The Cardboard Hoard: Origins Recap - Friday; or Meetups All The Way Down
In the same way that the Origins scheduling gods decided Thursday would be demo day, Friday I had three meetups scheduled, including the Punchboard Media meetup, which I had planned. Fortunately, the times didn’t conflict except for one of the meetups I wanted to attend — the Game All Nite Whiskey meetup, as it was the same time as the Punchboard Media meetup.
But I am getting ahead of myself again. First up, at 9:00am, was the Plaid Hat Games meetup. There is no easier way to get me to go somewhere than offer me coffee and donuts, so starting my day hanging out with the Plaid Hat crew and other early-ish risers was a no-brainer. While I was there I got to meet Zev Shlasinger, the founder of Z-Man Games and current Head of Board Game Operations at WizKids, and we chatted about both of us being from New York City. I also got to admire this giant statue of Arnold Schwarzenegger, which is there because — as I learned while staring uncomprehendingly at it — the Arnold Classic bodybuilding and fitness competition and expo takes place in Columbus, Ohio every year.
From there, I went up to open gaming to meet up with Craig, who was running us through his homebrew Apocalypse World setting Prepare to Launch, which has a giant fighting mech theme. Think Voltron, or Pacific Rim, with the player characters as the pilots. I sat down with Patrick, Carl, and Aly Sedelmeyer, and we spent three hours as high school students that were part-time protectors against the alien kaiju invasion. It was as ridiculous as it was fun. I always like to get one-shot RPGs in at conventions, as I don’t get to play them often in my day-to-day life. Having one of my best gaming buddies, Craig, run his own brainchild for us, was just an added bonus.
At this point, it was lunch time, and I knew exactly what I wanted. I will never go to Columbus, Ohio and not find time to get Hot Chicken Takeover at the North Market, as it is just out-of-this-world good. Patrick hiked over with me, and we ordered some Nashville hot chicken and sides, along with some free sweet tea. Jake — who had never had it before — met us for a delicious, if loud and crowded, lunch.
I hadn’t yet spent any time at this year’s Origins Unpub room, but I remedied that right after lunch, as I met Chris Kirkman to demo thematic, cooperative game Those Meddling Kids, a future Dice Hate Me Studio production that will be published through Greater Than Games. In Those Meddling Kids, you play said kids, and have to balance solving a serious mystery — using implements such as your bicycle, flashlights, and shovels — with being a student, having to do chores, and having a curfew. I only got to try about half a game of the base mode, and my main takeaway was that it was a) thematic, and b) hard, but — especially as a Scooby Doo super-fan — I look forward to seeing more of this when it gets closer to publication.
From there I was back off to the North Market with Tim Fowler, so he could get lunch, I could get coffee, and we could both play some Doomtown: Reloaded. This is a game with quite a history, born out of the Deadlands RPG, first as a collectible card game, then later as a living card game, which would be cancelled by AEG and then revived by Pinnacle. I’m glad it is still alive and kicking, because despite its high barrier to entry, it’s a great game. My only regret is that Tim and I only got to play one game in the food court before he had to run to a Shadowfist tournament and I had to run to dinner.
Aaron Wilson planned dinner at The Pearl for a group of us jokingly named “Impostor Syndrome.” The group is mostly designers — Aaron, Tony Miller, John Prather, Daniel Newman, Ian Zang, among others — but I snuck in somehow as the impostor media person. While we waited for our food, Ian showed us a real-time tile manipulation that involved shifting a set of double-sided Spongebob Squarepants tiles to match different image cards. Like Spot It, only exponentially more frantic. My dinner of fancy grilled cheese with pear jam and arugula pesto was good, my bourbon apple punch was even better. Not having to wait to be seated with a table of twelve was also impressive — I guess that two blocks away from the convention center is just far enough to keep their dining room manageable, or their prices are just a bit high for the average convention-goes, or a bit of both? Who am I too say.
I was exhausted by this point, and I am sure having a cocktail with my dinner didn’t help. But the one meetup I had helped to set up and plan before the convention was quickly approaching, so I ran back to my room, got some give-away prizes, raffle tickets, buttons and stickers, and ran back to the Unpub room. Since this was the third year we had the meetup, and the second year it was in the same room, it went off smoothly, and I was able to demo Letter Jam with the gaming rules expert himself, Paul Grogan. We played at five players, and four of us guessed our words correctly at the end. The only one holding our team back — yours truly. The editor with the English degree. I blame the whiskey punch. I then got to try Medium with the two designers from Storm Chaser Games, and had a good time mind-melding with Will and Marti. I think that one is going to be a big light/party game hit when it releases at Gen Con, like Codenames, The Mind, and Just One have all been in recent memory.
Any sane, reasonable person would have called it a night, with the Punchboard Media meetup winding down, and it being after midnight. But I decided to learn In the Hall of the Mountain King — out of the prototype rule book — with Ken, who either borrowed or stole it from Helaina Cappel, and his friend Dave. The game, which was a late stage prototype with art and mechanics that seemed finished, was a medium-heavy Euro that had a very, very clever cascading worker card resource mechanism, and an interesting polyomino tunnel-building spatial puzzle, which had some restrictions and bonuses that created a lot to think about. I am very glad I tried it, and enjoyed it a lot, but would not recommend starting anything like it well after midnight at a convention after a long day of hustling around. When we wrapped up our game, it was 3:00am, and I still needed to straighten up the Unpub room before heading back and crashing for a few hours.
Continue reading: The Cardboard Hoard: Origins Recap - Saturday; or Calling It Early