Friday, May 9, 2014

Origins for Newbies - Gaming

Ah, gaming...the reason you are probably going to Origins in the first place! In this post, I'll cover the types of gaming you can expect, and how to get into games.


Games at Origins can be broken up into two categories: ticketed events and open play.

Ticketed events are scheduled events that you purchase tickets in order to play.

Open play games are pickup games that anyone can start or join in.

Ticketed events will have rooms and tables assigned to them, while open play can occur pretty much anywhere in convention center or hotels. There is an open play area at Origins too where you can check out games from a library and play them.

There are a number of different types of games:
  • Role-playing Games - RPGs are games where you take on a roll of a character and are taken through a number of scenes by a gamemaster. Examples include Dungeons and Dragons, Pathfinder, Call of Cthulhu, and FATE.
  • Board Games - These aren't Monopoly and Clue! There are hundreds of different board games you can play, most of which I can guarantee you've probably never heard of.
  • Miniatures - These games use miniatures to represent figures, armies, or ships that fight each other. Miniatures games at Origins run a number of genres, from sci-fi to war to everything in between.
  • Collectible Card Games - CCGs are games that use cards as their main playing piece. These include Pokemon and Magic: the Gathering.
  • Live Action Role Playing - LARPs are games where the players act out their characters actions. This can be thought of as a live version of an RPG.
Origins also offers a number of other events that you can go to, including seminars.

Where can I find the events that will be at Origins?

About a month or so before the convention, Origins will release the events that will be at the conference on their web site. This is usually in Excel spread sheet form, and will contain the name of the game, its description, when it occurs, how long it is, and how much it costs to play.

Note that GAMA usually releases multiple versions of the events as errors are corrected, games are canceled, etc. So, check back every so often to see if an updated event list has been released.

How do I register for games?

Once you decide what games you want to go to, you'll need to register for them. Close to the convention, Origins will open up registration on their site and you'll be able to log in and try to get into the events you want.

Notice I said try. Events only have a limited number of people that can play, and if it sells out, then you're out of luck. Don't worry though, there still may be a way you can get in.

Once you get to a con, you'll get a ticket for every event you registered for. The ticket will tell you the name of the game, what time it is, and where it is located at.

Make sure you print off a copy of your event invoice, however. Mistakes can be made, and there is always the possibility a ticket may be missing when you go to pick them up. Having your invoice will help things along.

Do I have to pre-register?

No, you don't have to pre-register for games. You are allowed to register on-site.

However, the pre-registration line is typically a lot shorter than the normal registration line, and by pre-registering you'll know what you will and will not be able to get into.

Whats the deal with tickets, generic tokens, and ribbons?

There are three ways to get into a game: tickets, generic tokens, and ribbons.

Tickets are the primary way to get registered for an event and get into a game. You register through the website or at the con for an event, and you'll get a ticket for the game. This is a guaranteed spot to play in the game. Game masters always take ticketed players before anything else.

Generic Tokens are the second way to get into a game. You can buy generic tokens for about $2 each. Generic tokens allow you to go to a game, and if there is space available, pay the appropriate number of tokens and join! The great thing about generics is that at the end of the con, you can trade any usused ones back in and get your money back!

Ribbons allow you access into a specific set of games, seminars, or special locations. There are a number of different ribbons, so I won't go into them here. However, if you have the ribbon that includes a game you want to play, you can jump in (if there is room).

GAMA tells game masters they have to take players in the following order:

1. Ticket holders
2. Ribbon holders
3. Generic tokens

Therefore, if you REALLY want to get into a game, get the ticket for it.

What ribbons should I get?

As I said, there are a number of different ribbons for a number of different purposes, and these usually change every year. Check out the Origins ribbon page to see what ones are there. Ribbons are also unlimited use - once you buy one, you can use it the entire conference.

Its hard to recommend on if you should get ribbons or not. If this is your first time, you may want to hold off. You can always buy one at the con if you find yourself wanting one.

I'll mention a few ones ribbons though:

1. Board Room - See below

2. Company-specific ribbons - Game companies, like Mayfair or Rio Grande, will sometimes have ribbons that allow you to play their sponsored games.

3. Puffing Billy - Like train games? This ribbon will let you get into most, if not all, of the ones offered at Origins.

4. Werewolf - Like to play Are you a Werewolf? This ribbon will let you play all the AYAW games.

There are more, so go look at the Origins page to see their descriptions.

The Board Room Ribbon
CABS Board Room

I wanted to put this ribbon into its own category because, well, I love it.

This ribbon allows you access into the CABS board gaming room. If you have the ribbon, you can get into the room, check games out of their library of thousands of games, and play with other board gamers.

Personally, I HIGHLY recommend the board room ribbon, and this is the only one I would recommend getting. The CABS board room is constantly filled with people, and there are always games to jump in and learn.

Note that you can ONLY get into the CABS board room if you have the ribbon. Origins does offer its own board game library in the open play area that you can check out, but CABS blows it away. Sorry GAMA, it just does.

One last note on the CABS board room. You may hear that you'll get a free game by getting the ribbon. For the last several years, CABS has worked with game vendors to get games to give away (while supplies last) to ribbon holders. THIS IS NOT GUARANTEED! Don't get this ribbon to get a free game, because it might not happen.

What if I can't get into a game?

So lets say you found a cool game you want to try, but aren't able to get a ticket for it. Well, here are some things you can try:

1. Look for it elsewhere on the schedule. Many games are run multiple times throughout Origins so it may be in another time slot that is open.

2. Show up with generic tickets. Players don't show up to games all the time; you could get lucky and be able to jump into a game with generic tickets. Some GMs will even let 1 or 2 people jump into the game even if all the ticketed players show up. Just show up early, tell the GM you don't have a ticket but you have generics, and would like to get in if there is room. You never know!

Did I miss anything? Shoot me a message or leave a comment.

Origins: What to Expect
Origins: Gaming
Origins: Where to stay, Where to eat
Origins: Kids
Origins: What to do

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