Words by David C. Obenour
Origins Game Fair | September 1- October 3, 2021 | Greater Columbus Convention Center
Rescheduled from their traditional dates in June, Origins Game Fair returned to the Greater Columbus Convention Center for a purposefully shortened and scaled down event. While not coinciding with city’s Pride festivities took away some of the usual fun, it did give the attendees of the Ohio Dental Association’s Annual Session something to enjoy.
Without a few notable larger publishers – opting to wait for both production and the pandemic to become more predictable – space was opened for new vendors to share their creations. Everyone in masks and some in costumes, gamers, publishers, artists, and authors were excited to once again be back in person. Here is some of what caught our attention.
Agents of Mayhem (Academy Games)
Known primarily for their educational and historical games, Agents of Mayhem introduces the players of Academy Games to shoving people off buildings. Based in the universe of Volition’s titular video game and Saints Row, players can now take the action to their tables with this 32mm miniatures game. With modular gaming boards and inventive multi-storied building tiles, the campaign book unfolds stories and setups – but also provides for a thematic randomizing mission build for additional games.
Like the humble ants that players take turns moving along the path, Bites carries a surprising amount of game for its modest theme and rule set. Progressing along a trail of discarded snacks, ants collect resources as they eat their way back to the hill. However, the value of food is determined by the arrival of the ants and changing rule cards keep each game fresh with small tweaks that lead to big play upheaval.
Caesar! (PSC Games)
Rome wasn’t built in a day, but you can seize it in 20 minutes or less. The creators of Blitzkrieg! are back with another small box and short playtime – but lots of fun – historical game pitting Caesar against Pompey. Drawing military force tokens from their bag, influence is added and asserted in the struggle for control of the empire. Simple yet engaging at its core, the game also comes with three additional modules with promises of poison, power and politics.
Gorinto (Grand Gamers Guild)
A puzzley, classic feeling game with inviting components and design, Gorinto challenges players to achieve balance through manipulation of the natural elements. Players take turns selecting tiles from the path (the board’s outer edge) to place onto the mountains of tiles that make up the game board – collecting mountain elements as dictated by the pattern of the placed tile to score end game set collection points. Simple but elegant, classic gaming mechanics are classic for a reason.
Set at the turn of the first millennium in the mythic savannahs and jungles of Africa, players set out to restore the lands and legends of the Empire of Kitara. In terms of game play, players cycle through fast-paced turns of drafting play-enriching cards as they stretch their heroes and troops across the board. Savvy gamers will also recognize Miguel Coimbra’s art (Small World) with a similar dual-sided mapboard, geared toward the number of that game’s players.
Glitch (Indie Press Revolution)
With a striking cover, intriguing concept and beautiful illustrations, hearing a reference to the equally fascinating Over the Edge role playing system (who’s reissue was included in our 2019 Origins coverage) well… pushed us over the edge. However, while Over the Edge was described as a gargantuan undertaking in preparation and execution, Glitch is the more inviting exploration of recreational philosophy and metaphysics. You’ve found a mistake in the way the world works. It’s not pleasant. What you do with that is yours to discover.
Terraforming Mars: Ares Expedition (Stronghold Games)
The card game version for the modern classic of the same name, Ares Expedition promises faster gameplay – though maybe those players were less concerned with building out their engines then we were after reaching over 90 minutes on our expedition. Using the theme of the core game, many of the mechanics of Ares Expedition are similar to those of Race for the Galaxy. Not a bad option for a shorter mission, as long as you don’t let yourself get too caught up in the construction of it.
Under Falling Skies (CGE Games)
Translating the alien-descending-tension of Space Invaders for tabletops, Under Falling Skies is a solo or cooperative game of planetary defense. Utilizing a unique dice mechanic, players allocate their rolls as power for actions while simultaneously triggering the advancement of the alien ship of that column. Inspired by the award-winning print & play game of the same name, CGE has given full attention to the new illustrations and components, in addition to adding game-spanning campaign elements.
Riftforce (Capstone Games)
In a world reshaped by the Rifts that brought life to our natural elements, the key to survival and power is through mastering these forces. With ten elemental guilds to choose from, two players go head-to-head by drafting their own unique combination. These alliances form the explorations and synergies of thematic elemental playstyles that make each game unique. With easy-to-understand rules, it’s quick to pick up and fun to keep playing.
And that’s it for Part One of our review of the games from Origins 2021. Be sure to visit our coverage from Gen Con 2021 and then check back next week as we highlight more games from Columbus!