Origins 2014 Wrap-Up - The Good, the Bad, and the Opposite of Ugly

It's a spaghetti western theme as we finish up coverage from this years Origins Game Fair. Again, I was only able to cover the con for one day, Friday, so I spent all of my time chatting with publishers and designers in the exhibit hall and didn't get to take a look at all of the many, many, other events that take place in the convention center. There is a TON going on, and one small coverage team just can't get to it all in a single day... So with that said, let's wrap things up! Are you ready? Good, let's go!


The Good -

If you've seen Part 1 and Part 2 of our coverage, you've seen a lot of the good from the Con; here a few other highlights you may be interested in:

Catalyst Game Labs - I chatted with Randall Bills at the booth and found out some good news for fans of The Duke, such as myself: There are more expansions hitting soon, as well as the second print run of the game itself. As if that wasn't good enough, they're releasing a re-skin/re-theme of the game later this year--same game, different aesthetics--so be on the lookout for that!

Break From Reality Games - Damage Report, which Kickstarted and has hit the market, was on full display at the con. We'll be reviewing this one soon, and the buzz around the room was really positive for the title. It's a real-time space adventure game, akin to mobile games like Space Team. Players are playing different scenarios in which they have to fix or defend their broken down spaceship while handling damage reports that are triggered every three minutes. It's fast paced co-op fun--you definitely want to take a look!

White Wizard Games - Star Realms has exploded onto the deck-building scene, and it was definitely in full force at the con. White Wizard made it super easy to get in on the game with a great introductory price point, and TONS of tables and volunteers right there in the exhibit hall so you could sit down, play the game--which has a really fast learning curve--and then pick up your own copy.

Overall - It was great to see so many titles that we've covered here on the blog--whether via interviewing designers, doing previews, or featuring them in Kickstarter Weekly--finally make it to market. Many of the big publishers who are staples at the con were there in full force, but the indie publishers have certainly carved a little more than a niche in the market, and they displayed their hard work to convention-goers with full gusto!

The Bad - 

The bad this year is more like, the absent. This is more personal for me, but several regular attendees/exhibitors I spoke to noted the same absence and we all felt the con suffered a little because of it. What is that absence? Hill's Wholesale Games, and Chimera Hobby. This was my sixth trip to Origins, and it was the first time the two LARGE booths that always had an abundance of dead games, and hard-to-find collectibles weren't there! It's been a long-standing tradition of mine to pick up a box of Star Trek ccg cards, or a few packs of Pirates, or whatever struck my fancy. I know many people who do the same. This reporter certainly felt their absence.

The Opposite of Ugly -

There are three booths that come to mind when I think of the "opposite of ugly." 

Gamelyn Games - The small Arizona-based upstart headed by Michael Coe has released some of the most aesthetically pleasing games over the past few years. Last year Dungeon Heroes, with its great graphics and amazing, unique meeples, were a highlight. And once again, Gamelyn brings it strong this year, debuting Fantasy Frontier. I brought home a copy of the game, opened it, and just stared at it for a while. It's a GREAT-looking game. The art. The bits. Everything. And from what we can tell, Tiny Epic Kingdoms and Tiny Epic Defenders will keep delivering the high-quality production value and gameplay we've come to expect from Gamelyn Games.

Dice Hate Me - Chris Kirkman oversees and/or designs the visuals for the entire lineup in their stable, and his eye and skill are impeccable. The art and design for all of Dice Hate Me's games are both high in function and form, and feature striking images that are immediately recognizable and memorable.

Hawk Wargames - If you've read the blog, or listened to the podcast at all, you know that my miniatures gaming goes no further than Heroclix. But Hawk Wargames' Dropzone Commander really threatened my stick-to-one-miniatures-game stance... The miniatures on display we flat-out awesome. It features lots futuristic sci-fi themed machines/vehicles that are creative and original. If that wasn't enough, the scenery they have available is outstanding. We don't usually cover miniatures, and I certainly don't play many miniatures-based wargames, but this one nearly hooked me. It's amazing to look at!

In conclusion - 

It's been a pleasure to once again cover Origins. More than just seeing all the cool new games, and finding out what's new and awesome, the people in the gaming community are just really, really nice. Everyone is helping everyone else out, whether they're chipping in on the latest design, or playtesting their buddy's latest build, or taking a few minutes to answer my silly lightning-round questions on camera, everyone is working together because they love the hobby of gaming and being with their friends. It's the least-competitive market I've ever witnessed, and I'm happy in my own small way to be a part of it. 

I'd like to thank all of the folks who shared some time with me at Origins, as well as AJ and Josh who ran camera and scouted out the con with me! 

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