Monday, June 20, 2016

Origins 2016: The Logistics

Origins Game Fair in Columbus, Ohio is a gaming convention that happens each summer. I first attended back in the late 1990s, but haven't been back for many years.
Walking up to the Convention Center entrance.
This year I went down for just a couple of days, driving down on Friday and back on Saturday. The original plan was to meet up with several friends and spend one more night, but some things came up so that only half the originally planned crew was able to go. That worked out fine for me, as I find that a couple of days worth of gaming convention is about right for me these days. A little longer can be fine with a bunch of friends, but with a smaller group, the shorter time works well.
The lines were long on Saturday morning.
The trip from Grand Rapids to Columbus was fairly uneventful, taking about six hours. It's summer, so there was a lot of construction traffic to deal with, especially along I-75 south of Toledo. No major delays, though. On the way back, I took a different route to avoid all that construction, west into Indiana and north from Fort Wayne. A bit longer, but less stressful.
White Wizard games in the exhibit hall.
I ended up staying near the airport, about a 20 minute drive from the convention center downtown. The ideal convention lodging is someplace you can walk to, but this worked fine for just the one night. Traffic between the hotel and downtown was a minor issue, but my Google Maps app did a good job directing me around the backups and I never got stuck for very long.
They had some Ascension for sale, but sadly no organized events were run.
Origins is held in the Greater Columbus Convention Center (and some nearby hotels). The facility has been around a while, but it's well maintained and easy to navigate. Origins isn't as big as some other conventions (i.e. GenCon), so there's plenty of room. Parking was easy to find and fairly cheap, which is a nice feature of being in a fairly small city.
Salmon sandwich and sweet potato fries at Tip Top.
There's quite a few restaurants and bars near the convention center, so there's plenty of options when it's time for a break from the gaming. I had dinner Friday night at Tip Top with some friends. It's a small restaurant/bar a few blocks from the convention center. Good food...the sweet potato fries in particular are amazing. Worth stopping by if you're in downtown Columbus.
Some of the guest of honor signing areas in the exhibit hall.
On Friday, the convention wasn't too crowded, but a lot of people showed up for Saturday. The line for event registration was huge. Even picking up your pre-registration badge had a long line on Saturday, so I was glad to have gotten my stuff on Friday. The exhibit hall was very crowded on Saturday as well. I spent most of Saturday playing in events, though, so it didn't bother me.
More exhibit hall. Lots of t-shirts available.
I spent 2-3 hours in the exhibit hall across both days. There was plenty to see, from artists displaying their work to authors doing book signings to every kind of game for sale. Most of the booths have games available to try out, so I did a few demos of things I hadn't tried before. Picked up a couple of new quick-play games to take to game nights.
New games! These are fairly quick, 15-30 minutes for 4-5 people. Good for game nights.
I particularly like browsing the artist booths. There's usually a selection of different styles, from cartoon-ish to almost photographic quality. Buying the originals is way out of my price range, but most of the pieces are available as prints, so I often take home one or two of my favorites. Got one this year, a piece by Charles Urbach.
Highland Flame by Charles Urbach
There's tons of gaming accessories for sale, too. One booth was selling nothing but wooden hand-crafted dice boxes, for instance. Dice were everywhere, of course. And there were lots of game mats for sale at various places - I found two of those that I liked enough to take home.
Game mat purchases.
Tomorrow, some words about the gaming events!

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