 3 dice: a pair of same number means move that many spaces (all or nothing); 3 of a kind, must move all; 3 tires, spin someone else out – they have to roll 3 tires to get out. If your truck lands on a slippery spot on the board you also must roll 3 tires to get out. 3 lightening bolts gets you a boost, roll 3 dice and double largest number. Every truck has a power that helps it in the race.
– Mogul – (MSRP $34.95) Released at Origins. Revised/improved version of the old game. This is a train and stock game; players collect shares in companies and try to make them valuable.
– 20th Century Limited – (MSRP $44.95) Released at Origins. In this train game, players are rail barons building up their companies and hopefully selling them off. There are 8 regional decks, 1 though 8, each card with cities on them. They must be played in order. Players earn points based on how many of the region cards they complete. They also may sell their railways to larger companies for points (these are cards too – start with four, complete one and draw another) by connecting the cities shown on the cards. Once sold, the connections must be removed so you need to be aware of overlap with the regional cards you are working on. The designers are working on a variation with Europe.
– A new promo card for Dominion: Adventures is coming later this year.
– Race for the Galaxy: Xeno Invasion – (MSRP $24.95) This expansion is to be released later this summer. It introduces a new 3rd arc to Race for the Galaxy.
– Temporum Expansion – Expected before the end of year (Donald X. Vaccarino game).
– Elfenroads – (MSRP $69.95) This new edition will include Elfengold, Elfenland, and the new Elfensea.
– Switching Tracks – (MSRP $45) April release. Switching Tracks is a pick up and delivery train game. Players start with a short slow train and can upgrade. Before you take your turn you may turn or flip a switch to make new connections. You start with the ability to change one switch per turn (switches are tiles), but you may gain more switchmen during the game to allow you to manipulate more switches. Speed can be upgraded from 2 on up to a max of 6; you may also add more cars to your train to carry more goods. Offices (cards) in the game give you special privileges; they come with activation disks on them when you get the card so they are of limited use.
R&R is releasing a bunch of new games this year. Recently released:
– Cup-a-Cup – (MSRP $15.95) A speed game (i.e. therefore I suck at it, but fun nonetheless) where two dice are rolled and players have to quickly figure out which colored shape is missing, then grab its corresponding cup (upside down cups on the table have each of the colored shapes on them).
– Spit It Out – (MSRP $19.95) This is a party game where you must answer with the wrong, although related, answer to a set of six questions. For example, if a card asks “What is the name of the third month?” and you need to provide a wrong answer, you might say December. Just to confuse matters, you roll two dice to determine which answers must be answered correctly out of the six – e.g. it might be questions 2 and 5.
– Caffeine Rush – (MSRP $11.95) A game of battling baristas! In Caffeine Rush, players rush to grab ingredients in real time to fill orders for tips… just beware that other players may try to fill your orders and steal your tips.
– Slideways – (MSRP $15.95) Move your bar on the board or flip colors to get four in a row.
New games for Gen Con release:
– Face Chase – (MSRP $14.95) The goal of the game is to get rid of all your cards first. Race to match any facial features on your cards: hair, eyes, nose and mouth, to the quickly changing faces on the board. Find a match and drop it fast!
– Flipping Flags – (MSRP $9.95) Flipping Flags is a fun, educational, and fast-paced card game where players have to identify flags of different countries. Each player simultaneously flips up a flag card and shouts out the country if it matches another card. Whoever captures the most flag cards wins.
– Panda Head – (MSRP $11.95) A cute trick-taking family card game where points are bad.
Previews shown for Essen Spiel release:
– Rome: City of Marble – (MSRP $44.95) Euro-style tile laying game set in ancient Rome. Players are powerful Patrician families competing to be the prestigious Architect of Rome. Influence and direct the construction of an expanding metropolis through shrewd development of neighborhoods by constructing civic buildings, temples, baths, theaters, and arenas. Build more and gain Imperium. As civic buildings are constructed, influential players score points for their success. Players score extra points for building bridges, aqueducts, and fountains, plus their wealth, with bonus points awarded for Imperium.
– Mombasa – (MSRP $49.95) The goal of the game is to gain the most money – through shares (which pay off according to their value at the end of the game), gaining diamonds, clever bookkeeping, and with gold on hand at the end of the game. There is a deck building aspect to the game and a unique rotation of cards – players simultaneously reveal their cards (start with 3 but may be increased during game), then play in order. As they carry out actions, the cards used will be put in three stacks, only one of which may be recovered for use in the next turn, thus players must plan how they discard their cards.
– Star Realms: Cosmic Gambits – (MSRP $6) Origins prerelease, general release Sept 2015. The new set includes 15 cards: 13 gambits, 1 base, and 1 rules card. Must be played with the base game. May be added to the original Gambit Set or not. This set is different than the original, e.g. cards may enter play hidden. Some cards have special abilities that trigger when revealed; most cards have an additional ability when scrapping.
– Epic – (MSRP $15) releases September 2015. This is a fixed set strategy card game that plays like a trading card game. This fantasy themed game includes 120 unique cards plus 8 double-sided token cards. Epic can be played sealed, draft, or pre-constructed for up to four players out of the one box, 2 boxes for up to 8, 3 boxes gives you a complete constructed collection (limit of 3 of each card per deck).
To be continued…
That’s not a threat! Remember, this is enjoyable! Look for Origins Part 2 on Monday, June 22, 2015.
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Phew, that’s a lot of games! I only played a few of the ones you mentioned, and especially liked:
– Tiny Epic Kingdoms Heroes’ Call: surprisingly good game packed into a tiny little box, as billed!
– Roll for the Galaxy: seems like it’s eventually going to surpass Race, if only because it’s so much easier getting people to play it!
– Letter Tycoon: seems really good, except for the annoying down time. In need of a minor variant.
– 20th Century Limited: nice middle weight game.