Let the Summer Conventions Begin!

I was lucky enough to attend the Origins Game Fair in Columbus, Ohio last week. I've been working in the board game industry for about eight years but this was my first trip to Columbus for Origins and it kicked butt. Much like BGG.CON, it's a show where you can really play games and get down time with other people you usually only see on the internet. I love PAX and Gen Con, but there's a different kind of experience at Origins & BGG.Con in what happens off the show floor because there is less of a business agenda, no buyer's meetings, and time to really play. And Columbus is just adorable (Jeni's Ice Cream & Dirty Frank's - I <3 you).

One of the standout bits of the show for me was being invited onto the Origins at Night podcast with Mike Selinker, James Ernest, and Paul Peterson. They are a great group of people and fun to talk with. Before and after the show, I also got to spend some welcome time talking to Marie Poole, who ran the podcast with the guys - she is the CEO of Lone Shark Games and newly elected to the GAMA board. We talked about my blog, Munchkin Guest Artist Editions, food, and most importantly games!

I played a lot of games at Origins and want to share the ones that really stand out to me a week after the show:

  • Escape The Room: Mystery at Stargazer's Manor (ThinkFun). Played this one with a big crew including Paul from Games & STuff; Josh from Czech Games Edition; Anne-Marie and Sam from Fireside Games; Brandan from Blue Orange Games; and Rhea from Steve Jackson Games. It was a good introduction to escape rooms but left me wanting an advanced version. We had way too many puzzle solvers in our crew for it too last long enough for my liking but we had fun!
  • World's Fair 1893 (Renegade). A fun follow up to Lanterns from Foxtrot & Renegade! I played it with Nate from IDW Games & Daryl Andrews. I can tell this will be one I play again and again. It's beautiful and is just the weight of game that I like.
  • Button Men (Cheapass Games). You know who's fun? James Ernest. In the midst of all the talk of his upcoming abstract, Tak, James taught me an older game of his that I wasn't familiar with called Button Men. It plays off the title (which means hit men) and uses pins to represent characters that attack each other with dice rolling combos. Pairs & Deadfall are some of James' games that have been in heavy rotation for a bit but I'm excited to add a few more with Tak and Kill Doctor Lucky.
  • Isle of Skye (Mayfair). This games reminds me of Carcassonne but somehow seems less complicated even though it has more steps. You get to bid on three tiles you draw on each of six turns, one of which must be discarded - the other two can either be bought by another player or must be bought by you. Then you attempt to build your individual tile set to maximize the types of sets that score, which change from game to game. I was really happy to get a chance to play this with Mike Webb & Charlie Tyson from Alliance Game Distributors. This one is also a Spiel des Jahres nominee so congrats to Mayfair!
  • Onitama (Arcane Wonders). Still really loving this one and its smart packaging.
  • One Ring RPG (Cubicle 7). I got to sit on a game of One Ring with a group of friends. It was my first time witnessing a full-fledged RPG and it was very entertaining and made the idea of starting one way less intimidating. Thanks to Travis from Millennium, Scott from Renegade, Paul from Games & Stuff, Josh from Czech Games, and Steve from Rainy Day Games for letting me hang out!
  • Kingdom Builder & Alhambra (Queen Games). These have been on my list to play for some time so I'm really happy to finally have them in my collection.
  • Dead Last (Smirk & Dagger). Didn't play this one but I heard and watched a lot of people having fun with it, so it's on the short list to play before GenCon.

I also fell in love with a prototype from Matt Loomis and Isaac Shalev that I hope to see published sometime soon. It was such an elegant play experience and felt really uncluttered- I've been thinking about art direction for it ever since playing and can't wait to see how it turns out.

There were so many great games at Origins that I didn't get to all of them. I ran out of time for The Networks (Formal Ferret), Betrayal at House on the Hill (Avalon Hill), and CV (Passport Studios).  But I did get to pick up Imhotep since Origins and I'm looking forward to more time with the difficult levels. 

The day after Origins ended, it was off to the Licensing Show in Vegas. It was interesting as always (plus I got in a bonus visit to Hoover Dam). There is a new potential license that I'm excited to share more about once it's signed and there are some cool things coming from Steve Jackson Games we worked on at the show. Then it was on to Austin for meetings about the Munchkin CCG with Eric Lang & Kevin Wilson (who were great sports to pose for the above pic at the offices and be entertaining and productive all week).

Next up is DiceTowerCon & my post on Tetris!  Hope you have a happy 4th with lots of games!

Heading to GAMA

Hello internet gaming friends!  It's been way too long since I last posted so I've made a little catch up ditty to share on my way to the GAMA Trade Show before I get back to posting games from the list.  I've only been home for 4 weeks in the last 3 months because there have been a lot of changes afoot including some fun plans for 2016 so I've listed and linked it all up to make it easy to share:

  • Deciding to move west from DC to Portland! I will be doing a cross country drive in the beginning of June before Origins with my brother!!!  I'm hoping to stop at game stores along the way so please send suggestions if you think of them!
  • Attending BGGCon for the first time last November. Which. was. so. fun. I played so many prototypes, dexterity games, games from the list of 100 games, and games I'd not tried yet that had been recently published. I'm very excited to return this Fall! Crokinole 4ever!
  • Planning my trade show and convention schedule for 2016. Right now it looks like I have 20 trade shows and conventions planned for 2016. How you doing, frequent flier miles? The best part is that a few are just for fun, like DiceTower, BGGCon & GrandCon.
  • Learning to play CCGs, starting with some secret prototype stuff, then some vintage Magic decks, and now HEARTHSTONE! My Magic post draft is really weird already, because as I learned to play, I kept thinking of each mechanic in terms of Fluxx mechanics - I know this is kind of backwards but unlike a lot of gamers, I have no history with Magic and a LOT of history with Fluxx.
  • Thinking about the women in gaming panel that I'll be part of at GAMA on Monday at 7 pm. If you'll be in Vegas for the show, please show up and participate!
  • Playing the new Patchwork app - which came out just in time to replace Monument Valley, my last app obsession. I also noticed that Monument Valley and Threes each have some really cute merch for sale - I want a wooden totem so bad!
  • Trying to step up my Instagram game - it's not as popular for games as Twitter but I really love it. Let me know if you're posting there!
  • Enjoying all the attention escape rooms are getting. I did a REALLY difficult one in January at Escape Room SF that our team couldn't solve but it had great puzzles.  There are a lot of boxed escape room games coming out too - I'm excited to play this one from Think Fun in the next couple of weeks. 
  • Waiting to play Pandemic Legacy and it's killing me - but I need to be in the same city for a bit so I'm still holding off and hoping it happens this month after GAMA.  And I need to grab a copy of Tokaido Deluxe if I can still find one. Collecting games is hard when you are planning a move!
  • Planning a really fun party game about one of my favorite TV shows with some of my favorite people in the industry - a nice surprise that came out of Toy Fair in February.  Another highlight of the show was seeing the reactions to the Munchkin Guest Artist Editions that I showed off with Steve Jackson Games. I also fell in love with a new company from Switzerland called Helvetiq that has really beautiful packaging and elegant, light games and puzzles.
  • Visiting some really great places in New York after Toy Fair - from spying some of my favorite street artists' works to Brooklyn Game Lab (game design for kids), NYU Game Center (game design for grown ups), and Twenty Sided Store (a shop in Williamsburg with nice owners, and lots of RPGs). 
  • Loving this post recognizing games that represent women well by Candice Huber.
  • Playing Bunco with my friend Katie's group that has met monthly for 30 years. They were very kind to include me in their tradition this month and I'm hoping to get to go back before I move. Those ladies know how to party!
  • Realizing how many restaurants and art exhibits I have to visit before I leave DC in a couple of months!

Thanks for reading my list of -ings! My post about Can't Stop is next in the queue!