So normally after I get back from Origins, or any major convention, I compile some silly list of awards as an easy, controlled way to talk about my experiences at the convention – mainly my experiences playing various board games. As time goes on though, despite my best efforts, less and less of my time is dedicated to playing games at conventions.
Is this regrettable? In a way, sure, but I have less time to play games because I am spending more time demoing games or hanging out with friends and fans. I’m not necessarily a social person, but I have found myself enjoying these thing equally or more so than just playing board games.
So lets talk about demoing games. About once a day, I sat down with a group of people and taught them to play Founders of Gloomhaven. I was a little nervous coming into the convention because I had been getting some mixed reactions about it so far. Some people enjoyed it, but other found the multitude of decisions daunting. I made some small tweaks, but no game is for everyone, and I really wanted this game to be for the people I was showing it to.
Luckily, the reception was surprisingly good. Everyone seemed to enjoy the game and that was a really good feeling. It gave me a nice confidence boost going into the Kickstarter launch, knowing that the crowd for the game might be larger than I expected.
Honestly, it sort of a weird experience coming off the heels of Gloomhaven and having so many media creators willing to work with you. I’ve always had this mentality of being the underdog, but I don’t really think that applies anymore. It’s weird. But nice. I think Founders will have a decent amount of good media coverage for the Kickstarter, and that makes me happy.
And then, of course, we can talk about the hanging out with people. My best friend from California ended up flying out for Origins, and it was so great to hang out and spend time with him. We had some heavy discussions about what’s going on in our lives, and we played some heavy board games. I couldn’t have asked for a better experience.
As always, hanging out with Blue Peg, Pink Peg was a pleasure. For some reason, Robb thought his initial Terra Mystica defeat at RobbCon was a fluke, so I had to beat him again. Apparently this is a thing now. At every convention he want to lose at Terra Mystica. I am happy to oblige his masochism.
And, of course, staying in the “Cabalist House” with all my Origins friends from years past was also a good time. I found myself spending less time here than I would have liked, which is my one disappointment. Last year, we were playing some heavy game until 2 or 3 am every night, but this year it only happened once.
And the fans! I didn’t know what to expect from the Gloomhaven fan reaction going into this massive convention, but I was pleasantly surprised. If you look at someone like Rodney Smith from Watch It Played wander through a convention hall, you can sort of start to feel bad for the guy. Every few steps he takes, someone wants to stop and say “Hello” to him. It can take an entire day for him to make the Origins vendor hall circuit, and the vendor hall isn’t that big. I was hoping that it wouldn’t be so extreme for me (not that I expected it to be), and it wasn’t. I got stopped occasionally over the weekend, maybe a dozen or two times, and it was great. They were all very nice interactions, and I never felt like I was restricted – like I couldn’t quickly get from one place to another it I wanted to.
Thanks to all the fans who stopped me and said “Hello!” You are all great!
So this whole thing isn’t to say that I didn’t play some games. First and foremost, I ran through both the True Dungeon scenarios that were available at Origins. I had a good time, but it did take up most of my Friday, as well, and I’m not sure the fun was worth the time spent. I mean, I was hanging out with a lot of great friends, and that was certainly worth it, and some of the puzzles were fun to solve, but a lot of it was needlessly silly and frustrating, so I probably won’t do it again.
I also played A Feast for Odin a second time and might be warming up to the game quite a bit. The spatial component was making me very happy. I finally got in a 2-player game of Terraforming Mars, which was a great experience for me, but I don’t think my friend, who was playing for the first time, had much fun. Kingdomino was some light, simple fun. Sagrada reminded me a lot of Roll Player, but I think I enjoyed it more. Onitama was a surprisingly engaging abstract. Codenames Duet was… Codenames… for two players – pretty much exactly what one would expect. And Ethnos – I don’t get why people are into this game so much. It is incredibly random.
I’m not sure whether this latest convention experience was superior to any other, but it was different, and I think there’s a lot to be said for that. Different experiences are good, and I am now looking forward to what will surely be an all-new experience at GenCon.