Disclaimer: Thanks to Leder Games for providing my Origins 2018 badge and allowing me to come, participate and volunteer at their booth!
After GenCon 2016, I left Indianapolis with the desire to one day work a booth for a game company. This obviously is a strange thought to most board game companies who have worked GenCon/Origins/BGGcon, etc…but to me – it seemed exciting. Fast forward to this month and I have officially completed my goal. It was a lot what I expected and a lot different than expected. And so, I’d like to talk about my experience at Origins – as both an attendee and as a booth volunteer.
How did this come to be?
Back in January of this year, @LederGames posted a tweet asking for play testers for their new game: Vast: The Mysterious Manor. I tweeted back that I was available which started a weekly play testing group with me and a few other testers. For the last 6 months, I’ve had the ability to play the new Vast, meet the team at Leder Games, other game testers and craft friendships with the the entire team. I also got some real life insight into the day to day of board game development, testing and publishing.
After a couple of weeks, I let the LederGames team know that I was available to volunteer for a convention coming up called Con of the North. It’s one of the largest conventions for role playing, board games, and sorts in Minnesota. They agreed and I was able to spend a day demoing Vast: The Crystal Caverns. It went over well and I had a great time doing it. A couple of months later, I asked again if there was any volunteers needed for Origins and they said that they were happy to have me come on board!
What is like working the booth?
In all, it was equal parts fun and awesome but equal parts exhausting. Normally, I don’t find myself to be an extrovert in actively seeking out strangers and talking to them about board games but being part of the team, being present in the booth while wearing the appropriate garb and having that booth precedence felt natural to engage with con-goers. Everyone at the convention had the underlying passion for games and so I felt comfortable just being able to say hi, ask about how their convention was going and talk about Vast as they passed by the booth. Origins is neat as well because the expo hall was fairly large but not as crowded as it is during GenCon. It seemed to be a show that had that big grandeur scale of GenCon but the intimacy of a smaller show to be able to meet the team of your favorite developers and publishers.
Most people I talked to never heard or have heard mention of Vast and Leder Games so it was cool to talk to them about it. Sometimes when you are surrounded by the people and product of the company, it can be a little strange to have people be completely unaware of the products or the company so I did my best to give a quick talk about what it is Leder Games is a l about. It was neat as well to overhear attendees walk by the booth and talk to their friends about Vast/Root as well.
With that being said, it doesn’t make the expo hall any quieter. So, I found myself having talking loudly (even though I talk loud as it is) and within a couple of hours on my first day – my voice became raspy and it was difficult to speak. Luckily there was some water and cough drops but I’m not sure I was prepared enough to know how it would impact me. So, I strongly encourage new or returning booth attendees to drink lots of water and not over exert yourself when talking to attendees. Even when you think you’ve had enough water – be sure to drink and have more. A rookie mistake on my part. What was nice though is that we had enough staff for the volunteers to work in shifts which gave half the day to roam and the other half to work at the booth.
What is the expo hall like before/after the show?
I’ll admit that having the ability to see the expo show floor completely empty before general public come in is quite a cool feeling. I was able to get a few laps of the main expo hall and get a sense of where everything is. People in the booths there are busy as they are setting up product, talking about how to lay out their booth space for the day or just chatting with their neighbors. I was lucky enough one day to run into Tom Vasel of the Dice Tower and talk to him for a little bit along with the Pandasaurus Games and Floodgate Games crew! I would say that there is opportunity to purchase product or trade during this time but I didn’t want to disturb anyone that was still setting up just so I can purchase something. I only did so when I confirmed with the publisher prior to. One of the most hyped games from Origins prior to opening was “Welcome To” by Deep Water Games. It’s a “flip and fill” game that had a line to purchase for vendors! They just had 5 copies to give out per day. I imagine this happens more during GenCon but it was crazy to see the pre-expo hall hype! Also, PlanB/Next Move Games had Reef and the new Century: Eastern Wonders game on sale that sold out quickly.
After the expo hall closed, there were some vendors that stopped by to purchase or trade but not many. The expo hall was vacated within the hour and no one was allowed back in an hour after it was closed. Nothing exciting there.
What were the hyped games of Origins?
For me, The Mind by Pandasaurus Games was my #1 game to purchase. This goes on sale in July but I had the opportunity to purchase it now – and so I did! I made mention that Reef and Century: Eastern Wonders were also popular and sold out along with Coimbra by PlanB/Next Move Games. Deep Water Games killed it this year with Welcome To and their releases of EmperorS4 games like Shadows in Kyoto. InsideUp Games had copies of Summit: The Board Game which looked awesome along with Gorus Maximus that just recently hit Kickstarter. Lastly, Kolossal Games had a very early look at Eclipse 2nd ed, Western Legends that looked so good and a game in development called Terror In London which was GREAT artwork and was a cool variant on the whole 2p “Star Realms” hand / deck management type of game.
Who did you meet?
I met so many great and lovely people. Everyone was nice, helpful and friendly. Provided in a Google Photos album of who I all met.
What did you play at Origins?
I did play a few games at Origins! I played some High Society from Osprey Games which was a lot of fun. Of course, I got in a few games of The Mind and even a full game of Secret Hitler which is always a blast to play especially at that player count. I didn’t play anything that complex or large at the convention just because it was hard to carry around and that after a day of roaming and talking – I was just too tired to play anything intense!
One game that I did see played was “I’m The Boss” which was one of the most confusing but interesting games I saw. The Leder Games crew played this and it was a game where as soon as I felt like I knew what was going on – something happened and I was back to square one. Everyone was so engaged, cards were flying around and everyone was laughing. I’m super intrigued by this game and hopefully one day I will play it.
What did you buy?
I didn’t want to bring too much back with me and I kinda broke that promise to myself…but I didn’t completely over do it. Here is my list.
- Summit: The Board Game by InsideUp Games
- The Flow of History by TMG
- The Mind by Pandasaurus Games
- The Networks Telly Time by Formal Ferret Games
- Visitor in Blackwood Grove by Resonym
- High Society by Osprey Games
- Folklore the Affliction by Greenbrier Games
In all, Origins 2018 was a blast. I got to accomplish a goal I made a couple of years ago. I got SUPER addicted to collecting the enamel pins around the expo hall. Met a lot of cool and awesome people in the board game industry and made it out without the con crud. If you guys find yourself being available to go to Origins – I strongly recommend going!