Another done and in the books

 Well another Origins is done and in the books, and time to take a little look back at it.  I've been attending the Origins Game Fair since 1994 or 1995.  Since then I've only missed one year (which turned out to be good luck - I had to move into a new apartment that weekend, and after I had moved, my old pos van died and never moved again (luckily in the parking lot of the apt complex (eventually they towed it off, and I said good riddance)).  However had that happened 70 miles away at Origins in Columbus, I would have been completely and utterly screwed)  (Ok, ok, I can hear you all  yelling - "Get back to gaming - no one cares about that crap"!).

I started running Learn to Play events at Origins back in 2013, making this my sixth year doing so.  In those six years, I've almost 400 (ok, 391) people participate in events that either I, or now the Ohio War Kings, have run.  Origins was the place where I first attempted to run a tournament (I say attempted because only one person showed up.  We played a game and I got his ticket refunded :-) ).

When we arrived at the convention center about 2 pm on Wednesday, there was a bit of a line to get badges, forcing us to wait about three minutes.  They have finally gotten the majority of the bugs out of the badge system (as compared to two years ago, where the pre-registration line was over an hour long to pick up your badge, and people missed games waiting in line (both players AND gm's).

This year I did not manage to get as many pictures as I generally do.   We had some frustrating issues with our area, and I had a very hard time generating the enthusiasm and excitement I usually have.

Last year I had issues with getting our events registered, which meant we had a significant lower number of people (it is hard to register or attend an event that isn't listed).  Because of that, our huge event space was cut in half, and I had to scramble and rearrange things to get all the tables we wanted.  We had asked for an HQ table (so I would have a place to organize things, and to set up my computer for the tournaments) but it was not there.  We had paid for a power drop to our area - and when I tried plugging in my phone charger I got no power.  Plus in order to save space, I had said we could use 1 18" and 1 30" table for each of our 'tables' - which were all set up - but the 18" plastic tables were a good 2" shorter than the 30" wooden ones - so we spent quite some time re-arranging them (either 3 18" or 2 30") which gave us 10 tables (instead of 12).  I was concerned about that, but we still ended up ok.  Lastly, there were no chairs at all in our area - 13 total tables and no place for any players to sit.

We 'borrowed' some chairs from nearby areas to get started.  Then after coming back to the area from dinner we found they had delivered a bunch of chairs to solve that problem.  They also added an extension cord to the power drop, but it turns out that, for some reason, plugging my phone charger directly into the power outlets simply didn't work (I can only guess it was because it wasn't grounded) - but plugging in a power strip worked without a problem (so the power issue wasn't actually their issue)).  It was really nice having power right in our area - and people (not just me) were charging their phones all weekend).  At least the most serious and critical issues were fixed.

We got a round table, but it was a 4' high standing table - not what we needed at all.   I pointed that out, and we did finally get a 'normal' sized table on Thursday.

So events for this year started off on Wednesday afternoon with Learn to Play: Warpath sessions, run by Keith Ambrose.  This is his second year teaching this new large scale sci-fi war game, and people really seemed to enjoy it.  He ran eight sessions over the five days for 16 people.
Keith Ambrose teaching enthusiastic players how Warpath works
Our area was so much fun, Deadpool himself decided to stop by to say hi!
Of course I wouldn't be there if I wasn't running my Learn to Play: Kings of War events, now would I.  I ran seven sessions and had 40 people try out my favorite game.  (Don't feel bad for Keith - he only had space for 4 people a game, while I had space for 12 (and he completely filled up 2 of his sessions, while I didn't manage that at all this year)).
It is all about learning to play Kings of War
Even married couples like the game
People often are amazed that I don't get upset when weapons or little pieces (or whole figures) break off.  My philosophy is these are demo armies, intended for running demonstrations.  They will take a lot of wear and tear.  Simply fix them and go on.  Sometimes is is amazing to think how well some of the units are holding up after six years of play.

Of course, not all of them do well.  The very first 'casualty' was in the first outing of the new Brotherhood army.  No one saw it happen - one minute it was ok on the table - the next it was all in pieces (my guess is that a kid probably grabbed and dropped it, and then someone stepped on it, but that is just me).  With new players (and sometimes even old veterans), lots of spectators and children around, these things to happen.  A bit of super-glue and they were back in action for the morning.

Unfortunately, the first game had some casualties.
In addition to the games with big battles and big armies, Dave Baker also ran a couple of sessions of The Walking Dead : All Out War on Saturday morning.  This fast paced game of survivors vs walkers (and each other) went over very well, and we hope to do more of them next year.
Dave Baker showing some folks just how fun Mantic's The Walking Dead: All Out War game is.
Big conventions are often a place to have tournaments, and Origins is no exception.  This year we hosted three tournaments.  The first on Friday was the 3rd annual Origenes Cup Dreadball tournament, hosted by Dreadball aficionado and BreadDoll baker himself, Andrew Wodzianski himself.  He had eight players throwing dice and having a great time.

The third annual Origenes Cup Dreadball tournament!
Friday evening then saw the return of the "How You Use It!" 1000 pt tournament.  This had 10 players, and all had a great time.
Kara Brown, Philip D'Angelo, Tom Ziegler, Pizza Jesus (Jesse Cornwell), Mike Moyer, Tim Beard, Theodore Simonson and Felix Castro (kneeling)
While I didn't get as many pictures as I often do at these events, I did get several

Round one gets underway
Tom Ziegler (Ratkin) v Philip D'Angelo (Brotherhood)
Mike Moyer (Undead) v Erich Trowbridge (Dwarfs)
Kara Brown (Elves) v Tim Beard (Ogres)
Jesse Cornwell (Kingdoms of Men) v Theodore Simonson (Empire of Dust)
Felix Castro (Abyssal Dwarfs) v David Baker (Basileans), with Roger Connor and Jon Carter looking on
Round 2 getting started
Felix (Forces of Nature) v Erich (Forces of the Abyss)
Theodore (Elves) v Philip (Ogres)
Jesse (Goblins) v Tom (Trident Realms of Neritica)
Kara (Celts) v Mike (Romans)
Tim (Kingdoms of Men) v David (Empire of Dust)
After four rounds of dice rolling and checking to see what this unit does, we finally had our winners.
Theodore Simonson - Dice Hate Me
Erich Trowbridge - Counter-Charger
Tom Ziegler - 3rd Place
Tim Beard - 2nd Place
Jesse Cornwell - 1st Place
You can check out all the scoring details on warscore.

Finally, the big tournament was the first (and last) Origins GT on Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning.

I had some people pushing to make Origins a 2-day tournament to keep it as a major qualifier for the midwest region of the US Masters.  Last year it had counted even though it was only a single day event, but there are now enough tournaments that it no longer needed to be an exception.

We thought we would try two days - Sunday morning is so quiet at Origins it seemed like a good idea (at the time).  What I didn't consider was that a LOT of people don't want to get up early on Sunday, or want to leave early on Sunday.  So it was too much of a commitment, and we had half the attendance for it that we did for last year - will 11 players.  Unfortunately my ringers weren't able to play after all, so I stepped in as the 12th.

One problem is that when I'm playing, I completely forget about trying to take pictures.  Plus using chess clocks, it is an unnecessary interruption - when there ended up (especially in the 4th game) enough interruptions as it was.

David Baker, Roger Connor, Jon Carter, Erich Trowbridge, Grace Patterson, Tom Ziegler, Steve Malone, Bob Boggs, Kara Brown, Amy Stamper, Felix Castro.  (yes, only 11 - who do you think was taking the picture?)

So I'm sorry I wasn't able to get any exciting action shots.  But I did get pictures of the armies!

Erich Trowbridge's Ratkin
Roger Connor's Empire of Dust
Felix Castro's Dwarfs
Steve Malone's Twilight Kin
Tom Ziegler's Ratkin
Bob Bogg's Elves
Grace Patterson's Undead
Kara Brown's Trident Realms of Neritica
Amy Stamper's Night-Stalkers
Jon Carter's Undead
David Baker's Forces of the Abyss
Mike Carter's Abyssal Dwarfs  (It wasn't until I went to move the army that I realized I had left a unit of LOGs in the case.
If you have ever run an event, you know how much it takes out of you.  If you play in an event, it also takes a lot.  Doing both is worse, especially when you have already been running events for the past three days.

I do want to publicly apologize to all my players for a couple errors I made during the tournament.  The first was flipping two scores after round 4, but Erich quickly noticed this (because I give players a sheet to track their scores) and I was able to fix and correct it.  Unfortunately the second wasn't noticed until after the awards - where it was eventually found that I had misspelled one of the field names when configuring the fifth round causing it not to be included.   Erich also noticed the error, and I have to commend him for coming forward and correcting the initial mistake, even if it meant he no longer took home the plaque for best general.

This tournament was also a first for me.  I have mentioned many times that I dislike the attrition modified scores, but use it for tie breakers.  It has mattered for rankings before, but never for the winner.  Well for the first time we had to go to a tiebreaker.  Not only did Steven and Roger have the same number of total tournament points, but when they played each other in round 4, they tied as well, so we had to go to attrition to determine the winner, and Steve's Twilight Kin were just a bit more bloodthirsty than Roger's Empire of Dust.

You can see the details of the results on warscore.

Dice hate Me - Grace Patterson
Amy Stamper - Best Appearance
Felix Castro - Best Sportsman
Best General - Roger Connor
Overall Champion - Steve Malone
Overall things went well, even though we had a few glitches.  All of them were worked out without too much pain.

I was feeling a bit frustrated at the turnout for events, but when I actually checked the numbers against previous years, it was our second highest turn out ever.  (For some reason 2014 was our biggest year for both Origins and Gencon (and GW had not yet blown up WFB and replaced it with AoS (which caused a HUGE influx of new players) yet).  Part of it looking so sparse is I simply have too much capacity for what we draw at Origins - I built up enough for demos at Gencon and then do the same at Origins, but I can almost never fill 6 tables with demos there.

Looking towards next year - I know I need to cut back a bit on the Learn to Play events for Kings of War - probably in both size and number.  I am thinking that I should starting doing some Vanguard sessions instead, though these will be smaller as I'm not sure if I will be able to do that game in the 'class' type setting I do now.  We also want to increase The Walking Dead, and see about adding in more Deadzone (maybe both teaching and a tournament, as I know there is a decent community for that game in Ohio).

If there is anything you would like to see us run next year at Origins, please let me know (we can even run non Mantic events (I know that may come as a shock to you).

Because it is all fun and games . . .