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  • Writer's pictureJerry James

Cardboard Commander Visits Origins for the first time.

Was it worth the journey? Will I attend another Origins in the future?

Origins Entry to show

As I was looking over my schedule for a 2 week motorcycle road trip, I realized that I would be fairly close to Columbus OH, home of the Origins Game Fair, one of the largest gaming conventions here in the United States. I had heard great things, but I have also heard that the show was a waste of time for wargamers. I thought I would do some research to see if it was worth me deviating from my route to attend.

I watch or Listen to Gary on Ardwulf's Lair on youtube ( @ardwulfslair ) I tuned is as I know he attends the show every year. Well after listening to him, I decided I would pay the $45 for a day pass and attend on a Friday. I was excited about attending the event. My only other convention / events I have attended for wargaming has been ASL tournaments and events. I always enjoyed myself while attending, but I also knew that everyone there was interested in the same type of gaming. Origins would not be like that.

Some back story, for this trip. I am an avid motorcycle enthusiast and I had planned to attend a Motorcycle Sport Touring Association rally in Canaan Valley WV. I live in Arkansas so this was going to be a longer trip. I had planned to camp the entire way as to keep my costs in check. This would be one reason I could attend Origins, as I had booked a hip camp just outside of town in Hilliard OH. Little did I know that the entire part of that area would be under a heat advisory. We are used to high temps and humidity here in the south. Those Yankees (pun intended) not so much. In fact they were melting.

Camping on the road to Origins

Well I am not going to lie it got to me as well. I stayed in Evanston IN on Wednesday night and it was awful. Muggy, hot and the mosquitos thought that I was their evening buffet. It was not a fun evening. I broke camp at 4:30am as I was up and decided to hit the road. I cruised into Columbus and the temps were in the mid 90"s... YIKES! I tapped out and booked a Best Western for $99 a night just 8 miles from the event. I ubered to and from the convention center on Friday to attend the show and I was happy that I did., It was just as hot on Friday and the thought of riding my motorcycle to downtown in the heat was not something I felt I had to do.

Now back to my show experience. I had breakfast and jumped into my Uber at 7:15AM. I was standing outside the show at 7:45 after a great stress free ride with a good conversation about Ohio with my Uber guy. So far the day was starting off great. I walked into the convention hall, went right up to registration and BAM, I had my badge and was ready to go. The exhibit hall did not open until 10AM so I got to take my time and walk around the gaming area.

I noticed right away that this was going be be a large event with a number of different style of games. Walking around at 8AM there were many folks already setting up and playing games. Here are a few pictures from that walk around.

The calm before the storm
Quiet Gaming Hall
World War I - Air battles
WWI Air War
A start to a Battle Tech Scenario
Battle Tech
Armchair Dragoons
Wargamers unite
King maker Avalon Hill Game
Old School Kingmaker
Gary hanging out and explaining his game.
Ardwulf's Lair

Exploring the event further, the atmosphere was truly captivating, filled with the contagious energy of enthusiastic gamers. It was heartwarming to see so many people immersed in the joy of playing games, their faces lit up with smiles and excitement. As I strolled through the venue, I was greeted by friendly individuals inviting me to join in the gaming fun. While I politely declined most offers due to my personal preferences, I appreciated the inclusive and welcoming nature of the community.

Battle Of Tobruk
Brazen Chariots

One memorable encounter was with Gary from Ardwulf's Lair, who graciously introduced me to the intricacies of his game, Brazen Chariots. His willingness to share his passion and engage in conversation left a lasting impression. Similarly, meeting Brant from Armchair Dragoons was enlightening as we discussed the growing presence of wargaming at events like Origins. The dedication to providing training sessions for games showcased a commitment to fostering a supportive gaming environment. The prospect of participating in such sessions in the future sparked my interest, prompting me to reach out to Brant for more information.

NATO the game

The gaming landscape was diverse and engaging, with a variety of titles being enjoyed by attendees. From classic hex and counter games like Normandy 44 to strategic favorites such as Empire of the Sun and Space Empires, there was something for every gaming enthusiast. Meeting Tory Brown, the talented designer behind Votes for Women, was a highlight, offering a glimpse into the creative minds shaping the gaming industry.

Overall, the event provided a platform for meaningful connections, shared experiences, and a celebration of the vibrant gaming community. Each interaction and discovery added a layer of depth to the experience, leaving me eager to explore more and engage further with the world of tabletop gaming.

My Own Worst Enemy
Space Empires - Hosted by Mike (I hope that is right) My own worst enemy

The exhibit hall opened and I decided to fight the masses to see what was available. It was a huge hall with all types of games and gaming accessories available. Lots of Euro type games , along with a ton of fantasy / RPG type games. There were many places to purchase miniatures and anything else to do with gaming. There were a few places to even buy wonderful looking game tables, for a small (depends on your budget) fee. I walked through the hall a number of times and before I realized it, 2 hours had gone by. I did stop by Decision games and purchased a few little maps to put up in my game space. I knew I could not buy much as the space on the motorcycle was very limited. These maps were small and they actually look great on my wall.

WW II maps on my game room wall.
My Game room with Maps

There was not much more in terms of wargames. I think it was Enterprise games, that had a lot of GMT games available. They had a nice selection, but that was about it. Kind of disappointing, but I had already prepared myself for the lack of Hex & Counter type wargames that would be on display. It would have been great to have other manufacturers in attendance, but I also get that it is not the regular historical Wargame crowd. Her are a few pics from my exhibit hall walkthrough. I was intrigued with a couple of games. I just wish that I had some friends or family that would play them. Some of the Euro games look like a lot of fun. Some of the Euro games production values were amazing! Great maps, cards and pieces. I think some wargaming companies could learn from some of the Euro designers.

Lots of folks in the exhibit hall
Lots of folks in the exhibit hall
Boardwalk Puzzles
awesome name for a game
Great name for a game
game set up battle tech
great set up

After lunch, I headed back to the game hall, but not before stopping by the RPG area, which was in a completely different part of the convention center. I must say that this area was very disappointing. The first game I walked into, three folks asked me in a row if I needed something. I said I was just looking around, and they shrugged and walked off. No one offered to explain the game being played or provide any other information. It was a little frustrating. I have never played an RPG, and after this experience, I do not think it will be something that I will be looking to expand into.

Ok, now back to the cool stuff. I went back into the gaming room and watched a number of games being played. I learned so much from folks who were so passionate about the type of games they were playing. There was a huge area for train games, things like Ticket to Ride and others. It was so cool watching these games being played. There was also a big group of air games, from WWI, WWII, and some sci-fi spaceship stuff. These looked great as well. Here are some of my favorite shots from some of these air games.

I actually got to sit and watch Memoir 44 being played. I always looked down on this game, but after watching it being played for a couple of hours, I started to see why folks like this system. its easy, great way to get new people involved and it was a fun little beer and pretzel game. I was looking online and there are many sites out there that have lots of folks playing this game.. who would have think it? I am actually thinking about picking up a copy.

great game to introduce into the hobby
Memoir 44

I spent nearly 12 hours at the convention. When I returned to my hotel, my feet were throbbing, but I had a fantastic time. I wished there were more authentic wargaming activities available, but that wouldn't deter me from attending again in the future.

One of the highlights of the gaming area was the vast collection of games that attendees could borrow and enjoy. That was truly impressive. Next time, I hope to participate in a game demo during the event as I believe it's a fantastic way to introduce newcomers to our beloved hobby.

Would I do it again? Absolutely! It was an amazing experience and definitely worth the $45 day pass. Did any of you have the chance to go? What were your impressions? Are you planning to return next year? If so, let's meet up and play a game together. I will leave you with a few more pictures from the event. You can see all of the pictures I took by clicking here: Origins Photo Gallery.

Until next time Be kind and Happy gaming! Please take a moment to subscribe to the @Cardboardcommander on Youtube. You can also checkout out blog at


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