Origins 2018, the Pre-Convention Gaming

Origins 2018

Skipping a big breakfast proved to be a good idea this morning. The old saying is true: “The early bird skips the long lines.”

After grabbing a breakfast sandwich at Tim Horton’s drive-thru, we arrived at the Columbus Convention Center. In this first post, we’ll share some of the games we played the first day of Origins. The exhibitor booths open Thursday morning and we have so much to see over the next couple days.

The Good…

We picked up our press badges early while the registration lines grew. We purchased a “Board Room” ribbon which allowed us access to a great game collection from a local gaming group, who provide this each year at Origins. After getting everything we needed, it was time to see some games.

Dragon Castle

First, we checked out Dragon Castle from CMON. This game hit stores in late May and has received a lot of love. This abstract game uses Mahjong-like tiles in the center of a board. Players are removing tiles according to specific restrictions and placing them on their player board.

Players want to build the best castle to impress the dragon and win the game with their victory points. We had a great teacher named Chris who showed us how to play. We later found out he was a subscriber to our podcast which was super cool. The art for Dragon Castle is fantasic, the theme doesn’t really matter and the game was a lot of fun. This is one game we’ll be bringing home or picking up very soon!

In the CMON play area we checked out a game that is being released at the end of Summer or early Fall. The game is called Gizmos, and players are inventors that are planning, organizing and creating new inventions. The center-piece of this game is the marble dispenser that allows players to collect marbles in 4 different colors.


It’s very tough not to compare Gizmos to another marble dispensing game that we love, Potion Explosion. Sara, a CMON volunteer, did a great job of explaining the game. While this is a family-friendly game, I honestly felt like there were too many options as you worked through the first half dozen rounds.

Gizmos was really good, but it definitely paled in comparison to Potion Explosion, which feels like a more stream-lined game. We’ll keep an eye on this one as it gets released later this year.

We also played Century Spice Road from Plan B Games and Heroes vs. Monsters: Victorian Nightmares from Ares Games, which were both solid.

…and the Not so Good

It’s tough when you have high hopes for a game and it winds up being a flop at the table. Going into Origins, I was very excited about The Legend of the Cherry Tree that Blossoms Every Ten Years from iello Games. Yes, the name is excessive. The beautiful art drew me in, and that’s why it was on my “purchase” list coming into the convention.

The Legend of the Cherry Tree

The game was honestly a struggle to finish. The components are fine but there is very little to this game. It’s a push your luck game where players are drawing from a very nicely produced bag. Players who bust will lose a good chuck of the blossoms they pull from the bag. If you stop before busting, you get to keep and hide some of the blossoms behind a screen from the other players.

By the time we got to the end of the game, we really didn’t even care about the score. Calculating the final score was a chore and left us wondering what happened. The game wasn’t very long, it just felt poorly put together and too light. This game will no doubt find an audience, but for us this was a miss for iello, a company that makes some great family games.

Food and More Games

Everyone raves about the North Market in Columbus Ohio, and for good reason. They have great food, lots of variety, and most of it is locally sourced. This feels like a place that you want to go for every meal. We had a great lunch here and finished it off with a huge lemon blueberry donut. We’ll be back for another one tomorrow.

North Market donut

We also took time to see new and upcoming releases from Brain Games. One of our favorite games, Ice Cool, is getting a sequel that plays as a stand-alone or can be combined with the original. Ice Cool 2 doubles the size of the school and allows up to 8 players to flick penguins in this great dexterity game.

A game that really wow-ed us was Pyramid of Pengqueen. This game is a remake of a game called Pyramid, which is set in the “Ice Cool Universe”. The game uses a magnitized board and plays up to 5. On one side the penguins are moving around gathering artifacts, while the other side has a mummy trying to locate and catch the penguin adventurers.

Pyramid of Pengqueen

This game is really going to hit home for families, and was so fun to see in action! We’ll be working with Brain Games to cover this game before its release in September.

We’re ending our first day at Origins by sitting down with a prototype copy of Wreck Raiders which will be coming to Kickstarter next week from Kids Table Board Gaming. It’s exciting to experience all this gaming goodness all in one place. Stay tuned tomorrow as we interview some of our favorite publishers and share even more new games.