Blurbs from the Booth- My time at Origins 2014  

I went to Origins, and this time I worked for Catalyst game labs.  How about we do a day by day run down of what I did, and what I thought.



This is a short day.  I got there around 5 PM, and I ran the quick demo table for Shadowrun.  I would run players through 20-40 minute Shadowrun demos and quick games of Shadowrun: Crossfire.  The quick demo table was loads of fun and, I got to play an awesome new game.

After that short shift, Catalyst had a closed meeting with all their grunts to discuss what was coming in the next year.  It’s always eye opening to see how the business of my fun/entertainment works.  Then, I got a goodie bag with a nice bowling shirt with the Catalyst logo on it.  Great times!  How about my thoughts on Shadowrun: Crossfire?  Sure!

Super Short Review of Shadowrun: Crossfire– The game is pretty good, but a little simple.  It’s a deck building game over multiple scenarios.  Each card has icons on the bottom focusing on either magic (blue), weapons (black), social (red), or technology(green).  For the beginner scenario, every player gets an obstacle card with a series of icons and numbers on the top like Red icon/3/Green icon/2.  Players take turns playing cards to use the card’s icons to solve the obstacles in front of each player following the order of icon on the obstacle card.  Continuing the example obstacle above: player one plays a red card and then three random cards with one icon each to solve the next two parts of the obstacle card.  On player two’s turn, he plays one card with an electronic icon, but can’t solve the problem so the problem damages him if it’s in front of him.  On player three’s turn, she plays two random cards for their icons, solves the problem, and all the players get a little money based on how much the obstacle is worth.

It’s a simple, fun game.  I like it, but I would like it to be a bit more complex.  Then again, I also only played a single, simple demo box example having read the rules about three minutes before I thought them.  I expect more to come from the real box along with being able to build up your characters and more deck customization.  I’m going to buy this thing like crazy.  Two things come to mind: 1) It’s Shadowrun, and my main problem with Shadowrun currently is there isn’t enough Shadowrun!  So, I’m getting this because it’s Shadowrun.  2) It’s a co-op game, and that is always fun.  Nothings is better on a cold MI winter night than curl up by the gaming table with the wife and play some co-op games.  I’m looking forward to this one.


Thursday started the con for real!  My job at this con was “Interactive Demo.”  Apparently I’m friendly and approachable?!  The Interactive Demo is a three person team that does a short (~15 minute) demo of Shadowrun.  Shadowrun has the ~completely~ undeserved reputation of being an unapproachable math nightmare, and it was my job to make that not true.  Catalyst made an amazing demo location by making a 10 foot high by 10 foot in diameter fabric tube.  The outside of the tube is the Seattle 2075 skyline, but the inside is the amazing part.  It’s the GM screen brought to life!  10 feet tall pictures of all the main antagonist set in the hottest bar in the future!  If you get the chance to do the demo in the future, DO IT!  Here is what the demo is.  One person brings you by and explains the Shadowrun world quickly and gives you a pregen character (YES PREGENS!  I love them, so SHUT UP THE PREGEN HATE!).  Next, you try to enter the club, but more often than not, you get accosted by the second person at the demo, the bouncer.  The bouncer makes you feel like you’re in the world and gets you to start role-playing right away.  After that, inside the tube is “Mr. Johnson.”  I cosplayed a frantic Ares elf scientist or a refined Horizon’s PR troll.  Here you got to the real meat of the game.  You meet Mr. Johnson, play really quickly, and have a blast.  I had a great time and showed a lot of people the glory that is Shadowrun.  But, eight hours on your feet is killer!  I finished my day with a nap then a work out.


Payday in the real world, so time to buy some con stuff!  Started off the day with working out, then another eight hours of interactive demo awesomeness!  Had a blast doing that and played a whole bunch of Shadowrun with a bunch of new players.  After my shift, I bought all my con events for the weekend, and then  I attended the Secret Gaming Cabal Podcast meet up and meet with a friend from MI.  I dragged him into a demo of Francis Drake.  That lasted till midnight.

Super Short Francis Drake Review- Francis drake is actually two games in one.  One is resource gathering, and the second is blind betting.  In game one, players take turns moving along a dock.  Each spot in the dock is a different resource they need for their travels and to overcome different obstacles at sea.  The interesting thing is you can never move backwards along the dock. You could skip to the last place on the dock as your first move.  If you finish first, you get to place first in the second game, but you have fewer resources.  In the second game, you place discs upside down with different priorities numbers 1-4 on different spaces to spend your resources for points from the first game.  Once all the discs are placed, players resolve their actions in number and then boat order i.e.  All the 1’s resolve, then the 2’s etc…  No one knows what priority you placed on any particular location, so a little bluffing goes a long way.  Player with the most points wins after three rounds.

It’s an interesting game.  I loved what I saw.  It was fun with lots of components, but the person who explained it to us was just a little off on the rules.  That made life a little hard as we kind of screwed up who won and how to play.  I want to pick this game up, but it’s going to have to be via Amazon as its $80 at the con!


Another day of waking up, exercise, and running Shadowrun interactive demo.  Working for Catalyst was a blast, and I look forward to doing it later.  But, it’s now my free time to enjoy the rest of the con.  I started by going to the Munchkin Tavern and spun the wheel for some free dice and playing a little Munchkin at a bar with some random people.

With an evening free I played two games.  The first was Zombiecide.  I smell a quick rundown…

Super Short Review Zombiecide- Zombiecide is a co-op game for one to six players.  Players are all trying to survive the zombie apocalypse through different scenarios.  Each turn, players get a number of actions that range from move, attack, search, open door, or other scenario specific things.  As players kill zombies, they gain experience.  When they get enough experience, new options open up for the characters as they level up.  After character actions, zombies move or attack.  Then, each zombie spawn point spawns zombies.  Here is the innovative part of this game.  At the start of the game, only a few zombies spawn.  However, as the players level up, more zombies spawn.  In fact, the player with the highest level determines how many zombies spawn, so LEVEL UP SMART and TOGETHER!  Players have two hit points.  One wound-you take a card that sits in your inventory, but two wounds-you’re dead! Each scenario determines how you win.  Our game was just get to the exit.

It’s a fun game, but it does seem like it will get kind of stale quick without a bunch of scenarios and expansions.  I had a blast, but the people who I played with were pretty cool and we all played smart/well together.


After Zombiecide, I moved to the Eagle Games area and played a game of Rococo.  I just wandered in, but I found some friends from AnCon.  They are a great group of guys who are working on their own game.  Another short review?  Sure!

Super Short Review of Rococo- In Rococo, you play a group of tailors trying to set up and gain the most renowned at a ball.  In terms of the game, it’s almost five games in one!  Each turn you select a number of cards (worker selection), you then take turns deciding which workers get to do which action (worker placement), one action is getting more workers ( deck building), and another action is to build dresses and either place them in the hall (area/terrain control) or sell them for money.  Each turn, you get your three actions/cards and any other cards you bought this round.  After each round, new people cards, dresses, and resources come into play.  The person with the most points at the end of the game is the best dress makers around!

I loved this game from start to end.  It was amazingly close in scoring with lots of different paths to victory.  Even though it was 10 at night on a day I’d been up since 6AM, I felt my brain just frantic with different ideas on what to do each turn!


Sad day!  The con ends today, so I had to pack up and say good bye.  However, it was my day to hit the dealer’s room!  Today was hard ball!  I stopped by the Catalyst area to say hi, and then I went to WORK.  I made stops all over, and got some great deals.  I was able to haggle a little and get a great deal on Boss Monster!  Then, I bought Knuckle Sammich from 9th Level (All Hail King Torg!).  I moved on and bought a copy of the convention area exclusive map for Trains.  I spent a while talking with the guys at Eagle games and got a great deal on a combo of Rococo, Fleet, and some fish meeples.  Heck I was even able to pick up a copy of Roll through the Ages from a kickstarter with this guys.  I also went to the Dice Hate Me booth and bought a copy of Carnival.  That one was a no brainer as Dice Hate Me was giving a huge discount over the MSRP on the last day of the con!  TAKE NOTE PEOPLE WHO SELL GAMES!  IF YOU GIVE ME A DEAL ON THE LAST DAY OF THE CON, IT WILL OVERRIDE LOGIC IN MY BRAIN, AND I WILL SPENT WAY TOO MUCH ON YOUR STUFF!  I also made some deals with Gamelyn Games and bought a copy of both fantasy Frontier and the expansion to Dungeon Heroes and netted some extra minis.  I was even able to talk to the Asmodee guys and get a discount on the Seasons expansions since they were the demo copies for the con.  Having spent way too much, I then wanted to get a few more games in and I went to Stronghold games and tried Voluspa.  That was an awesome tile laying game.  Too bad they ran out of the expansion for that, or I might have spent a bit more.  If you guys have a combo pack at Gen Con for the base and the expansion, I’m in!  Next, I found a random group playing Tanto Cuore.  I’ve never played before, so I joined it.  Tanto Cuore is what happens if you mix a fantasy maid anime with Dominion.  Not bad, but … know your theme before you go in!  The game ended up in a tie with me and the person demoing the game.  After that, it was a short four hour drive to MI to go home and see the wife and puppy.  God, this was a great con!


I can’t wait to go back next year.  I’m looking forward to working with the men and women of Catalyst to run some more games next year at the show.  I got to demo some awesome RPGs, play some great games, and make some amazing friends.  I love the Origins show a lot as it’s small enough that everybody gets to know one another.  This was a great time!


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