Origins – Thoughts from the GrogCrew

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What did our guys bring home from #Origins2017?  What was the coolest thing they saw? ~

GrogHeads Staff, 22 June 2017

We asked our crew at the GrogHeads Central Command (AKA Fort Kickass) to chime in with the coolest thing they saw at Origins that wasn’t GrogHeads-related.  Most of them dropped us a line or so.  One of them expanded his thoughts.  And one of them wrote a bunch.

First, the loot, as photographed by some of our GrogHeads

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Bullet points!

  • Coolest non-Grogheads thing…discussing and/or playing three in-development wargames with the designers.
  • The coolest thing I saw was Rogue Cthulhu gaming group.  All of their events were very good and it was well organized.
  • Coolest thing I saw this trip was a 6′ x 3′ rubber backed carpet, that was the game board for Quartermaster General!

Some longer thoughts:

Ian won the kid’s section of the Costume contest with his Dwemer Armor (made by Ian, Corinne, plus additional help from grandma and grandpa.)  And Edward Owczarski took third place in the same event!  Yes!  😀

All of us enjoyed the Origins Dungeon Crawl and we always look forward to the MechPods.  Ian likes playing the Hive, Queen, and Country minis games, and thumping people in the boffer event.  James enjoyed seeing something brand new as Rob Seabrook explained his innovative take on gaming Napoleonic battles.  Corinne always likes seeing new costumes and wishes we had time to play an OCS game!


Other longer thoughts:

Once again I was really pleased to see how many families were wandering around.  There were young kids and parents, grown kids and parents, and sometimes three generations all having fun together.  There were also groups of friends just being together and enjoying the day.  Sometimes it seems like that is something of a lost art so it is great to see that it is not.  I also thought the costumes were a little better this year and there was a greater diversity.  Hats off to everyone who made the big effort to do so!  I understand it was pretty hot being inside some of them.

This year there was an amazing dragon and rider that was made entirely of balloons that had to be seen to be believed.  It was truly a masterpiece.  It was in one of the side halls and was maybe 4 feet high and six feet wing tip to wing tip and nose to tail.  Outstanding!  I wish I had taken a picture.

Don’t worry – we did!


And the really long thoughts:

This one was a blur.  It was, if memory serves, my fourth year serving at what we now affectionately call “Fort Kick-Ass”(sic), a paen to the fierce games of “Flick ’em Up” held there last year. There were even more fine Grogs to meet, children to teach games to, command posts to staff, little plastic ships to buy, and an intense argument about the proper reading of poorly-fashioned rules was had.  The local boys who play La Battaille the way some people breathe had at the battle of Austerlitz and there was, again, a fine six-map setup of D-Day Landings for those who regard that significant investment as the apotheosis of Amerithrash wargaming.

My number one observation, though, other than how much I enjoy actually meeting the crew in person, was that wargaming has truly and well been driven into a cul-de-sac, but there it will thrive.  I had the great pleasure of talking to Mark Walker, David Heath, and many others about the industry as a whole and their place in it in particular, and much of what was said wasn’t for later publication.  What I can say though — as it is no secret — is that technological advances have lowered the bar to entry for those who want to make lovely, more or less affordable, conflict simulations.  Lock ‘n Load, Flying Pig, Compass Games, One Small Step, etc., are creating wonderful, lovely games, often catering to the groggiest of markets.  Take as exhibit one Lock ‘n Load’s Heroes in Defiance centered on the Fall of France in 1940.  As I held and admired the game and the quality of its production — not to mention the now-mandatory X-maps — I honestly marveled at what affordable typesetting and printing had wrought.

You had to seek us out – we were far from ubiquitous and well outnumbered by those playing Euros, Amerithrash games, cards, clicks, and RPGs – but when you found us, we had some pretty cool stuff to show you.  And I don’t think this year will be the last.

See you in 2018 at Fort Kick-Ass.


And Brant’s thoughts:

Guys like [Craig Zipse] are what make the exhibit hall so awesome, and his personality just leaps out of the booth, which is light years ahead of some folks who just throw their wares up on a table and then bunker behind the game boxes with a book, avoiding eye contact and then wondering why the customers aren’t engaging them.

When you spend as much time in the GrogHeads Central Command as we do, it can sometimes be tough to remember to go look around at some other stuff in the show.  Fortunately, I was able to chisel out some time to check out some of the exhibit hall, but I still don’t get around as much as I’d like to the seminars or other game events around the main gaming hall.

That said, the coolest thing I saw wasn’t a “thing” but a person.  Craig Zipse of the Black Oak Workshop was working out of the Kenzer and Company booth.  We’d shown you some of his handiwork before, and pimped at least 2 of his campaigns in GARPA columns.  I picked up some dice from him, and a way-cool bag to keep them in, and he was the most enthusiastic, effusive, and joyous dude I ran across anywhere in the exhibit hall.  He was so gracious and grateful about people supporting him as a small-business gamer that I couldn’t help but drag a few other Grogs over to his booth to pick up a few dice from him, too.

Guys like him are what make the exhibit hall so awesome, and his personality just leaps out of the booth, which is light years ahead of some folks who just throw their wares up on a table and then bunker behind the game boxes with a book, avoiding eye contact and then wondering why the customers aren’t engaging them.

Beyond Zipse’s enthusiasm, it was also great to meet – if only briefly – Ryan Laukat of Red Raven Games.  Ryan is both a designer and the main artist for Red Raven Games, and his distinctive style has created an ethereal dreamscape-style ‘personality’ for his games.  I wish I’d had more time to talk with Ryan about his games, but you don’t want to get between a publisher and his customers.

Finally, Studio2 Publishing had multiple shelves full of RPG products that 15 years ago would’ve gone home with me in stacks.  Stacks.  However, the combination of fiscal realities and time pressures have convinced me I just can’t afford to drop $70 on the Pirates & Dragons RPG hardcover when it’ll get read, ogled, and discussed with a few friends, but never actually played.  And while Dungeonesque, Noble Armada, and Airship Pirates were all really cool to flip through, they were (perhaps sadly) left on the shelf.


What was the coolest thing you saw at Origins?  Tell us about it below, or drop a line in our forums.  And we’re already planning for next year’s show, so get your plans and/or excuses ready now.


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