Report on ORIGINS '96 by Greg Nichols
I'll start by saying that though I've been to several small local cons, this was my first ORIGINS. My reaction was WOW! The Columbus Convention Center was huge. Any consim gamer that stayed away because they felt there wasn't going to be enough to do was dead wrong. I never saw so much wargaming in all my life. From monster games to pocket games. Chits, blocks, cards, and all other medium for wargaming was present. A virtual orgy of gaming. Tournaments/Demos: I only entered a few but most of the gamers were quite pleasant and a good time was usually had. Some companies did a fine job at this: Moments in History (good Tank demo), TCS (I played Clad in Iron miniatures), Mayfair (played their GRAND PRIX and liked it so much I bought it), and Columbia (plenty of opportunity to push blocks) come to mind. The one glaring bad apple was GMT. They were responsible for running a DOWN IN FLAMES Team tournament and really messed up. My roommate and I entered BECAUSE it was to be a team tournament only to find that nobody at GMT seemed to care about it since Gene B. couldn't make it. Mark Herman was sent at the last minute with no instructions and by the time my partner and I got to it from other gaming events, a junta group had devised a whole new tournament based on single player play and multiple games. I played DiF for four very busy hours. Sigh. I won't even get into the aftermath of the tournament and GMT's cluelessness in terms of tournament prizes... The Boardwalk: Where all the companies came to hawk their wares. And it was BIG. Most of the larger game companies were there. Of the bigger companies, Steve Jackson Games was the only one noticibly absent. Many fine displays such as The Gamers, Clash of Arms, Mayfair, US Games, Magic folks of course, Columbia, and Speerit had a terrific display of their game in about a 500% scale. Dice were everywhere in large amounts. But CCG's had a good share of the limelight (Gettysburg by Columbia was just beautiful). I thought Mayfair showed what a class act they were with not only a fine display but professional people selling and demoing their games. If I had to focus on one area that was disappointing I would say the lack of aggressive pricing on the part of the wargame companies. Most did not offer any significant discounts on their games. Many of us came from hundreds of miles away and many gamers here were seeing particular games for the first time and yet many of the companies offered almost no discount to lure in potential new gamers Avalon Hill was an obvious culprit (the baboons there forgot to bring the WE THE PEOPLE expansion card set that I was looking to pick up). They did have AIR BARON available and discounted. GMT and Columbia had only the most modest of discounts if any on their products. Spearhead was aggressive and even had their Gettysburg game in beta mode on display and taking discounted preorders). Lots of ways to spend you money but I wasn't encouraged to spend more thanks to the stiff pricing by many of the wargame companies. Auction: The wargames auction was from 10am-12 on Saturday and I got to see a little over half of it. It was well run (funny stories and some useful descriptions of the games) and it was fun to see some of the competitive bidding that was going on. I grabbed a copy of DAWN PATROL in very good shape (only partially punched) for $1.50. I saw a first edition (unpunched) copy of Ironclads and the expansion set go for about $70. Lots of WiF copies showed up. And somebody dumped their whole RISK collection (six copies in a large white box - even a '62 French edition!). Overall impression: My gaming buddy (David Richtmyer) and I had a fine time. Columbus was a good host city (had great dinners at Schmidt's in Germantown and at the 94th Air Squadron out at Port Columbus). There were many more things to do (and many at the same time!) then time and energy allowed. I finally met a few people whose names I've seen on the consim list and in game box credits. Finally, I can honestly say that attending this con was like taking a drink from a fire hose. But what I was able to swallow was filling and tasty!
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