Columbus bound, bags of games to sell at the virtual flea market, more camera equipment than needed packed and ready, and a media badge waiting for me. Let’s ride.
Twelve hours on the road, give or take. Seeing new landscapes and cities I’ve never seen before. Passing by the Florence, KY “Florence Y’all” water tower and hearing about the history from Dan, who grew up in that town. Daylight lasts longer than down in Florida; close to 10pm before full darkness. A welcome humidity drop from the subtropics. Arriving at the Air BNB, a block from the convention center, unloading our belongings, and going for a walk down High Rd. Getting drawn in to the alluring smells of Late Night Slice, then grabbing a scoop from Jeni’s: Texas Sheet Cake and Caramel Pecan Sticky Bun for me, sorbet for Dan.
The difference between the only other con I’d attended before this one, Dice Tower Con (in Orlando), was immediately evident: DTC had many tables of people gaming right away, as soon as you got your badge in the morning. Origins had a few tables of people gaming in the lobby, till the doors to the hall opened at noon. Origins is definitely a con that has more for everyone — LARPing, film festival, RPGs, CCGs, cosplay — whereas DTC was almost exclusively about board gaming.
The best thing about any con I’ve attended is meeting great people and then gaming with them; Origins was no exception to this: Dan and I introduced ourselves to a number of folks and then introduced those folks to some of our favorites — Skull King, High Society, Terra Mystica, and more. We got to play the revised version of Skull King (a top 5 game for me) that has the new white whale card, which is just upgraded chaos from the Legendary expansion, where the kraken lives.
With our super special Media passes, we were able to attend a Media badge hangout on the first night. I got to meet Alison and Daniel, from Play the Game, and Chris Goodlet, from The Charity Board Gamer, in person after knowing them online for some time. Alison was a special guest on one of our Victory Point Lab episodes (featuring Viscounts of the West Kingdom). Got to meet a few other folks creating content for different spaces, such as writing D&D scenarios, 3D printing, and more. This was also the evening where I was introduced to one of my favorite games of the con — Scout. Theme, font, colors, and imagery … no comment. Gameplay: 100%. Loved it and looking to get my hands on a copy. It’s a card game that is a twist on some classics, like Gin Rummy.
The exhibition hall was so packed with vendors that I would forget which aisles I had been down and which I hadn’t yet. I’d round a corner and realize all the booths looked new-to-me and find some new stuff to look at. One game that caught my eye before the con was Boop, and it was the first game we got a demo for when the exhibition hall opened on the second day. Cute cat tokens and a great name will hook me. It’s a simple, abstract, and, as with any good abstract, it teaches in under a minute but is solid on strategy.
We passed Foundations of Rome, a giant version of Galaxy Trucker (one of my favorites), oversized Kabuto Sumo, an array of adorable plushies (I picked up a dumpling for my kid), old war games, new hotness, and everything in between. I spent a few minutes catching up with Andrew Smith from Gold Seal Games. Our first interaction was at my first Dice Tower Con in 2017 when we wound up rooming in the same house (through Air BNB) and I offered him a ride to the con. Sharing the same booth with Andrew was 25th Century Games; among other games for sale, they were selling Green Team Wins and Gartenbau. Green Team, I was told, was Andrew’s “favorite party game.” As a lover of party games, and always wanting to have a few waiting in the wings, I picked up a copy. I slept on Gartenbau, which was a mistake, because when I was ready to grab one the next day, all copies had been sold out. Gartenbau features rondel-based gameplay where you are planting seeds and growing flowers. Plays in under an hour and the table presence is undeniable. Just gorgeous.
A big advantage to having this con in the heart of Columbus is the food. The North Market, located just a block or so from the convention center, has just about every type of cuisine you could ask for — vegan soul food, Nepalese, Tibetan, Moroccan, Polish, Italian, Thai, Greek, African, the list goes on. Throw in a flower shop, an olive oil stand, and various other stalls, and you have a smorgasboard at your selection.
One place that I knew I wanted to visit was a little further away from the con. Dan and I took a break from gaming to walk the 3 mile round trip to get some Ethiopian food from The Nile Vegan. Well worth the walk. We were loaded up on berbere spices, lentils, split peas, and injera. So ridiculously satisfying.
Still making my way through the deck of Sneaky Cards, by Gamewright Games, I left one on the foot of the Arnie statue.
Games Played (*new to me)
I could feel my voice needed a break from all the teaching I was doing during the con. Teaching games is one of my favorite things, but it started to crack a few times through the longer teaches, like Terra Mystica.
This was my first time playing in real life, having only played on Board Game Arena previously.
Another first for playing in person vs online. Much slower and a bit less addictive than when the computer moves all pieces for you on BGA.
Fantastic sophomore effort by Elizabeth Hargrave. This one had been on my shelf for over a year, but I got to learn the library copy.
It was a great trip and I was sad when our four days of gaming were over. I always anticipate playing more games than I wind up playing, which leaves me reeling for more. Guess I’ll just have to get to another con soon. And just like that, we headed back to the dreaded humidity of June in Florida. Thanks to everyone who made the con run smoothly and for all the great folks showing up to partake in similar interests!