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Subject: Origins vs GenCon? rss

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David Kenemer
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I have wanted to go to a "big" Con for years but have been intimidated by my ignorance in how they work. I am thinking about going to my first "big" Con this summer and wanted some opinions on which to go to.

First, let tell you a little about my situation. I am a big Ameritrash fan and I also like most Euro games. I would like be able to play lots of games but I also want to demo new games and look at company booths. My wife will be joining me but she will only want to play a couple of games a day and I would like know there are other things around she could do.

I have narrowed my search to Origins or Gen Con and would like to hear your opinion on which would be better base on what I have listed above.

Also, how important are VIP tickets?

How important is it to register to play a game?

Is there anything else I should consider?

Thanks for any help/advice you could give.

David
 
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Eric Jome
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There is more to see and do at Gencon, especially for the person less interested in gaming all the time. Both conventions have a lot of game... way more than you'll need, no matter what you like.

You should pre-register for the convention you are attending if at all possible. If you want to be assured of a seat at an event, you should get tickets for that game... it varies widely by event whether or not you will actually need them over generic tickets, but I strongly recommend you get them if you can.

If your primary interest in attending a con is gaming, either will do... perhaps even Origins has some minor edge in that area. When I say primary interest, I mean if you did nothing all day every day but game from the moment you got there until you went to bed.

The more you want to have lots of different things to do, the more you should consider Gencon.
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In the past I might have said Origins, but I think right now Gen Con is by FAR the best option. Origins --> 13,000 attendees, Gen Con --> 28,000 attendees. Origins --> 4,000 events, Gen Con --> 5,000 events. The Gen Con dealer hall is about 3x larger, and is a MUST see. Fantasy Flight runs demos of all their games non-stop, you can literally spend all 4 days open gaming and demoing games from every board game publisher in the USA. For Origins, Fantasy Flight, Wizards of the Coast, White Wolf and others haven't even been attending themselves the last few years (instead sending some product so other booths will sell it). There is just way more to see and do at Gen Con, I think its more fun.

As for open gaming, Origins has a great library, and a board room pass (around 20 bucks per person?). Gen Con has an unlimited game library rental (for 24 bucks, only one person in your group needs it though) and an open gaming area right next to it. For either convention, you'll have more opponents than you know what to do with. However, Origins does not have the massive amount of demos/open gaming in the dealers hall that Gen Con does. Most companies also save their big/hidden releases for Gen Con, so there will be more new stuff there as well.

Edit: I should add that registering for events is important only if you REALLY want to play a certain game (or play a tournament) and have opponents. If you're interested in just playing in general, there is plenty of open gaming to keep you interested the entire convention.
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Aaron Sapp
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I'm speaking only regarding GenCon. Can't compare Origins

VIG badge not important at all.
Registering for events not important at all.
Pre-registering for a badge very important to avoid line standing.

My wife spends all four days playing boardgames and never ever registers for any games. She either demos games in the dealer hall or in the Rio Grande room.

Actually, I'll amend that. If there is an event for a Fantasy Flight game that you want to play it might be better to register for it than count on getting in a demo. The Fantasy Flight booth is always very full. It can be hard to get a seat for the new hotness.
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It's not even a close comparison - GenCon by a country mile. Origins feels dead, the exhibit hall is ridiculously miniscule, the surrounding downtown area is crummy for food and atmosphere...

GenCon blows Origins away.

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A. B. West
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wytefang wrote:
It's not even a close comparison - GenCon by a country mile. Origins feels dead, the exhibit hall is ridiculously miniscule, the surrounding downtown area is crummy for food and atmosphere...

I was with you until you talked about food. Origins blows GenCon away in the food area.

And frankly, Origins still wins in the board game area. It's true - GenCon has a huge vendor hall - it gets bigger and louder every year. So if you're down for shopping, GenCon wins. But the space for open play board games is still larger and better at Origins. CABS runs it there and they do a bang up job. GenCon is catching up - so we'll see this year.

I go to both now and love both.
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Tom Vasel
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I see Anthony is still on his anti-Origins kick.

To the original poster:

I haven't been to GenCon, but I can tell you about Origins.

Origins is a BLAST. The exhibition hall isn't huge, but practically every board game publisher is there (Fantasy Flight and Days of Wonder are the two biggest exceptions - but their games are still there in some form).

The best - by FAR - reason to go to Origins is the Board Room. Run by competent, wonderful people - there are hundreds of people playing hundreds of great games from the beginning to the end of the convention.

The food in the surrounding area is good, with one exception - the North Market. The food there surpasses good, is fairly inexpensive, and some of the best stuff I've ever eaten.

I have never regretted a moment of time I spent at Origins. It's a great convention.

I'm sure GenCon is a wonderful place, and I would go if I could - but I've never been envious of those who go - because Origins is that much fun - especially for the board gamer.
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Dan Conley
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TomVasel wrote:
I see Anthony is still on his anti-Origins kick.

To the original poster:

I haven't been to GenCon, but I can tell you about Origins.

Origins is a BLAST. The exhibition hall isn't huge, but practically every board game publisher is there (Fantasy Flight and Days of Wonder are the two biggest exceptions - but their games are still there in some form).

The best - by FAR - reason to go to Origins is the Board Room. Run by competent, wonderful people - there are hundreds of people playing hundreds of great games from the beginning to the end of the convention.

The food in the surrounding area is good, with one exception - the North Market. The food there surpasses good, is fairly inexpensive, and some of the best stuff I've ever eaten.

I have never regretted a moment of time I spent at Origins. It's a great convention.

I'm sure GenCon is a wonderful place, and I would go if I could - but I've never been envious of those who go - because Origins is that much fun - especially for the board gamer.


I'm just going to give a quick "amen" to what Tom says here! In addition, I HAVE been to GenCon several times. There IS a lot going on! For my tastes, the dealer room is insanely crowded, often shoulder-to-shoulder. It's cool IF you are dying to see "the next big thing" as GenCon is where the new stuff is often unveiled. I'm just not THAT eager to get a glimpse of what's new...I can wait. I'd rather be playing something!

The Board Room at Origins is definitely a great way to go! And, as Tom said, don't miss North Market! YUMMY!!!!!!!!
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TomVasel wrote:
I see Anthony is still on his anti-Origins kick.


The exhibition hall isn't huge, but practically every board game publisher is there (Fantasy Flight and Days of Wonder are the two biggest exceptions - but their games are still there in some form).



All the more reason why somebody interested in playing and demo-ing Ameritrash games should go to Gen Con. I went to Origins pretty much straight from 1999-2007, and to be honest when the largest board game publishers in the country stopped going, so did I. Gen Con has Origins beat in EVERY category, including board games. Honestly, it really isn't even up for debate. There are more gamers, more games, more vendors, more demos, more events and so on.
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Eric Jome
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Zaphod wrote:
Gen Con has Origins beat in EVERY category, including board games.


I agree.

But if you just want to play games, Origins is plenty. And I see the OP is from a town which I believe is much closer to Origins than it is to Gencon - travel times matter and pershaps that's a deciding factor.

The main reason to consider Gencon from the OP's perspective, I think, is that the person he is going with is interested in things to do apart from the convention. In that category, the setting for Gencon has a lot more shopping and restaurants, movie theaters and other things to do.
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John Brock
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daveken wrote:
First, let tell you a little about my situation. I am a big Ameritrash fan and I also like most Euro games. I would like be able to play lots of games but I also want to demo new games and look at company booths. My wife will be joining me but she will only want to play a couple of games a day and I would like know there are other things around she could do.

I have narrowed my search to Origins or Gen Con and would like to hear your opinion on which would be better base on what I have listed above.

First, let me point out that I'm a Senior Volunteer for Origins, and have been one for GenCon in the past (and may be again in the future). But as board games are not my area of expertise at either con, I'll try to stick to what I know to be true!

GenCon is certainly far bigger. However, for your first big con, Origins will still be plenty large enough to blow you away. I suspect that at this stage, if you go to Origins you'll be too busy enjoying what you do get to notice what you might be missing.

The exception would be if there are certain game companies that you really care about, and if they aren't coming to Origins. But don't assume too much about this based on previous years. There are all kinds of reasons why the exhibitor roster at either show this year could be different from last year.

On the subject of the wife, Origins has a highly developed Spouse Track, which includes non-gamer events from yoga to scheduled tours. I've heard more than one report of wives who now come to Origins just to take part in it, including one who declared that she was going to Origins even if her gamer husband wasn't!

GenCon also has some sort of spouse program, but I was told it's not nearly as good; take that with a grain of salt, as I was told it by an Origins person. I remember that when GenCon first moved from Milwaukee to Indy, one of the many selling points was the ease of access spouses and families would have to non-convention activities. I can't really offer an opinion on which of the two cities has more overall potential to keep them entertained.
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jwb3 wrote:


On the subject of the wife, Origins has a highly developed Spouse Track, which includes non-gamer events from yoga to scheduled tours. I've heard more than one report of wives who now come to Origins just to take part in it, including one who declared that she was going to Origins even if her gamer husband wasn't!

GenCon also has some sort of spouse program, but I was told it's not nearly as good; take that with a grain of salt, as I was told it by an Origins person. I remember that when GenCon first moved from Milwaukee to Indy, one of the many selling points was the ease of access spouses and families would have to non-convention activities. I can't really offer an opinion on which of the two cities has more overall potential to keep them entertained.


I don't think this is quite true, at least not this year. Gen Con has 90 spouse events, including dance classes, self defense workshops, tours, crafts and much more. I don't recall Origins spouse track being that extensive.
 
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Sorry Tom - not trying to get on your nerves or anyone else's - I just had THAT lame of an experience that I still can't get the taste out of my mouth, where Origins was concerned.

A couple of thoughts - the North Market was NOT inexpensive by a mile. Maybe for someone with a decent budget it would be acceptable, if you're a casual gamer it was not. It was crowded, space-wise, did NOT look terribly hygienic, and did not seem terribly conducive to a nice relaxing meal. Furthermore, you had to part and parcel your meals - something I find annoying. No one seemed to have a full meal on offer. And it had crappy hours, imho.

I'll say that I suppose the board game area is solid and well-run but GenCon has that going on everywhere as well and it seemed well-run in the rooms I checked out. Origins just felt empty and the enthusiasm level and "buzz" or "excitement" was definitely just not there. Plus, I don't necessarily go to GenCon to sit down and play games - I can do that at home with my gaming group on a regular basis - I go there to see new stuff, demo cool new games, get good deals (sometimes) on games at the dealer hall, snag promos for games, and enjoy the awesome downtown area of Indianapolis, which I found infinitely more interesting than clunky Columbus.

I just agree with the poster above who stated it really well - it just has more of everything, including excitement and new release info. If I wanted to just sit around and play games (which you can do equally well at both places) you could probably just do that at home.

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Justin Moore
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I'll offer up something I feel it's worth saying.

GenCon does have more of everything. Including crowds. Including events. Including demos. Yes that's true. But when I was there on Saturday last year, I would have had to wait HOURS to demo anything at the FFG booth. It IS shoulder to shoulder in the dealer hall, which is 90% CCG stuff. Yes, there is still LOTS of stuff for board gamers in the dealer's hall, I even bought some stuff, but there was also a LOT of wasted time wandering around trying to find the good stuff.

I think for a first convention, Origins is perfect. It feels more laid back. It feels easier to find stuff. It feels easier to do the things you want to do. It might not be that way for an experienced con goer, so YMMV.

My first Con experiences were last year. I spent the entire time at Origins, and just went up for 1 day to GenCon. I'm definitely glad I picked Origins as my first one. It was much more laid back, and if you've never been to a convention, the dealer's hall is still impressive. It's only in comparison to others that it seems diminished. And it is a higher % of board game stuff than GenCon.

All in all, both are great fun, but at Origins you can have a chance to go to Max and Irma's with Tom and a bunch of Dice Tower listeners!

Whatever you pick I think you'll have a great time. Enjoy, and let us know how your experience was!

EDIT: Redundancy
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Mark Meinster
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Got to go with Origins.
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My 2 cents:

Have been to Origins and GenCon multiple times in the last few years never having gone before 2003 when I first went to Origins.

That first experience was overwhelming - it was the first organized game anything I ever attended.

My observations:

Origins:
+ Far more space to play games (I think a lot at GenCon gets off loaded to hotels rooms in the area but that presupposes you know a lot of people to game with.
+ More compact - it's all in the Convention Center (though Indianapolis is due to add onto their center which may concentrate activities into the center and out of the hotels).
+ The Boardroom Room badge and the available games to play (from CABS) seems to have become a much larger event allowing a lot of gaming without having to try to get scheduled into a particular game at some particular time.
+ There seems to be far more area available for miniatures and RPG/LARPs at Origins but again it may be just as active at GenCon only in the hotels.
+ Someone else commented on the food - what you can get in the confines of the Convention Center proper is much better. Outside: Barleys in Columbus and the RAM in Indianapolis are both favorites.

GenCon:
+ Exhibit Hall is larger and there is more there. Origins has shrunk considerably from my 1st attendance 6 years ago. How game cos. decide why they attend one over the other I do not know. It may be head count and I have heard others being not happy with GAMA.
+ I think there are more new game releases at GenCon than Origins - maybe that is due to overall crowd size or perhaps production cycle issues.
- The biggest issue with GenCon is the board gaming area seems far more congested.

Others obviously have some strong opinions. If you have never been before, you will most likely have a pretty good time. To some degree I would base my choice on travel costs and hotels.

Better yet attend both and you decide...

If money were no object I'd go to both each year...
 
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Btw, I did a poll about this very topic here:

http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/398520

Gen Con & BGG Con were clearly preferred over Origins and the WBC.
 
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Tom Vasel
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Why not run that poll again, but just do Origins and GenCon? It'd be interesting to see how they match up.

I would add in food options and things for spouse/kids to do.
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Peter Stein
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Zaphod wrote:
Btw, I did a poll about this very topic here:

http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/398520

Gen Con & BGG Con were clearly preferred over Origins and the WBC.


The readers of BGG find BGG,con to be a great convention. yeah there's an unbiased poll.shake
 
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Peter Stein
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wytefang wrote:
and enjoy the awesome downtown area of Indianapolis, which I found infinitely more interesting than clunky Columbus.



As a former resident of NYC I gotta tell you I find that last sentence highly amusing.

And I look forward to my next trip to Gencon and going to all those great places to eat I apparently missed last time that are going to blow away the North Market.

(edit for spelling)
 
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Joel Tamburo
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Considering how few people voted in that poll it is hardly representative of anything.

Really the question is what type of game you want to play. If you want to play Euros, Origins, GenCon and WBC are about the same. If you want to play wargames, WBC gets the nod over Origins with GenCon not even being in the universe. It you want FFG and other such games, GenCon would be best simply because FFG comes there.

If you are going to get into the question of convention organization, then you go to a whole different set of parameters.

For example, WBC has a fully developed (and successful) program for teaching games to the younger generation and growing the hobby. It also has by far the most user friendly convention experience, as there are no hidden costs or event tickets.

On the other hand, Origins and GenCon are more into the multimedia aspect of things, and feel more like trade shows than gaming conventions. I know, I've been to several of both and was on staff at GenCon.

BGG.con I cannot speak to as I have not attended it, but it sounds like basically an open gaming gathering. To each their own.
 
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TomVasel wrote:
Why not run that poll again, but just do Origins and GenCon? It'd be interesting to see how they match up.

I would add in food options and things for spouse/kids to do.


I don't think its really necessary. They both have kid's rooms/activities, and rapidly growing spouse tracks. They are both very similar. However, Gen Con has a giant mall with lots of shopping (and a more interesting downtown) compared to Columbus. As for food.......in my experience the crappy Circle Center Mall food court is on par with the crappy food court in the Columbus Convention Center. Both downtown's have nice restaurants if you look for them. The North market is good.....but certainly nothing special. Its also kind of dirty. *shrug*
 
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David Kenemer
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I would like to thank everyone for their comments. It was good to hear the pros and cons of the two conventions from people who have first hand experience. I now really want to go to both! However I cannot take time off to do both. Right now it looks like GenCon has an edge due to its dates. I welcome any more advice/opinions you would like to give.

Thanks

(edited for spelling)
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John Brock
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daveken wrote:
I would like to thank everyone for their commits. It was good to hear the pros and cons of the two conventions from people who have first hand experience. I now really want to go to both! However I cannot take time off to do both. Right now it looks like GenCon has an edge do to its dates. I welcome any more advice/opinions you would like to give.

Somebody up-topic posted that he thought Origins being closer to you would make a difference. I take it you're located in Georgia; to my mind, that's too far to travel by car to either con, so I don't expect the distance will really matter to you (though there are some people who do drive those distances, to one or both cons...usually carpooling with friends).

The point being, what may matter to you is relative airfares, and hotel costs! Be sure and check them out. I honestly have no idea which con will win out in these areas, especially given how nonsensical air fares can be under the hub system.
 
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GC was amazing, hit the dealer hall on Thursday to avoid the biggest lines. The wife thing is covered.

What I have not seen Mentioned is

Heroscape is at GenCon - so for me that is all that matter, but I will tell you what if it wasn't for a lack of $ I Would hit both - just the feel at GC is amazing so many gamers in one area all there for gaming - nohting else like it I tell you.

From doing some research on Origins their open gaming rooms sounds bigger and better ( meaning more tables for open gaming, and I am guessing well over 1,000 games at Origins and around 3-400 titles at GenCon. So if it is the open game room and just trying games Origins may have the edge there. At GC the open game room is well run but is small, I can see it being tough to get a table during prime hours - but I always found space when I was there.

Here is a question for people who have been at both??? Which is cheaper for Hotels and parking and the added costs? I would think Columbus may be a little cheaper but I have no clue on this one - I want to hit Columbus since I could stay with Family - but again Only GC has Heroscape.

If I had a complaint about GC it would be all the stuff in Hotels I never got to and had no clue it was there, I will be excited to see the convention center finally finished and the whole of GC getting a little closer so I can see more of it.


 
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