Origins 2003: Friday, 27 June

Reported by Neal Sofge, Super Genius, Fat Messiah Games

An Early Start

And we're up. Usually I don't feel this awful until Day 3 of a major con. Must be lingering damage from yesterday's Rat Patrol mission. At least the rain last night cooled the world off a little, so the ride to the con center won't be so horrific this time.

The light schedule allows the FMG/SMG team to get going in a civilized fashion for a change, and we reach the con center in a leisurely way, only to get completely lost in the maze of under-construction streets. Along the way we discover why we had so much difficulty last night -- the freeway doesn't actually exist west of the convention center, and the entire area is under so much construction it's surprising the staff can get in to open the place. I'd hate to be a business owner around here right now.

We end up looping around a few times and parking in a lot next to the freeway on-ramp (the part that's intact, that is).

The tabletop hall. How am I ever going to find anyone in here?

Your tax dollars at work.


I had originally planned to do a dealer room sweep before the tournament at 14, but I'm still too tired and too grumpy for that. So I hang out with Jim and Phil for a while, watching them play Lords of the Sierra Madre.

Lords of the Sierra Madre designer Phil Eklund explains how the calendar track works.

I rarely ever get to play, and so I'm sorry to miss out on this opportunity, but I decide to go wander around the tabletop hall instead and see how inclusive that term really is.


As it turns out, "tabletop" is pretty inclusive. This is Aerodrome, a very cool-looking World War I tactical game. Players fly what appear to be 1/72 scale miniature airplanes mounted on telescoping radio antennas for easy altitude indication. The bases are transparent plastic hexes, so you can see the terrain under the planes.

A closer look at one of the wooden Aerodrome control boards, with pegs for ammo, hits, and attitude.


Here is GASLIGHT, a strange and fun-looking Victorian Science Fiction miniatures game. As I walked up the group was entering some kind of furious close combat involving the walker on the left, so I didn't want to distract them with questions.

Note the airship in front of the guy in the red shirt -- it's held up by thin wire bits and looks really great.

Like Hard Vacuum players, GASLIGHT fans apparently have to scrounge to find appropriate miniatures for their esoteric gaming needs. I'm told that some of the best models are the Burger King promo toys for the Wild Wild West movie released a few years ago, but that the insane collector's market for them pushes their eBay prices out of the average gamer's reach.

Attack Vector

The game formerly known as ∆V is now called Attack Vector, and should be out by Christmas from Ad Astra if all goes well.

The Hosni Al-Rafik, a fusion torch from the Star Force of Medina. Sharp-eyed viewers will have figured out that it's made of Lego, and it's to scale -- each Lego "dot" is 2 meters.

The game is now even cleaner than the very polished state I saw it in last year at Gen Con, and Ken has managed to get two kinds of molded plastic pieces: stacking blocks for altitude, and angle blocks for roll/yaw/pitch indication. If you're a hard science fiction fan, this is the game to look out for.

The Rafik demonstrates correct altitude and angle block usage.

After I get back to the SMG area, somehow Norm and Chris Carlson have managed to find me, and we talk about the changing Southern California game store scene for a while. Then I grab my big box o' bugs and head out across the convention center's near-limitless expanse.

Insecta Macro #2

What a disaster.

Again dwarfed by the room it's in, the Macro set is very lonely today.

In my disrupted state I read the program wrong and go to the room from last night, which isn't even in the right damn building. There's still plenty of space in the room, so I don't figure out my error until they start up a Yu-Gi-Oh training video, of all things. I pack up as fast as I can and run over to the proper room, but I'm a half hour or so late and all my players have...bugged out. I stay in the room for my allotted time period anyway, on the off chance that someone will come back, but no luck. Apparently there were six preregistered players; if any of you are reading this, please accept my humble apologies. I'm usually not this stupid, honest.

Dealer room security is surprisingly heavy this year.

The thing about a box full of huge bugs is that it's heavy. I do a quick dodge into the dealer room to drop it off, and run into some old friends.

Here's Justin and Sally Dagna, of Technicraft Design.

Looks like Technicraft's SF RPG Pax Draconis is ready to ship, and should be hitting stores near you any time now. We covered this game back in 2001 and liked it then -- the system is ultra-detailed, while the universe has something for everyone, from cyberpunks to starship jockeys.

Dinosaurs for Dinner

The bunny-croc player tries to figure out how to increase hs already tight stranglehold on all predator niches.

I'm demoralized enough by the Insecta catastrophe that I wander back to the SMG/Ad Astra demo area, figuring I'll just pick up something to eat at the snack bar. After spending the rest of the evening playing American Megafauna with a bunch of enthusiastic players, I'm through feeling sorry for myself and ready for tomorrow. Time to head home, now that I have some clue how to get there this time.

The crimson crocodile (from the not-quite-published 5th player expansion) gleefully deploys his nocturnal insectivores, almost pushing Phil and I out of the game.