Armchair Dragoons Public Affairs Office, 6 October 2021
So, Origins happened this year. It wasn’t the first post-pandemic in-person convention. As we know, GenCon was just 3 weeks ago. But don’t forget that MACE was held in Charlotte in November of 2020, following some pretty strict county health guidelines, but they did hold a legitimate in-person game convention even with pandemic restrictions in place.
Still, what did this year’s Origins get us?
Truthfully, this year’s Origins was absolutely the ‘feel’ of Origins.
- There was a loud, and full, gaming hall with tabletop games of all kinds (including a lot of home-brews) all over the place.
- There were a bunch of wargames you’d never know where there if you weren’t walking around on your own to see them (Song for War, Millennium Wars Advanced, Bolt Action, Chain of Command, ASL, several ACW minis games, A&A, and more). No, it wasn’t a 64-player PanzerBlitz tournament, but it was still wargaming at Origins.
- A reasonably full and humming exhibit hall with a wide variety of games and other geek culture on offer.
- An artists area with a great number of very talented – and mostly friendly! – artists.
- An author’s area outside of the main hall that was, quite frankly, as dead as most Origins author’s areas end up being.
- Sponsored gaming areas belonging to specific companies, such as Catalyst Game Labs (BattleTech and Shadowrun) or Steve Jackson Games.
- Academy Games getting there at the last minute and setting up after everyone’s already back at their hotels drinking heavily.
There was no shortage of games on tables, and as usual, the paint-and-take minis programs as right in the middle of the gaming area, too.
click images to enlarge
The exhibit hall was much smaller. And, well, not in it’s own hall. But despite it’s half size, it was full, it was humming, and it really felt like the Origins exhibit hall, just not as far to walk.
There are some small advantages to an October Origins. Among them, the weather is a bit more cooperative, parking was slightly easier (in part because of the smaller Origins crowd), and there’s 4 fewer months until we’re all back there together again.
Of the usual wargaming companies, Decision Games, Enterprise Games, and Academy Games were the only companies at the exhibit hall (depending on how you count Lou Zocchi / Gamescience). Catastrophe Games was there in their Origins debut as well, with plenty of Blue Panther-printed games from other companies also for sale. We’ve shown you the Academy & Catastrophe booths already. Here’s a closer look at what Decision Games & Enterprise Games had.
One wargame that snuck up on all of us was the new Song for War – Mediterranean Theater from Invicta Rex Games. They were not in the exhibit hall, but over in the gaming area, running non-stop game sessions for players to try it out. Interestingly enough, there weren’t many players in those games who also popped into our wargaming area, suggesting that (1) we still need to do a better job of promoting our wargaming area, and (2) maybe the population of wargamers at Origins is bigger than people estimate.
The Red Burnoose light wargame is wrapping up their Kickstarter campaign now. We made arrangements to have the designer come by and show it off to us, and snapped a bunch of pictures. Note that the artwork is pretty much set, but some of the card layouts are likely to change. The game covers the French campaign in Algeria in the 1850s. It’s playable by 1-4 players, mostly in a co-op mode, as the French are controlled by a deck of cards.
Finally, on Sunday morning, we held our usual raffle for the wargaming prizes that were so graciously donated by folks like GMT Games and High Flying Dice Games, and even Ardwulf himself. This wrapped up our weekend with our prize winners, our last few games, and a great – and long-awaited – weekend of gaming.
The best non-wargame thing we saw in the exhibit hall? Not even close: VENT. DRAGONS.
We’re already planning for next year, with a bunch of great ideas in store. For now, it’s always disappointing to leave our gaming space behind, but we must bid thee adieu.
All photos from Brant Guillory, Gary Mengle, and Jim Snyder
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