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Subject: Newbie Guides to Origins and/or Gen Con? rss

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Trey Chambers
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I found the newbie guide to BGG.con very helpful for a first time attendee. I was wondering if someone could point me in the direction of a similar guide to Origins and/or BGG.con? Or write one up if none exists. I found the websites for both of these events severely lacking in terms of useful information.

A few questions I would like answered:

What is open gaming like? Crowded? Easy to find open games needing players? How good is the library compared to BGG.con? How does the library work? How late are the open gaming rooms open? Can you eat and/or drink in the gaming area? Is alcohol allowed?

What food is available there? What about nearby? How much can I expect to spend?

How do I get from the airport to the convention center? What hotels are within walking distance? Is the area safe enough to walk back to your hotel at 4 AM?

What sort of special events do they usually have? Is there a math trade? An open auction? A flea market?

Are their prizes similar to BGG.con? Or just drawings? Both?

And for those who have been to both, could you make some comparisons? Particularly in the catagories laid out here.
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Shampoo4you wrote:


What is open gaming like? Crowded? Easy to find open games needing players? How good is the library compared to BGG.con? How does the library work? How late are the open gaming rooms open? Can you eat and/or drink in the gaming area? Is alcohol allowed?


Neither the Origins or Gen Con board game library is as large as BGG.con's. The Origins model is you pay a set rate per person ($20-ish?) to have access to the library and open board game room. The library is large and well populated with people looking for pick-up games.

At Gen Con, things work a little differently. Typically, you pay to rent from the library ($24-ish? for all 4 days), but you only need one person to have a rental pass. So it's a bit cheaper than Origins since only one person needs to pay for the rental. There are usually 3 or 4 board game rooms, and open gaming is done on any of those tables that are free. Board gaming at GC is a little more structured, with more focus on scheduled events (2500+ board and non-ccg card game events), and of course there is lots of board gaming in the dealers hall.

Gen Con is expanding to a larger space this year, and rumor is they might be using a model similar to Origins in 2011, so everything I said above may be incorrect.

Both conventions have a room sponsored by Rio Grande where you can play any of their games for free, and also get free food. At GC, you can get away with open gaming in the FFG and Mayfair areas *if* there is room. Probably the same at Origins, but I can't quite remember.

At GC there will also be a lot of board gaming in the dealers hall, much moreso than at Origins, though it will be more crowded for sure.

The Origins game library is larger, but the GC one is growing very quickly, so I'm unsure for how much longer that will be the case.

I've never seen either of them close, I'm pretty sure both stay open 24 hours.

In general, I think its safe to say there are more people playing board games at Gen Con, but its much more centralized at Origins. It'll probably be a couple of months before the announcement of the new "open board gaming" model at GC, so this may change this year.

As far as I know, food is not technically allowed in the game rooms at either convention. However, this rule seems to be universally ignored during convention. Same goes with alcohol, however, both have hotel bars connected to the convention center, within easy walking distance. In fact, there are often game events held at the hotel bars (both conventions, though I think GC has an edge in the amount of bars easily available).

Shampoo4you wrote:


What food is available there? What about nearby? How much can I expect to spend?


Origins:

Fast food:
The North Market is a few blocks away, and is filled with a wide variety of deli's, small restaurants, some dessert places, ethnic food, etc. The other option is the convention food court which has a subway, a gyro place, Jimmy's Egg, and a really crappy chinese place.

Other nearby restaurants:
Bucca di Beppo, Chipoltle Mexican Grill, Boston's Gourmet Pizza, Darz cafe and a few others are nearby. There is a whole bunch of fancy steakhouses and what not, a short drive or long walk away.

Gen Con:

Fast Food:
The convention center is attached to a large mall, which has a very large food court, Italian places, Sushi, Taco Bell, Subway etc. There is a steak and shake and a fast food noodle place within walking distance.

Other nearby restaurants:
Scotty's Restaurant and the Ram Brewery both decorate the entire restaurants in gamer nerd attire, usually with free promo's. Both are good burger/beer places. There is a hard rock cafe, Buca di Beppo, P.F. Chang's, and another 10 or so average priced restuarants within walking distance. There is also plenty of upscale restaurants as well, I hear Fogo De Chao is good.

In general, I think fast food is about even, but there are many more options in downtown Indy than in Columbus for average priced restaurants ($8-15 per meal).


Shampoo4you wrote:


How do I get from the airport to the convention center? What hotels are within walking distance? Is the area safe enough to walk back to your hotel at 4 AM?

What sort of special events do they usually have? Is there a math trade? An open auction? A flea market?

Are their prizes similar to BGG.con? Or just drawings? Both?

And for those who have been to both, could you make some comparisons? Particularly in the catagories laid out here.


Well, there are plenty of hotel options at both conventions nearby, so I won't list them all out, but here's my insider tips:

Origins: Stay at the Red Roof Inn, its the cheapest, but still clean and safe. You can book early (now!) and guarantee a spot, or wait until the housing info is released for a slightly cheaper rate.

Gen Con: Stay at the La Quinta Inn (if you don't mind a 15 min walk), its by far the cheapest, and NOT part of the housing block. Book now! Or wait until the housing block opens. The hotels in the Gen Con housing block are closer, but about 50% more expensive.

The downtown areas of both conventions are very safe during the conventions, I wouldn't worry about that.

The Origins auction is fairly small, I don't really have anything good to say about it. The Gen Con auction on the other hand is 3 full days of auctions across all genres of tabletop gaming. Thousands upon thousands of items. There is also an auction store (ie. a flea market) where people can put up any item they want. I always find great deals on out of print board games, it's one of my favorite events of the convention.

BGG users hold math trades at both conventions every year.

I think there is usually some giveaways in the CABS board room at Origins. At Gen Con, there are many prize drawings in the dealers hall.

I've attended Origins and Gen Con over 5x each, and in general I favor Gen Con. To me, there is simply more to do, more games to experience, and a wider variety of gamer related coolness. If you're only interested in open gaming, either convention would be great. But if you're also interested in shopping/auctions, new games, tournaments, special events etc., I would suggest Gen Con. The dealers hall alone is over double the size of Origins, and just much more full of life. A lot of large publishers have left Origins (e.g, Fantasy Flight) the past few years, which really dampened my excitement for the convention.

However, if you're really into wargames, Origins has more wargame publishers in the dealers hall, and more wargame events.

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Trey Chambers
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Wow great info!

It sounds like Gen Con is a better overall con, but the timing of Origins is a lot better for my calendar. Tough decision. =/

I'm sure I'll have a blast either way though. You should really write this info up into an official guide or comparison thread. It was very informative.

Thank you!
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Hi Trey

I'm also hoping to attend Origins for the first time this year as a trader. I'll be furiously demoing/extolling the virtues of my game (www.lecardo.com) and at the same time trying to find time to play other people's games (including yours I hope- don't know what it is but I'm sure it'll be great fun).

The reply to your initial enquiry was very helpful. GenCon vs Origins is a tough one, but I've been corresponding recently with a guy from Columbus who has persuadedc me that it'll be a blast. See you there! What's your game by the way? I'll check it out.

Cheers
Leo
 
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Pete Lane
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Shampoo4you wrote:
Wow great info!

It sounds like Gen Con is a better overall con, but the timing of Origins is a lot better for my calendar. Tough decision. =/



Honestly, from the passion that the discussion brings every year, it REALLY depends on your interests. No one con is better, but each has a bend for certain types of gamers.

If you like a wide variety of "nerdy" things (art, anime, sci fi/horror film and tv, costumes, video games, RPGs, board games, CCGs, celebrety signings, comic books, manga), Gencon is your show. It's high energy, and many publishers are bringing the new fall hotness to the show to peddle.

If you are looking for non-stop gaming where the other stuff is secondary, Origins is a bit better. you can hole up in the Gaming Library and never leave. There is giveaways, sometimes free food, great BGG friends, and is focused on casual gaming and meeting new friends.

I used to attend GenCon every year and had a pblast, but I also rarely ever played games because there wa so much to do. If I did either this next year, I'd be going to Origins simply because it really seems to be more mellow and more about gaming in general.
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Kevin Rutherford
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I have not been to Gen Con but have been to Origins for the full show over the past four years and for a day or two in the years before that.

The drawing point for Origins is the Board Room. For the cost of a $20 BR ribbon you gain access to an open gaming area with a library of over 1,000 games administered by the Columbus Area Boardgaming Society. This includes advance copies of games not yet available for sale to the public (2010 included games such as Founding Fathers and Code 777). The area is open 24/7 during the show with the library open from 8:00am to midnight each day. You are free to bring in your own games as well.

In past years free games have been given away to all those that buy a BR ribbon by Rio Grande and other game publishers. In 2010 each person received one random Rio Grande game, a copy of Dragon Parade or Street Illegal from Z-Man and the card game Top Trumps. There is no guarantee of this type of giveaway in future years, but it has went on now for the last three years.

In 2010, Rio Grande also provided free meals to all BR ribbon holders twice a day. Burgers, fries, chicken sandwiches, chicken fingers, wraps, salads, drinks, etc. were on the menu. This took place right in the Board Room so you didn't even have to leave. Again, like the games, there is no guarantee that this will happen in 2011.

Saturday night is a huge game raffle with games provided by dozens of game companies. At random times throughout the day, CABS distributes raffle tickets to those in the room. The more time you spend in the BR the more tickets you can get. I think they usually have over 100 separate prizes.

The BR is also the place where game designers offer playtesting of their new creations.

The BR has limited space. Last year it seated 900 with a limit of 1,500 ribbons being available for sale. The initial 1,200 ribbons were all gone by Thursday night. 300 more were added on Friday were sold out by Friday night. Like BGG Con there is limited ribbons.

There is much more to Origins than just the Board Room. However, if you are a hardcore boardgamer than the BR is the place to be. I've had several people who attend other conventions as well as BGG Con tell me that the Origins Board Room is the closest thing to BGG Con that you can get.

I hope this help answer some of your questions in regards to Origins.
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Trey Chambers
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Well I had an amazing time at BGG.con, and the more I read the more I get the feeling that Origins is more like BGG.con than Gen Con. I'm not sure I like hectic/cutting edge/nerdiness besides gaming as much as I would like a 96-hour laid back gaming binge.

So now the big thing Gen Con has over Origins is that more publishers go to Gen Con, and the main point of this trip is to demo my prototypes for publishers.

What publishers skip Origins besides Fantasy Flight?

As much as I'm psyched about Origins, if going to Gen Con increases my chances of getting published, I might have to make the "sacrifice", though I'm sure I'll have a blast either way.
 
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BigCat97 wrote:
Hi Trey

I'm also hoping to attend Origins for the first time this year as a trader. I'll be furiously demoing/extolling the virtues of my game (www.lecardo.com) and at the same time trying to find time to play other people's games (including yours I hope- don't know what it is but I'm sure it'll be great fun).

The reply to your initial enquiry was very helpful. GenCon vs Origins is a tough one, but I've been corresponding recently with a guy from Columbus who has persuadedc me that it'll be a blast. See you there! What's your game by the way? I'll check it out.

Cheers
Leo


I love playing prototypes and getting feedback about mine. Proto Alley this year at BGG.con was a blast. Hopefully Origins or Gen Con have something similar. If I end up at Origins, we'll definitely meet up.

As for what game of mine we'll play, it will depend on you. I have quite a few prototypes to choose from. =)
 
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Trey, I won't go in to specifics as it seems there is enough detail here and in other threads that give you restaurants, hotels,and the like to go to.

What I will tell you is I have been to both multiple times always with a group. Ranging from 4 to 9 in numbers. My feeling is that with a group of friends Origins is more fun. I have spent some of my most memorable moments with my friends at conventions and more of those moments happened at Origins. With the con being more laid back and more about gaming you inherently spend more time with the people you came with. At the same time I can't dismiss the fun that the grandness of Gen Con provides. I love seeing new games and witnessing all the crazy nerdom that happens there.

So to be concise I feel that if you are going alone Gen Con might be a better choice, but if you really want to spend quality time with those you went with Origins is where to go.
 
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Kevin Rutherford
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Shampoo4you wrote:
What publishers skip Origins besides Fantasy Flight?


The big ones that have left Origins is Fantasy Flight, Days of Wonder and WotC.

However, there are some publishers that skip Gen Con. Jolly Roger is one of those.

If you are looking to show off your prototypes, then the Board Room might be a good place as most of the publishers spend their evenings playing games there.
 
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Shampoo4you wrote:
BigCat97 wrote:
Hi Trey

I'm also hoping to attend Origins for the first time this year as a trader. I'll be furiously demoing/extolling the virtues of my game (www.lecardo.com) and at the same time trying to find time to play other people's games (including yours I hope- don't know what it is but I'm sure it'll be great fun).

The reply to your initial enquiry was very helpful. GenCon vs Origins is a tough one, but I've been corresponding recently with a guy from Columbus who has persuadedc me that it'll be a blast. See you there! What's your game by the way? I'll check it out.

Cheers
Leo


I love playing prototypes and getting feedback about mine. Proto Alley this year at BGG.con was a blast. Hopefully Origins or Gen Con have something similar. If I end up at Origins, we'll definitely meet up.

As for what game of mine we'll play, it will depend on you. I have quite a few prototypes to choose from. =)


I can't wait! It'll be my first ever vist to the US too. What better than for my first experience of your great country to be a massive gaming convention?
 
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I've been at Origins the last two years (and plan on going this year as well). Here's my observations:

Open gaming: The Columbus Area Boardgaming Society (CABS) runs the Board Room ($20 for unlimited play). I believe you can game there at all hours; however, the library hours are limited (8 AM to 10 PM or so?). Activity picks up there around 10 AM each day.

Exhibitors have set up areas for demos of their games in the Board Room; for instance, Queen Games was there last year.

Food/drink: You can eat and drink food purchased inside the convention center at the tables. Prices are comparable to what you'd pay in a theater or pro sporting event. Alcoholic beverages are available for a limited time each evening, and cannot be carried outside the designated area (Origins After Dark rooms). FYI, Ohio state law requires ID for alcohol WITHOUT exception (no 'if you look under 30, we'll ask'). You'll definitely have to leave the convention center for late night food runs.

There are plenty of food options outside the convention center; others have already listed some of them.

Airport transportation: It's about a $25-$28 cab fare from the airport. Depending on the taxi, you might get a coupon giving you the return ride for $15.

Hotel: Book early! Some of the convention blocks are already sold out.

I have not attended BGG.con or GenCon, so I can't compare those to Origins.
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Trent Hamm
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I don't think you can go wrong with either one. There seems to be more non-boardgaming stuff to do at GenCon, but the pure boardgaming is probably stronger at Origins. However, rumor has it this year the GC board gaming will be very similar to Origins, so that may be a wash.

I'm going to GenCon again this year and skipping Origins, for what it's worth. Basically, I choose one convention a year and GC is it.
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Zaphod wrote:
[q="Shampoo4you"]
...I hear Fogo De Chao is good.


Fogo de Chão? That's a Brazilian barbecue place, and if it's anything like here, it's GREAT, and somewhat expensive also.
 
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Can someone tell me what the day pass for $5 will get you at Origins? It sounds like you have to purchase this then get a $20 ribbon to use the Board Room area? Also, they list other events under the ribbons that appear to be free or at least free after you purchase a $20 ribbon, i.e. the Puffing Billy area. It's a little confusing for someone who has never been.

Day Pass link: http://www.originsgamefair.com/FamilyCommunity/tabid/2798/De...

Ribbon link: http://www.originsgamefair.com/Events/tabid/2794/Default.asp...
 
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Jackshoku wrote:
Zaphod wrote:
[q="Shampoo4you"]
...I hear Fogo De Chao is good.


Fogo de Chão? That's a Brazilian barbecue place, and if it's anything like here, it's GREAT, and somewhat expensive also.


Sneaky tip... go for lunch. It's the same food for half the price of dinner.
 
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Cody Jones
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John and I covered similar questions in our Convention Guide 2010 episode. I think most of the discussion would be applicable to this year as well.
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Kevin in Kansas wrote:
Can someone tell me what the day pass for $5 will get you at Origins? It sounds like you have to purchase this then get a $20 ribbon to use the Board Room area? Also, they list other events under the ribbons that appear to be free or at least free after you purchase a $20 ribbon, i.e. the Puffing Billy area. It's a little confusing for someone who has never been.

Day Pass link: http://www.originsgamefair.com/FamilyCommunity/tabid/2798/De...

Ribbon link: http://www.originsgamefair.com/Events/tabid/2794/Default.asp...


The $5 day pass only allows you access to the exhibit hall, the art show, the auction and the open gaming area. It doesn't allow for the purchase of tickets or ribbons. You must purchase a show badge to buy tickets, ribbons or generic tokens. A one-day badge costs $35 or a full show pass is $65 (prices are higher if purchased at the show).

All gaming events (other than a few seminars) require purchased tickets to play. Some ribbons allow you to take part in those events without a ticket such as Mayfair's events for the Mayfair ribbon and train games that are part of the Puffing Billy tournaments. The Board Room ribbon entitles you to play in the Board Room area and use CABS' library of games.
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Ryan Full
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If you are going to Origins then I think you must buy a Board Room ribbon.

The first year I went I bought a Looney Labs ribbon and spent most of my time in the dealer room or in the LL room. All subsequent years I have bought a Board Room ribbon and have enjoyed myself significantly more. The crowd is good, people are friendly, many of the dealers are in the room after the vendor hall closes, and if you have a group of friends it is perfect. In all seriousness, imo CABS absolutely makes Origins worth attending. Being able to give brand new games a trial run with my group of friends was invaluable in helping me decide what to buy in subsequent days.

The free food, free wifi, easy access to the restrooms, giveaways, and a continuous full house made it the place to be.
 
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Another thing to consider is that last year, the Skyline Club and a generous BGG member organized an open gaming room. The Skyline is a private club located at the top of a very tall building (no idea which one) but you have a wonderful view of downtown Indy, full menu/bar service directly to your gaming table. It's about a 10 minute walk from the convention center.

I had the pleasure of meeting lots of new people and playing Dune for my first time with some great BGG members there. (I subsequently got a copy off ebay as soon as I got home). There was a stack of games to choose from if you didn't bring your own. While I can't be sure that this will be available next year it was one of the highlights of my trip last year.

 
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I can't speak to GenCon, only Origins' Board Room - a dedicated area for boardgaming requiring a Board Room Ribbon. There's a non-trivial amount of boardgaming elsewhere - both in for-pay areas (Looney Labs, Mayfair, etc), demos being run by publishers in the main exhibition hall, and an open gaming area - but the Boardroom is where the main action is.

Shampoo4you wrote:
What is open gaming like? Crowded? Easy to find open games needing players?

About on par with this last year's BGG.CON - sometimes huge numbers of unoccupied tables, sometimes near to full. At Origins, I followed Marshall's BGG.CON guide for finding / starting games and didn't have a problem, but I've heard from others who had a harder time "putting themselves out there". (I'd love it if CABS made up something like the PLAYERS WANTED flags from BGG.CON; those were phenomenally useful.)

Quote:
How good is the library compared to BGG.con?

I never came close to plumbing the depths of either, so I can't really say. The BGG.CON library is browseable, while the CABS library is of the "ask for [game X]" sort - while the shelves are clearly visible behind the counter, you can't walk among them.

When you're opening a game at Origins, stay observant! One game I checked out had a "golden ticket" which won me a free copy of Wallenstein (first edition). Not the norm, but a fun surprise.

The CABS folks were quite friendly and helpful (both in running the library, and when playing / teaching games).

Quote:
How late are the open gaming rooms open?

The Board Room is open all night - I nearly got talked into starting a game of Through The Ages at 1:00 AM one evening - but the library closes at midnight. Either games can be kept checked out overnight, or I accidentally broke the rules.

Quote:
Can you eat and/or drink in the gaming area? Is alcohol allowed?

Eat and drink, absolutely. Don't know about booze.

Quote:
What food is available there? What about nearby? How much can I expect to spend?

This past year, Jay (owner of Rio Grande) paid for free lunch and dinner for anyone with a Board Room pass - you'd just get in line for the in-room cafeteria, select your food, get rung up, and not pay anything. It was reasonable food - nothing to write home about, but insanely convenient... and free.

Even if he does that again this year, I'm going to try and hit North Market more. Some of the food there looked really good.

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How do I get from the airport to the convention center?

There might be some sort of shuttle, but I took a taxi.

Quote:
What hotels are within walking distance?


A whole bunch - see http://columbus.conventioncenterhotelsguide.com/.

The closest to where the board room traditionally is is the Hampton, just across the street. The hotel which is physically joined to the convention center is a touch less convenient than you'd think, as it's all the way at the other end of things - about a 10-minute walk from the board gaming - though I stayed there last year and have no complaints about the rooms or the service.

Quote:
What sort of special events do they usually have? Is there a math trade? An open auction? A flea market?

Here's where things felt, IMO, the most different from BGG.CON: at BGG.CON, it's a boardgaming convention of 1-2 thousand people centered around the gaming room with side events (flea market, poker tournament, proto alley, etc) which draw between a few dozen and a few hundred people. At Origins, it's a more general convention of 10 thousand people where the board room itself is a side event drawing 1,500 people.

So there are a ton of things going on... but most of them are side events to Origins, not the Board Room.

That being said, there is a math trade, and prize drawings of various sorts (both by CABS and by the occasional publisher running demos). And plenty of random cool stuff, just... different.

My favorite thing at BGG.CON I totally didn't expect: the massage therapists.

My favorite thing at Origins I totally didn't expect: 12-person networked battletech deathmatches:



Most expensive video game I've ever played, but boy was it fun.
 
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Scot Palenshus
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Quote:
(I'd love it if CABS made up something like the PLAYERS WANTED flags from BGG.CON; those were phenomenally useful.)


In keeping with the "CABS" theme, this year we will be adding bright orange traffic cones. You simply get one of these from the front counter and set it on your table to indicate you are looking for players. Once your game is full bring the cone back up to the front so someone else can use it.
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Trey Chambers
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They are pushing Origins up to the end of May for 2012 and 2013 so this might be my only chance to go. The end of May is finals for a lot of school teachers, including myself.

Why the hell would they do this? FRUSTRATING!!!!

I have even contacted the director via Facebook and he hasn't replied. =(
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Kevin Rutherford
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Shampoo4you wrote:
They are pushing Origins up to the end of May for 2012 and 2013 so this might be my only chance to go. The end of May is finals for a lot of school teachers, including myself.

Why the hell would they do this? FRUSTRATING!!!!

I have even contacted the director via Facebook and he hasn't replied. =(


Blame Gen Con. Gen Con is moving it's dates earlier and earlier heading towards July. There is a belief that if they were a month apart then gamers and vendors would choose Gen Con over Origins or attending both.

 
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Matthew Naikelis
United States
Aurora
OH - Ohio
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kevruth wrote:
Shampoo4you wrote:
They are pushing Origins up to the end of May for 2012 and 2013 so this might be my only chance to go. The end of May is finals for a lot of school teachers, including myself.

Why the hell would they do this? FRUSTRATING!!!!

I have even contacted the director via Facebook and he hasn't replied. =(


Blame Gen Con. Gen Con is moving it's dates earlier and earlier heading towards July. There is a belief that if they were a month apart then gamers and vendors would choose Gen Con over Origins or attending both.



Not sure if this is just wild speculation or what but if you look at the future dates of GenCon, the next 3 years are later not earlier in August. Now in 2015 they move into July but I don't think this has anything to do with competing Cons. I'm pretty sure they can peacefully coexist

Gen Con Indy 2011 August 4-7, 2011 Indianapolis, Indiana
Gen Con Indy 2012 August 16-19, 2012 Indianapolis, Indiana
Gen Con Indy 2013 August 15-18, 2013 Indianapolis, Indiana
Gen Con Indy 2014 August 14-17, 2014 Indianapolis, Indiana
Gen Con Indy 2015 July 30 - August 2, 2015 Indianapolis, Indiana

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gencon
 
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