The Cardboard Hoard: Origins Recap - Saturday; or Calling It Early
The last two years, I attended Origins from Wednesday to Sunday morning, flying out early to spend Father’s Day with my family. But this year, after realizing that not too much went on late Saturday, I decided to fly out Saturday night so I’d be able to wake up in my own bed on Sunday and spend the entirety of Father’s Day with my wife and kids. But that isn’t to say I didn’t play any games on Saturday — I did manage to play two.
After hitting the Hilton restaurant for breakfast — this time avoiding the buffet and getting eggs made to order — I trudged through the sea of Origins flea market attendees and over to open gaming for our second annual Power Grid game. Patrick brought all of his the upgraded components, including playing card money, deluxe tokens, and even a wooden board to auction all the power plants off, which certainly help to make the game seem like a special event. Last year, Patrick, Jon and Emily Detmer, and Jonathan Bishop played on the America map. This year, Daniel Newman subbed in for Jonathan, and we played on the Brazil map. Just as much fun was had, and we breezed through the game in about two hours — a wonderful thing about playing complex games with experienced players. We already discussed playing the North and South Korea map next year, which Patrick picked up at the convention this year.
Patrick and I then played a two-player game of Bruno Cathala’s recent Hurrican release Nagaraja — a game he had suggested I bring to Origins so he could try. The game has you fighting over tiles that allow you to traverse your player board temples to collect victory point treasures, using multi-use cards to roll stick-shaped dice to determine who wins each tile. I think the game lands in a weird spot where it is a bit too complex to easily teach non-gamers, and a bit too random for most experienced gamers tastes. We had fun playing it, but quickly agreed it wasn’t our favorite of Cathala’s designs. Of his two-player games, I prefer Longhorn, personally.
Nagaraja wound up being the last game I played at Origins this year, but before I left the convention, I popped outside and caught the tail end of the Pride Parade. The Pride Parade has coincided with the Saturday of Origins all three years I have gone, and I have always enjoyed seeing bits of it here and there. I also love knowing that it means so much to my LGBTQIA+ friends that attend the convention, who attend both for the games and for the celebration of love the Pride Parade represents.
I sat in the Unpub room for a few minutes, watching Matt Riddle finish up a playtest with Marti and Sarah, and we shot the breeze for a bit. We talked about his prototype, the state of roll-and-write games (as he co-designed Fleet Dice), how he has known his co-designer Ben Pinchback since they were kids, and what growing up in Michigan was like. We could have played another game, but I think everyone was happy to breathe and enjoy the moment, without feeling the need to rush another game to the table.
Before I headed back to the airport, I walked around the open gaming room and expo hall a bit, saying goodbye to a lot of good friends, and many new friends as well, hopeful to see them all, and more still, next year. And with that, my Origins 2019 was over, except for a turbulent flight out of a rainy city — neither of which could take the smile off my face.
Getting to wake up and play Slide Quest with my son on Father’s Day morning — he loved it — kept that smile on my face, and to be honest, it still hasn’t faded a week later. That is the power of games, and of our gaming community.
Overall, it was another fun and fruitful Origins, where I demoed many new games I was interested in, brought home a few things to play with my family and my game group, played some old favorites like Power Grid and Doomtown, and caught up with a lot of good friends — even meeting some of them in person for the first time. The convention felt busier on Wednesday and Thursday than it had in years past, but possibly not as busy on Saturday, so I am curious to hear about this year’s official attendance numbers. I suspect, if the convention didn’t grow, that a lot of people just decided to come earlier in the week and experience it for longer. I honestly hope it doesn’t grow too much bigger than it is currently, as one of the biggest selling points of Origins is that it is a smaller, more intimate convention than Gen Con, while still being big and busy enough that I always felt I had multiple options for gaming at any given time.