Greg here! Being an Ohioan, I live close enough to drive down to Columbus for the afternoon. Last week I took advantage to visit Origins Game Fair for the weekend. Origins is a board gaming convention like Gencon. Although one day was not enough time to take in all of the con, I wanted to talk about the experience. Hopefully this gives a glimpse into Origins and how it compares with Gencon.
Origins takes place in the Greater Columbus Convention Center, on the northside of Columbus. Like the Indianapolis Convention Center this has skywalks connecting to several nearby hotels. These turned out to be invaluable, as the Saturday of Origins turned out to be Columbus’ Pride parade. A gigantic parade was going… right in front of the convention center. Luckily, Columbus has many parking garages. I was lucky enough to get a parking garage next to the convention center and near a hotel with a skywalk.
I preregistered and picked up my badge at the con. The lines were fast and I was in and out in five minutes. If I had registered at the con it would’ve been longer, but only about 20 or so minutes. The staff throughout the day were friendly and helpful. And the con goers were also very nice. It may have been the circumstances of the day, but there weren’t as many cosplayers at the convention while I was there.
As for the con itself, it was somewhat different from Gencon. Gencon is about board and card games and tabletop RPGs, but has a lot more general nerdy things. Origins focuses a lot more on board and card games. For an example, at Gencon there were a lot of geek t-shirt companies, game and book resellers, and toy sellers. At Origins, I only saw one t-shirt company, one tiny comic shop, and that was it. The vast majority of the booths were for board and card games. There were a few cosplay companies, and a surprisingly small amount of RPG pubilshers.
Origins is split in two through the big convention center. Half of the center is the sellers, and the other half has a huge space filled with tables for games. Both preregistered events to learn games and board and card game tournaments. This space was a lifesaver for taking a break and grabbing a bite to eat. At Gencon it seemed like almost every table was full and every spot was taken. At Origins while there were a lot of people there was also more space to breath and relax. I never felt like I was in a sea of people, unlike Gencon.
I did get a ton of loot and demoed several games. I stopped by Brotherwise Games and picked up the latest Boss Monster expansion Implements of Destruction and the Carrying case, along with an Origins promo. I also saw a demo of their upcoming game Unearth. I stopped by the booth of an Ohioan company, Easy Roller Dice Company. I ended up grabbing a dice cup, some Purple Dawn Polyhedral Dice, and a Gunmetal with Orange numbering set. They were running a special where you could roll 2d20 and get a discount for whatever you rolled; I ended up with a 14% discount!
While wandering the hall I saw a booth for a game I had seen on Kickstarter, Pinball Showdown from Shoot Again Games. I love pinball, but was hesitant about the game. After seeing a demo of the game, I found that I liked it more and ended up grabbing a copy, which came with several promos. On my way to the other side of the hall I stopped by Indie Press Revolution. I grabbed a physical copies of World Wide Wrestling and it’s sourcebook International Incident, which came with free PDFs. I also played a round of Shiba Inu House, from Renegade Game Studios. A simple more family oriented game, but fun.
Part of the reason I came down to the con was to see my brother and his company, North Star Games. I ended up helping run a demo for some curious congoers. I ended up grabbing a playmat for their game Evolution: Climate. Next to them was Pelgrane Press, where I added to my Trail of Cthulhu collection by picking up Mythos Expeditions, which also came with a PDF. Near North Star’s booth was the company Bezier Games. I saw a flag for their game New York Slice, and played a demo of it. It was so much fun I bought it immediately, which came with a free promo card. At the end of the day, I swung by the Origins booth to cash in the generics I bought. I then used it to buy a maze pen and a metal d6 with the Origins mascot as the 6.
I had fun at both conventions. Gencon seems more built for a wider spectrum of geek, and as such has a lot more people. Origins is somewhat smaller and caters more towards boardgames. Origins is also cheaper, although my cost was somewhat alleviated by taking a day trip. Both conventions are worth attending, and worth your money.