Last weekend was Origins, the annual gaming convention held in Columbus, Ohio. If you've never attended a gaming convention - and odds are you haven't - it's a barely controlled collection of vendors, tournaments and body odor. All types of games from CCGs to RPGs to board games are represented. (There is very little on the video/computer game front, which surprises and disappoints me.) Any gamer within driving distance definitely ought to attend, because it's a great place to play your favorites and test out new ones.
I played in my second Doomtown World Championship tourney and went 3-2 with my Whateley deck. Considering my 0-5 streak last year, this was an incredible surprise. I am just not an aggressive tournament-style player, but obviously the deck tuning I did between 2000 and 2001 helped. (Going 3-2 doesn't win you anything except the pride of not being a total loser, but while I was gunslinging, Rhonda won a bunch of free Magic stuff from the Wizards booth... so did Scott and Mike, but their prizes weren't Magic, so they weren't as excited about it.)
Z-G, the action figure / trading card game hybrid. Man, it's a great idea, but I felt it was more than a little clunky. And I was all set to buy it, too... until we demoed it. I love the no-license robot toys and the cool way that you get to blow vital bits of armor and weaponry off your enemies... but moving and posing your toy bot is clumsy and loose. The poor toys tend to get top heavy and fall over, thus wrecking any kind of precision placement. "Leave gravity behind," indeed.
Chrononauts, a "traditional" card game from Looney Labs, won the Origins award for best card game. So I checked it out at their booth and bought a copy. What a surprising and clever game this is! You're a time traveller whose primary goal is to change the US's timeline to ensure that your personal alternate future continues to exist. So you have to go kill Hitler or sabotage the Manhatten Project or save John Lennon... generating some thought-provoking ripple effects throughout the resultant timeline. If you can find it, get it!
Great Rail Wars, Pinnacle's Deadlands-based miniatures game, was back in force. The new giant-size miniatures look fantastic, and the combined-package faction army boxes are a stupendous idea. (The Deadlands brands must operate in a zero-sum system: Last year at this time, Doomtown was going strong and Great Rails Wars was dead. This year, GRW is getting a relaunch and Doomtown is dead.) I picked up the new rulebook for GRW (which is almost identical to the High Noon rulebook they released for free on their website, goddammit) mainly out of affection for the brand. But they better come out with that Army Book soon! They don't want you to make your own heroes anymore, and the new GRW edition has precious little example archetypes in it.
We all enjoyed Apples to Apples, a vocabulary card game in the family/party style... there was this great booth in one of the gaming halls that let you rent games. In fact, we all intended to go buy our own copies, but the core edition of Apples to Apples costs $20, which struck us all as pretty outrageous. Sucks to be a small-time gaming company.
I was hoping to see demos for the new Lord of the Rings card game and the Harry Potter card game, but no such luck. Probably saving those for GenCon. But we did get free stuff from Magi Nation, Button Men, Mage Knight, 7th Sea, Age of Empires, Sailor Moon and lots of other games.