6/09/2015

Origins 2015 Convention Report, Part 1

Origins 2015 Convention Report, Part 1
This year's trip to Columbus for the 2015 Origins Game Fair was fun & quite a bit tiring. I've lost count how many times the Mrs. & I have gone, but this is probably the 4th time we've gone with my gaming group and probably the 2nd time we've split a hotel room.

Normally I'm not that big of a sharer, but since I'm the only guy in my group and we're all good friends, there really isn't a downside in sharing a room. We've done this trip enough we have it down almost to a science.

We fly in on Tuesday on the earliest flight possible and back out on the following Monday. We stay at a nearby Marriott property and get a good room. Meals are usually at the North Market, but we have three specific restaurant stops during the trip and we space them out to flow around the convention surges to our advantage.

Last year we discovered there was a Blick art store just a couple blocks the "wrong way" from the Con and the coolest hole-in-the-wall toy store another block further. This has added a new daily routine to get more and more art supplies during the Con. Whoops....Jolly "borrowed" a pen, trip to the art store. Need a sign made? Art store. Decided 243 colored pencils is not enough? Art store....you get the picture.

Brewmaster Building
This year we added an extra trip to the local Kroger for supplies, mostly soda and beer, so we could save some funds on these crucial expenses. My plan was to rent a bike and make trips if needed, but my group wanted to walk. It was a bit of a hike and not so much fun lugging crap back, but we did see some cool architecture.

I'll have to say that right off the bat I was a bit disappointed in the Con. Even though Origins starts on Wednesday, they usually have the registration table open starting Tuesday night. If you want to get started right off the bat this is great. This time around though registration opened when the Con started at 7 AM on Wednesday. Ugh.

Pre-Registration at 7:37 AM on Wednesday
I got up early, armed with my list of desired games and ended up being 2nd in line at the registration table (actually a section of a series of connected booths). By 7:15 they hadn't really even started on the guy who was #1 in line. There weren't many of us in my line, but the line for the GMs and for the pre-registered folks was pretty big. This year it looked like they moved everything to a computerized system, but they hadn't bothered to adequately train the convention staff. There was a rep doing some spot-training for the registration table and I don't know what was going on with pre-registration. I could overhear that all the pre-reg folks had to do was scan a barcode from their email and the printers would print out their badge and event tickets. It looked like they had only one or two scanners and they were helping folks at the same rate as on-site registration was.

Basically if you had an early morning Wednesday game you were screwed.

When it was my turn to register they didn't have my gaming group listed, which I have to assume was more on the group than the con. I was able to get into about half of the games I wanted to, which wasn't really surprising. I got some generics and managed to be done with registration by about 7:35 AM. Doesn't sound too bad until you remember I was 2nd in line. By the time I was done the line for pre-reg went halfway to the next hall. The GM/Exhibitor line was much shorter but also much slower.

Random convention decoration
I had managed to nab tickets for one Cthulhu game, one DCC game, one game of Kobolds Ate My Baby, and two HackMaster games. Normally I get to play in one game at a convention if I'm lucky, so this was downright ambitious. I enjoyed the 1st three games but I wasn't that impressed by the DCC game. It wasn't bad or anything, but was a playtest of a DCC version of Xcrawl, which I know jack squat about. The GM told me about his "regular" DCC game the next day and said I could try to squeeze in with generics if he had room. Since I'd already tried to register for that game and couldn't I was doubtful, but evidently there were some no-shows so I got in a bonus DCC game which I found much more enjoyable.

The HackMaster games were cancelled because the GM for those games didn't come to the con. Another GM had said he'd step up, but he was already doing demos all day. It didn't bother me one bit when he cancelled those games. I've been in his shoes before and it sucks.

Overall we had a great time and it was nice to meet with friends and just enjoy ourselves. Some of the highlights of the con for me:

  • Playing my 2nd ever game of Cthulhu and 1st two games of DCC
  • Being one of the 1st DCC character-funnel deaths when I sent my half-orc guard on a suicide mission against the arena guards.
  • Being responsible for having a PC's trade good, a chicken, reborn as an Aarakocra. (DCC)
  • Making a crack that was evidently good enough to make the DCC GM have to step away for a moment to compose himself.
  • Winning my KAMB game largely through eating a fellow Kobold and successfully arguing something stupid......the Kobolds task was to retrieve a list of ingredients and the GM had inserted "blah, blah, blah" when reciting the list. We came across a human talking to a skull and since we didn't speak enough human he told us the being's words sounded like "blah, blah, blah". So I took the skull (AKA Blah, blah, blah) back as a recipe ingredient.
  • Got to playtest, well in my case watch the playtest as I inked dice & drank, of an updated version of a cool board game...which the author doesn't have rights to yet (i.e. no spoilers)
  • Being invited to a cool party where the host had Scotch that cost more than a good month's salary. I only drank some of the $200/bottle stuff.
  • Discovering boxes upon boxes of allegedly worthless convention coupon books that could be looted for a valuable in-game coupon.
  • Finding a cool magazine I think some of my interweb friends might be interested in.
Now it wasn't all fun and games. I had some issues with spilling water, first on all my new game books and second on some of the GM's stuff at my 1st game. Luckily the books weren't ruined and the GM stuff was just photocopied pages that there was extra of. Due to these two early mishaps I didn't use my new water bottle enough and I sucked at keeping myself hydrated during the con.

Notably missing this year was a vendor or two I was looking forward to seeing and I was hoping the Munchkin Bar would be back. Still, I think the convention was much better attended then it had been the last couple of years, especially on Wednesday and Thursday. With the change to the beginning of the month I wasn't expecting it to do so well.

Tomorrow I'll try to go over my Origins loot haul.