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Origins 2018 Bits 'n' Pieces
July 9, 2018

by Bob Richardson and Luna Lee

Tony Steele - Artist Guest of Honor

He was a breath of fresh air, as he is every year. Since I began attending Origins in 2012, Tony's been there with his cartoonish, colorful artwork that pops off the page. This year, the artists were showcased in the dealer room, which comes with pros and cons. While it lacks the intimacy of the artist room from years past, it certainly broadens the clientele. Tony didn't seem to mind, though — there he was, showcasing his art, nonchalant demeanor and all. As is my Origins tradition, I struck up a conversation with Tony. Friendly, lighthearted, and willing to share his history since attending Origins fourteen years ago, I felt as if I had all of his attention. Despite passers-by and the cacophony, he existed in the present. That's Tony. And although I don't always buy his artwork, he bids me a hearty farewell, until next year. As is typical.

I don't really know any other artists at Origins, though I'm sure most come every year, but Tony I remember. Because he takes the time. And his art is just that gosh darn good. If you'd like to see more of his work, he showcases his expertise in graphic design on his website. Check him out; he deserves a visit at the very least.

Oddfish Games Booth
Oddfish Games Adventure Scents Oddfish Games Adventure Scents

As we meandered around the exhibit hall, something resembling petri dishes caught my eye. That's not a board game nor a component... what could it be? Turns out they were jars of Adventure Scents! Filled with scented beads that evoke different locations and feelings, these smells can accompany a roleplaying or computer game to set the mood.

With typical locales like Dank Dungeon and Enchanted Forest to the more welcoming aromas of a Warm Bakery or Tea Party, it seems as if OddFishGames has most adventures covered! When we asked if there were any intentionally unpleasant scents, we were quickly directed to Fishing Docks and Bombed-Out Ruins. The former was mildly pleasant for me but quickly induced gagging for Bob, who dislikes seafood. We both heartily agreed that no one would want to be near the Bombed-Out Ruins, though.

Stored in jars with twist-on lids, players can screw the tops open and leave the jars out on the table to diffuse or pass them around for players to sniff. Once closed, the scent dissipates from the air quickly, allowing you to move on to another location and odor of your choice.

Last but not least, I spied a banner that read "How to RPG with Your Cat." Jennifer Howlett, founder of Adventure Scents, informed me that it was a teaser for her upcoming book, which will explain how to use your cat's randomized reactions as part of your RPG choices and outcomes. I signed up for the mailing list immediately!

Terraforming Mars Organizer Terraforming Mars Organizer
The Broken Token

Every year, Origins hands out awards to different categories, including the Best Board Game Accessory, and this year, the Terraforming Mars Organizer won handily. While we were initially skeptical of how much of an improvement a board game organizer by The Broken Token would be, we were pleasantly surprised by what we found.

Anyone who has played Terraforming Mars, the current #4 ranked board game on BoardGameGeek, knows it's a solid game with minor production shortcomings. As someone who has taught the game quite a bit, one of the most oft heard complaints is, "If I accidentally bump the player board and don't remember where my cubes should be, it could ruin everything!" Cue the Terraforming Mars Organizer: not only does it streamline the setup and component organization, it comes with individual player boards including indentations for each cube spot so that anyone who rage-shoves the table mid game has zero chance of upsetting everyone.

Gamefolio Vault Duffel Bag
Gamefolio Case Bag Gamefolio Cases
InIt Gear

For gamers who constantly cart around collectible card, miniature, roleplaying, and board games, it's a common struggle to figure out how to transport items safely in all weather and in as few trips are possible. Following a successful Kickstarter that raised $375,380 in 2016 and another that raised $101,328 in 2018, the Gamefolio System is a modular system of bags and cases that enable gamers to store and transport a variety of gaming items. Since board games can be stored separately from their boxes, you can possibly fit more than one game per Gamefolio case.

Furthermore, there's the Vault Duffel Bag that can hold up to 4-5 Gamefolio Cases or multiple board games. Side pouches store even more board games or snacks, laptops, drinks, etc. for comprehensive gaming sessions. Both the Gamefolio Case and Vault Duffel Bag are made of durable, highly water-resistant nylon fabric with impact-resistant foam fabric on the inside to ensure your games stay safe.

At Origins, InIt Gear showcased a larger prototype bag that can fit big box sets or space-hogs such as Nations. Owning plenty of large board game boxes, we've definitely struggled with getting them played due to the lack of portability. We're looking forward to seeing the next bag in its final form!