Canadians Conquer Columbus - An Origins Tale
Tom Janiszewski
Canada
Calgary
Alberta
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So, my friend Dave (dpyoung) is getting married on July 17 (Congrats Dave) and I figured that since we were both board game enthusiasts we would take a trip down to America for the 35th Annual Origins Game Fair before he tied the knot. I am his best man and thought that it was time for us to bond and take the next step in our board game geekiness...

The following geeklist chronicles our epic journey. Enjoy.
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1. Board Game: Last Night on Earth: Survival of the Fittest [Average Rating:7.66 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.66 Unranked]
Tom Janiszewski
Canada
Calgary
Alberta
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I drove down the Calgary the night before our flight left (we left on Wednesday). I arrived fairly late but Dave and his fiance Ashleigh were still up to greet me and graciously invite me into their home for the night. Dave hadn't started packing yet, but in only took him about 10 minutes to do so. Dave decided to bring his action packer (a plastic storage tub) as his checked bag in anticipation for all the games we would be bringing back. I remember Ashleigh saying to him before we left the next morning, "Dave, if you fill that action packer all by yourself I will kill you..."

I now fear for his life...
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2. Board Game: Hive [Average Rating:7.32 Overall Rank:206]
Tom Janiszewski
Canada
Calgary
Alberta
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Our first game was hive. We played a couple games of this in the airport before our flight out of Calgary. Ashleigh had dropped us off a good 2 hours before we left so we had some time to kill. I used to be good at this game, but Dave won these games handily.

Travel Tip: Do not bring your copy of Hive onto the airplane. Apparently the X-ray machines do not like the ceramic pieces. Dave got pulled aside and was questioned about the contents of his bag...
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3. Board Game: Roll Through the Ages: The Bronze Age [Average Rating:6.90 Overall Rank:575]
Tom Janiszewski
Canada
Calgary
Alberta
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I had recently acquired a copy of Roll through the Ages and introduced the game to Dave on the plane from Calgary to Toronto. It worked well in the limited space of the aircraft. We just used the game box to roll the dice in. Dave really enjoyed the game and he beat me the first 2 games we played.

For the third game I had printed out the Late Bronze Age expansion, so we tried that out. I enjoy the expansion a lot more because it gives you time to get your engine and point production going. It was really fun.
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4. Board Game: Lost Cities [Average Rating:7.15 Overall Rank:293]
Tom Janiszewski
Canada
Calgary
Alberta
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We were very pressed for time during our layover in Toronto. We spent about 20 minutes waiting for our bags (at which point we were both cursing the action packer which we thought for certain was holding everything up) so we had to run across the terminal to our gate. Dave was wearing flip flops so they were slapping away as we ran...it was pretty funny.

We got to our gate on time only to find that they were delayed because the plane was too hot. Great. Here we are drenched in sweat from running across the airport...and our plane was too hot. The crew were very nice and they comped the bar for the flight. Dave and I enjoyed a cool beer while I introduced him to Lost Cities. He also enjoyed this game a lot.
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5. Board Game: Forbidden Island [Average Rating:6.83 Overall Rank:591]
Tom Janiszewski
Canada
Calgary
Alberta
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We arrived in Columbus and got set up in our hotel (Hyatt on Capitol Square) for the night. We decided to walk down to the convention center to get our badges and check out the facilities. Also, we were famished and needed to get something to eat after our 9 hour flight.

The first thing that struck us about Columbus was the heat...and wild temperature swings between the outside and the air conditioned convention center. I was sure I would get sick as a result, but it ended up being ok.

The second thing that stuck us was the rapid realization that we were definitely not geeky enough to be attending a full convention dedicated to one of our hobbies. It was very overwhelming for us as we first walked around the convention center and saw all of the things we could do. This feeling soon faded after the first day and we started really enjoying ourselves as we embraced our inner geek.

That night we played Dave's newly acquired copy of Forbidden Island. It is a good little game that has a similar feel to Pandemic, but a little lighter and easier to understand. We played on the easiest setting and beat the game on our first try.
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6. Board Game: Founding Fathers [Average Rating:7.02 Overall Rank:1027]
Tom Janiszewski
Canada
Calgary
Alberta
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Thursday.

Our first full day of gaming started out with us not really knowing what to do. We arrived in the board room and gazed upon the massive game library we could access thanks to the Columbus Area Boardgame Society (CABS). We took a walk around the room and saw a couple of guys setting up a game of Founding Fathers. We jumped in on the game with them and a nice gentleman walking by who had played the game the night before helped us through the rules.

Thanks to Evan and Jeremy for playing our first Origins game with us! It was a pretty good game. I had played (and own) 1960 several times and was glad that this game felt like 1960, but for 4 players. I have had several instances in my gaming group where some guys want to play 1960 but can't because it's only for 2 (we usually like to play games that accommodate more players to keep everyone involved where we can).

Dave and I would go on to purchase the game and get our copies signed by designer Jason Matthews who was at the Jolly Roger booth at the time of our purchase. This was definitely one of the highlights of our weekend.
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7. Board Game: Greed Incorporated [Average Rating:7.02 Overall Rank:1600]
Tom Janiszewski
Canada
Calgary
Alberta
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I noticed that Evan had a copy of Greed Inc on the table and I told him that it was a game that I had been interested in for quite a while. We decided to give it a try.

It was a good game, but I was a little disappointed at how clunky it was. It seems like the first couple of rounds don't matter (everyone is just setting up their companies and getting in on others companies) and the last couple of round don't matter (everyone just sells out and tries to grab the last couple status symbols). It was ok and may warrant another play some time in the future.
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8. Board Game: Shear Panic [Average Rating:6.39 Overall Rank:1596]
Tom Janiszewski
Canada
Calgary
Alberta
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After lunch we tried our luck with a game of Shear Panic. A cute little game with nice pieces, but it didn't play very well with 2 players especially since we were both just learning the game. Dave won, but I think I would like to try this game again sometime with more players.
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9. Board Game: Through the Ages: A Story of Civilization [Average Rating:8.03 Overall Rank:27]
Tom Janiszewski
Canada
Calgary
Alberta
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That night we played a 7 hour game of Through the Ages. I was very glad to play this game because I had heard so much about it and was interested in it due to its high ranking on BGG. Mark Frazier was kind enough to teach us the game and walk us through some of the strategies and concepts. Thanks Mark! If you don't know who Mark is...he's the guy who was playing Through the Ages the entire weekend. That's some dedication Mark!

I probably would have never played this game if it wasn't for Origins. I just don't think my gaming group has the time to commit an entire day to learn and play the game. That was one thing I realized about Origins...its a great place to learn new games (which was our strategy to begin with) and play games that you probably would have never gotten the chance to play otherwise. A once in a lifetime experience! Although maybe I will play this game again at some point in my life. Another highlight of the convention!
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10. Board Game: Egizia [Average Rating:7.46 Overall Rank:281]
Tom Janiszewski
Canada
Calgary
Alberta
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Friday.

Dave was interested in trying out Egizia as soon as he saw it being played on Thursday. Dave lived in Egypt as a child and is interested in anything Egyptian themed so we tried this game out.

It was ok. We were both a little disappointed in this game. I couldn't put my finger on it, but it just seemed like I already have worker placement games that fill the worker placement void for me. A definite try before you buy.
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11. Board Game: Fresco [Average Rating:7.32 Overall Rank:248] [Average Rating:7.32 Unranked]
Tom Janiszewski
Canada
Calgary
Alberta
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We demoed Fresco in the Queen game area. This was the first "wow" game for me. Dave and I were both quite taken with this game and immediately went out and bought ourselves copies.

We played the base game, but we had heard that the expansions make the game even better! A very good game...we came in 3rd and 4th, but still enjoyed the game play and flow. Players basically select actions they want to allocate their workers to, trying to gather or make certain colors of paint to contribute to the painting. I like the various options available to you on any given turn and I like how everything you do in the game makes sense.
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12. Board Game: Cable Car [Average Rating:6.72 Overall Rank:1848]
Tom Janiszewski
Canada
Calgary
Alberta
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Having just been to the Queen games booth to purchase Fresco we saw this game on the table there and thought that we should give it a try. We checked it out from the CABS library and had 2 others join us for the game. Cable car is simply a re-printing of an older game called Metro, but neither Dave nor I have played that game either so we tried out the base game.

Its a pretty simple tile laying game where you are trying to create and connect long routes using different path combination's on the tiles you draw. It was a fun game, although I think it would be much more interesting with the expansion which lets you buy stock into different colors of track instead of just trying to score points for your own.
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13. Board Game: Tammany Hall [Average Rating:7.27 Overall Rank:580]
Tom Janiszewski
Canada
Calgary
Alberta
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Dave and Nevin (one of the fellows who played Cable Car with us) were curious about Tammany Hall so we decided to give it a shot. Nevin explained the rules to us, which were pretty hazy at the beginning, but once we got into the game flow the game made sense. Basically it is an area control game where you are trying to have influence in various regions of New York City. You use this influence to manipulate your position on the board and score points for every region you control. It's basically an area control game. Dave quite liked it, but I would still rather play El Grande if I were looking for a good area control game.

However, we were glad to see some fellow Albertans in the Valley Games booth!
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14. Board Game: Big League Hockey Manager [Average Rating:6.02 Overall Rank:10078]
Tom Janiszewski
Canada
Calgary
Alberta
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Friday was a very exciting day for us. You may have noticed...we were the ones wearing the Edmonton Oilers jerseys around all day. The 2010 NHL Entry Draft was that night (the Oilers were selecting first overall) and we had heard that there was going to be a draft party in the Nationwide Arena. We were so excited! In the days leading up to the draft we had seen nothing on the TV...I guess hockey just isn't a big thing in Columbus, which we found odd seeing as how the Blue Jackets are the only professional sport team in the city.

Ok. So now I have to vent. If you don't like hockey you can move on with the geeklist, but if you are interested in hearing what a travesty the Columbus Blue Jackets so called "Draft Party" was please keep reading.

We pictured a packed house of screaming fans at Nationwide...all anxiously awaiting the draft and wondering who their team would be selecting (Columbus picked 4th overall). What we got was only a handful of people wandering around the floor of the arena. With only 10 minutes before the draft we still managed to get seats in the front row...and they were still empty seats along the front row while the draft was going on. They had a stage set up under the big screen where the local sports radio station was broadcasting...which was fine...if it wasn't for the fact that the audio feed was from the radio station so we couldn't here the draft! We missed the introduction and opening speeches. The audio kept switching back and forth from the TSN feed to the radio station in between actual picks when TSN was interviewing the clubs and newly acquired players. It was pretty frustrating.

Worse than that, after Columbus made their pick...everyone started to leave. There was only about 25 people left by the 10th pick. What kind of hockey fans do they have in Columbus??? I guess it's just different over there, which I can understand, but we were so excited about watching the draft and for this draft party and it really let us down. They shut everything down at 9:30 at pick 18. They asked us to leave...before the first round even ended!! Truly a disappointment.

End rant.

On the positive side, it was neat being inside another NHL arena.
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15. Board Game: Bombay [Average Rating:6.37 Overall Rank:2133]
Tom Janiszewski
Canada
Calgary
Alberta
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After the draft, we came back to the board room to get in another game before the end of the day. We met up with a friendly guy (Eric from Kentucky) who joined us for a game of Bombay.

Bombay is a pick up and deliver game, plain and simple. You move around the board picking up cubes and selling them at different spaces on the board. The mechanics are pretty simple and the game is fairly light, but it was fun since we were tiring out of the heavier games anyways.

The only problem with the game, which I brought up as a point after we finished, was that you can win the game without actually doing anything for the entire game except for collecting 1 coin per turn. Dave and Eric saw the game in a different light when I brought up this point.
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16. Board Game: Battle Line [Average Rating:7.42 Overall Rank:181]
Tom Janiszewski
Canada
Calgary
Alberta
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Back at the hotel we wrapped up the night with a game of Battle line. I had brought this game for us to play on the plane, but we didn't get a chance to get it played.

I don't think either of us were really into it, but played it out anyways.
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17. Board Game: Tobago [Average Rating:7.13 Overall Rank:388]
Tom Janiszewski
Canada
Calgary
Alberta
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Saturday.

First game of the day was Tobago. We played a 3 player game. The rules were easy enough to learn and teach and the game flow was very smooth. A good game, but they didn't have any copies available in the exhibitor hall! I will definitely have to add a copy to my collection soon.
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18. Board Game: Innovation [Average Rating:7.24 Overall Rank:279]
Tom Janiszewski
Canada
Calgary
Alberta
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I had seen this game being played everywhere in the board room, so when I spotted a copy on the CABS library shelf I thought I would give it a try. This was another game that wowed me. I couldn't put my finger on it, but I really liked this game. Some people say that it is too random and the symbology is confusing but I found it to work well.

It just could have been that I won the 2 games of this that Dave and I played, but I thought it was a pretty clever game.
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19. Board Game: PitchCar [Average Rating:7.24 Overall Rank:317]
Tom Janiszewski
Canada
Calgary
Alberta
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By this point Dave and I were pretty burned out on any sort of game that involved thinking...on any level.

We played around with a game called Bisycle that was set up near the CABS library. It was good mindless fun so we decided to check out a copy of pitch car and spent the next hour or so flicking discs around a track. It definitely did the trick for us and we felt a lot better in the afternoon. We both came to the conclusion that flicking games are awesome.
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20. Board Game: Glory to Rome [Average Rating:7.49 Overall Rank:149]
Tom Janiszewski
Canada
Calgary
Alberta
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I picked this game up at the Asmadi booth after picking up my copy of Innovation. I was glad to see that they had a copy of Glory to Rome! Having never played the game, but having read up on it, I just had to get it. We played through 2 games (the first was the base game and the second the full game).

We both really loved this game, but I didn't want to keep playing it for fear of burning out on it. I am really excited to show this game to my game group...who all love Race for the Galaxy, so I hope they enjoy this one too!
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21. Board Game: Jambo [Average Rating:7.04 Overall Rank:496] [Average Rating:7.04 Unranked]
Tom Janiszewski
Canada
Calgary
Alberta
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We checked out Jambo overnight at gave it a try in our hotel room when we got back. Again, we were both pretty tired, so we both thought this game was just ok.
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22. Board Game: Hansa Teutonica [Average Rating:7.63 Overall Rank:109]
Tom Janiszewski
Canada
Calgary
Alberta
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Sunday.

Our last day of gaming started out with one of the games I had been interested in before the convention. We sat down to play this game with two other gentlemen who had played this game before and who did an excellent job teaching us the rules. I felt like I understood the flow of the game right away and was excited to play it.

It turns out that we both really enjoyed this game. I like how the route building and ability improvement mechanic works together. I started focusing on only one strategy in the beginning and fell behind pretty early, but I still really enjoyed the game.
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23. Board Game: Wok Star [Average Rating:6.80 Overall Rank:1723]
Tom Janiszewski
Canada
Calgary
Alberta
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WOK STAR!!

This game was another huge highlight of the convention for me. We played through a game and immediately went to go purchase our own copies. Luckily we also me the designer Tim Fowler at the booth and we chatted with him for a while. He also signed our games, which was pretty cool. The game immerses you into a chinese family restaurant where you are cooperatively trying to satisfy customer orders and deal with events as they happen. It is very hectic, but extremely fun!! The only thing we really wanted to add to this game was a bell so that we could ring it whenever we finished an order!

A truly excellent game which I hope will have a lot of re-playability. I could see this game being easily expanded if it gets picked up by a bigger publisher...which I hope it does!
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24. Board Game: Samarkand: Routes to Riches [Average Rating:6.92 Overall Rank:1253]
Tom Janiszewski
Canada
Calgary
Alberta
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Just as the CABS library closed its doors for Origins 2010, we joined a demo game of Samarkand in the Queen games area. We thought the game was ok. It involved placing camels onto the board and joining together different lines of camels which players have bought into. Nothing too exciting about this one.

The real excitement came when they did the drawing for a $120 gift certificate for the Queen games booth. If you demoed a Queen game, you got your name entered into a daily draw for the prize. The first name pulled was Dave's!!! What an end to our first convention experience! Kimberly from Queen games took us over to the booth and Dave picked out Cable Car and Fresco (he decided he would gift this extra copy to someone because he thought the game was so great).

And that was the end of our time at Origins 2010. After the con ended we had a nice dinner at Barley's, a pub across the street, where we had some excellent micro-brews. The Blood Thirsty Wheat beer was our favorite...truly a delicious brew. After dinner we walked over to the local hippie...i mean community festival. We walked through the festival grounds just to see what it was all about. Apparently a community festival is a place for women to walk around topless in the park...I wish we had communities like that were I come from...
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25. Board Game: San Juan [Average Rating:7.28 Overall Rank:229]
Tom Janiszewski
Canada
Calgary
Alberta
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The next day we went over to the North Market to pick up some souvenirs for our significant others back home. We decided to pick up some CaJohn's Salsas which we thought were very unique and tasty...although we quickly learned that the Piquante Sauce was almost inedible (very very spicy).

We played a two player game of San Juan on the plane ride home. It was the first play of this game for both of us. It's a lot easier to understand than Race for the Galaxy, but having played that so much I didn't really get anything out of playing San Juan. I would use this game as a gateway into introducing someone to Race, but that's about it.
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