This past weekend I was able to get away to Columbus, Ohio to spend a few days at Origins Game Fair. Origins is one of the biggest tabletop gaming conventions in the United States featuring a slew of special events, a large exhibit hall, and a gigantic open gaming area.

I attended the convention, along with a handful of friends from Ann Arbor, on behalf of Cambridge Games Factory to demo and peddle their games in the exhibit hall. CGF had a slew of new releases available at the convention this year, including a few advanced copies of Glory To Rome: Black Box Edition, Montana, Pala, and my personal favoriteof the bunch Plato 3000, a rummy game where each meld gives players a special ability.

It’s always a blast demoing new games to people and getting to share a little love for my favorite hobby. Cambridge Games Factory has really turned a corner visually this year so it was neat to see people’s reactions to some of the new games and more specifically the art and design.

Aside from my time working the CGF booth here are a few more highlights:

Pirate Dice

On the first night we ran into some friends we met last year at Origins. One of these friends, Clint Herron, was rooming just across the hall from us in our hotel and getting things finalized to launch his Kickstarter campaign for Pirate Dice: Voyage on the Rolling Seas on Thursday morning. It was super excited to have a friend getting ready to take such a big step with one of his game designs. I was able to test the game last year and was stoked to hear that the game had since been picked up by Gryphon Games. The game is a neat race for treasure with, well…dice and pre-programmed movement that leads to a lot of chaos and fun. The Kickstarter for the game was fully funded before the close of Origins on Sunday! What a cool thing to watch unfolding for one of my new friends.

My First Math Trade

One of the cool things going on in the gaming scene for me has been trading. On you can post a trade list and a want list and let a program match them up so you can strike up deals for games from gamers all over the world. I have had some fun trading away nice thrift store games for other games on my wishlist. A cheap way, to feed the hobby hunger, to be sure. But what’s cooler than trading your games with someone?

Math Trade!

Someone way smarter than me developed a computer program to connect people’s trade lists and want lists to maximize trades between a larger group of people. You might not even give anything to the person who is giving you a game because you gave a game to someone else who gave a game to someone else who is giving another game to you. See, it’s math…I don’t get it either, it’s just cool. And cheap since we had a big meetup at Origins to avoid the shipping costs normally associated with trading games. I ended up trading away 10 games I didn’t really care for to get 12 or 14 new games to try.  Sounds sweet, eh? My wife is stoked that I spent less money at this convention than the others I’ve been to. Thank you math trade for keeping my family happy!

Gaming with New Friends

One of the best part of gaming conventions, for me, is getting to meet new people. I played some late night Werwolves with a big group of folks one night. We all went out to dinner together the next night where we all talked about relationships and the things about ourselves that annoy our significant others. It was nice, un-game related, and made me feel all fuzzy inside.

I also got to hang out for a bit in the Cartrunk Entertainment UNPUB area where folks were testing our unpublished and/or not-yet-published games. It was awesome feeling the energy surrounding all these new ideas. I even had the chance to sit down with the Dice Hate Me crew to show them one of my games. Cherilyn was flowing with creative ideas and Chris’ accent was contagious. I’ve been pretending to be from the South for days.

Wil Wheaton Got Knighted

They also occasionally have celebreties at these sorts of things. Wil Wheaton, of Star Trek: The Next Generation, Big Bang Theory, and the Geek and Sundry Network’s new gaming show on youtube called Tabletop, was one the special guests. He’s a big gamer and fellow nerd so it was cool to see him roaming around the exhibit halls when he wasn’t signing autographs in the lobby.

When I stopped by the Mayfair Games booth to pick up a present for my daughter (I’m working on a complete set of Catanimals for her by purchasing one at each convention I attend), some of the Mayfair bigwigs pulled out a big wooden sword and dubbed Wil Wheaton a Knight of Catan. It was super nerdy…and awesome.

It was a great weekend getaway for me. It was filled with lots of fun games and friends, new and old. There is something special about connecting with real people around something you love. It doesn’t take long to find out that it’s the people, as much as the thing that brought you together in the first place, that makes anything really worthwhile. I am grateful for the opportunity and especially my wife for taking on the task of single motherhood for a few days to allow me to get away. Can’t wait to drag them along to Origins someday.

What do you love to do that brings you closer to people that you care about?

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