For Whom the Bell Tolls at Origins '04
The Texsun
United States
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I'm going to Origins next week in a media capacity, but have never been before and have no idea what to expect. What I'm hoping is that your expert opinions can give me an idea as to what to expect when it comes to the tournaments there.

I've put a few games on the list here based on what the Origins website says, but I have played none of them. I know, I'm a heretic of the worst sort, claiming to be a boardgamer and haven't played any of these.

Essentially I'm hoping some of you can put some comments in here and let me know which of these games YOU think is worthwhile to play. Don't worry about my tastes; I love wargames but need to broaden my horizons. Since there's so many game tournaments at Origins I want to narrow down my experience into something my fellow BGGers recommend. Thanks!
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1. Board Game: Ra [Average Rating:7.47 Overall Rank:134]
The Texsun
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I've heard many good comments about this one.
 
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2. Board Game: Modern Art [Average Rating:7.34 Overall Rank:226]
The Texsun
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This one looks interesting.
 
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3. Board Game: Catan [Average Rating:7.23 Overall Rank:279] [Average Rating:7.23 Unranked]
The Texsun
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The Origins SoC tourney gives the top two players a free trip to Germany in October to represent the USA in the World Championships.

Don't get the wrong idea - I have absolutely NO chance of winning that and don't expect to - but Settlers has such a following, I want to know more about it. Is this one easy to learn or does it take time to master all its nuances?
 
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4. Board Game: Domaine [Average Rating:7.02 Overall Rank:647]
The Texsun
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This one looks pretty good, but I know little more about it than what I find here on BGG. First place winner at Origins gets their very own sword (woo...yay...ahem). Not that I need one, as my kids would take a very keen interest in anything sharp or remotely dangerous, or even have a remote chance of winning in the first place.
 
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5. Board Game: Catan: Seafarers [Average Rating:7.17 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.17 Unranked]
The Texsun
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Is this any better than the original?
 
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6. Board Game: Starfarers of Catan [Average Rating:6.81 Overall Rank:847]
The Texsun
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Different game, same question: any better?
 
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7. Board Game: Catan: Cities & Knights [Average Rating:7.47 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.47 Unranked]
The Texsun
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How many iterations of Catan is there? And are they all worth it?
 
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8. Board Game: Entdecker [Average Rating:6.48 Overall Rank:1996]
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Another interesting-looking game.
 
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9. Board Game: Legend of the Five Rings [Average Rating:7.14 Overall Rank:1025] [Average Rating:7.14 Unranked]
Jonathan
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Maitland
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You might want to check out the Legend of the Five Rings tournament, also called a Kotei. Origins usually has one of the largest turnouts in the US, and this year should be no exception. A horde of enthusiastic players shouting, "Banzai" at the start of the tournament is always a lot of fun to watch. Last year at Gencon we shook the card game hall. The storyline prize is pretty good this year, so competition should be fierce. Even if you've never played the game before, I'm sure someone from AEG would be glad to run a demo for you. You mention a wargame background, you should feel right at home playing L5R, which is basically a boardgame that uses cards as pieces.
 
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