The city has been buzzing since PAX Unplugged was announced early this year. The latest expansion to the PAX convention made its grand debut this past Friday, November 17 and ended Sunday, November 19. This three day event, brought in gaming companies from all over the world and thousands of fans to the Pennsylvania Convention Center. PAX Unplugged highlighted the multifaceted world of tabletop gaming; proving that it is not a lesser format of gaming. In fact, tabletop gaming is evolving in popularity, how it is played and even how they are made. After attending PAX Unplugged; I’m going to share some of the highlights of the convention.
A common theme throughout the convention is expansion. Many of the companies showcased their latest expansion to existing games. Cubicle 7’s Roleplaying game, Adventures in Middle Earth, is on it’s 5th edition; and is perfect for gamers use to 5E’s (D&D). North Star Games’ Happy Salmon (green), now has a new Blue Salmon, that can be added to the original game. (It’s also nominated for Game of The Year at the Toy of The Year Awards 2018.) The ever popular, Magic: The Gathering, had their new Iconic Masters Premium Booster packs at PAX Unplugged. A personal stand out was Slugfest Games‘, The Red Dragon Inn; which ask what do your characters do after a successful D&D game? This game also had some new additions to the very fun and causal game.
Another buzzword for PAX Unplugged, was evolution. Whether it be how tabletop games are played, how they are made and even creative new spins on specific genres; evolution was everywhere. Game On Table Top, is a crowdfunding platform for gamer by gamers. Allowing designers to have access to the best of the best to create amazing games. (They have a 100% success rate.) Keep Calm and Game On, is a Breaking Games hilarious take on the response/reaction game genre. What makes it different from other is how realistic some of the responses are to outlandish situations. (It also doesn’t have any of the racist and sexist scenarios like a certain other game has.) Gigamic’s Quixo, takes Tic Tac Toe and Connect 4, and combines them for a more strategic game. One of my favorite genres of game, the secret identity game, gets a sci-fi makeover from USAopoly with The Thing. (Yes, it’s based off the classic John Carpenter film.) Perhaps the biggest evolution comes from Catan, as the cult favorite is taking tabletop gaming to the next level; VR. Catan VR will allow players to jump into the world of Catan; and play with family and friends no matter where they are in the world. You can customize your character, hold a bridge in your hands, and more as you play in a virtual room that is surprisingly real.(I got the opportunity to demo it.) Catan VR will bring on the new wave of evolution for game night.
Some of my favorite games at PAX Unplugged were: 9th Level’s Hot 16 (a rap freestyle game) and The Tragedies of Middle School (takes elements of middle school and combines it with horror tropes), Wild East Game Company’s Lightning Dice (nearly gave me a heart attack), Philly Geek Award winner, Lazer Ryderz!, Ares’ Hunt for The Ring and Everything Epic’s Rambo: The Board Game.
PAX Unplugged also had an extensive game library guests could borrow and play. I saw many people coming together to play all sorts of games. There were several tournaments on all three days; including one for Lazer Ryderz. (I didn’t enter any as I’m not that talented.) The Cookie Brigade was present selling cookies for charity (they were delicious). Of course there were workshops and panels during the convention. The Penny Arcade Q&A was really hilarious (I enjoyed the remarks on Philly Cheesesteaks). I would be remised if I didn’t talk about Dice, Camera, Action. Seeing the Waffles Crew up close and personal, added another element to their usual format. It was also a major hit with convention goers and both shows (Friday & Saturday) were packed! Some of the cast even came out to greet guests before the show.
Overall, PAX Unplugged’s debut was fun, interactive and groundbreaking. Tabletop gamers of all ages and experiences came together to celebrate tabletop games. The Pennsylvania Convention Center was filled each day with smiling faces, laughter and friendly competition. I can’t wait to see what it will do next time in 2018.
If you went to PAX Unplugged please feel free to share your experience in the comments.