Armchair Dragoons PAO, 23 June 2023
We blanketed the exhibit hall in several different directions, from dedicated correspondents, to video walkthroughs, to a lot of pictures.
This is the line for one of the side entrances, to get into the exhibit hall on Saturday morning, as it stretched back to our Wargame HQ.
Brant did a video walkthrough of the exhibit hall. Do not watch this on an accelerated speed without Dramamine.
We’ll get better about camera stabilization in the future ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Here’s ACD Origins Correspondent Patrick Rice and his walk through part of the exhibit hall.
During my second day at Origins, I spent a few hours walking the main exhibit hall, chatting with vendors and checking out what they were coming out with. I also asked vendors how they were faring post-COVID, and if they had noticed an increase in traffic and sales since the general end of the Pandemic.
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The vendors at the Green Ronin booth told me about their new Fantasy Age 2nd edition core rule book, their central RPG rulebook. They also told me about several new and coming releases, including Cthulu Awakens, two new Mutants & Masterminds novels, and the Book of Fiends 5th edition. Green Ronin said they’ve been doing better as we put the pandemic further behind us, and their busy booth at Origins proved it.
Free League Publishing
Free League Publishing told me about their new Twilight: 2000 Urban Operations expansion, and their upcoming Dragonbane, Adventure Vaesen, Forbidden Lands Book of Beasts, and Forbidden Lands Bloodmarch campaign book. Free League has been doing well since COVID, and noted they had done well through the Pandemic anyways; it was a great time for many RPG makers, a common theme among several of the vendors I talked to.
New from Chaosium was Rivers of London, Regency Cthulu (set in the “Jane Austin era), Nameless Horrors, and the Pendragon 6th Edition starter set. In October they plan on launching their new version of the Basic Roleplaying Core, their central ruleset for all of their roleplaying games. Also coming soon is the Cults of Runequest. Chaosium told me they had normal sales during COVID, and haven’t noticed any difference between now, during, and before COVID, as far as business activity goes.
Carolina Game Tables & Studio 2
I didn’t realize when I first walked up that Carolina Game Tables and Studio 2 were run by the same group of very nice people, until they asked which company I wanted to ask questions about. Carolina Game Tables was focusing on their new Express Program, which allows customers to order tables with a two-week delivery time, as opposed to a 6-month wait. They told me they had new announcements coming in the near future, but were saving them for Gencon. Studio 2 is launching a kickstarter for Savage Worlds 20th Anniversary, and is getting ready to launch Doomguard, a board game in the Necessary Evil universe. Both companies have been doing almost too well during COVID, with staff growing from a 3-person team to a 30-person one. They were happy to be back at shows, and their booth was packed when I tried to find someone to talk to.
VR-Soft was showcasing their existing Swords and Sails game, as well as previewing their upcoming Liftoff 2.0, a reimagining of the space race game Liftoff from the 1950’s and 60’s. VR-Soft, a self-titled “nanopublisher”, told me they were excited to put out a new product, since they prefer to put much of their focus on making better but fewer products than larger game manufacturers. They told me they had run into difficulties selling during COVID, since the multiperson games they prefer to publish were less popular for obvious reasons. They are beginning to come back however, and hope Liftoff 2.0 would help get them back in the game, so to speak.
I tried to get a demo game of Liftoff 2.0 before Origins ended, but unfortunately didn’t get the chance due to schedule constraints and a packed table for demos. I did however take pictures of their full demo setup, and flipped through the rulebook. It struck me as a clever and well-designed resource and risk management game with a thrilling “race to the moon” energy.
Collins Epic Wargames
Collins Epic was showcasing their miniatures game Polyversal, which recently launched, and which they plan on following up with a kickstarter for an expansion, planned to launch by Adepticon of 2024. The details of Polyversal will be covered by my partner Walter, who had a chance to play a game near the end of our coverage of Origins. Polyversal was delayed due to COVID and the supply chain issues that came soon after. Collins Epic was clearly pleased to finally have Polyversal out for sale, however, and were optimistic about their future outlooks.
Academy Games had demos set up for their two upcoming games, Stellaris: Infinite Legacy (launching later this year) and Battle Royale, a dexterity based game planned to hit kickstarter next year. I was highly interested in Stellaris: Infinite Legacy, given I have over 800 hours in the computer game Stellaris. The board game version looked like a great adaptation of the PC game, capturing the joy of exploring an uncharted galaxy that has always been the best part of Stellaris. Academy Games told me they had done great during COVID, but that they were struggling with global distribution, especially in Europe. Bucking middlemen and supplying directly to local game stores has helped them recover, and they were optimistic about the trend of the industry in the near future.
What Else Caught My Eye
I got a quick demo of Boop, the game that would end up as Origins Retailer Game of the Year, and knew I was playing a game that would inevitably end up on my girlfriend’s end of the boardgame shelf. An adorable game of bouncing kittens and cats around a bed, it should be no surprise it has been selling out so quickly.
The Iron Wind Metals booth had a line of people waiting to purchase one of their wide variety of miniatures, and I didn’t get a chance to talk to any of the vendors running the booth, but it was obvious their stock continues to appeal to a wide range of miniatures gamers looking for some classic metal sculpts.
StageTop caught my attention when I saw their prices out of the corner of my eye. There were many 3D printed gaming pieces and accessories at Origins, but I hadn’t noticed anything as simple yet elegant as StageTop’s gaming surfaces. I noted their booth for my own use as much as anything, since I’m always on the lookout for ways to make memorable and unique gaming areas.
Everywhere you turned at Origins, you found groups of people playing games. Some were new, some familiar, and others strange versions of ones I had seen before. I wish I had seen the Red Orktober being used as a gaming table, but I happily stood by and watched the enormous Battle of Hoth taking place one day, or the gigantic game of diplomacy taking place on the floor the next. In the hallways, every corner hid DnD groups, card games, and Live Action Roleplay duels. The gaming hall was a constant drone of tabletalk and dice rolling, while the exhibit hall was as packed with people browsing the dozens of vendors. More than a few times I found myself wondering how impossible it would have seemed three years ago for so many people to all be in one place, enjoying their shared hobbies together.
We’ve got a variety of other stray photos from a combination of Brant Guillory, Merle Robinson, Gary Mengle, and others.
One of our longest-running and best partners, Enterprise Games are the official GMT rep to Origins, and they support our Wargame HQ with a ton of great prizes every year, and we steer a lot of shoppers their way.
This douche-knuckle is EXACTLY why we included
If your bag gets big enough that you are now taking up enough space for two people, please wear your backpack across the front of your chest.
in our advice to rookies column. This guy knocked over 2 people, and a display rack, plus a few near-misses, and never noticed either of them because he was hell-bent on getting to that t-shirt booth, just to stand there and block 1/3 of the aisle while gawking.
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Hey Bob, we found one for you!
and here’s some more from Decision Games
Poor Clint at Carolina Game Tables was in a walking boot all weekend, which makes Origins much tougher, especially for someone as active as him!
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ORIGINS 2023 COVERAGE
WARGAME HQ EVENTS ~ MiD PREVIEW EPISODE ~ WARGAME HQ EVENT PREVIEWS ~ ADVICE FOR ROOKIES ~ CONSOLIDATED WARGAMING EVENT GRID ~ EXHIBITOR SPOTLIGHT ~ THE MAILBAG
SETUP & FIRST GAMES ~ ABOVE THE SHOW ~ DAY 1 REPORT ~ DAY 2 REPORT ~ DAYS 3 & 4 REPORT ~ EXHIBIT HALL ~ GAMEPLAY PHOTOS ~
WARGAME HQ EVENT REPORT ~ THE SPIRITUAL SOJOURN ~ SPOTLIGHT ~ THE RAFFLE ~ CONVENTION PHOTOS ~ AAR
DISCUSSION FORUM THREAD
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In the exhibit hall at Origins Fair
There are wonders beyond compare
From games old and new
To artwork that’s true
It’s a geek’s paradise, beyond compare!