Aki might have had the brainpower to check in every day of PAX Unplugged, but I . . . didn’t. There was a lot to do and see, however: board games, events, roleplaying games, accessories, actual play opportunities! I came home with . . . a lot to write about, and more than a few review copies, but there are plenty of things that would get missed by doing things one article at a time. So here’s my PAX Unplugged Roundup of some of the things worth checking out, whether they’re things to look for next con or something worth chasing right now!
This article is a log updated periodically throughout the day, and then published when complete.
Arrival: 8 AM
First of all, an update and correction from my last scouting report. While we had been warned off the changes in entrances previously, for some reason it hadn’t sunk in. For those of you taking a train in, stops around 14th -16th streets will be superior than hiking over from elsewhere. In addition, Will Call has moved from the location originally sent out by email, and is now by the entrance hall. This means that everyone is all going to the same location, which, well…
This is the sight of the entrance hall at 8:00, two hours before the con is supposed to open, and an hour before event registration was set to begin. I had already picked up my badge, and I knew where I was going to RPG registration, but I was far from the first.
To reiterate, this is an hour before registration opens. If anyone thought I was overstating the morning pileup, things look like anything but right now.
However, in spite of the backup I did it! After striking out last year, I managed to get into one of the Star Wars modules run by Fantasy Flight Gaming. There is also a neat change from last year: along with Games on Demand, people have games that they are offering to run that have been included on the docket. I am seeing some people are using it to demo games they have/are developing, which seems like a great way to generate interest and stress test.
10 AM – 2 PM
“Begun the Clone Wars Have” was a fun module, and I know enough about the system that I can see the hallmarks of a module designed for this kind of event: early rolls to get people used to the system while getting them to use resources, challenges that stretches people out of their niche followed by a finale that left two thirds of the party down for the count.
I won’t say to much about the events, because I really don’t want to spoil it for people, but I think FFG is definitely leaning into the Rise of the Separatists and Collapse of the Republic splat books on this one, and that character choices heavily come from those books: Clone Commander, ARC Trooper, Jedi Master, Jedi Padawan and Senator were all included in the group of up to 6 players with an Outlaw Tech to round it out. Considering Seamus’ work on both of these books, I was excited to play, and I think I can definitely say that a full Clone Wars campaign seems really viable. I even got to take a look at some of the squad combat rules from Rise, and they could really do nicely in an Age of Rebellion game to make being a Diplomat more interesting in combat.
As an observation, the time slot bills itself as four hours for all of the games FFG is running (also Legend of the Five Rings and Android: Shadow of the Beanstalk). My group was one of the first to let out, and the other two games were still going strong, so I would say that four hours is indeed the expected time.
Finally, I learned something cool! There is a fan community run version of Pathfinder Society for Star Wars: Legends of the Galaxy. It has a shared, generally running plotline for GMs and players, along with resources for both (including hosting the Oggdude character builder!). The creator and head of the site was actually one of the GMs, and hopefully I will get the chance to sit down with him and learn more.
Ignores his own advice, quickly scarfs down crab fries in the cafeteria while typing updates
While signing up for events, I had seen something that piqued my interest: a recently Kickstarted (though not yet released) game by the name of Zafir. It’s billed as a tactical RPG along the lines of X-COM, but set in an alternate Earth where an industrial revolution has been set off ahead of schedule with new magical ores. It sounds like an interesting idea, but I’ve signed up for a card game tournament, so I can’t stay for the whole time. Still, I manage to chat with the developer, watch character creation and plan to meet up to find out more later in the con.
There’s a cool little racket being set up in the tournament center, a soft drink tavern. You buy your mug and have free refills for the day. It’s great for people here for the whole day, especially as you get thirsty, and they seem to be making bank.
Oh, and I got bounced from my tournament in about 15 minutes. *sad trombone music*
Well, the Zafir game is still running. Fortunately, they are still in combat, and I get the chance to see how combat works over a few encounters. It seems pretty intuitive, but I hope to go over things a bit deeper in another article.
I catch Seamus between Transit sessions and check in before I prepare to leave. Yes, it’s early, but I’ve been going at this for 10 hours now, and cons are marathons and not sprints. I plan to be back tomorrow with friends, and I have the whole expo hall to explore!
Let’s be honest, there are a lot of board games out there that might as well double their ‘estimated time of play’ because of how long they take to actually start playing. The rules are byzantine, the pieces are better counted by the score than by the dozen, arranging everything on the table is akin to cartography, and shuffling the cards can count as a cardio workout. It’s almost as if the set up portion is its own game . . . hey, wait a minute, there’s an idea. And what if it was actually a really simple card game that’s easy to learn and full of tongue-in-cheek humor about all the board games we love to play and hate to set up? That’s how we wind up with Complicated Board Game the Card Game: Time 2 Play!
Sometimes you just want a tasty treat, and you’ve got to make it yourself. You’re going to need ingredients, some sort of container, and maybe some utensils to get the job done, though. That might sound simple enough, and even on Newfoundland it should be that simple on paper . . . except the pages of your Recipe Book keep getting torn out by storms, and just when you’ve got the right amount of blueberries one of those goddamn mainlander raccoons shows up and eats some of them. Ah well, you’ll just have to unpack some more groceries. Let’s make some friggin’ jam with Newfoundland Jam, the ‘colourful jam making game with flavourful cuss words’ from Jason Anarchy Games!
Some sort of horrible half-frozen tree creature reaches the kingdom’s castle after having attacked the lumber stores, clearly upset at our attempts at resource gathering. If the castle falls all will be lost, but there just aren’t enough defenders in place . . . suddenly, the beat of drums fills the air, and another pair of dwarfs come running from the forest the creature just tore through. In a flurry of axes and hammers the tree creature tumbles to the ground, slain, and the victorious dwarfs return to their homes . . . but the Ogre King just appeared on the walls at the edge of the kingdom, natural disasters begin to hamper our food and stone supplies, and we’ve got three weeks to go until spring. We’ll have to work together in order to survive the cold and the monsters in Dwar7s Winter from Vesuvius Media!
Clank! A Deck-Building Adventure is all about going into a dungeon, acquiring some shiny artifacts, and escaping before the dragon can eat you . . . so it probably shouldn’t be too surprising that the adventuring company that’s known to acquire™ anything you ask for would eventually take an interest. In Fall 2019 we’ll see Clank! Legacy: Acquisitions Incorporated, a standalone version of the game where you’ll build your own Acq. Inc. franchise across several games of Clank! It seems that corporate wants to check things out first, though, because right now we’ve got the Acquisitions Incorporated Upper Management Pack expansion bringing Omin Dran, Jim Darkmagic, Viari, and Môrgæn into the dungeon!
Around a table in an opulent room, world leaders like myself scramble to gather the resources needed to build a rocket to escape the planet before it’s too late – and the influence they’ll need to get themselves a seat on said rocket. This has been made more difficult by the sudden robot uprising stealing resources, severely hampering the project. My own efforts to gather resources have been foiled by other leaders, who fear I am planning to nuke them to improve my odds . . . but now I’ve got free reign so that I can nuke the robots for them. The required amount is finally in my hands, the table waits for the nuclear fireball . . . . and I commit everything to the project instead, cementing my position as a Master Diplomat and earning a vast amount of influence. Looks like I’ll be waving from the rocket, and the rest will be dead losers, in We’re Doomed! from Breaking Games!
Pick a card, any card, any card at all . . . and that card might help you build your character, overcome challenges, and even tell you something about the world you’re playing in! All you’ll need is a deck of cards and a copy of Suited from Escape Box Games! After this little book and its first expansion landed in the Independents in-box, I took a look and found a game that can adapt to any genre, get started right quick, and provide a session that doesn’t get bogged down in minutiae while providing exciting stories with some unique mechanics. Want to know more? Read on! Continue reading The Independents: Suited
This week in the vault, we are going to reach for something a little…different. In fact, you could say it is EFFIN’ EPIC. OH YEAHHHHHH! There has been recurring jokes in many campaigns that I’ve been in, certain over the top scenes deserve to be airbrushed on the side of whatever transport we have that counts as a van. (Once game had a space Winnebago, so let’s not judge). So when I say that Epic Spell Wars of the Battle Wizards is over the top, I mean that playing 80s metal over your play would be a thematic decision which would work. This is a game that found the top, and magically kicked its ass so hard it saw the curvature of the Earth. As the game phrases itself in its own rulebook, it is about “Ball Rocking Magic” and it crams every bit of over the top, Rule of Cool justification to cover its play.
Raid the dungeon. Take the treasure. Don’t get killed by the dragon. Backstab your buddies? This might sound like a standard Dungeons and Dragon campaign (maybe not the backstab your buddy part), but it is one way to summarize Clank!: A Deck Building Adventure by Renegade Game Studios. Rather than picking up a character sheet and some dice, Clank! instead operates as a combination of a deck building game (such as Ascension or the DC Comics card game) and a more standard board game.