Origins 2022, not quite back to normal

The second weekend in June, in Columbus OH, Origins was back again.  Closer to normal than last year when it was held in October, but the number of attendees, vendors and games were still down from the before times.  (Also, it was a week earlier in June - kind of odd to not have it over Father's day weekend).

Of course the Ohio War Kings were there, running a variety of events.    Origins went to a new (how many of these have they gone through now?) scheduling system,, which I have seen for MUCH smaller conventions (I can't help but wonder if this was the largest convention they had ever done, since it is the 2nd largest in the US after all).  Submitting events was fairly easy, and I could see them on-line to make corrections as well (so we didn't end up double scheduling anyone, or inadvertently removing events when we wanted to add new ones).  It would be nice if it allowed GM's (not just event organizers) to see their events, but still it wasn't bad.

Once again it was combined with GDex - which from what I can tell, is a small developer video game conference.  I actually think that works well (unlike when Gencon tried to add video games), as these aren't huge billion dollar companies whose goal is to steal customers - but tiny little ones that help to complement the games.  I even FINALLY got a pre-release copy of Collapsus for my phone - kind of reverse tetris that uses the phones ability to change orientation so you can change the direction the blocks fall in.  I tried it several years ago at a small game night at Star City Brewery and found it lots of fun, but have not been able to actually get a copy until now (and it still isn't fully available - but you can check it out here.

Origins also made some changes in the pricing structure for the convention.  Instead of buying a badge and then paying for individual events, they raised the cost of the badges and all the 'standard' events were then free.  No more generic tokens.  I'm still not sure if this was better or worse.  We were concerned that we would have more 'no-shows' at our events because people did not have to put any 'skin in the game' as it were - before if they weren't going to show up at least it cost them $2, now there was not cost at all for not using a ticket you reserved.

We don't have any upcharges - so all of our events were free.  I didn't notice any more no-shows than usual until Sunday, which was pretty sparse.  (Though we always do have some people still around and grateful to be able to play any games on Sundays).

One thing I realized way too late was that I wasn't even thinking about getting any pictures - so I only got a handful :-(

The Ohio War Kings gaming area

Vanguard tables

Learn to Play: Kings of War session on Friday

Kara Brown and Mark Zielinski start to get set up

Final Learn to Play: Armada session on Sunday

Luckily my friend Mark Zielinski (formerly of the Counter-Charge podcast, who back in the before times, would interview me on Sunday about the con for the podcast) did take a few pictures of the different games, and he agreed to let me use his pictures from Facebook as well.
Learn to Play: Deadzone

Ok, not one of our games, but they had a GIANT "My First Castle Panic" set up in the walkway between the Hyatt and the Convention center.  I bought this game for my Granddaughter for Christmas - we played twice beating the game, then her father wanted to try it, and we lost 3 times!

I also have to brag about this game by Wyrd - Vagrant Song.  My youngest is the lead designer for their game Malifaux, and helped with this GREAT game.  It has a 1920's look to it (think of Steamboat Willie and that era of cartoons), but don't let that fool you - it is deceptively dark and not for kids.  But also a HUGE amount of fun.  They consistently sell out at conventions, and have a hard time keeping it in stock.  I picked up an expansion scenario for it.  I just wish I had more time (and people) to play it all the way through.

Learn to Play: Kings of War.  Ignore that bald guy.

Mark picked the Twilight Kin fleet to try in a Learn to Play: Armada session.

Salamanders ready for deployment in Learn to Play: Kings of War

Fully packed session of Learn to Play Armada - and that bald guy is inadvertently photo-bombing us again.

A Forces of the Abyss warband for Learn To Play: Vanguard

Learn to Play Vanguard

The best sports game in the entire Galactic Co-Prosperity Sphere - Learn to Play Dreadball.

So overall it was a very good convention.  Keith ran Dreadball and Deadzone (and the good Dr. Jesse actually did a couple of impromptu Deadzone sessions as well), while I ran the Kings of War, Vanguard and Armada sessions.

There were only a few minor drawbacks for me.  

First the way Origins handles the club badge discounts changed, and I didn't realize it, so it cost me a bit of credit for our events (so much for listing EVERYONE in our club for the discount - next year you will have to want it AND earn it).  

They changed the GM compensation table when I submitted my events, so they were smaller than previous years (only 8 seats instead of 12), but then they changed it back again before the submission deadline.  This is a mix for me - 8 seats was a bit easier than 12 - I could stand between the two 8' tables and never had to use my personal amplifier, and still had most of my voice left after the convention.   I also didn't have to bring as many mats and terrain.  But the club didn't earn as much credit for them, and I have way more armies / warbands than I need for 8 seats (19 1,000 point demo armies, and 14 Vanguard warbands).  So at this point I'm not sure how large I want to go next year (plus it is always better to have a smaller event that is near or at capacity than a larger half empty one, as fill rate % matters).  

Finally my "How You Use It!" tournament also didn't really happen - with only two players showing up for it.  This is an event that is great for conventions as everything is provided (ok, I can only provide dice for 12 players, not the full 16 seats I can accommodate).  However it is a large chunk of time that a lot of people don't want to commit to at a convention.  At Gencon coming up in August so far we only have three signed up for it as well.  I have to wonder if this is worth doing (and with such a low fill rate, we may not get it accepted in the future).  Running tournaments (of any kind) feels a little like cheating, because it takes a lot less personal effort (I'm not talking and running between tables for the entire duration), but they can't work if no one is interested (this is why I have stopped doing full 'bring your army' tournaments at Origins and Gencon).

I look forward to next year and will have to decide what we want to run as a club and how big.

Because it is all fun and games . . .


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