Friday, August 26, 2011

42. I Game in Public

As the title says, I game in public.  This may be hard to believe for those who know me in person, but I assure you it's true.

Back at the end of June my job put me in Columbus, OH, on the opening day of the Origins Game Fair, June 23rd.  It was purest coincidence but a wonderful coincidence at that.  I was able to attend only that one day, and it was literally last minute.  I dragged myself out of bed extra early and headed over.  Unbelievably my hotel was a mere ten minute walk away.  By the end of an hour, I had registered and signed up for two games.  I am usually a planner but this was all done on the fly.  I wandered the exhibit hall until it closed, bought some cool things, then headed over to my games.

Here are the pictures I took with my phone.  I took A LOT of pictures, but despite my phone having a higher megapixel count than my home camera it doesn't have the light sensitivity it could, so many photos came out blurry (it does very well in sunlight and static scenes; not so well with indoor lighting and movement, but it's a PHONE not a camera, so oh well).  I have not included all the pictures I took; I wouldn't inflict that kind of torture on you, my voluntary blog-reader!

One thing I confirmed for myself is that I won't do conventions alone any more, at least not by prior choice.  That's why I stayed home from Gencon this year:  no one to go with.  It's really not much fun wandering the con solo.  However, next year's plans are already in the works.  Fear not for my mental health.

The Welcome sign at the Exhibit Hall entrance.
Looking to the left of the Welcome sign near Badge Registration:  the stairs.  What I found cool is the projected images on the stair steps.  I'm not sure where the projectors were.  I thought it was pretty neat.
Inside the Exhibit Hall, near the paint & take tables.  I couldn't get an in-focus shot of the Hall very well.  It was a good-sized Hall for Origins, and there were a lot of big name vendors there, as well as some new names I hadn't heard much of before.  Apparently the Hall was sold out:  good news indeed in "this economy."
A really cool tapestry/rug by a vendor (sorry, don't remember who).
A cool VSF model.  I can't remember which booth it was at, or for which game.  I should have taken more notes; now it's been two months and I've forgotten everything.
The other side of the above picture, same booth.  It is difficult to make out, but it's a 3D VSF battle scene.
Victorian Science Fiction is making a huge come-back (has it been and gone already?), or perhaps that should read, is really getting popular now.  A booth of foam (but real-looking) swords, and various costumes.  One booth of about four, as I recall.
I love large gaming artwork.  I'm sure I've got a wall that would fit it, but I don't have a wife who would allow it.
Another booth of VSF costumes.  It seems the VSF crowd is more of a LARP-type of gamer, or at the least someone who likes to dress in costume, even if they don't play.  I wonder if the VSF gamer and the VSF costumer ever overlap?
A selection of rather pricey hats.  $80 for something I can ONLY wear at a game convention?  How do people justify the expense?
I almost bought the Beholder hat, but just couldn't quite convince myself to do so.
I got to play the first convention demo game of Tomorrow's War, by Ambush Alley Games, published by Osprey.  It was at the Osprey booth, and it was a verrrry simple scenario.  I have to admit it didn't do a lot to tell me about the game, but I have to give the presenter a little slack, in that it was THE first game so he was a trifle rusty on the rules.  From everything I've read about the game, it's one I will be picking up when it's published in October.
More VSF goodness:  prop hand guns.
A view of the right half of the Miniatures Gaming Hall.  There were a lot of tables, and while possibly 30% to 50% were empty, keep in mind it was only the first day of the con.

What follows here is a selection of the tables in the Miniatures Gaming Hall.

Very large table of naval gaming.
Some of the ships from the previous game's vendor.  Where would you store them???  How would you get them home???
A scratchbuild 'Mech terrain board.
A very cool layered depth table.
I overheard that the space dock was scratchbuilt.  Very cool.
The second game I played, a demo of a then-as-yet unpublished game called Leviathans by Catalyst Game Labs.  It is available for purchase now, I believe.  In this photo, it was so new they didn't have all the ships models yet.  I liked it.  VSF strikes again!
Another 'Mech-type table.  More cool SF terrain.
This was a very large table, or perhaps it's just that the miniatures were very small.  It was either Microarmor, or some other 1:6000 scale game.  There are a lot of tanks on that board!
My last game, and the one that took the longest to play:  Isandlwana, using the PIQUET: Din of Battle Supplement.
A grand scale battle, beautifully painted figures, lovely terrain.
I played the "chest" portion of the Zulu attack.  Part of the reason I wanted to play was because I have never been able to play this battle, but I was also very interested in the rules.  I have heard differing opinions of them and wanted to see for myself.
Now, there may be certain rules mechanics that are simplified for a convention game, but in the final analysis I don't think I will buy these rules for myself.  It was a well-run game by an umpire with plenty of experience, but the mechanics lacked what I felt was necessary for a sweeping, horde of warriors.  In the end, the British retained their position, and the outcome was never truly in doubt.  I am very glad I played, and if any Piquet defenders want to chime in and change my mind I am willing to listen.  I also realize one should not make a decision to like or dislike a set of rules after only one outing, but I don't see myself being able to play again...possibly ever.  No one near me plays them at all!
One of my biggest concerns was not buying too much.  I wanted to buy a lot more than I did, but not because I couldn't spend the money, but because I had no way to transport it home!  I hadn't packed in such a way to carry loads of gaming goodness with me, so I was very tight on space afterwards.  But I'd do it again in a heartbeat!

That's it for my (very late) Origins 2011 report.  It doesn't really show you what you missed so much as it helps me to remember what I did.  But thanks for reading, anyway!

Next up, a shorter report on a smaller con:  Skirmish 2011.


  1. I've never played Piquet either . . . but it DOES seem to generate extreme responses. Your's doesn't seem to be at either end of the spectrum . . . BUT if it didn't excite you, then (without hating it) you will probably find some other rules preferable to them.

    Thanks for the view of the convention. Where I'm located I don't have access to any gaming conventions so I appreciate the looks that I get from people like you who publish some photos and comments.

    -- Jeff

  2. Thanks, Jeff. I'm a bit of a rules-collecting junkie, knowing full well in advance that I'll never play most of them, but it could go either way with this set. Like I mentioned, it might have been just a "watered-down" convention way of doing things. I might buy them anyhow!

  3. Super looking show, love those huge ships!