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Monday, May 20, 2024

Crusty Cardboard Origins Preview

by | published Friday, June 7, 2019

Oh, hello.  I haven’t lost my interest in old, independent, and obscure customizable card games, and I’ll be back to write about more of them soon.  If you’ve read any of my reviews of these delightful old games, you may have asked yourself “uhh, okay, how do I play them?”  That’s a good question.  With convention season upon us, one answer to that question is “at conventions.”

Origins, in Columbus Ohio, is the only big convention I go to, and it’s one of my favourite parts of the year.  Origins, if you’re not familiar, is big enough to have a major convention atmosphere – there’s a bustle of people and a buzz for the whole convention.  At the same time, it doesn’t feel overly crowded, and I don’t feel boxed in.  It is really a convention of my speed.  Another reason I enjoy Origins?  The CCGs that I like to play are really well represented there.  When I was flipping through the guide to pick some events, some of the events jumped out at me, and I thought I might share some suggestions to you, fine reader, on some events you may want to undertake.

Now, a minor disclaimer: this isn’t an overview of every T/C/LCG event at Origins.  If you want to play Magic, I’m pretty sure you’re already signed up and probably not reading this post.  Similarly, I haven’t actually played every CCG ever!  For example, I’ve heard of Warlord, but never actually played it – nor do I know anything about it.  There’s a Warlord event at Origins, but I don’t have much more to say than “hey, if you want to play Warlord, you can.”

So.  What should you do?

You can play Doomtown!  Doomtown is a neat game set in the weird wild west.  There are cowboys, ranchers, abominations, spell-slingers, kung-fu fighters, mystics, the list goes on.  I’ve yet to review Doomtown here, so a very brief run-down.  Some of your cards are “deeds” – you’re building the main street of a town in the weird wild west, and you want to control as many of the deeds as you can; you win the game through the control points on the deeds.  The game involves being able to manage your Dudes to control deeds.  The neat thing about Doomtown is that the conflict resolution mechanism is poker: each card in your deck has a value from a traditional deck of cards.  When your Dudes get into a shootout with other Dudes, you form poker hands: the highest ranked hand wins!

There’s two versions of Doomtown.  Doomtown was first published in 1998, and was re-released as Doomtown: Reloaded in 2014.  Reloaded is a much more balanced play experience, and a very good entry point into the game.  Plus, it has the added benefit of being in production, so it’s a CCG you can actually still find!  There are Doomtown: Reloaded learn to play events on the Wednesday & Thursday of Origins, and are well worth your time to check out.  Thursday night sees a Classic Doomtown (the 1998 version) tournament hosted by yours truly – dust off your cards and bring em out!  The big Doomtown: Reloaded tournament is Saturday at high noon.  I’ll be playing in it.

You can play Shadowfist! Shadowfist is a multi-player CCG inspired by Hong Kong kung-fu action movies.  Its fast paced, fun, and pretty easy to learn.  It is equal parts kung-fun butt-kicking, uzi-spraying, demon-summing fast paced action.  I’m behind the Shadowfist events at Origins this year, so they come with my quality control seal.  On Friday morning we’ll be running two learn-to-play events: you can come out, learn this game, and leave with a deck of your own.  If you’re already a Shadowfist player, there’s a Modern format tournament Thursday, and a Classic tournament Friday.  There’s also an evening of fun open play on Saturday – if you’re looking to play some Shadowfist, but a tournament isn’t for you, there’s opportunities to play there as well.

You can play Vampire: The Eternal Struggle!  V:TES has been around since 1994, and was the second CCG designed by Richard Garfield (never heard of him).  It’s a multi-player game where each player is trying to be the last vampire standing.  There are a few interesting mechanisms to Vampire: you start the game with 30 points of blood, and when you have zero, you are eliminated.  But, you need to use these points of blood to bring out vampires and perform actions: so you have to spend your own resources to move forward in the game.  You are trying to eliminate the player to your left – while you’re trying to eliminate them, the player to your right is trying to eliminate you.  It makes for interesting choices and a lot of table-talk.  

There’s no learn to play at Origins, but I was first introduced to the game at the Week of Nightmares: this is four days of Vampire at Fabian’s, a pizza joint down the street from Origins (so technically not part of Origins, details here). I’ll be there on the Tuesday and the Wednesday evenings, I think.  If you’re interested, it’s worth popping in to see how the game runs, I would think.  Of course, if you’re already a fan of Vampire, there’s both the Week of Nightmares, and the Origins-specific tournaments on Thursday through Sunday.

You can play the Call of Cthulhu LCG and Mythos!  Another old CCG I haven’t reviewed yet (I’m falling down on the job).  These two games are inter-related, in that they are both set in the world of the Lovecraft Mythos, but they are two separate games. Mythos came first in 1996, and involves you, an investigator, attempting to complete specific tasks to complete stories to get story points.  I’ve not played Mythos, but I’ve heard good things, and I’m going to try to check it out.  The Cthulhu LCG was released in 2008 by Fantasy Flight.  You and your opponent are both attempting to solve stories by getting success tokens on them.  On your turn, you put some allies into play from your hand, and they may go investigate a strange happening in Lovecraft country.  Your opponent will try to block you from investigating the story.  Of all the CCGs I’ve played, this one has the least direct player-to-player conflict.  There’s some, but it’s not overwhelming.  The Mythos event is a learn-to-play, but the Cthulhu LCG is a tournament.  That said, I’m the one running the tournament, and if you’re interested, you can swing by and we’ll try to teach the game as the tournament progresses.

The other CCG event that caught my eye at Origins was the Sim City CCG.  Yup.  Sim City has a CCG.  Released in 1994, you’re trying to build the best city.  Look, I don’t know more about it than that.  I’ve never played.  But this is a great example of the CCG boom that happened after Magic: everything got a CCG.  Everything.  I can’t tell you if Sim City is a good game or not.  But it’s certainly an intriguing idea, at least to me.  Sadly, this event runs at exactly the same time as the Doomtown Reloaded main event, so I can’t learn it.  But, if you have nostalgia for old CCGs, it may be worth checking out.

As you can see, Origins has a great run of old CCGs that you can play: one of the reasons I love the con.  If you’re a fan of any other old CCG (like, say, linky link to my reviews of X-Files or  Decipher Star Wars), drop me a note on twitter, and maybe we can meet up to play.  I’m very easily convinced to throw some decks in my bag.


  • Tim F.

    Tim was introduced to hobby gaming around his twelfth birthday, and spend his formative gaming years playing a lot of old collectable card games, and HarnMaster and Traveller roleplaying. While his main focus in the hobby now is board gaming, he finds it very hard to resist the allure of old, dead collectable card games, or clunky & finicky old roleplaying games. When he’s not playing games, Tim is probably collecting fountain pens, teaching political science, or hanging out with his cats. After musing about his five favourite games for some time, he came up with this list: Shadowfist, Viticulture, Alien Frontiers, Above & Below, and Arkham Horror.

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