Is it too late for an Origins 2008 report?
Jeff Wolfe
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This year, my Origins report is extremely late, for several reasons. My normal Origins recovery period turned into a summer cold that left me wanting only to rest during my free time. After that, I was able to start this GeekList, only to have to set it aside as I prepared for our local Mensa Regional Gathering (RG), for which I was Tournament Director. By the time the RG was over, it was August, and I found myself busy with other things. The last few days, I've been slowed by a medical problem, which gave me the chance, finally, to finish this up. Hopefully, someone will still find it of interest.

Origins 2008 was my fourth Origins, and this is my third annual Origins GeekList. I live in Columbus, so I again commuted from home to save on hotel bills. This year, that proved an adventure, as other events in the downtown area caused traffic jams at 2-3am every night (beyond the normal drunks-leaving-the-bars traffic). I attended all five days, Wednesday to Sunday, usually arriving early in the afternoon and leaving when the Board Room closed at the aforementioned 2-3am.

As in previous years, I mostly split my time between the Board Room (run by CABS, my local game group) and the Big Experiment room (aka The Lab, run by Looney Labs). I also spent some time giving demos at the Looney Labs booth in the Exhibit Hall, and I played a few games elsewhere, as I will explain in the individual game notes.

The numbers (games and plays) at this year's Origins were similar last year's numbers. This year, I had 75 plays of 30 different games, while last year the numbers were 81 and 31. Like 2007, a majority of the plays were of Looney Labs games, while a majority of the games played were non-Looney games. Of the 30 games in 2008, 10 were new to me.

I have ordered the games on this list chronologically by first play.
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1. Board Game: Ticket to Ride: Switzerland [Average Rating:7.52 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.52 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.52 Unranked]
 
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I arrived downtown on Wednesday a little later than the other days: just after 5pm. I stopped by the Lab briefly to look around, then went to the Board Room, where I played my first game, a three-player game of TtR: Switzerland.

Since I didn't take notes beyond logging my games, the details were a bit hazy even by the end of the weekend when I reviewed my logs. I vaguely remember teaching the game, and I think I won, but I wouldn't swear to it.

If you want to play a Ticket to Ride game and you only have three, Switzerland is the way to go.
 
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2. Board Game: Fluxx [Average Rating:5.69 Overall Rank:6629] [Average Rating:5.69 Unranked]
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Following TtR: Switzerland, I went back to the Lab and got into a game of Fluxx. It was the only game of Fluxx I played all weekend.
 
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3. Board Game: Zombie Fluxx [Average Rating:6.02 Overall Rank:2746]
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By "only game of Fluxx" in the previous entry, I mean it was my only game of plain vanilla Fluxx. I played five Fluxxes over the weekend, three of them on Wednesday. My first play of Zombie Fluxx on Wednesday was right after the Fluxx game, when someone wanted to try out her new Flame-Thrower card from the Zombie Fluxx: Flame-Thrower Expansion Pack. I also demoed the game in the Exhibit Hall twice on Friday.
 
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4. Board Game: Volcano [Average Rating:6.85 Overall Rank:2869]
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Looney Labs had a floating Volcano tournament again this year, and I ended up playing a lot of Volcano. I also played in the Binary Homeworlds floating tournament, but I didn't actually manage to play in any regular tournaments this year. More on that later.

In the Volcano floating tournament, I played twice on Wednesday and four times on Saturday. I played once against Andy Looney on Friday in Andy vs. Everybody (which we also logged as a tournament game). I also played two teaching games in the Lab on Thursday, and one teaching game in the Board Room on Friday.
 
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5. Board Game: Fluxx en Español [Average Rating:5.65 Overall Rank:11790]
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After Volcano on Wednesday, I got drawn into a game of Fluxx en Español, for the benefit of someone who teaches (I believe) High School Spanish.

I took Spanish when I was in High School, but that was a long time ago, and I wasn't very strong in vocabulary even then. The Goals and Keepers were easy to distinguish by the pictures, but the Action cards were a challenge, as they had lots of text and no pictures. I was mostly able to muddle through, although a couple of times I had to get someone to read a card for me. It was fun in a strange sort of way, but I only played it once.
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6. Board Game: Treehouse [Average Rating:5.83 Overall Rank:5497]
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My last Looney Labs game on Wednesday was Treehouse. It's an extremely light game, so it didn't take long to log 14 plays of it (most of Origins 2008). The breakdown was Wednesday: 4, Thursday: 2, Friday: 3, and Saturday: 5.

Thursday's games were a result of one of my local friends and her guest wanting to learn some pyramid games. We went to the Lab, and I taught them Treehouse, Martian Coasters, and Volcano.

One of Friday's games was a two player game against Andy in Andy vs. Everybody.

The other two games on Friday may well qualify as my strangest experience at this year's Origins. I was headed from the Board Room to my car, to drop off some Exhibit Hall purchases that I was tired of carrying around, when I encountered a couple of people sitting on the floor in front of a hallway bench. They were setting up Treehouse. They didn't have a Big Experiment ribbon or anything, they just wanted to play Treehouse in the hall. I stopped and stared at them dumbfounded for a short while. They invited me to join them. I sat on the floor with them and played two games of Treehouse, then I thanked them for the game, stood up and continued on my way as if nothing had happened. Later, I saw them at the "What's New with Andy Looney" presentation.

The Saturday games of Treehouse were also kind of strange. During Andy vs. Everybody, two of us were playing different games against Andy in Binary Homeworlds. There were a lot of games going on and downtime was high. We decided to play Treehouse amongst ourselves while waiting for Andy to get back to our games. Later, a third person joined us. We played five games of Treehouse before the Homeworlds games got intense enough that we didn't want to be distracted.
 
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7. Board Game: 10 Days in Africa [Average Rating:6.57 Overall Rank:1613]
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After starting Origins with Ticket to Ride: Switzerland, I didn't play another game in the Board Room until almost midnight. I guess I'm easily distracted by Fluxx and icehouse pyramids.

Anyway, somebody suggested 10 Days in Africa. The first game was uneventful, but the second game was interrupted. You see, there was a tornado warning late on Wednesday night and the rumors were flying. Most of them later proved to be inaccurate, which was a relief to me as a Columbus native (one of the rumors was that a tornado had touched down in a suburb near where I live). At one point, Security came to the Board Room and evacuated us to an interior downstairs hallway (the Board Room is on the second floor, near an outer wall which is mostly glass). We ended up playing a game while waiting for the all clear (see below), then returned to the Board Room and finished our game of 10 Days in Africa.
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8. Board Game: Toppo [Average Rating:5.84 Overall Rank:8268]
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As you've no doubt heard by now, Rio Grande Games gave each Board Room ribbon holder two games (big box and little box). When we got evacuated from the Board Room on Wednesday because of the tornado, many of us were still carrying around our newly-acquired games. One person near me opened up their new copy of Toppo and we played it to pass the time while waiting for the all clear. I'm generally not a fan of pattern-matching games, especially real-time ones, but it wasn't bad for all that.
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9. Board Game: Knatsch [Average Rating:5.61 Overall Rank:8970]
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The last game of the night on Wednesday was another one of the free Rio Grande games. Knights was one of the games I got, but I don't remember now if we played my copy or someone else's. It's reminiscent of To Court the King, and it has the added advantage of fitting into my card game box, which usually lives at the bottom of my game tote.
 
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10. Board Game: Monty Python Fluxx [Average Rating:6.07 Overall Rank:2592]
Jeff Wolfe
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I demoed games at the Looney Labs booth in the Exhibit Hall each day from Thursday to Sunday. Somehow, I ended up demoing card games every day. On Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday, all I demoed was the prototype of Monty Python Fluxx, due out in the fall. On Friday, it was Aquarius and Zombie Fluxx, for some reason, and no Monty Python Fluxx. Say what you will about Fluxx, but this was a big draw. And, of course, it's got fun Monty Python goofiness.

Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!
 
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11. Board Game: Martian Coasters [Average Rating:6.16 Overall Rank:6043]
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As I mentioned above, on Thursday I taught a couple of friends Treehouse, Martian Coasters, and Volcano. This is the only one of those three games that I didn't play at any other time over the weekend.
 
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12. Board Game: Say Anything [Average Rating:6.80 Overall Rank:805]
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Thursday afternoon was when I made my big run through the Exhibit Hall, going by every booth. I stopped at the North Star booth to demo their new game, Say Anything. Dominic Crapuchettes recognized me, but only after I showed him my avatar (which I have on a Badge-A-Minit button). He and Satish were both in the game, along with a couple of other civilians and another North Star Games person (whose name escapes me, although I remember she said that she doesn't think she looks like Inara).
 
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13. Board Game Designer: Reiner Knizia
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We interrupt this GeekList for a Reiner Knizia sighting. I saw him in the Exhibit Hall surrounded by a bunch of people who seemed eager to talk to him. I did not actually talk to him myself.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled GeekList.
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14. Board Game: Yspahan [Average Rating:7.11 Overall Rank:444]
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After the trip through the Exhibit Hall, I went back to the Board Room. I'm not a big fan of Yspahan, but I let myself get talked into playing it. And I think it was my most enjoyable game of Yspahan yet. It was a three player game.
 
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15. Board Game: Felicity: The Cat in the Sack [Average Rating:6.61 Overall Rank:1084]
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I have a friend who's a big cat person, so I gave her this game for Christmas (we played it once). At Origins on Thursday, I was invited to play this game, which most of the people at the table were learning. In fact, I think I might have been the only one who had played it before. About the only thing I remember about it is that Mister Cranky hated it.
 
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16. Board Game: Wits & Wagers [Average Rating:6.97 Overall Rank:499]
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I finally got to play in the big mega-Wits & Wagers at Origins. It was Thursday night in the Board Room. Pictured is my team, Cthulhu Cthookies (which became Cthocolate Cthulhu Cthookies at some point during the game). We finished in third place. It was a blast.

I had hoped to play a game with Tom Vasel this year, and I did in the big Wits & Wagers game, even though I never actually managed to talk to him all weekend. It seemed like at least one of us were on our way somewhere when I saw him. I didn't realize that the Thursday W&W game would be my best chance, or I might have made more of an effort to talk to him then.

Also in this game was Ben Lott, who I didn't even realize was at Origins until I saw his GeekList.

Actually, the big Game Show Game was not the only time I played W&W at Origins. On Saturday, I got to the Exhibit Hall early for my shift in the Looney Labs booth, so I snuck in a quick game of W&W at the nearby North Star Games booth.
 
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17. Board Game: Ticket to Ride [Average Rating:7.46 Overall Rank:124] [Average Rating:7.46 Unranked]
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After Wits & Wagers, I wandered around the Board Room for a while and found myself in a game of Ticket to Ride. For my money, the original is still the best (unless you only have three, in which case I'll go for TtR:Switzerland).
 
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18. Board Game: Martian Fluxx [Average Rating:6.18 Overall Rank:3280]
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After that, it was back to the Lab, where I got in a couple of plays of the other Fluxx prototype making an appearance at Origins (not counting Fluxx 4.0, which I didn't play but which I saw somebody play against Andy once). Pesky humans.
 
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19. Board Game: Tichu [Average Rating:7.60 Overall Rank:119]
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Since we both had Board Room and Big Experiment ribbons, I saw Timothy Hunt a lot at Origins. It seemed like whenever he wasn't in the Lab, he was in the Board Room playing Tichu. I only played one game of Tichu with him, in the Board Room Thursday night after the Lab closed. We were opponents, each with a newbie partner. I tend to forget how long this game takes (it seems like it shouldn't take as long as it does). We cut the game short because a couple of us had to get up the next day. The game wasn't really close by that point, so we didn't miss much.
 
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20. Board Game: Aquarius [Average Rating:5.99 Overall Rank:3458]
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On Friday, I arrived at the Looney Labs booth for my shift as a demoer, and the person at the card table was setting up Aquarius for a couple of people. He started out asking me a question about it, but I ended up just taking his place. That was my only Aquarius for the weekend.
 
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21. Board Game: Zark City [Average Rating:6.58 Overall Rank:6957]
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After my Friday shift in the booth, I went straight up to the Andy vs. Everybody room (he had a room this year instead of being set up in the hall as in previous years). I started out with Volcano and Treehouse (which I've already mentioned above), and then moved to this game. Zark City is a new game by Andy Looney that is in the Zarcana/Gnostica family, but played with regular playing cards. I'd been wanting to play it, so when I saw somebody on the other side of the table playing it, I moved myself around and asked if I could join in the next game. We played twice in three player games against Andy, each of us winning once (i.e. Andy lost both of them).
 
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22. Board Game: Catan [Average Rating:7.23 Overall Rank:279] [Average Rating:7.23 Unranked]
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After AvE, it was back to the Board Room, where we played this game.

Fun fact: before Origins 2008, I had never logged a play of this. I had played it before I started logging, and I had logged two plays of CATAN 3D Collector's Edition, but never the original game. I guess everybody has just moved on to bigger and better things. Not that I mind, because I suck at Catan.
 
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23. Board Game: Thebes [Average Rating:7.17 Overall Rank:375]
Jeff Wolfe
United States
Columbus
Ohio
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After a quick detour to the car (and the Treehouse adventure that went with it), I played a game of Thebes (although CABS actually has the German Jenseits von Theben edition, pictured). I went out to an early lead with lots of digs and lots of artifacts. I even ended up with several exhibits. Wade realized he couldn't catch me on artifacts, so he switched gears late in the game to collecting books to try to pick up as many book bonuses as possible. It worked--he won by one point.
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24. Board Game: Zendo [Average Rating:7.27 Overall Rank:710]
Jeff Wolfe
United States
Columbus
Ohio
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It was a bad year for Zendo. Last year, I played it every day, and it was my most played game with 15 plays including the Zendo tournament. This year, I didn't even play my first game of Zendo until Saturday, and I only managed three plays all weekend. Part of the problem was that I accidentally scheduled myself in the booth during the Zendo tournament. Oops.

My two plays of Zendo on Saturday were with Timothy and Karyn (his wife), Karen and Aaron (who were there with Timothy and Karyn), and one other person (whose name escapes me). Timothy mastered the second game and very nearly tripped us up with a very simple negative rule (darn those superstitions).

I mastered one game on Sunday in the Board Room with two people who had never played Zendo before. It was a simple rule, but one of them just wasn't getting the concept and it became painful after a while. For this game, we didn't have stones, so we used extra pyramids for marking stones and Fluxx cards for guessing stones. That part of it worked out reasonably well, all things considered.
 
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25. Board Game: Aquaretto [Average Rating:7.01 Overall Rank:858] [Average Rating:7.01 Unranked]
Jeff Wolfe
United States
Columbus
Ohio
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Next, it was over to the Board Room for an extended game of "What shall we play next?" The decision dragged out and the number of players kept changing, and I think we ended up with enough players for two games. As I recall, the other group played Ra, and we played Aquaretto. It wasn't a happy game for me. I fell behind early, and Rachel, who was sitting across the table from me, kept taking the animals I needed.
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