Origins! Your Grog Crew
A Grog has no name. A Grog has only a screen name. ~
The GrogHeads Crew, 23 June 2016
photos by Corinne Mahaffey / click to enlarge
Dubbed “Fort Kickass” by the GrogHeads Central Command crew, our little patch of concrete in the gaming hall was the nexus of some excellent wargaming at Origins 2016. While it’s not the overwhelming dominant presence in the gaming hall like it was in 1978, anyone who says that “there’s no wargaming at Origins” is just flat-out wrong. Hex-and-counter, card-driven area, or minis-on-terrain, we had wargames in spades.
More to the point, we had the Grogs!
And our GrogHeads crew has their own thoughts about Origins 2016, as we asked them (1) “What’s the coolest thing you saw?” and (2) “What was the thing you enjoyed most?”. Here’s what they told us…
As always, the coolest thing was hanging out with fellow Grogs and gaming. Beyond that though the coolest thing I saw was the much stronger presence of wargamers at the con. It was really cool to see how well attended our sessions were and how many people just stopped by to see the games being played and sold around us.
What I most enjoyed, again beyond hanging out with fellow Grogs was getting to meet and hang out with people in the industry. I spent literally hours with David Heath, and had some good conversation with Mark Walker. The booth was filled with game designers the entire length of the show. That was a real treat!
My coolest thing was having Denver Walker explaining the Tiny Wars product line to me with such wonderful detail and understanding. She knows it inside out and really communicated so much knowledge and enthusiasm and I ended up buying 3 games at the Flying Pig booth. I’m used to enthusiasm from the older guys but not from the younger women – that would be the first in this grog’s lifetime and a very promising sign for the hobby!
Most enjoyable was meeting Erik von Rossing at the Lock’N Load both and getting him to autograph his “A Wing and a Prayer – Bombing the Reich” game. Apparently I am the very first person to ask him to do that ever. Then we were chatting about our favourite B-17 movies, books and TV shows (“12 O’clock High” obviously). We had pretty much seen all the same shows as kids. Ultimately we sat down in the back and went over the game mechanics for him to demo the version 2 mechanics to me. We were trying to figure out how many dice rolls were optimal for the air to air combat. Awesome!
Coolest thing I saw at Origins was the 20 person game of Wings of Glory setup on play mats to look like the south coast of the England.
Thing I enjoyed most was teaching people to play Wing Leader and seeing the light bulb go on when the game clicked with them. Easy game to teach and great fun to play.
Of the 40lbs of games I brought home (that’s only 4 games folks) I’m most looking forward to getting Old School Tactical on to the table to play.
Jeep Killer 6: With all apologies to my up-bringing and those that reared me, gaming cons create the sense of joy and expectation that the observant associate with Christmas. I’ve wondered why this is so since I started going to GenCon during the first Reagan administration and have concluded that it has to do with being in a place filled with people who love games. I don’t have to explain why I have the collection I do – it pales compared to some – and I can wander through hall after hall of people enjoying the same hobby, with some of them asking me to join them in a game.
The highlights of this year at Origins, on a personal note, were being able to attend for the first year with my family. I loved watching my wife experience a con that’s a whole category of stress lower than GenCon and was able to watch my son spend time with the son of not only a Grogfather but a Grogmother, the latter being one of the five women ever observed in the wild playing the OCS.
It was a real presence for wargaming at Origins and encouraged me with the number of people who stopped by to play wargames, watch wargames, or just chat a bit about wargames.
As a parting comment, I think Grogheads Central Command was an immense success, although I’m far from unbiased. It was a real presence for wargaming at Origins and encouraged me with the number of people who stopped by to play wargames, watch wargames, or just chat a bit about wargames. I’m definitely looking forward to next year.
Edward: The third best thing I did was demoing the Pokémon card game. It was challenging when I played Kieran. My second was demoing the Naruto board game. I’ve played twice with my parents since then. Then the BEST thing I did at Origins was boff and play Fields of Fire with Ian.
Mrs. O: First off, I am absolutely grateful for modern technology. Between using Yelp to find a mechanic (we had car issues on the drive down), Uber to schedule car trips to the hotel, and Google Maps for guiding us so masterfully down, around town, and back, the mobile internet was a gift.
Con-wise it was great to meet and converse with so many people I had only known by screen names, or bits of Skype conversation at best. Singing Zappa with Metal Dog, making jokes about the differences across the border with Canada with Barthheart, and talking games and robots with Panzerde are some of the highlights.
Kore and I had a good time scouting costumes (admittedly I was playing PA, holding coffee during her shoot), and trying to keep our boys entertained. Thankfully they got along well, participating in boffing, MechWarrior pods, and the terrain building workshop together. I have hopes they’ll continue their friendship.
Edward participated in the costume contest. While he didn’t bring home a prize, I was proud of his behavior. He was friendly and enthusiastic in competition, represented his character well, and carried on conversations well with other contestants.
Flick ‘Em Up! seemed to be the most popular game not directly associated with the Grogs. It’s fun, well-made, thought-through, and completely unserious. If someone comes up with a wargame in a similar vein, it’ll be sure to be a hit, too (hint, hint).
All in all, Origins was a great con. Thankfully smaller than Gen-Con, full of friendly people. Thanks, Fort Kickass for a great time. I look forward to next year, and we’ll see you online in between!
James: Watching my son have fun with more games and make friends with Jeep Killer’s son… by playing games with each other.
Ian: Mechpods! Playing Fields of Fire and Crucible of Force with Jeep Killer’s son, playing Hive, Queen, and Country; and the hands-on terrain building class.
We had some people do a spectacular job in their first time in the Command Post Wargaming; it’s always great to see people take to a staff position with intensity, do a great job, and have a great time doing so.
Playing in the MechPods!
Corinne: The Warhammer 40k cosplayer’s armor was very cool; Ian’s deeply serious discussions about how to kill the bugs in Hive, Queen, and Country or tanks in Fields of Fire; my only regret is that in 5 days, I was so busy being a journalist (which is fun!) that the only game I played was Mechpods – which are awesome but I wanted to play more!
The coolest thing I saw at Origins was a team at Command Post Gaming go from “This is a tank” to a decent stab at being a staff and synchronizing their actions.
I enjoyed most the people, of course.
I bought, in honor of the day job, a copy of Swamp Devils from Blood Bayou!; my team running a nature tour back home were near hysterical looking at it.
I definitely hope to see everyone again next year and maybe even see a few new and missing faces. The count down is on!
Seeing all of the Grogheads and vendors in person. We get a chance to hang out face to face, do some gaming, and show off wargames to the convention attendees. It’s 5 days of exciting work and over all too fast.
I spend the majority of my time working the Command Staff Exercises and really enjoy seeing the players get into their roles and jell as a staff. It was also great seeing the return of some vendors like Flying Pig (Mark Walker) and Lock ‘n Load (David Heath). Both great guys with great games.
Origins itself is a blast seeing all of the vendors, cosplayers, and gamers. I was able to sneak away from Fort Kickass and check out a few demos and buy one or two games. Okay more like eight, but it’s games money and that’s not real money. Right?!
The coolest thing I saw at Origins was the size of it. Having never been to a con before, I really didn’t know what to expect. And once they opened the Exhibit Hall Saturday morning, I was completely overwhelmed in a way I never had been before. Just a mass of humanity searching for the next thing to hold their attention.
My favorite part of the convention was putting faces with names and voices. The fact that absolutely everyone I met, with no exceptions, was just an outstanding individual was just icing on the cake. And reason enough to come back next year.
Coolest thing I saw: Dear lord, you honestly expect me to pick just one thing?!?!? In that case, I would have to say it was simply seeing the sheer number, type, and variety of games under one roof. It’s one thing to be aware of it as an abstract; it’s another thing entirely to actually, physically behold it in the flesh. Truly awesome!
The thing I enjoyed most about the show: This one’s much easier — getting to meet my fellow Grogs, of course! For as fantastic an experience as the weekend was, interacting with Brant, Cap’n Darwin, Cyrano, James Sterrett, MetalDog, OJsDad, Panzerde, Rick Billings, and the rest of the gang was without question my favorite part(s) of the entire con.
The coolest I saw was Hollow Cell from Lock’n Load Publishing. We played it a LOT with our booth crew, and had the designer teach us how to play.
The thing I enjoyed most was getting to meet new people. Gamers are great people, and I met a whole bunch of them.
There’s no way to pinpoint any one cool thing, but there were a handful of them that I wanted to call out:
- Gale Force 9’s half-dozen wargame-minis terrain boards for Tanks! / Team Yankee demo games from a company that’s known for D&D support products – and they were more full than not
- Lost Battalion Games’ Origins Award-winning terrain tiles (our own photos coming soon!) that were available for sale in our Central Command area
- How cheerfully every gamer I saw pulled together to deal with the ohmigawdthatscrazyhuge lines on Wednesday since they were all in the same boat together
- The D&D pint glasses at Barley’s across the street (thanks, Cyrano!)
- The incredible vendor support we got from our partners in the Central Command area – we LOVE these guys!
- Watching the GrogKids bond, play, goof off, explore, and generally have fun. My own son has been coming to Origins since 2006, and this year he was working in someone else’s booth, and he was hanging out not just with the GrogKids in the pictures above, but also on the loose with kids from Proving Ground, Flying Pig, Lock’n Load, and others. These kids only see each other maybe once a year or so, but it’s like cousins on summer vacation – they can’t wait to start playing together again.
What did I enjoy most? Two things, equally split. For GrogHeads, I enjoyed that we’ve added to the overall headcount of Grogs coming to the show. We tacked on another 4-5 this year – some working, some playing, some wandering around in a daze, but all of them present and accounted for. For myself, I booked Dad into 2 speaking engagements at the Origins War College, and getting hear him talk about the cool and unique stuff he got to do during the Cold War while working in the arms control and tac nuke worlds was incredible.