Well, another whirlwind trip to Columbus for one of my favorite shows of the year, Origins. The show has undergone a kind of renaissance in the past few years – no longer is the exhibit hall shrinking – in fact this year, it was noticably more crowded. The “hallways” in the dealer hall were no longer extremely spread out. Things appear to be looking up for the flagship GAMA show.
Unfortunately, I didn’t have much time to be at the show this year due to some family obligations and kid’s soccer – but as it turns out, we had a match near Columbus so I was able to sneak in for a quick look around.
The first stop was at Renegade, where I got a nice demo of Lanterns the Dice Game at the stand. I really like the dice tray they have included in the game as it puts the dice in a neat display orientation.
Next, I was drawn in by the beautiful art at Ringtail, with a comic-ish appearance to Cryptid Codex. The game itself is fairly simplistic, described by the booth worker as “Uno meets Bigfoot”. The art and the easy play make this a potential hit with the kids.
Next, a short meeting with Chad at Boardgametables. com. First, a chat about On Tour, their excellent roll and write game. In this game you use 2d10 to plot a course across the country. YOu also get a chance to name your rockband which always provokes lots of laughs.
THen, before leaving the stand, I had to pick up one of their game bags. They are in the process of launching a new version on Kickstarter, and as a result, they are having a great clearance sale on the first version. These bags are perfectly sized for 30cm square boxes (think Dominion or Ticket to Ride), and they can hold 7 or 8 of these games easily. The bags have backpack straps to help you carry everything easily. Sure, they’re not the most rugged of bags, but I generally only need to carry my games from the car to the gameroom, not across the Sierra Nevadas, so that’s not too much of an issue for me. This could turn out to be amongst the best gaming 20 bucks I’ll spend all year.
After a quick lunch break, time for my meeting at Wizkids. The art in Hako Onna is truly creepy but the gameplay sounds pretty interesting. The game, which was originally released in 2016 in Japan, is a game of horror hide-and-seek. One player plays the “Hako Onna” (the Woman in the Box), and the rest are “Visitors”, who are trying to escape from the mansion. As Visitors, you’ll try not to make noise as you search the shadowy rooms of the mansion for items to protect yourself, for information, and for a way to escape what you do not see, but know is there. But if you stumble upon the Hako Onna, you’re dead. Players who discover the Hako Onna become a Hakobito, one of her servants, and wake up with her to move throughout the house.
Also new is Palm Trees, a whimsical game where your arms become palm trees and you have to hold up cards between the fingers as the leaves.
And finally, the big release of the show for Wizkids – Dungeon of the Mad Mage – a modular dungeon crawl which has a beautiful set of pre-painted minis! This game has a number of different quests included in the box, so it should keep your group busy for multiple game sessions!
A quick stop at the BGG booth to hang with my homies. I didn’t have any rainbows or unicorns to give Steph this year, but still smiles all around
On the way to my final meeting, a quick stop at Van Ryder games where they are demoing Detective: City of Angels. While this game isn’t my style – it is set in the dark and violent world of 1940s Los Angeles, is a game of mystery, deception, and investigation for 1–5 players. Most players will step into the shoes of LAPD homicide detectives, hungry for glory and willing to do whatever it takes to successfully close a case, even if that means intimidating suspects, concealing evidence, and hiring snitches to rat on their fellow detectives. One player, however, will take on the role of The Chisel, whose only goal is to stall and misdirect the detectives at every turn using bluffing, manipulation, and (often) outright lies. I am not a fan of the semi-cooperative genre, so I’m passing on this one, but I think that James Nathan’s group will end up playing it.
And then the final meeting of my truncated stay at Origins – at the IELLO booth. Everyone is talking about Ishtar, the new game by Bruno Cathala and Evan Singh. In this game, you play the role of a gardener aiming to transform the dry desert into the Lost Hanging Gardens of Babylon. To accomplish your mission, you will have to plant flowers, which, if you place them well, can help you gather precious gems and activate actions. Whether to buy Trees (which will block the link between two Flower spots, as well as earning you points) or to purchase upgrades (such as getting two more points per Tree card at the end of the game), collecting gems will be a crucial part of the game.
The game appears to be very well received, when I walked by the CABS area, the game was constantly in play. I am looking forward to getting to try it myself, but they are already out of the game at the stand by the time I have my meeting!
IELLO is also reprinting a great Japanese game, Little Town. The new version honestly looks very similar to the original – though it actually comes with a board in this new release as opposed to a piece of paper that you unfold on the table
And finally, the selection of new games that I was able to get my hands on to try this summer… Keep your eyes on the blog here for reviews to come!
[Ed note – as of 1/3/2020, I thought it would be a good idea to update this post with review links to some of the games that we got at Origins!]
Until your next appointment
The Gaming Doctor