The Cardboard Hoard: Origins Recap - Wednesday; or Pipelines and Cowboys and Birds, Oh My!
My Origins started off with a bit of a scare this year. On Tuesday night, just after 11pm, I was sitting on my couch watching The Hot Zone, relaxing before my early morning flight to Columbus the next day. My wife, who was sitting next to me scrolling Facebook, looked over and asked if I was on the same flight as my buddy Zach. When I nodded, she showed me his Facebook post, and followed that up by asking me what exactly “dafaq” meant.
This led me to frantically check my own phone and confirm my that flight, indeed, was cancelled, which led to an equally frantic call with Zach about potential alternatives, like driving 10+ hours to Ohio. About a half hour later — which Zach claims aged him a year — we got a follow-up text that we were put on the next plane that left just over an hour later than our original flight. So, in the end, I got a bit more sleep on Wednesday morning, and didn’t miss anything I had scheduled at Origins. So, all’s well that ends well, I suppose.
Once in Columbus, we taxied over to the Hilton. This was my first year staying there, and I discovered what a nightmare that is for people with acrophobia — between the connecting sky bridge with its frosted glass walkway, and the open atrium setup where I could see the lobby just over a thin railing from my eighth floor hotel room — but other than that it was a perfectly fine hotel. I will note that we did not see a ton of convention-goers in the Hilton, as you do in the connected Hyatt, but instead saw a lot of guests that were in wedding parties.
Next up was acquiring the convention badges in the new location by the “Ultimate Selfie Machine” art installation. This was nice in that it freed the main concourse, but also confusing, as nobody was sure if they were supposed to to pre-registration or registration — and while I got my badge without incident, I know a lot of people that got stuck in a second line at customer service. It seems sometimes that the harder GAMA tries to make Origins run smoother, the more obstacles they run into.
While I wanted to start playing some games at this point, I wanted to eat even more, so I headed across the street to Fuzzy’s Taco Shop — which thankfully is not an apt description of their tacos. I ran into Andrew Smith of Board Game Quest while there, and he invited me to play a game of Pipeline with him after lunch. While Pipeline designer Ryan Courtney is local to me, I keep missing him at game nights, and had never played, so I gladly took Andrew up on the offer. I met Andrew, Matt and Jac at the Battelle Grand Ballroom, which was allegedly one of the new open gaming spaces. It was completely empty except for our game of Pipeline, so it certainly wasn’t well advertised. But it was a nice, quiet place to play a heavier game that required some explanation.
Pipeline is not a game I would ever buy, as I don’t have a heavy gaming crowd at home to play it with — but that is exactly why I like to try to play games like it at conventions. I think Pipeline, in particular, is going to make a lot of heavier gamers happy, as it manages to fit a lot of economic and resource management, along with a very cool spatial puzzle, into a game that takes about thirty-minutes per player. Our four-player game, taught by Matt and Jac, with Andrew and I both being new players, only took two hours. Finding a game that is that heavy and satisfying play in that time-frame is a real sweet spot. Kudos to Ryan on the design, and to artist Ian O’Toole and publisher Capstone Games on that very nice looking production.
From there, I ran over to an appointment I had with Conor McGoey of Inside Up Games to demo 7 Souls. If that name doesn’t ring a bell, it may be because the game was originally titled Rise of the Elder Gods, but Conor was asked by Greater Than Games to change it as they make Fate of the Elder Gods, and are planning more ____ of the Elder Gods titles in that line. But I digress.
7 Souls is a simultaneous-action selection game where every player is playing as an Elder God fighting over control of seven followers. Players will choose which of their identical follower cards to send to three different locations to collect souls, steal sanity, gain power, and potentially even fight and corrupt investigators. If more than one player chooses the same soul at the same location, they need to battle to wrestle for control of that soul. The game ends when two of the resources at a location are emptied, which takes around 30-40 minutes. It’s a very well done light game, with a killer theme and art to match. With this following the success of Gorus Maximus last year, it looks like Conor and Inside Up are on a roll.
After that wrapped, I ran up to D283 — the open gaming area from last year — and met up with Craig Marks and Chris Copac. I almost got into a game of Die Tavernen im Tiefen Thal with them, but the start of the game got delayed and I had promised to demo a game not that long afterward. Someday I hope to get a game in with Copac.
Mike Gnade from Rock Manor Games arrived shortly afterward with his preview copy of The Few and Cursed, a weird west open world adventure game, and I sat down with Brian and Will of Cloak and Meeple to play it. Now I know I’ve said this before, but I love weird west stuff dating back to playing Deadlands right out of college. So I was already hooked on the theme. Fortunately, the gameplay also delivered, allowing multiple paths to victory and featuring more than one end-game trigger. It also had unique characters that started with different resources and had tailored decks for them. As if that wasn’t enough, the game is based on a comic book of the same name, and the comic artist created all new artwork for the game, so it looks absolutely stunning. Factor in the miniatures and it’s pretty over the top. I’m sure winning the game didn’t hurt my opinion of it, but I know, win or lose, I really enjoyed that hour of weird west gunslinging action.
I wrapped the night in the open gaming room with Marti and Sarah from Open Seat Gaming teaching me Wingspan. For a fairly light engine-building game about birds, this game has seemed pretty divisive among those I know. I suspect it is a case of the acclaim and awards the game is receiving coloring people’s opinions — not to mention the fiasco with the shortage of copies that were available at launch. Stripping all that away, I think Wingspan is successful in what it sets out to do — be a light, accessible, pretty, engine-builder with a unique theme (complete with bird facts on each unique bird card). While I have no plans to go buy this one, and wouldn’t request it, I’d happily play it again if other people requested it.
At this point, most everyone I was with was tired and ready to call it a night. Realizing just then, nearing midnight, that I never ate dinner, I wandered across the street to Late Night Slice. True to their name, they were still serving slices of pizza. The pizza was hardly remarkable, but it was edible and kept me from going to bed with a rumbling stomach, so I counted that as a win.