Origins 2003: Thursday, 26 June

Reported by Neal Sofge, Super Genius, Fat Messiah Games

Late Arrival

It's been a long, uncomfortable drive, but I made it. ("Uncomfortable" meaning three hours through the mideast in June with no air conditioning on a blazingly hot day. This will inform my next car purchase, let me tell you.)

My new day job forced me to cram most of the usual FMG con prep into last night's wee hours, and the resulting oversleep this morning burned almost all of my reserve. I sure hope I can get my badge and get set up in an hour.

By this time of the day, preregistration was deserted, except for the somewhat ad-hoc customer service booth at the far end. That's where I'm headed.

Insecta Macro #1

After some tense moments being bounced around between registration and event HQ while the clock ticks down, one of the many volunteer coordinators makes a command decision and gives me a badge. Minutes later, I'm setting up the new 10x super-macro board that Phil Eklund of SMG made, and get it finished just in time.

The new Insecta Macro arena set, taped down and ready for action. If you want to make your own, those hexes are 11 inches side-to-side, and the bugs are from the "Electronic Stretch & Squish" series by Manley and the "Hidden Kingdom" series by Safari.

Despite its size, the board is dwarfed by the sheer scale of our ballroom venue.

Eventually Phil shows up, having gotten lost in the vast convention center. We get three players, all of whom are experienced gamers but newcomers to Insecta, and the five of us spend the next four hours playing king-of-the-hill.

LARPer Ilah, wargamer Jerry, general gamer Chris and game designer Phil Eklund battle it out. (I'm dead by this point, and thus free to take photos.)

Anyone who dies comes back on the other side (after getting eaten, of course), and control of the board swings back and forth several times before time is called. A great time is had by all, showing once again that regardless of how fragmented the hobby becomes, all God's creatures love bugs.

(That was so cool that I'm no longer regretting my decision to come here and run stuff, despite my 2001 vow never to do major convention events ever again.)

Time For Eats

Despite the great Insecta game, I'm still full of road rage, so I head out for some food and a beer with the Ad Astra staff. On the way back we get stuck in a total downpour, ending up soaked through. Good thing I left the electronics in the "tabletop" room with Phil.

Digression: I've been looking for a good name for what we do for years, ever since "adventure game" was co-opted by the computer game industry. "Boardgame" was good for a little while, but ever since the German invasion it makes people expect Puerto Rico, not Last Frontier. Origins has decided to categorize everything as follows:


This neatly sidesteps the whole issue; everything that doesn't fit into the first four is in the last, and the boundaries are pretty clear. (Personally I'd put the xClix in with the CCGs, based on the apparent lack of overlap between them and the traditional miniaturists. But I'm starting to nest digressions, so never mind.)

Home Away From Home

It's late and I'm utterly exhausted, so it's time to head for the Country Suites by the airport. (Yes, I'm at the airport once again. Something about FMG and major conventions that makes that happen.)

Downtown Columbus is a maze of blocked roads, construction vehicles, one-way streets and orange cones. This wasn't a major problem on the way in, but now it's dark and lots of water is falling from the sky, something for which my Southern California driving experience has left me unprepared.

After a series of navigational disasters that no RPG player would believe, Phil and I finally make it to the hotel. Before succumbing to exhaustion, we discover that there's a McDonald's across the driveway from us, a gamer's dream come true. While snacking on their new-and-improved fries, we manage to come up with a viable plan for producing the first Insecta:3 sets with our now-limited financial resources. After so many false starts it's hard to believe we're actually back on track, but it realistically looks like we can do this by the end of 2003. Wish us luck, and please contact us immediately if you think you can help us in any way to pull this off!