May 19, 2024

Origins 2023 Countdown ~ The Mailbag!

Armchair Dragoons PAO, 7 June 2023

There are always a bunch of questions about Origins every year.  Sometimes, we get the same questions over and over, but from new attendees.  Sometimes, we see the same questions from people looking to see if something’s changed from year to year.  Sometimes, it’s just the same annoying dude asking the exact same f’n’ question he already knows the answer to, in 5 different venues, desperately hoping someone will be his friend.

But never fear!  We’re going to tackle a handful of those questions for you, both about the Wargame HQ and Origins as a whole.

Wargame HQ Questions

I’ve been reliable assured that there’s no wargaming at Origins, so how can there possible be a Wargame HQ?!

No, there’s no 96-player tournament of The Russian Campaign like there was in 1979.  Nor will there ever be again, either at Origins, or any other game convention.  Why?  First of all, there are waaaaaay more games to play these days, and finding 96 people who can even play the same game is hard as hell, unless it’s ASL, Twilight Struggle, or (maybe) one of the Commands & Colors series.  Second, conventions, and their audiences, have changed.  Tournaments just aren’t a big deal anymore.  There still are some tourneys – CCGs for sure, plus usually something for Catan, the train games1, and skirmish minis – but big weekend-long tournaments aren’t what people play these days.  They’d rather play 10 different games over 4 days, than just 1 game, 6 times, in the hopes of getting a plaque for their wall.

But yes, there’s plenty of wargaming here.  Just the Wargame HQ alone has over 60 different events across 4 days, with over over 20 different titles.  And that’s just the ‘official’ games in the program.  Throw in a half-dozen other titles being brought in ‘off the books’ and you can see that there’s plenty of wargaming to keep you busy.


So what are you guys playing at the Wargame HQ?

Someone didn’t read our preview, did they?


There’s over 5000 events in the book, and this is all the wargaming you’ve got at Origins?

Nope, those are just the events we are doing.  There’s plenty of other wargaming – minis, cards, counters, and more – in the consolidated wargaming grid that we compiled from the entire event catalog.  This includes a couple of Polyversal events that were just added this week, too.


What is “The Raffle” we keep hearing about?

This is a Wargame HQ specialty!  Every one who plays in a game with us gets a raffle ticket.  On Sunday morning, we raffle off a bunch of games and other prizes graciously donated by folks like GMT Games, High Flying Dice, fellow Dragoons, and others.  You do have to be there to win, because we’re not shipping prizes to people, but the hilarity of the raffle is always fun to watch.
We are making some changes to the raffle this year, by having separate ‘cups’ for each raffle prize.  This lets players more strategically deploy their tickets to increase the chance of getting a game they actually really want, rather than just whatever we next in the queue when we pulled their ticket.


Can I just grab a table and play something in the Wargame HQ?

Our tables are actually very full this year, as we’ve got a lot of scheduled events.  We’ve got some open tables on Wednesday evening, and all day on Sunday, but in between, you have to get there very early in the morning (THU/SAT) or pretty late in the evening (FRI) to find a table that’s empty for long enough to play anything.  We’re happy to have some pickup games show up in our area, but priority always goes to the scheduled events, as you’d expect.


Other Origins Questions

Why do I have to sign up for demos?  Why can’t I just sit down and play?

OK, first of all, there’s a HUGE misnomer about what’s happening with games on tables and people get the terminology wrong ALL.  THE.  TIME.   A “demo” is something you get at an exhibitor booth that runs 2-3 turns or so, just to give you some flavor for how the game plays.  These are almost never running on a specific schedule and are part of a sales pitch designed to get you to fork over the cash for a product the vendor wants to sell you.
In contrast, an “event” is a ticketed, scheduled, specific thing happening that may not necessarily be tied to any specific vendor, happens at a set time in a set location, and is almost always a full game played to completion for the purpose of, well, playing a game to completion without worrying about the commercial side of things.
Plenty of people have confused the two over the years, but most tend to pick up the difference once it’s explained.  There’s at least one vendor who has intentionally mis-represented the difference over the years, and it’s one of several reasons we no longer even ask about tying in with them in the Wargame HQ.

What about the auction?
What about it?
Didn’t there used to be one?
Sure was!
So what happened?

Sigh–  OK, grab a drink.  Not a short story.  About 10-12 years ago, there was a hassle at the auction where a bunch of laptops used to run the auction were stolen and there were a bunch of problems trying to sort out whose items were still in the room waiting to be sold, whose stuff sold, and for how much, etc.  Cleaning up that year’s auction was a real headache.  But then, right on the heels of that headache was a big change in Ohio state laws about operating an auction like this.  Depending on who you believe, it was either (1) pure bullshit rent-seeking on the part of the people who license auctioneers, or (2) trying to ‘professionalize’ a lot of half-assed auctions that were resulting in legal problems for the participants, or (3) standard vanilla legislative incompetence.  Whatever the full story, it put the hoop-jumping needed to bring back the auction into the “too much trouble” category, so it’s been dead for a decade now.

Until…   this showed up on Facebook last week.

O 23 auctionBack
For context: John Stacy is the Exec Dir of GAMA and the dude that runs Origins


So how to do I sell games at Origins?

There’s a pair of lists on BGG, one for a math trade and one that’s an auction for delivery at Origins.  Either works just fine.


Cool!  What else is on BGG about Origins?

There are 2 other big lists.
One of them is the participant-generated “what are you bringing / what are you playing” list that people use to organize all sorts of meetups every year.  These are not in the event program, but end up being semi-official in that they’re organized for specific places and times and often have empty seats available to be filled.
The other is the 2023 preview that includes a lot of new releases, expansions, or highlighted games that’ll be there.


Do you have to buy a ticket/badge to spectate or wander through the vendor area?

Yes.  Anyone coming into any part of the show has to have a badge.  In years past, you could just buy a badge, but no event tickets, and wander around and shop/watch on the cheap.  A few years ago, GAMA did away with almost all per-event costs, but the cost of the badge went up.

That said, there’s a bit of a back-door way into a slightly cheaper Origins experience.  GDex is co-located with Origins, and shares the same exhibit hall for vendors, but separate programming tracks.  You can buy a GDex badge for less than an Origins badge, in order to get into the exhibit hall, and wander around to see other things while you’re at it.  You are not eligible to play in ticketed events, or use the board game library, or attend Origins seminars, or any other Origins-specific things with a GDex badge (you do get the GDex seminars and events).  It’ll save you $10-25 depending on what day you want to come and how early you get the badge, but it’s one way to hit the vendor hall and meet up with some friends for a little bit cheaper than the cost of a full badge


Everyone was masked up for the past 2 years.  What’s the rule this year?

Per GAMA’s official communication: “Origins Game Fair is not requiring masks or proof of COVID vaccination to attend Origins this year. However, please be aware that if either the Centers for Disease Control or state/local governmental organizations require us to change this policy, we will do so to comply with governmental rules.”

We still recommend copious amounts of hand sanitizer and/or Airborne gummies to ward off the Con Lurgy and whatever other afflictions might be about in the air.


Food & drink options?

We’ll tell you all about them next week!


Will there be crochet demonstrations?

Yes Tommy.  You can learn to crochet a tote bag.  No, we’re not kidding.






Thank you for visiting The Armchair Dragoons and saddling up with the Regiment of Strategy Gaming.
You can find our regiment’s social media on MastodonFacebook, Twitter, and YouTube.  (We have an Instagram page and we never use it.)
You can support The Armchair Dragoons through our Patreon, also, and find us at a variety of conventions and other events.
Feel free to talk back to us either in our discussion forum, or in the comments below.

When answering questions from readers so fair,
About the Origins Game Fair, I do declare,
There are games to be played,
And demos to be made,
And memories to make that you’ll forever wear.


  1. “choo choo” not “Brian”

Brant G

Editor-in-chief at Armchair Dragoons

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