A Hitchhikers Guide to Origins Part II by Justin Gibbons
In Part 1, I shared my first 5 tips, which all revolved around preparing to arrive at Origins. My last 5 tips shed some insight to the convention once you’re there. Without further ado, I give you tips 6-10 in my Top Ten Tips for Origins N00bs.
PART 2- Once You’ve Arrived
6. The coupon book
LOOT ALERT- for this entire tip. In tip 5, I mentioned these slices of fried gold are a nice accent to registration, but people start Vamping out over them by Friday. Last year, they ran out of them at some point during the Thursday registration, so your best bet to get one is arriving by Wednesday. I can’t tell you how many times I pulled out my coupon book and someone stopped me and said, “WHERE’D YOU GET THAT!?!?” as blood dripped from their mouths. Ok, maybe not the blood part. But I did start to wonder if I could sell one of these books for a New-In-Shrink copy of Pillars of the Earth.
What is the coupon book? It’s literally a small booklet that contains pages of exhibitor advertisements. But most of those advertisements have a printed coupon for a discount or freebie at their booth in the Exhibit Hall. Some of the coupons are good for one item. Some are good for multiple uses if you come back daily! For example, Arcane Wonders had a coupon where if you swung by their booth in the Exhibit Hall, you received a free promo card for Mage Wars. And each day was a different card. Many coupons offer free swag like bags, buttons, dice, pens, coasters, and promo cards. I got a ton of free loot from this that I gave out to some of my buddies back home who couldn’t make it to Origins. Good stuff for game group gifts!!!
LOOT ALERT- Yes a second one is worth mentioning. Perhaps the hottest thing in the coupon book last year was the Dungeons and Dragons gift bag. D&D has its own room in the Convention center on a different floor than the Game and Exhibit Halls. And people lined up in droves for this bag. They limited the amount of bags they handed out each day and posted the time they’d give them out. People started lining up an hour early to get them, so plan accordingly if you’re a D&D fan!
7. The Game Hall- Use your mouth
No, this is not a “50 Shades-The Thrift Shop Game” reference. But there is great power in opening your mouth to dialogue and ask questions. My buddy Glen and I got away with a ton of stuff just by talking to workers and asking. (He says having a high-level of “woo” gets you further too.) There is a ton of stuff going on in the main Game Hall. But it’s also very intimidating if it’s your first time. There’s so much to look at and do you may experience some serious-Vital Lacerda-level AP. In addition, some games are run by on-the-clock scheduled events, but some games are just open and available to play if you ask. And on top of that, you’ll find that each game company has different “rules” for their booth area! For example, Eagle Gryphon’s booth required tokens for their games, while IELLO had games already set out and you can play all you want at no cost, while AEG had a mixture of the two. So, where you begin?
FOR YOUR FIRST ORIGINS - start by heading to your favorite game companies’ booths; you can find their location in the guide you receive at registration. Then ask a worker these two questions; “What games are available to play here,” and “Does it cost any tokens to play?” From there you’re off to the races. You can find out about times for the demos you are interested in. Rinse and repeat at the other game booths.
Now, if you want graduate-level Origins, the next thing you can ask is, “Is it possible just to play a few rounds of a game?” There might be a game you want to play but it’s scheduled for an event that’s not happening for another hour. But the game is sitting there crying “please come play with my wooden bits!” (Ok seriously…mind out of the gutter.) It never hurts to ask to play it for a bit. If a worker is free, they often will sit down and say “sure! I’ll teach you the basics and you can play until the event starts.” I got to play so many games this way, for free, that I otherwise would not have played if I didn’t ask. I played the early prototype of Adrenaline outside of the scheduled demo time by asking to play a few rounds, and coming back when a worker was available and not teaching other demos. And even though Tyrants of the Underdark was making its debut and cost 2 tokens to play…for everyone else… I simply stood around in the crowd, and asked one of the workers how it’d be possible to play. He said, “Do you want to learn now?” “Heck yeah!” Next thing you know, he is pulling over a table, ripping the shrink wrap off a new copy, rounding up 3 other players, and telling us “grab a seat, don’t worry about it, I’ll teach you. We want as many people to play as possible.” No tokens spent.
8. Exhibition Hall- Shop til your IKEA Bag Drops
The Exhibition Hall is the other main area of Origins. This is where all the companies that are running games in the Game Hall have their merchandise for sale. And it’s also an area where gaming happens! There are some companies that don’t have a space in the Game Hall, so they run demos right out of their Exhibit Hall booth! This is an area that’s buzzy with activity and where you can find a myriad of games. This doesn’t open until Thursday, so early arrivals will have to wait like everyone else. And it’s only open from 10AM to 6PM each day, so don’t wait until the day is over to get in there.
FOR YOUR FIRST ORIGINS - Check your coupon book before you make your entrance. As mentioned before, there are a ton of discounts and freebies for just about every company there. So, before you start dropping dime to create your inevitable “Origins Haul” Facebook post, be sure to check and see if any discounts are available. In one instance, I got a 24% discount on Francis Drake at the Eagle Gryphon games booth, which I had demoed in the Game Hall, by playing a dice tumbler game they had (shout out to my buddy Glen who actually performed the perfect dice roll). Many n00bs make the mistake of purchasing the first things they see without checking to see if a discount can be found. Also, check the CoolStuffInc “ding and dent” section. It’s expansive and last year there were plenty of great games at cheap prices on the shelves.
LOOT ALERT- In addition to discounts, many booths give away games. Some are as simple as spinning a wheel to get a prize, which could include a free game. Some have raffle entries. One of my favorites was the beautiful Gamelyn Games marbled dice that were for free at their booth with a coupon in the coupon book.
9. The Origins Awards Show
There are a few notable awards in the board gaming industry and Origins is one of them. Did you know you can see the show where they get awarded? This happens on Saturday night. It’s open for anyone to come see and it’s free. Now, don’t expect a huge amount of fanfare or excitement. This ain’t the Oscars. But it’s certainly unique and worth seeing once.
FOR YOUR FIRST ORIGINS - Be sure to vote for the awards! Did you know you can have a voice in the outcome of the awards? In the back of the Exhibition Hall there is an area that’s for the Origins Awards. They will have a display set up where you can grab a ballot and vote for all the games that are nominated in the various categories. This is an area that’s tucked away in a corner and easily missed, but is a neat part of the Origins experience. When it comes to Origins, you can say “I VOTED!”
LOOT ALERT- There also may or may not be a free game handed out to all attendees of the Origins awards. I can neither confirm or deny this. Because I don’t want all of you showing up and taking the good games.
10. The Dice Tower Show
You know ‘em. You love ‘em. The Dice Tower guys do a LIVE recap show at Origins and anyone is invited to come see it. It’s a two-part show where they do their recap of their impressions of the games they played during the week, and then they have an audience Q&A session. Know that this is an Event that costs a Token ($2) to attend (and we hear this is determined by the Origins Convention and not something Dice Tower receive any benefit from).
FOR YOUR FIRST ORIGINS - go to the Origins Awards first, and stick around for this and get a good seat. It’s worth seeing once. I mean, these are board game celebrities!!!
So, there you have it! This wraps up my top ten tips for Origins n00bs. I’m looking forward to figuring out more tips and tricks as I attend for the second time this year. If you have any tips or tricks of your own, feel free to let us know!