Posts Tagged ‘Board Game’

Greetings Fellow Gamers!

 

Origins Game Fair is the highlight of my con-going experience each year and this year was no different. I go to several conventions of all types, and nothing has come close to topping Origins, yet. I have more fun, feel safer, and meet more folks that are like myself at Origins. I want to tell you a little about my experience this year (2019); the good and the bad.

You can find my video about my experience, here. The video is a very brief version of this article.

Shaka, When the Walls Fell

I always find it best to get the bad stuff out of the way first. Now, this bad stuff doesn’t reflect on Origins specifically, but I wouldn’t have encountered these situations if I hadn’t been at Origins. That’s the only reason I’m including them in my overall experience.

The Hotel

The first bad thing involves the hotel we stayed at. There were things left out of our reservation that shouldn’t have been, which cost us extra money. The girl that checked us in was rude beyond belief – rolling her eyes and getting snarky about my questions. I actually lost my temper with her. Also, the elevators were either broken or terrifying to ride in. There was a lot more that went wrong, but I don’t want to drag out all the little things that don’t matter now. Tamara checked us out of our room, and she was the most pleasant lady I have ever met. She apologized for the girl that checked us in, and she should not have felt she needed to apologize for someone else’s behavior. I’ve already notified DoubleTree Suites of my grievances, but I will never stay at that location again.

The Tournament

The second and last bad experience was when I played in the Transformers TCG Invitational qualifier on Friday morning. Out of over 30 players, I was the only chick playing – not an issue for me. It becomes an issue when I’m treated differently. I tried to speak to several of the other players and was brushed off or flat out ignored. Nobody said it was because I was a chick – but the tones and attitude towards me were very different than the ones used towards the other players who were all male.

During the event, the organizers would make various announcements, which is perfectly fine. But, I have a noise sensory issue and their speaker was turned up very loud and pointed into the play area. My anxiety from being in close proximity to people that I was sure didn’t like me, paired with my sensory trouble, made me drop after my third round match. The only positive experience I had during the three rounds I played, was with Cameron and a gentleman playing in the match next to us. Thank you, to both of you, for treating me like I was fellow TF TCG player.

Cameron is a fellow content creator and does content for the Transformers TCG – HERE.

The only thing I would have done differently in this situation, is I would have approached the organizers about the speaker, and also made them aware of how I felt about the players excluding me. While they can’t force other players to be inclusive, they might have been able to adjust the speaker volume. It’s not their fault because they didn’t know about my sensory trouble.

Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra

Bad stuff aside – time for all the amazingly, wonderful good stuff! One of the reasons that I love Origins so much, is for the overall inclusiveness. You can be a person of any gender identity, fandom, gaming community, etc, and not feel left out. (That Transformers event I mentioned above is a TCG/CCG – not a board game.) I come to Origins for the board games and to play those games with fellow attendees. The tabletop/board game community is warm and welcoming. I couldn’t walk by a table in the open gaming areas without folks looking up and smiling, or waving me over to see if I wanted to play. Folks playing games in the hallways would invite strangers to help them learn a new game they’d just purchased or to play an old favorite with them. This convention is where you go to meet fellow gamers, play games, and have a good time!

I had one experience in particular with a group of Star Trek FASA players who were eager to teach me the game. Those gentlemen were very nice and entertained all the questions I had, as well as made conversation about topics outside of FASA. I also had a blast playing Star Trek Ascendancy with a group of folks that I’d never met before. It was super fun scheming with the gentleman next to me against his two buddies across the table.

I played in the Star Trek Attack Wing Nationals tournament on Saturday and I had the best competitive gaming experience I’ve ever had! I did an article and video specifically for that experience! You can find the article, HERE, and a link to the video is in the article. I can’t say enough good things about the STAW community. I feel like these folks embody everything that Star Trek represents. I didn’t feel out of place and certainly didn’t feel like folks were singling me out for any reason. I was a Star Trek Attack Wing player, just like everyone else and if felt amazing. If you’re looking for a great competitive Star Trek game with a great community, then this is where you need to be looking. If you want a single box, self contained Star Trek game that’s amazing, Gale Force Nine has you covered with Star Trek Ascendancy.

I also got to play Nemo Rising (WizKids) with the game’s designer, Andrew Parks. I’ve never played a full game with the designer of the game. It was truly like a dream come true! Ben (the Star Trek Attack Wing judge) was also playing with us and another gentleman. Mr. Parks is one of the creators and designers for STAW. I’ve been a fan of his work for years and I will never forget playing Nemo Rising!

I want to highlight several experiences with some designers and publishers.

Gale Force Nine

Find them online: HERE

I always have a great experience when I visit GF9 and I’m certain they’re tired of seeing my face! I usually hang around their booth for a few hours each day. But I can’t help it! Their games are great and I love watching folks play them! And Mr. Mullins is so nice and he’s such a great teacher as well. I always see him at Origins and my trip is not complete until I spend some time talking to him. The other staff and volunteers at GF9’s booth are all great folks! They will do what they can to help you and if they can’t, they will be sure you find the right person to talk to. They will try always try to hook you up with all the right products for your gaming needs.

I have an unboxing video up for the Star Trek: Ascendancy Borg Expansion that I picked up at Origins this year. You can find it on my YouTube: HERE.

Ares Games

Find them online: HERE

Ares is another wonderful company that’s definitely customer driven. Their volunteers and staff are knowledgeable and very helpful. Mr. Jim Long is a wonderful man who will talk to you about all aspects of gaming. Ms. Olivia Long is a charming young lady that will go above and beyond to help customers. This year there was a HUGE Battlestar Galactica game that wrapped around two sides of Ares’ booth area. It was an incredible sight to see! Actually, you can see clips of that very event in this VIDEO at about 2:25. I also obtained a copy of Master of the Galaxy, thanks to Ms. Olivia Long, and you can find the unboxing for it, HERE. I will have my component and game play review up soon, so be on the look out for it! Just like GF9, I feel like a trip to Origins is not complete until I make my way to Ares Games.

Fireside Games

Find them online: HERE

Fireside is another company that’s near and dear to my heart. The DeWitts publish and design amazing games that are engaging and fun. They’re truly awesome folks and I always enjoy stopping by their booth at Origins. They’re usually super busy, so I don’t get to sit and chat long. I demoed Here, Kitty, Kitty! this year. It’s a semi-light game that’s lots of fun! There is strategy to the game, but the game play is very easy to explain and pick up. It’s also got lots of cute little kitties in it! While I was visiting Fireside, I picked up My First Castle Panic. Mini DDK was super excited when she saw her new board game and she was able to learn the game play after a full game. I highly recommend that anyone with children around the ages of 3-5 check out this game. I love visiting Fireside at Origins because I always find something I need to buy!

You can see a review for My First Castle Panic, HERE. I even have a special guest reviewer join me – Mini DDK!

White Wizard Games

Find them online: HERE

I met lots of folks from White Wizard this year at Origins. The staff and volunteers really do go out of their way to help, if they can. In years past, it’s been impossible for me to get a demo for Star Realms because of how busy they are and my schedule in previous years. This year, they had a booth in one of the game halls, which are open on Wednesday (and they may have last year too, but I don’t remember). My friend and I were able to catch a few of the staff and volunteers early on Wednesday and they gave us a demo for Star Realms. After the demo, they showed us the product and gave us the best advice as to which products to start with. These folks would even wave when I was walking by the booth during the week, which tells me that they care enough to remember and acknowledge folks. The folks at White Wizard remind me a lot of the folks from Gale Force Nine and I look forward to seeing them again! I also look forward to playing Star Realms at Origins in the future!

Obscure Reference Games

Find them online: HERE

These folks are definitely awesome and I love stopping by the booth! When you walk up to them, they treat you like a really good friend that they haven’t seen in a year. This bunch is enthusiastic when it comes to showing off ORG products. I convinced my friends to demo Overlords of Infamy, which gave me a chance to play a little too. I love this game and will even pitch it to folks while standing there at their booth. I haven’t been able to get a copy, until this year. I’ve desperately wanted this game since Origins 2018 and now my order is in! I went with the updated version that’s not released yet. I even picked up a Waffles pin! Waffles is definitely the best Overlord!

Other Companies

A lot of the other companies, like the big-big companies, were all too busy to chat unless you scheduled an interview ahead of time. I’m a spontaneous person at conventions because scheduling is way too stressful. But those folks usually have enough coverage as it is. I want to shine a light on some of the other companies and developers that deserve just as much attention!

I featured lots of sci-fi games from the following companies in one of my Origins videos: HERE. Most of these companies make other games as well, not just sci-fi ones. Be sure to check the their pages for information about their games! You can find links in the company names below.

Fight in a Box

I met several of these folks at Origins and they were great! Processing has become a regularly played game in our group. They have several games that play fast and would make great filler games. Be sure to check those out – especially Hedgehog Hop – because it looks so cute!

Deep Water Games

This was a delightfully enthusiastic bunch of folks and rightfully so. They have a small library that consist of beautifully rendered games with interesting mechanics. Be sure to check them out.

Sentient Cow Games

This group of folks are awesome and lots of fun to talk to! Escape from Dulce looks like a blast and they have more games planned for their Secret Unknown Stuff line! I hope to get a copy of Escape from Dulce at some point. A sci-fi dungeon crawl game is exactly what I need!

25th Century Games

25th Century has a variety of games that would appeal to different folks. Space Explorers is the game that drew me in to their booth. I like games that look unique and have interesting mechanics. Be sure to check out their other games!

Weird Giraffe Games

Weird Giraffe has a few different games of various genres and mechanics. Fire in the Library seems to be getting some hype in several gaming groups, but Stellar Leap is what caught my eye. A lot of their games show they have a solo mode for one player, which is a big draw for me as well.

Czech Games Edition

Everyone has at least heard of Codenames. I love Galaxy Trucker and I saw Pulsar 2849 and had to mention it. The CGE demo area was always packed full of folks and the volunteers and staff were great!

Seajay Games

The gentleman from Seajay was very excited and enthusiastic about Galactic Era, which is a very large game that looks like an amazing game. I didn’t get a chance to sit for a demo, but the game can’t be too complicated because I saw a young group of players engaging in a demo. I look forward to checking this game out in depth whenever I can get a copy.

Keymaster Games

Keymaster wasn’t at Origins. Their games were being represented by a third party. Their games look great and the representatives were helpful and polite.

Origins Staff and Volunteers

I have never met a more dedicated and wonderful group of convention folks than the ones who make Origins possible. I had a few hiccups at registration, but it was corrected quickly and everything was super smooth afterwards. Every large convention will have hiccups somewhere and I’d rather they happen with me than someone else. If you have a question or need, these folks will go out of their way to find the answer.

If it weren’t for the folks of GAMA/Origins – we wouldn’t have such a great place to see all these games and spend time with wonderful people. I know GenCon is a thing – but people like me can’t go to GenCon. I would have a panic attack if I walked into that convention. Origins is absolutely perfect for me.

Greater Columbus Convention Center

I absolutely love this venue. I have never been to a venue that’s so accommodating or has such a great layout. There is a lot of space and because of that, there can be 20,000 people there and it not feel crowded. I think Origins has a great home here and I hope they continue to choose this venue for Origins Game Fair.

There are lots of things to love about this venue and two of my favorite things are Heroes and Games, which is my favorite place in Columbus for comics and collectibles; and the restaurant area (food court) of the convention center. The food court has a wide variety of eateries and pleasant area to sit with your friends and enjoy your meal.

The convention center also has loads of charging areas as well as comfortable seating with and without tables. We often get our lunch and then make our way to a table to play a game while we eat and relax. Then we’re back off to Origins for more exploring!

Sokath, His Eyes Opened

Sometimes, folks will let one negative thing affect an entire experience. I am not like that. Once we got checked in at the hotel, it was done and I moved on. I wasn’t angry or upset over it after we were in the room. I didn’t forget what happened – but I also didn’t dwell on it. Same for the negative tournament experience. I wasn’t dwelling on it the next morning, but because of it, I almost opted out of a different competitive event to prevent being exposed to a similar experience. Sometimes, you have to take that risk and I’m so happy that I did!

As for all the good things – there are far more positive, happy, and exciting things that happened at Origins. There are too many to list in a single article. I could talk to folks for hours about all the wonderful things at Origins. It’s such a great gaming convention that feels like it’s truly focused on gaming and the gaming community – in all the right ways! If you’ve never been, it’s more than worth it to go.

Thanks for reading!
Feel free to share your experiences!

Board out, game on!

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Greetings Fellow Board Gamers!

 

The featured game for this article and video review is a game from Fireside Games, My First Castle Panic.

My First Castle Panic on Board Game Geek – here.

* Note – This is not a ‘How to Play’ or tutorial type article. This is a review of the game components and brief review of game play.

My First Castle Panic

Fireside Games is excited to announce My First Castle Panic, a new preschool version of Castle Panic, the classic tower defense board game. Like its predecessor, My First Castle Panic is a cooperative game in which players work together to defend their castle. However, the game play has been simplified in the preschool version to allow children ages 4 and up to play independently. While Castle Panic has won many awards and is a great family game, younger players can have difficulty participating because of the reading required. My First Castle Panic removes the reading requirement and fosters the development of educational skills, such as identifying colors and shapes, problem solving, and turn taking.

The edge-of-your-seat excitement has been maintained even with the preschool-friendly rules. Monsters follow a single path toward a single, large, eye-catching castle, protected by one wall. Each step toward the castle is identified by a color and a shape. Players hold cards in their hands with cute defenders who also have a color and shape. When a card is played that matches the location of the monster, that monster is captured and thrown in the dungeon. Tension builds as more monsters are placed and move along the path toward the castle. If the castle is destroyed, the players lose. But if it stands when all the monsters are in the dungeon, the players win.

I have a toddler and this game is a wonderful way to spend time with her, while teaching her colors, shapes, and structure. She’s learning and doesn’t even know it – because it’s all fun and games!

This game is targeted at young children. If you’re looking for an in depth strategy or a more complex co-op game, look at Fireside’s library of games that are targeted at adults. They have plenty of other awesome games for teens and adults.

Rules

Fireside is great about making thorough rule books. The rules for this are super simple and very easy to remember. They need to be if a preschooler is expected to play! Once again, Fireside has done a great job of writing up the rules. It took one time to read the rules to fully understand the game. Teaching a toddler how to play will depend on the toddler. All children are different and some will pick this game up faster than others. My toddler has played a variety of board games already, so she picked up how to play this one fairly quickly.

Components and Game Play

You can find a review video on my YouTube channel that shows all of the components with a brief description and also a review of the game play.

You can follow this link directly to my video – HERE.

Summary

My First Castle Panic is very easy to learn and just as easy to play. You can even change things to suit your toddler. If the game is too easy, there are variants listed in the rules, or you can make your own! Castle Panic games tend to be easy to adjust to various play styles and skill levels, and this one is as well. If you’ve played Castle Panic, then picking up My First Castle Panic should be a piece of pie. It plays very similar, just in terms that a young child can understand.

Aside from the educational benefits of learning some shapes and colors, this game also helps teach children how to be patient, share and take turns. Everyone gets a chance to capture a monster in defense of the castle! I love that there’s an ‘asking for help’ option instead of a ‘trade cards’ like in Castle Panic. There are too many folks today that don’t know how to ask for help and this is a great way to teach your child, at an early age, that it’s okay to ask for help when you need it!

The only constructive criticism I have about this game is that they should have chosen the primary colors (red, blue, and yellow) instead of red, blue and green. My red/green colorblind friend would have issues trying to play this game and I can imagine any child with red/green colorblindness will easily get frustrated. I assume they chose those colors because the original Castle Panic uses red, blue and green. I hope that Fireside will find a way to incorporate accommodations for colorblind players in the future.

Buy or Bye?
Buy!!! (Already did – at Origins!)

I don’t have to take long to decide if I’m buying a game or not when I see Fireside’s name on the box. They make a variety of games that appeal to all types of players, and now they’ve pulled in the preschoolers!

Have strategies or tips for this game? Leave them in a comment!
Have cool accessories or custom pieces? Show them off!
Thanks for reading and be sure to like, follow, and subscribe for more gaming and Star Trek related content!

Board out and game on!

Greetings Fellow Board Gamers!

 

The featured game for this article and video review is a game from Brotherwise Games, Call to Adventure.

Call to Adventure on Board Game Geek – here.

* Note – This is not a ‘How to Play’ or tutorial type article. This is a review of the game components and brief review of game play.

Call to Adventure

Make your fate! Inspired by character-driven fantasy storytelling, Call to Adventure challenges 2-4 players to create the hero with the greatest destiny by acquiring traits, facing challenges, and overcoming adversaries.

Call to Adventure features a unique “rune rolling” system for resolving challenges, a point-based system that encourages storytelling, and over 150 unique cards. Players begin each game with an origin card that provides their backstory as well as two “starter” abilities. Each round they may either acquire trait cards from the board or face a challenge. Challenges each have two possible paths a player can choose from. For example, players who encounter the Thieves’ Guild may choose to train as a spy, or train as a killer. Each challenge has a difficulty that must be overcome by rolling successes on carved runes. The more a player has of the abilities required to overcome the challenge, the more runes they will be able to cast.

Failed challenges lead players to acquire experience points that may be spent to “push” through tougher challenges. But beware, while some negative experiences will help your hero grow, too many tragedies set them on a dark path.

As players’ heroes grow in ability and experience, they move on to harder challenges, eventually facing deadly adversaries and acquiring more and more destiny points. The player whose hero has the highest destiny score wins the game.

If you like storytelling or just like acquiring as many points as possible, you might want to check this game out!

Rules

I noticed that Brotherwise has taken note of particular things and is planning to update the rule books for future printings. That’s something I love about gaming companies – when they take note and listen to their players! My rule book is a first edition, so it’s already out of date. My judgement on the rule book is not over the updates – only the first edition version.

The rule book is simple to follow and also appears to cover everything, until you start playing. Then you’re left trying to figure out what particular things mean or how certain cards work. We had to turn to BGG forums for several things, but we eventually figured it out. Once the errata is added to the new printings, I think the books will be fine.

Components and Game Play

You can find a review video on my YouTube channel that shows all of the components with a brief description and also a review of the game play.

You can follow this link directly to my video – HERE.

Summary

This game appeals to my players that like storytelling games, but also to the ones that don’t. That’s because they can play for points and not feel pressured to tell a story at the end. We have played several times where only one or two players would tell their hero’s story, and other times where we all told stories. Playing for points over story doesn’t always guarantee you will win either. I’ve played for story many times and won or came close to winning.

Call to Adventure is loads of fun, even if you have trouble succeeding at challenges. It’s like your character is struggling to advance in their life, but at some point, the tides could turn and they make a comeback. I actually had that happen to me recently. I was still in Act I, with only one card, when the other players were in Act II already. I found my footing and completed the story with three cards under each phase of my hero’s life. I’ve also seen heroes end with only one card in the second phase of their story.

I love that the game randomness is achieved through casting runes versus rolling dice. I love rolling dice, but there times that I crave something different and unique. Not only is this game unique in its choice of random generators, but also in its game play.

Buy or Bye?
Buy!!!

This is a game that always finds its way to the table during game nights. Our group loves making stories and seeing where destiny takes their hero or villain!

Have strategies or tips for this game? Leave them in a comment!
Have cool accessories or custom pieces? Show them off!
Thanks for reading and be sure to like, follow, and subscribe for more gaming and Star Trek related content!

Board out and game on!

Greetings Fellow Board Gamers!

 

With Origins Game Fair swiftly approaching, and folks making out lists of games to demo and buy, I wanted to share my top five favorite game companies and the games I love from them. “Why only the top five? Why not the top ten?” You my ask. That’s because my top five favorite companies have been pretty consistent for the last several years. For spaces six thru ten, those fluctuate constantly based on new games and content. That’s why I’m only doing a top five, and not a top ten.

This list is not determined only by the games the companies make, but also how approachable the representatives have been with me in the past. I’m a shy and awkward person until you get me talking about something I love. Some of the companies I’ve approached in the past (at various conventions) have not been willing to try and crack that shell of mine after my initial attempts. That bumps them off my list, almost instantly, regardless of whatever hot selling game they just released. Representation may not be a big deal to some folks, but I assure you – it matters a great deal to me. It shows me that the folks representing this company actually care about their costumers and not just getting the cash from their pockets.

I also watch how the representatives interact with other folks too, not just me. If they’re willing to brush off other folks, just because my convention badge has the word ‘Blogger’ or ‘Press’ on it, then I almost don’t want to talk to them. And the opposite is true as well. I don’t like being ignored or pushed to the side because I’m there as blogger/press. Overall, public interaction as well as personal interaction weighs very heavily on how I rate gaming companies.

If they rank high on my interaction list, then I look more closely at their games as a secondary ranking method. The amount of games a company has is not a consideration for me. Even if a company only has a single game, if that game is amazing and the representatives are awesome, that makes the company deserving of a top spot for me. My play group likes a variety of different games from deck-builders, to co-ops, to party games. We’re a diverse bunch and that helps me a ton when I look at games. I will buy a game that someone else in the group has, just so we have extra copies within the gaming group. Being in such a diverse group has increased the size of my personal library exponentially.

Some of the questions I ask myself when looking at games are:

  • Will this see table time or too niche?
  • Will it be worth the dollar amount?
  • Are the pieces good quality?
  • Does it need wonky sized sleeves?
  • Does it have a decent insert or will I have to re-box it?
  • Is it worth purchasing even if I have to re-box it?
  • Is it a game we can play more than once in a day?
  • Is it unique enough or too much like this other game?
  • Is it travel friendly?

I chose not to include RPG’s in this list, because those are a whole other beast. I wanted to keep this list exclusive to board games and the companies that make them.

Fifth Spot – Obscure Reference Games

ORG Logo

Obscure Reference Games:
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I had the absolute pleasure of spending some quality time with the folks of ORG at Origins last year. They reached out to me prior to the game fair and I had forgotten about them. They bumped into me while I was trying to obtain an interview with someone else that wasn’t all that interested and, lucky for me, they recognized me as one of the blogger folks. I felt awful about forgetting about their request, but they were the nicest bunch of folks and were very accommodating too. They went out of their way to get in touch with me – that speaks volumes for their characters.

Overlords of Infamy is currently their only game. It looks like an intimidating game to learn, but it’s actually not that complicated. It has a lot of mechanics, but if you’re familiar with how those mechanics typically work, learning this game is a breeze. I learned how to play in five minutes at Origins Game Fair 2018 and was heartbroken that I didn’t have the money to buy it. They have an expansion on the way as well, so be on the lookout for it!

Fourth Spot – Ares Games

Ares Games

Ares Games:
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I unfortunately do not own any games from the Ares library, but I know folks that do and I’ve been able to play the games through them. I met several of the Ares crew at Origins Game Fair in 2018. They were all so very nice and helpful. I appreciate that the volunteers and staff would ask what I was interested in, instead of trying to sell me the entire library. I would ask what a representative’s favorite game was and they would lead me straight to a particular game. I do not like when someone says, “I just love them all and I can’t choose.”

I found that the folks at Ares were very easy to talk to as well. I was able to make jokes and cut up with them and it wasn’t all about the sales. It was very pleasant to have conversations about various topics as well as the games on the table. The volunteers and staff were very knowledgeable as well. On the rare instance that someone wasn’t sure about a question I had, they knew exactly who to ask.

Sword and Sorcery and Age of Conan are games that I enjoyed when I played them. They’re strategic games that immerse you in a world of fantasy and epic battles! Galaxy Defenders is another on my list of games that I want. But I think my favorite game of theirs is Master of the Galaxy. It’s definitely on my NEED list!

Third – First Spots

I’ve got three favorite companies that have held these positions for the last four years. You could ask me tomorrow who my favorite company was and it will be one of these three. The order of my top three changes daily, based on what I’m wanting to play or what I am playing.

Third Spot – Gamelyn Games

Gamelyn Games Logo

Gamelyn Games:
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Gamelyn holds a special place in my heart because of the Gamelyn Knight. The very first Origins Game Fair that I attended was in 2016 and it was mainly for Dice Masters. I explored the vendor hall for a bit, but didn’t purchase any games or merchandise. I went to turn in a coupon at the Gamelyn booth for a free six sided die and little did I realize that I was about to fall in love with this company. The Gamelyn Knight was in attendance and I had Mini DDK in her stroller (barely a year old at the time). Mini DDK has never been a fan of ‘costumed’ folks, but the Gamelyn Knight strolled on up and presented his hand to her. She actually reached out and took it and it was the cutest thing I’d seen at the time.

Well, after I claimed my die with the coupon, one of the Gamelyn folks offered to show me some of their games. I was reluctant to demo anything because this was my first major gaming convention and I was terrified of everything. I took a chance because I saw a space themed game called Tiny Epic Galaxies and when I looked closer, I saw they had put a tribute to Leonard Nimoy on one of the cards. That was all I really needed to see, but after I demoed Galaxies, I made my first official board game purchase at a convention. Galaxies is my favorite Tiny Epic and also one of my all time favorite games. All of the Tiny Epics are small box games that explode into an epic table top game with amazing replay-ability.

I met the staff and volunteers once again at Origins Game Fair 2018, and nothing had changed with how helpful, knowledgeable, and kind they are. I appreciate consistency and the Gamelyn crew is definitely consistent. Gamelyn Games has proven that they don’t just make the best small box games, but they can compete in the big box gaming area as well with their game, Heroes of Land, Air & Sea.

Second Spot – Fireside Games

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Fireside Games:
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Many years ago, I was gifted a game called Castle Panic. I had never played a co-op game and wasn’t sure how much I would like it. After playing it the first time and getting obliterated by the monsters, my play group and I were determined to win. We played it again and won, but we didn’t stop. We played another time, and another, and another – until before we realized it, we had played at least twenty games of Castle Panic in one sitting. We couldn’t get enough of this game! If you look at my box today, it’s scratched, dented, dinged, roughed up, and frayed. That game has been toted with me across several states, to family get togethers, and various conventions. It always finds its way to the table.

After Castle Panic was such a hit, I decided to explore the other games made by this company. I discovered that they had a nice library of co-op and competitive games across a variety of very diverse genres. Another game that surprised me was Village Crone. I wasn’t expecting to love that game as much as I do. Fireside is great at surprising me – or maybe that’s me underestimating the quality of their games. That’s a ‘shame on me’ moment… Grackles and Remnants are both astounding games of very different types. I can’t imagine any board gamer saying they can’t find a game they like from Fireside.

I had decided that I really wanted to meet folks from this company, but I was worried. They say you should never meet your heroes/idols/etc because you might be disappointed. I went to meet with Justin and Anne-Marie DeWitt at Origins Game Fair 2018 and I went with no expectations. I didn’t want to be disappointed if the folks behind so many of the games I loved were not what I wanted them to be. I was blown away at how humble and awesome these two people are. And their demo team was also super nice. Fireside has a great duo leading teams of folks and they’re blazing the way for co-op games and other interesting games.

First Spot – Gale Force Nine

GF9 Logo

Gale Force Nine:
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Right now, Gale Force Nine is my ‘first spot’ company and it’s probably because I’ve just recently acquired my own copy of Star Trek Ascendancy. GF9 hasn’t dropped out of my top three since I met several of their crew at Origins Game Fair 2018. These folks are another humble group of super nice people. They were all happy to sit and chat with me about GF9’s various games or just the IP’s in general – particularly Star Trek and Firefly. I learned so much about the history of the games and their expansions, which is something you don’t typically hear about. It was interesting information and they were happy to share it!

There was a particular gentleman that went out of his way to look for a copy of a Firefly ship that they were certain they didn’t have any more of. I got lucky and he found a single copy that had fallen behind a stack of boxes. That shows the lengths that this gentleman went to, to make a customer happy. GF9 has wonderful customer service and they’ve kept in contact with me over Facebook since Origins.

Honorable Mentions

Wyvern Games: Nice folks and unique games. They have a horror themed deck building game; an Oriental themed card laying strategy game; and a cooking themed set collection game. I’ve only had one actual encounter with them, which was wonderful, but I like seeing folks more than once. I also didn’t have time to observe them with other folks, which is also important to me. They’re close to making the my top five.

Brotherwise Games: Boss Monster is a widely popular and super fun tabletop game from Brotherwise Games. I’ve played it a few times, but unfortunately don’t own a copy. I haven’t tried Unearth yet, but it looks like loads of fun. What has me really impressed though, is Call to Adventure – which releases this year. It’s such a unique and fun game and it’s also easy to learn and play! I’ve had several email conversations with Brotherwise Games and they have been very pleasant. If a face-to-face encounter goes just as well, they will definitely be in my top five – and possibly force me to expand to a top ten list!

Mayfair Games: The folks I’ve spoken to were super nice, but only volunteers. I have yet to meet an official representative from Mayfair. They were acquired by Asmodee recently, so I’m not sure if I’ll ever get the chance now. I love Catan and Five Year Mission, and I’d love to sit with someone from Mayfair/Asmodee about these and other games in their library.

White Wizard Games: White Wizard Games is an Origins Co-Sponsor. They also make Star Realms and Hero Realms which are both very popular games. I’ve been interested in Star Realms for some time, but haven’t had a chance to invest time or money into it. I wanted to speak with a representative about the game at Origins 2018, but they were loaded with folks every time I stopped by their booth. I hope to get an opportunity to speak with them this year.

Conclusion

With so many of my honorable mentions being close to making my top five, I might have to expand to a top ten! I’m very excited about Origins this year and can’t wait to meet new folks and see old friends again! Another company I want to see at Origins 2019 is Modiphius. I didn’t mention them since they’re primarily an RPG company, but they deserve to be mentioned. They make several 2D20 RPG’s like Conan and Star Trek Adventures. I hope they have a representative present at Origins, or I’ll be super sad.

I hope to see everyone on my top five list at Origins Game Fair 2019, as well as my honorable mentions. I’m also hoping several companies I haven’t mentioned here will find the time to talk to me this year. I’m looking forward to another busy year at Origins!

Don’t forget to check out my Origins Game Fair prep article, here!

Do you have an absolute favorite company?
What are some companies you think are underappreciated?
Let me know here or on Facebook at Dice Dice Kitty!
As always, thanks for reading!

Board out, game on!

Greetings Fellow Gamers!

 

I know it’s only January right now, and Origins Game Fair isn’t until June – but if you’re planning a full week trip to Origins, you should probably start thinking about it now. I get asked a lot of questions about Origins and how to get ready for it. I want to share planning methods and tips for the convention that Mr. DDK and I have. We may not be the most seasoned when it comes to Origins (been a few times), but we’ve traveled a lot and we’ve definitely learned a lot!

Most of this article is written for travelers that are driving or taking other modes of ground transportation. I don’t have much advice for anyone flying because I’m not familiar with flying protocols.

October – November 2018

Hotel blocks and badge registration opened in October and November, respectively. We don’t usually book hotel rooms or buy badges that early. A lot of people do though. If you’ve got the money to spend, we would definitely recommend getting a room from one of the Hotel Blocks listed on Origins’ site – especially the connected hotels or one super close. By now, most of them are already booked. If you want to get a room at one of the connected hotels, you would have to be ready to book the moment the blocks open up. The hotel block registration for Origins 2019 opened on October 15, 2018. If you’re planning for next year (2020), be watching for the block announcement on their Facebook page or in their newsletter.

January – April
Hotel

These are the months when we scout hotels and decide which one to book. I’m not the best at stalking about the internet for the absolute cheapest rooms, so we probably end up paying more for a room than the expert scouts. There are tons of websites out there that can teach you how to take advantage of the discounts and sales and find the cheapest possible room.

When we look for a room, we try to find one within a mile of the convention center. The address for the Greater Columbus Convention Center is:

400 N High Street
Columbus, OH 43215

If the room is within a mile, that means we won’t have to drive and pay parking fees, and it’ll be roughly a 20-25 minute walk. Parking fees aren’t terrible for one day, but once you’re paying them for five days or more, it becomes a huge chunk of what could have been spending money.

We like rooms with a refrigerator so we have a place to keep food or drinks. We also try to get a microwave in the room or in the lobby, at the very least. We like to try to get a room with two beds or one bed with a pull out couch, just in case we have folks that decide to go with us.

Once we know what we want in a room, I will usually browse Kayak for rooms that have a free cancellation policy and a pay at the hotel feature. Once I’ve found a room that we like, I’ll book it, but I’ll keep looking at rooms all the way up to the last day that I can cancel my booking. I do that in case I find a room that’s cheaper, closer, or better than the one I booked. In all the years we’ve traveled, we have never cancelled one room for another, but it doesn’t hurt to keep looking. If we can save a few hundred dollars on a room, then why not? If the room is cheaper by less than a hundred dollars, I won’t bother cancelling our current room.

Badge Registration

Badge Registration for 2019 opened in November of 2018. We don’t typically buy badges until March, just because that’s when we have extra income. Work in your badge purchase when it best suits your finances. But don’t wait too late to register! Early bird prices have a cut off date and if you miss it, you’ll have to pay more for your badge.

There are a variety of different types of badges that grant you access to the convention for one day or all five days. We always go for the full show badges, but you should get the one that suits your plans.

May

This is the month that purchasing opens for Ribbons, Event Tickets, and Generic Tokens for the various happenings at Origins Game Fair.

Ribbons

I’ve never purchased a Ribbon at Origins, but I’m seriously considering it this year. You can find the info for Ribbons at the bottom of the Registration page. Ribbons have a super sticky part across the front top of the ribbon. When you get your Ribbon, you stick it to the back of your badge, so the front of the Ribbon hangs just below your badge. I’ve seen folks with a stack of Ribbons, stretching almost all the way to the floor. Some Ribbons are earned by accomplishing various tasks, like turning in a coupon and getting your free spin on a prize wheel. Wearing the Ribbon shows you’ve done it, almost like a badge of honor.

I’ve heard lots of great things about Origins After Dark and the Board Room and that they are worth buying. I’m looking at getting the Upper Deck Ribbon because they make the VS System 2PCG: The Alien Battles and I love Alien. I wanted to learn to play it last year, but it was extremely difficult to get in without a ticket or ribbon – and I couldn’t schedule it easily last year either.

Event Tickets

Event Tickets are special tickets that you can purchase which guarantee you entry to a particular event at a specific time. You can buy tickets for practically anything at various times. You can download the 2018 Event Grid (last year’s) from the current event page, here. That’ll give you an example of the events. Last year, I bought a Giant King of Tokyo ticket and Star Trek Five Year Mission event ticket. Buying tickets in advance for events that you know you’ll want to play is a great idea. Doing it early will guarantee that you save yourself a seat! I plan on purchasing Giant King of Tokyo and some painting sessions this year. If there’s another Five Year Mission game, I’ll be getting in on that too! Mr. DDK loaded up on Dungeons and Dragons gaming sessions with Baldman Games.

We’re always careful not to buy too many tickets in advance. I’m not good at micro managing and you almost have to be to manage a stack of event tickets. We’re also careful when buying tickets for game sessions that are too close in time to each other. Origins is huge and if we buy an event ticket for an event that starts right after one ends, it’s not likely we’ll make it on time and lose our seat. Mr. DDK didn’t have to worry about running between events last year because all of his were in the same room, just at a different table.

If this is your first time at Origins, only buy a few event tickets so you can get a feel for the flow and ebb at Origins. Event tickets are usually available at Origins too, not just in advance. Some events sell out rather quickly, like the D&D events. Last year, Mr. DDK bought D&D event tickets in advance for what he could, and then picked up generic tokens when we got there. Sometimes, folks don’t make it to a scheduled event that they purchased a ticket for, or the event has extra spots open up. If that happens, folks with generic tokens have a chance to get in on that event. That’s not always the case though, so if you’re specifically looking at the D&D events, I would suggest buying them as soon as possible.

Generic Tokens

Generics are tokens that are similar in appearance to small plastic poker chips. They’re decorated with the Origins logo and each is worth $2.00 towards the entry into an event that accepts generics. Most events that I inquired about last year accepted generics, so long as all the ticket holders were seated first. If you don’t use all your generic tokens, you can turn them in by a specific day and time for a refund. It’s good to have several generics on hand, and I recommend picking them up before you start exploring the convention.

June – Leading Up To Origins

Origins month! Now it’s time to get ready for the trip!

Preventing Con Crud

Con crud is catch-all name for the germs that folks get when they spend a lot of time at a convention and don’t take care of themselves before, during, and after the convention. I should really be taking a daily vitamin all year long, but I typically start taking a daily vitamin around the first of June. Taking a daily vitamin is a good way to boost the immune system and help prevent the onset of con crud.

We also buy several travel sized bottles of hand sanitizer. We like the ones that attach to the outside of a bag so we have quick and easy access to them. We like to keep healthy snacks and plenty of water on us while at the convention. Eating well also helps to prevent the crud.

Washing your hands often while at the convention is probably the best prevention practice, which I talk about more below.

Demo/Purchase Wish Lists

It’s around this time that I start checking up on the companies that are attending and what products they may be bringing. This helps me make a list of games that I want to demo and games I want to purchase. When I make a list of games that I want to purchase, I usually keep it short. This leaves room for the possible addition of something I didn’t realize was going to be available, or in the event I demo something that I really want to buy afterwards.

My list of games to demo is usually pretty long. I like to experience as much as I can and meet as many folks as I can! I recommend making a demo list that’s larger than your purchase list. I don’t like having a large purchase wish list because then I feel like I need to go buy those things on my list and I’ll put off buying something else that’s not on the list.

I usually don’t plan on buying anything until after I’ve had a chance to demo a lot of the games on my demo list, unless it’s a game that looks like it might sell out. I would definitely recommend prioritizing the games on your lists in case some of them are hot sellers.

Buy Supplies and Make A Checklist

I always start my travel checklist around the first of June too. Making a checklist helps prevent me from forgetting anything. My travel checklists are detailed all the way down to which t-shirts I’m taking for each day. I know that might sound silly to some, but being organized helps keep my stress levels to a minimum. I write down everything, even if it seems like something obvious – like a phone charger.

Making a travel list also helps me see what I need to buy for the trip. For example, if I write shampoo down on the list, it’s not completely practical to take an entire bottle of shampoo. Buying travel sized toiletries will help save a little bit of luggage room. Saving a little room everywhere you can means you have more room to bring more things home. Do you realize how many sets of RPG dice you can fit in the space difference between the size of a normal bottle of shampoo and a travel size bottle?

Travel Food and Vehicle Prep

Chocolate, super sweet candy, and sodas are not good travel snacks. I would recommend beef jerky, trail mix, crackers, peanuts, and water or some other beverage like lemonade or Gatorade. I don’t bring anything that will melt or go bad in a hot vehicle. We make the trip by car and it takes us the better part of eight hours to get to Columbus, Ohio from Dyersburg, Tennessee. Having wholesome snacks also helps keep the number of stops to a minimum. It also helps to have good snacks for the hotel room too, so I always make sure to pack plenty of snacks.

We also make sure our vehicle has had its regular maintenance like an oil change and a tire inspection. We also check to be sure we’ve got a spare tire, jumper cables, plenty of gas in the tank, a map, and a GPS. I will sometimes check our route ahead of time and see where the long stretches are between gas stations and make a note to check the tank before reaching those points. Jumper cables should be in your vehicle at all times, regardless of the vehicle’s age. Spare tires are also important and we like to make sure we’ve got some funds set aside in case we need to buy another tire on the trip. Folks sometimes laugh at me for having an atlas in the car, but there could be times where you lose signal on your GPS or phone and you need to know where to go. It doesn’t hurt to be prepared.

Weather Forecast

June is warm, but heads up – the convention halls can get chilly! We bring a light coat or a light weight long sleeved shirt with us to the convention.

We keep an eye on what the weather is supposed to be doing for the entire duration of the convention. We plan to walk to and from the convention, so we’ll need to know if rain is in the forecast. It didn’t rain at all while we were there last year, at least not when we were going to and from the convention. We took an Uber back and forth between the hotel and the convention last year. We also pay close attention to what the weather forecast is for the road trip.

Plotting the Course

We always check the suggested routes for which one appeals to us the most. Sometimes, we prefer the more scenic routes, and other times we prefer traveling through more populated areas. We cross check them with the weather and then select the one we think is best.

June – Convention Time!
Road Trip Time!

When departure day arrives, we make sure everything on our checklist is checked off and we put our selected route into the GPS app, and we head out! Depending on which day we leave, usually determines what time we leave. If we leave on Tuesday, we leave later in the morning, putting our arrival around dinner time. If we leave on Wednesday, we leave as early as possible (usually 7:00 or 8:00 am) which puts our arrival around 3:00 or 4:00 pm.

Pit-Stops and Safety

We stop as few times as possible, because that not only saves time, but also saves us a little on gas.

When we stop for a meal, we make sure it’s not super greasy fast food. Eating healthier on the road helps us stay alert on the trip. I know this all sounds cheesy, no pun intended there, but it’s the honest truth! I used to eat nothing but Cheetos and drink Mountain Dew while traveling and since I changed my diet, I’ve noticed a world of difference. When we stop for a meal, we make it worthwhile.

We also check the area around our potential stop for red flags. We never stop at a location that looks like it belongs in a horror movie – because I don’t want to be in a real-life horror movie scenario. We make sure the places we stop are well lit and clean on the outside. If there are storage buildings or trees close by, we don’t ever park near them. If there are a lot of folks hanging around outside a place, regardless of how they look, we will pass it by. We also look at the buildings in the area around where we’re thinking of stopping. If the area looks run down and unkempt, even if the place we’re wanting stop at looks okay, we will pass it up. It doesn’t take much effort to stay safe, just some common sense.

We also lock our vehicle at every stop, even if we’re only running in for a second, and we never leave the vehicle running. That’s just asking for someone to steal it. We like to cover our luggage with a solid colored sheet of cloth too, so anyone peering in won’t see what’s in the back of the vehicle. We hide anything that looks valuable, either under the seats or under the cloth in the back of the vehicle. And we also clean the change out of the cup holders. You would be surprised what folks will break into a car for.

Arrival!

When we arrive in Columbus, we like to check into our hotel room first if possible, just to be sure everything is in order. We haven’t really had any issues during an Origins trip (yet), but we’ve had issues with hotels in the past.

If we arrive on Tuesday, we usually take that time to relax and look over the website, making notes or changing wish lists. There isn’t much to do on Tuesday, besides visit the comic store and meet up with friends in the food court.

If we arrive on Wednesday, then we go directly to the convention center upon arrival in Columbus. Origins opens the on-site registration and badge pick up on Wednesday, as well as the gaming halls. The Exhibit Hall (Vendor Hall) is not typically open on Wednesday. We will oftentimes sit in the food court and browse the Origins event book and coupon book you get at registration.

Origins Game Fair

Everyone goes to Origins not only for gaming but to socialize with fellow gamers, the creators of their favorite games, and the companies that produce games. Origins is a very relaxed experience for how many folks attend. You wouldn’t think of 18,000 folks milling around as a relaxed experience, except the folks organizing this convention know what they’re doing. The GAMA organization does a wonderful job of it every year.

Quiet Time

This is an important topic for me and many other gamers as well. If you don’t already know this about me, you may be surprised to learn that I have some pretty severe anxiety issues. I don’t want to go into too much detail, but I have panic attacks when strangers get too close to me. If I feel safe and comfortable, my anxiety isn’t an issue. A convention like Origins feels like home to me and I feel safe, so my anxiety isn’t an issue here.

I like how they have the convention set up. It never feels cramped in the gaming halls since the doors to them stay open most of the time. The only major ‘rush’ is when the Exhibit Hall first opens everyday. But once those folks filter in and disperse, which is actually quite fast, the Exhibit Hall doesn’t feel cramped either. The more popular booths will always have a crowd, but even those crowds are easy to maneuver while in the booth. The later in the day it is, the less crowded the booths are.

If you start to feel overwhelmed, there are lots of quiet areas all over the convention center to sit in. Most of the areas aren’t even designated as quiet spots, but they work great for folks like me that need a few minutes to rest. The Origins volunteers are helpful and understanding for anyone in need and can guide you to a quiet area or direct you to someone that can help.

Charging Stations

Last year, I thought I’d have to sit in the floor by an outlet in order to charge my video camera and my phone, but I didn’t! The Greater Columbus Convention Center has charging stations all over the place! They’re at tables, in the food court at a charging bar, in lounge areas, practically everywhere. It’s a convenience that I greatly thank them for.

Wednesday – At Origins

Unless they change something, Wednesday is the day we’ll be picking up our badges. The gaming halls are usually open and some events could be up and running. Wednesday is the day we use to scout out the locations for events we purchased tickets for and to visit the comic store, Heroes and Games, in the convention center. The staff at this store is always so nice and helpful and it’s a must visit place while at the convention.

We also look around the food court and see if there’s anything on the menus that we just have to try and make a note of it for later. There are a lot of great options for breakfast and lunch. The food court is spacious and bright, but they have dimmer areas too if you prefer it, and it’s a great place to sit with friends to get away from the bustle of the convention.

We try to hit the food court last so we can grab lunch and look over our booklets. When you register and get your badge, you also get a couple of Origins booklets, plus a coupon book. We’ll sit and go through the coupon book and select the coupons we’re most interested in and also browse the convention map and the event booklet for anything we might have missed.

If it’s not too late by the time we’re done with that, we’ll make our way back to the gaming halls to see if any of the booths are open and get in some early demos. If not, we’ll find some folks to play some games with!

Thursday to Sunday – At Origins

Thursday is probably the biggest day since that’s the first day the Exhibit Hall is open. Folks are trying to get in for the early show deals and trying to get any freebies they might have from the coupon book. Events are in full swing and folks are bustling around with bags full of games. The excitement is almost palpable in the air. There are vendors offering demos, supply vendors displaying their goods, artists and writers talking about their works, and folks from all walks of life coming together to enjoy the atmosphere and join in the excitement of playing old favorites and newly discovered favorites alike.

These four days are all similar in that we’re participating in various events, browsing products, and having fun! Sunday is the only day that’s different for us because that’s the day we check out of our hotel room and head home after we’re done at Origins. Many folks stay the night and leave on Monday, but we’re usually ready to head home by Sunday. It’s a whirlwind of excitement and fun for us everyday and the experience is well worth the trip!

Origins Game Fair Tips
3-2-1 Health and Hygiene Rule

I’m sure many of you have heard of the convention hygiene rule in one form or another. I’ve always heard it called the 3-2-1 Rule, but in recent years I’ve seen variations pop up. It’s basically this:

  • 3 – Get at least three hours of sleep each night of the convention.
  • 2 – Eat two proper meals each day of the convention.
  • 1 – Take at least one shower each day of the convention.

Sleep – Some variations say you need five or six hours of sleep each night of the convention. Every person is different. Some of us can function just fine off of three hours of sleep. Others need eight hours, or more. I’m somewhere around a six hour person and if I don’t get enough rest, I look terrible and I’m very grumpy. Don’t sacrifice sleep for more game time because you might regret it as the convention continues on.

Eat – Everyone needs at least two proper meals everyday of the convention. Mr. DDK and I get our three meals in, plus snacks. I love gaming, but I love food too. I won’t sacrifice food for more gaming. There is a time and place for each one and when it’s time to eat, then I go eat! Pretzels or other con-foods are not a substitute for a meal. There is an entire food court in the convention center with a variety of reasonably priced food and drink. Eating regular and proper meals is important for energy levels too. If you’re not eating properly, you are not on top of your game!

Shower – This is not just a courtesy for those around you, it’s a health thing too. You’re going to be in and around all kinds of folks. Some of those folks might have a germ or two and not know it, or they could have germs and not care. If you get those germs on your clothes, you’re transporting them around and spreading them. You need to shower every day to get those germs off. Don’t contribute to the spread of con crud, shower it off.

As a side note to go along with showering – do not shower in aftershave, cologne, or perfume – use soap and water, please. Use scented things in moderation. We’re not really in tight quarters in the gaming halls, but there are lots of people with sensory issues and a strong scent could trigger a negative response. Only in recent years, as my anxiety has worsened, have I learned just how debilitating a sensory problem can be. My sensory issue is texture and sound related, but I totally understand what folks go through when their sensory issue is triggered. Be kind to those around you and don’t drown yourself in scented things.

Clothes

Bring enough sets of clothes that you can wear different clothes everyday – pants included. If you can’t do this, or just don’t want to, have your clothes laundered. Wearing the same pair of pants for two days could contribute to the spread of con crud. I have a set of clothes for every day of the convention, plus backups. When we get back to the hotel, I toss my dirty clothes in their own bag so they don’t potentially contaminate my clean clothes. And that’s usually the first thing I do after we unload the car from the trip – I wash the clothes! Just because you’re not at the convention anymore doesn’t mean you didn’t bring the crud home with you.

Wash Your Hands

It’s very important that you wash your hands regularly, not just after using the facilities. And hand sanitizer is great if you can’t make it to the restroom right away, but it’s not a substitute for washing your hands. I make frequent trips to the restroom to wash my hands, especially after handling demo products or shaking hands with folks. Germs spread rapidly at conventions and the best way to stifle them is wash your hands and use sanitizer.

Cart or Bag?

Should you tote your purchases around in a shopping bag, a rolling basket or cart, a wheeled suitcase, or by some other method? Well, only you can answer that question! Last year, I used a wheeled suitcase and I’m leaning that way again. I wanted a wired basket or wheeled tote, like the ones shown below, but after lugging that suitcase around last year I think the basket might be too much of a hassle.

rolling carts

The suitcase worked fine and it was fully enclosed. While I feel safe at Origins, I am not that trusting that I would leave my belongings out in the open. The major benefit the baskets have over the suitcase is that they’re collapsible and the extra suitcase isn’t. The baskets are also larger, which could be good or bad depending on the situation.

There are plenty of folks that make purchases and carry their goodies using shopping bags, which works fine for them. But if you’re planning on making lots of purchases and you can’t easily make a drop off in your hotel room or car, then you might want to think about a cart or suitcase. Just be sure to keep your possessions out of aisles so folks don’t trip over them.

Conclusion

Origins Game Fair is lots of fun and a great experience. There is so much to do and there’s something for everyone who loves gaming. There are diverse gaming experiences for all kinds of folks, from board games and role playing games to live action role playing and video gaming. It’s an event that I recommend everyone try to attend at least one time, even if it’s just for one day. It’s an affordable convention in a beautiful venue and it’s located in a wonderful city.

I hope that sharing my planning steps and convention tips helps folks plan their trip according to their needs. If you’re attending Origins in 2019, I’ll hopefully see you there!

Feel free to share your tips in the comments!
Thanks for reading!

Board out, game on!

Greetings Fellow Board Gamers!

 

Our featured game for the weeks of October 25 and November 1 is a game from Fireside Games, Bloodsuckers.

Bloodsuckers on Board Game Geek – here.

* Note – This is not a ‘How to Play’ or tutorial type article. This is a review of the game components and brief review of game play.

Bloodsuckers

The once quiet small town of Blackwood has become a battleground. A coven of vampires has crept in under the cover of darkness to drain the very life from its helpless citizens. As powerful as these creatures of legend are, they do not prowl the streets unchallenged. A team of skilled vampire hunters with an arsenal of modern weapons has tracked these bloodsuckers down and the battle for the soul of Blackwood is about to begin.

Play as either vampire or hunter, using Attack cards to battle for the citizens of Blackwood, Impact cards to enhance your powers, and deadly Strike cards to destroy your opponent. Unleash powerful combos and use Blood or Adrenaline as you fight, alone or with a teammate, through both night and day. Win battles to recruit the innocent bystanders at the Nightclub, Church, Graveyard, Police Station, and Hospital. Claim the most locations to win control of the town.

Save the town of Blackwood, or drain it dry.
The choice is yours.

This is a fighting card game where you play as either a vampire or a vampire hunter. It’s a thematic game with horror elements.

Rules

The rule book is very detailed and it will take some time to read over it. This isn’t a game that you can crack open and read along as you play. You really should have a good understanding of the rules before playing. There are lots of abilities that you need a reference for, and thankfully, Fireside has the foresight to include player aids with those references and a turn order.

Components and Game Play

You can find a review video on my YouTube channel that shows all of the components with a brief description and also a review of the game play.

You can follow this link directly to my video – HERE.

Summary

The game is easy enough to understand once you’ve read through the rule book a time or two. It can seem overwhelming at first, with all the different abilities on the bystanders, but you don’t have to memorize them. You can find a summary list on the back of your player aid card. So don’t let that discourage you. You don’t really need to memorize the turn order either since it’s on your player aid card too. Everything is pretty straight forward, there’s just a lot to it.

This is not a game for everyone. I like the game well enough, but I used to play competitive collectible card games too. Most of my play group had avoided those type of games. I feel like this game would be good for bringing collectible gaming folks into the board game world.

I love how thematic the game is. You’re literally fighting as a vampire to control the town or as a vampire hunter to save the town. Each game element is thematic for the side you choose, from the different decks to the Blood and Adrenaline Tokens.

Buy or Bye?
Buy

This is a game I wouldn’t mind having in my collection. It likely won’t see much play in my local group though, only because it’s a fighting card game. Most of our locals steer away from card games, but I’ll still play Bloodsuckers with anyone that wants to play!

Have strategies or tips for this game? Leave them in a comment!
Have cool accessories or custom pieces? Show them off!
Thanks for reading and be sure to like, follow, and subscribe for more gaming and Star Trek related content!

Board out and game on!

Greetings Fellow Board Gamers!

 

Our featured game for the weeks of October 11 and October 18 is a game from Fireside Games, Village Crone.

Village Crone on Board Game Geek – here.

* Note – This is not a ‘How to Play’ or tutorial type article. This is a review of the game components and brief review of game play.

Village Crone

You and your fellow players are medieval witches who have stumbled upon Wickersby, a village without a crone in this worker placement, resource management game with spellcasting!

Wickersby is built from 6 modular boards, with different locations holding the ingredients flour, fire, silver, and soil. Send your familiars out to harvest these ingredients and use them to cast spells in order to complete Witch’s Scheme cards. Each of the cards is worth 1, 2, or 3 points, which also indicates how difficult the scheme is to complete. Make villagers fall in love, turn them into frogs, or teleport them to different locations as you work to complete your Witch’s Schemes. Every scheme you complete brings you closer to the 13 points needed to win and be declared The Village Crone!

This is a resource gathering and worker placement type of game, with a little bit of sabotage sprinkled on top!

Rules

The rule book is a easy to follow and it doesn’t take long to find a rule if you need to reference the rule book during play.

Components and Game Play

You can find a review video on my YouTube channel that shows all of the components with a brief description and also a review of the game play.

You can follow this link directly to my video – HERE.

Summary

This game is just really cool with how it’s set up and how it plays. You could easily re-skin this game for other IP’s, just like Castle Panic was (hint-hint, Fireside! We need a Star Trek version!). I love the separate board pieces and how you can rearrange the board for loads of different game set ups. I like the mechanics of the game, and I like how the turn order works. The turn order keeps players engaged in what the other players are doing, and the game seems to flow smoothly because of it.

We had lots of fun with this game, not just trying to complete schemes, but also trying mess each other over. I saw that there wasn’t a very good rating for this game on Board Game Geek, and I don’t think it deserves such a low rating. There are games that I’ve played that are terrible and have a very high rating on BGG. I get that everyone is different and has games they prefer over others, but I think Village Crone got the short end of the broomstick. Guess it goes to show, you can’t always trust BGG ratings! You should always demo a game several times before making your own judgement on it. I was definitely surprised as how much fun this game was!

What the Players Said

Wednesday – The game has a good balance between strategy and fun. I like the replay-ability you get with being able to rearrange the board tiles. It’s also easy enough for newer board game players, but still fun and engaging for experienced board game players.

Brian – I think it’s a good game and I really like it. It has intricate details, but it’s not confusing. It’s overall a fun game, and it’s really fun to mess with other players too.

Olivia – I like the game story, like how we’re all witches and we’re messing with a town and the other witches around the town. It’s a really easy game to learn and fun to play!

Buy or Bye?
Buy!

This game just moved high up on my priority list. It’s fun with any number of players and can be played as a solo game. If I spend $50 or more on a game, that’s something I want an option for – solo play.

Have strategies or tips for this game? Leave them in a comment!
Have cool accessories or custom pieces? Show them off!
Thanks for reading and be sure to like, follow, and subscribe for more gaming and Star Trek related content!

Board out and game on!

Greetings Fellow Board Gamers!

Our featured game for the weeks of September 27 and October 4 is a game from WizKids, Tower of London.

Tower of London on Board Game Geek – here.

* Note – This is not a ‘How to Play’ or tutorial type article. This is a review of the game components and brief review of game play.

Tower-of-London3

In Tower of London, players fight for control of the tower using their influence to occupy different buildings and gather ravens. Each turn players play two cards: the first card determines which building their Beefeater (guard) goes into, and the second card has a special power that triggers from the perspective of the Beefeater just placed.

At the end of a round, certain areas of the tower are scored based on who controls the majority of buildings, by having the most Beefeaters in each. The game ends at the end of three rounds or when a player collects 7 ravens, in which case the game ends immediately.

This game is about positioning your Beefeaters so you control more buildings than the other players in a particular color section, while trying to avoid having your Beefeaters taken out.

Rules

The rule book is a little confusing, but it’s a quick read. There are more than just a few typos in the rule book and while it doesn’t impact the game, it’s sad to see so many errors from a company that likes to boast so often about their board games.

Components and Game Play

You can find a review video on my YouTube channel that shows all of the components with a brief description and also a review of the game play.

You can follow this link directly to my video – HERE.

Summary

Oh boy. So, there are lots of things I don’t like and two things that I do like. I like the Raven tokens and I like the art for the Ravens on the cards. I don’t like the poor wording on the Event cards and player cards. I don’t like how the quadrants are off centered from the creases in the game board because it makes for an overly confusing time trying to visually interpret the quadrants. I don’t like that folks who are color blind could have a difficult time trying to play this game. There isn’t a clear way to tell the colored tokens apart, like different shapes or whatnot, and the player cards are not marked with a symbol or anything either. I don’t like that there aren’t any tokens or markers for ‘destroyed’ buildings. I don’t like the overall game play – it’s kind of boring actually. It’s also easy for someone to get ganged up on too and by the end of round two, they might as well not be playing anymore because they have zero chance of winning. I don’t like the convoluted turn order either. You’ve got Rounds, then Phases, then Steps within a Phase, then Turns – it’s all way to complicated for what we thought was going to be a light to medium game.

I also don’t like that game components were missing from the box and also that several of the Raven tokens have chips in them.

What the Players Said

Wednesday – I don’t like the poorly worded abilities on the cards. The most fun thing in the game was messing with opponents’ Beefeaters.

Olivia – The art is pretty and the flavor text on the Events is kinda humorous. I wish the quadrants lined up with the creases in the game board.

Sol – There is a major optical problem with the board creases and the quadrant lines. They don’t line up and they probably should. Don’t play if you’re color blind. The cards have awkward sizes too. It takes several times playing the game to get used to it, but it’s kind of fun if you can get past those things.

Buy or Bye?
BYE

There should not be that many typos in the rule book and the wording on the cards shouldn’t be so confusing. The game doesn’t look like it was playtested much but I’m not really surprised by this, #BecauseWizKids. This is not a game I’ll ever buy, even at a seriously discounted price.

Have strategies or tips for this game? Leave them in a comment!
Have cool accessories or custom pieces? Show them off!
Thanks for reading and be sure to like, follow, and subscribe for more gaming and Star Trek related content!

Board out and game on!

Greetings Fellow Board Gamers!

 

Our featured game for the weeks of August 16 and August 23 is a unique game from Days of Wonder, Ticket to Ride.

Ticket to Ride on Board Game Geek – here.

* Note – This is not a ‘How to Play’ or tutorial type article. This is a review of the game components and brief review of game play.

Ticket to Ride

Ticket to Ride is a cross-country train adventure in which players collect and play matching train cards to claim railway routes connecting cities throughout North America.

The longer the routes, the more points they earn.

Additional points come to those who can fulfill their Destination Tickets by connecting two distant cities, and to the player who builds the longest continuous railway.

This a lightly competitive game that lots of players can enjoy. There is some light reading on the ticket cards, which could make it difficult for younger players that can’t read yet to complete the Tickets. You’re trying to complete Tickets while completing additional routes for more points.

Rules

The rule book is a quick read and the game is very easy to learn. The difficulty comes in the tactics and the randomness of the cards. It’s not hard to play at all, but your strategy and tactics will not be the same, based on your draws or the selection from the face up cards.

Components and Game Play

You can find a review video on my YouTube channel that shows all of the components with a brief description and also a review of the game play.

You can follow this link directly to my video – HERE.

Summary

I’ve played the USA and Europe version of Ticket to Ride and I thoroughly enjoyed both. The Europe version is slightly different, but both play similar. I haven’t played any of the other versions. The USA version of the game is the one we will be playing on August 16 and 23 (2018). Ticket to Ride is such a wonderful family game and it’s a lot of fun. It’s definitely easy enough for folks that aren’t frequent board game players. It’s also a great gateway game to get those folks into more advanced board games as well.

I like how the strategy and tactics can change in the blink of an eye, depending on what face up cards are available and what cards you draw. I also like that you can get additional Ticket cards and that there is a drawback for not completing them, which prevents players from hoarding too many.

What the Players Said

Katie – The pieces are cute and fun. The game feels almost too easy to play, but it’s a lot harder to play when the board is upside down.

North – The states could use a different color treatment or lighter shading or something to make the cities easier to locate. I still love it and it’s a staple for my collection. “Tickets, please!”

Wednesday – I like the steampunk look but I hated playing it. It feels clunky and I don’t like the game play or strategy.

Buy or Bye?
Buy

I need to add this game to my collection. It’s fun, strategic, and engaging.

Have strategies or tips for this game? Leave them in a comment!
Have cool accessories or custom pieces? Show them off!
Thanks for reading and be sure to like, follow, and subscribe for more gaming and Star Trek related content!

Board out and game on!

Greetings Fellow Board Gamers!

 

Our featured game for the weeks of August 2 and August 9 was a super cute gateway game from Studio Bombyx, Takenoko and Takenoko: Chibis.

Takenoko on Board Game Geek – here.
Takenoko: Chibis on Board Game Geek – here.

* Note – This is not a ‘How to Play’ or tutorial type article. This is a review of the game components and brief review of game play.

Takenoko

A long time ago, the Emperor of China offered Japanese Emperor a Giant Panda as symbol of peace.

Your delicate mission is to take care of the animal by growing a bamboo plantation.

But be careful with the sacred animal and its unhealthy appetite for the crispy shoots..

The Takenoko Chibis expansion offers you even more of tenderness!

You’ve been taking care of the imperial panda and the emperor is very satisfied! He hands over a second animal’s care: a female! You will need to try twice as hard to take care of the couple… and their babies!

This a light competitive game that can appeal to players of all ages. You’re trying to complete goals by placing tiles and moving the Panda and the Farmer with only two actions each turn, plus a bonus from a die roll.

Rules

The rules are easy to understand and fairly straight forward. I like rule books that aren’t convoluted and are simple enough to understand in a single read through.

Components and Game Play

You can find a review video on my YouTube channel that shows all of the components with a brief description and also a review of the game play.

You can follow this link directly to my video – HERE.

Summary

This is another game that’s high on my list of favorites for several reasons. It’s simple enough for young children to play, but there is strategy to keep adults engaged. The components are cute and well made. There’s something charming about wooden game components as opposed to plastic ones. The tiles are large and brightly colored. And the reminders on the player card are simple enough for children that haven’t learned to read yet. My locals enjoy playing this game as well.

The base game is great game, but the Chibi expansion makes this an amazing game. We played the base game for a long time before the Chibi expansion and we loved it. Once the Chibi expansion came out, it fixed some of the slower areas of the game and added more cute pieces to an already cute game. I would recommend that folks try the base game a few times before adding the Chibis. The Chibi expansion adds a few things but it doesn’t change the overall game play.

What the Players Said

Katie R. – I freaking love this game and pandas! I love how the tiles have unique art and all the game pieces so cute. It’s all so cute and it’s a great way to get family and friends to play board games because it’s so easy to learn and play, and it’s lots of fun!

J. North – I love pandas! Takenoko is fun and a great game. It’s also a great gateway game.

Olivia W. – This game is very cute and easy to learn and play. I love playing this game.

Buy or Bye?
Buy!

I loved this game so much that I bought the expansion as soon as it released. If you haven’t tried this game yet, put it on your list to try!

Have strategies or tips for this game? Leave them in a comment!
Have cool accessories or custom pieces? Show them off!
Thanks for reading and be sure to like, follow, and subscribe for more gaming and Star Trek related content!

Board out and game on!