Back in the Red

We have finally returned from Origins, after a somewhat arduous journey. We made it into Seattle last night about 11 pm, a time that is usually quiet at the airport. However, a huge number of people were returning from holiday excursions and we flew in just as the fireworks were finishing up. This meant an exodus to the ground transportation level that totally overwhelmed the airport’s capacity. Cab lines were horrendous due to downtown gridlock from the fireworks watchers and even though we had a Shuttle Express reservation, it was over two hours until we finally got assigned a van. Ugh. By the time we got home, it was 5 am to our body clocks. Then we discovered Kate’s hamster had escaped from his cage at some point and we feared him dead. Kate searched for him forlornly whilst weeping. Thankfully, Nicole found him alive under the downstairs couch, though Digger was clearly starving and dehydrated. We have no idea how many days he was out of his cage. It could have been many days. Hopefully, little Digger will bounce back after some food, water, and rest.

Origins was fairly subdued this year. It could be it only seems that way in comparison to last year’s rancorous politics, but there just didn’t seem to be that much excitement in the air. Our sales were fine and we got the marketing mojo going for Thieves’ World and Mutants & Masterminds Second Edition. The crowds in the Exhibit Hall were pretty thin though, particularly on Saturday, which is usually the best day. Since attendance was said to be up, this may have something to do with the move of the Exhibit Hall further away from the escalators. I certainly heard other exhibitors complaining about it. The Exhibit Hall was definitely smaller than previous years. Many companies were missing, either because they’ve gone out of business or because they were cutting their expenses to the bone. Many industry friends I’d expect to see were not there, which only added to the general sense of industry malaise that’s been the story of 2005 so far. Amusingly, our booth was as big as the WotC booth. Take it, Hasbro!

As expected the Origins Awards were a pathetic sham this year. Apparently, we as an industry don’t even have enough self-respect to merit our own awards ceremony anymore. Instead, the winners were announced to the largely disinterested crowd gathered to await the opening of the Exhibit Hall. This meant, of course, that most of the creators of these games couldn’t even be there because they were likely inside the Exhibit Hall preparing their booths. And even if you were there, you had no chance to actually accept the award or say anything. No, for that, you had to go to the “party” on Friday night. Winners got in free but others had to pay $30 if they wanted to attend. The whole thing was ill conceived, lame, and frankly insulting. In five years, the fan-created and -run ENnie Awards have far surpassed the Origins Awards in respect and prestige. I look forward to the ENnies at GenCon next month.

As for stuff, I kept it light this year (I can’t fit all my crap in my office as it is). The guys at Aberrant, a new company with a nice looking scifi minis game called Rezolution, were old WFRP fans who were so happy with the new edition that they gave me a copy of their game. That was quite nice of them. I also traded for a new Avalanche wargame called Gazala. It’s WWII North African action that apparently uses an updated version of the old Panzergruppe Guderian rules from SPI. Speakig of the DAK, Don Perrin also gave me some of his company’s Stuka and ME109 minis for my Flames of War army. As for purchases, I picked up a copy of the old Avalon Hill minis game Napoleon’s Battles for a good price and an Osprey book on the Battle of Austerlitz. I also bought Kate Woolly Bully, a tile laying game about sheep that she asked for. If she likes it, maybe I can teach her Carcassone in a year or two.

Well, I’ve got tons of work to do, so other Origins thoughts will have to wait until later.

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