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Origins 2014

Origins Game Fair in Columbus Ohio is always a highlight of the beginning of summer.  Origins lasts for five stays, starting on Wednesday and ending Sunday.  Usually my husband and I try to spend a night or two, to really get the feel of the convention.  This year, due to various reason, like being a bridesmaid in a wedding, (Congratulations Doug & Jessica!) we were only able to spend to go on Sunday. While Origins is not the biggest convention, there is a lot to see and do.  I would not recommend only coming one day if you want to see everything!  This year the vendor hall was packed, Exhibit Hall D was full of companies demoing games and the Board Game Library, there were plenty of events to take part in.  Even for a Sunday, the place was busy.  Everyone seemed to be in great moods even after four days.  They were still excited about sharing their games and their stories. With our limited time we concentrated on the dealer hall and focused our attention on a few games and companies we really wanted to see. We first started at Iello Games.  This is always a exciting both to visit.  It is so colorful and inviting.  I usually drawn to the artwork of Iello games, but my husband caught me off guard and I thought we might be checking out “King of New York” when we headed there.  He surprised me with a game “Heroes of Normandie.”  I admit that I haven’t heard much about this game, but my husband was very interested.  We were given a quick description of the game and we able to look at the components.  Iello was only giving demos in Hall D.  It seems that a lot of companies are not doing demos in the Exhibitor Hall, only in Hall D.  I haven’t yet decided if this is a good or bad move. Even without a demo, which truthfully would have taken too much time, I was impressed with “Heroes of Normandie” and we decided to take a copy home with us.  I liked the idea that it is the “Hollywood” version of WWII.  I have many of the more serious WWII games.  I look forward to playing it. I really do feel like I have been living only within the halls of my high school and the track.  Spring is my busiest season and I have little time left over for my favorite hobby.  This year was the worst and I really felt out of the loop at Origins.  Luckily school is over for a few months and I have a wonderful husband who has kept up with everything.  I have to really think him for being on top of things and directing us to the highlight! There was a lot to see, like the giant Krosmaster from Japanime Games and the Giant Tsuro.  Plus lots of small publishers, game stores, and dice companies.  Of course we made our annual stop of Chessex to pick up our favorite game upgrade: dice. Another company I really admire is Academy Games and we soon made our way to their booth.  Last year we were able to talk to the Eickert family and learn about their dedication to their company, their games, and the hobby.  I was very impressed with with 1775: Rebellion last year and wanted to check out Freedom: The Underground Railroad.  Others must have been impressed with 1775 as well because it won Best Historical Board Game and  Fan Favorite in this years Origins Awards. Freedom is a cooperative game where players are conductors on the Underground Railroad trying to help slaves escape from Southern Plantations.  We did play a few rounds of the game and I was able to talk to Academy’s plans to partner with a textbook company to use Freedom as part of the curriculum.  As a history teacher, this little tidbit got me very excited.  I do not currently teach American History but see the value of using 1775, 1812, and Freedom in the classroom.  I’ll be looking for more information on this in the future and we start looking at new American history textbooks in the next few years I’ll keep this in mind. Sharing the both with Academy Games was Mercury Games.  I didn’t know much about it but “The Capitals” caught my eye.  I love tile-laying games and city building games and the artwork and this game really intrigued me.  It is beautiful and I really like the idea of moving through time to build up your city.  It does remind me of Suburbia, but there seems to be enough different about it that it can find a home in our collection.  So “The Capitals” became our typical unplanned Origins purchase of 2014. While it seems historical games seem to be the main theme of Origins so we stopped by at a new publisher at Origins Lost Battalion Games.  Their game Sergeants Miniatures is one of those serious war games I enjoy.  We talked briefly with Deb Billings about her experience at Origins so far and she was very pleased with her experience and people seemed to be getting to know about their great games.  I am really enjoyed getting to know the Billings and Lost Battalion.  Jeff took a lot of time a few years ago to teach us the game at the World Board Gaming Championships.  Since then, every time I see them they are always remember us and greet us with such warm welcomes.  This is another company that really cares about the quality of their games.  I hope they continue to do well and grow as people discover this great game. Last year at Origins, I was able to preview Star Realms from another new exhibitor at Origins White Wizard Games.  I was really impressed with this deck builder and wasn’t surprised it had a successful Kickstarter.  What I have been surprised by was how much it has exceeded my expectations.  The price point and theme are really big selling points.  The amazing game play is another.  I love the faction interactions in this game and really look forward to trying to finished version.  I see a bright future for Star Realms and encourage lots of people to check out this great little deck builder. Tired from all the serious games we encountered at this years convention we ended our Origins trip with the “Fantasy sport of Total Domination” Kaosball.  This game is just plain fun.  We played a few rounds with the very nice representative from Cool Mini or Not.  I neglected to get his name, but he was so nice and very helpful in answering all our questions at the tail end of Origins.  The game is beautiful and really makes me wish I could paint minis and the game play is pure silly fun.  One of the advantages of going to is being able to pick up newer games, their expansions and promos you may have a hard time finding elsewhere.  The Malltown Zombies were a Kickstarter and convention exclusive only team and it was free with purchase of Kaosball.  I’m not a zombie fan, but have friends who are so it was a great addition to our collection.  So Kaosball is another game I look forward to learning and playing. It was certainly an abbreviated view of Origins this year, and I wish we had more time to stay. But we made the most of our time and got to talk to a lot of great people.  As has come to be a theme of Origins, the people in this hobby amaze me.  The publishers, the designers, the podcasters, and the players really make this hobby great.  If you have never gone, make your way to Columbus next year and spend some time in this great atmosphere.   If you have already been, continue to visit and support this great convention.  I already can’t wait till next year.   Picture Credits(from : yann uhart, Brian Mayer, Kevin Nesbitt, Art DeFilippo, Henry Allen, W. Eric Martin

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