PAX Unplugged Wrap Up


PAX Unplugged was a blast! It was our second board gaming convention and it was the inaugural PAX Unplugged. Three days packed with gaming and great times with friends. PAX was amazingly inclusive.

We had a great time playing games with some wonderful people, including: 

  • Nate Bivins, designer of Sundae Split taught us the game. 
  • Alex, a staffer at the First Look area helped us on our first play of Alien Artifacts. 
  • Joseph & Justin Chen who taught us Joesph’s prototype, Fantastic Factories.
  • Carla Kopp of Weird Giraffe Games, and her husband Nick who taught us Tony Miller’s prototype, Fire in the Library.
  • Gretchen, Marti’s friend from college, played Fate of the Elder Gods with us.
  • Dwayne & Keith, good friends from Baltimore, who we played When I Dream, Love Letter, and Sagrada with us. 
  • Mark, Marion, and Ralph of Pittsburgh, who let Sarah hop into a four player game of Santorini.
  • Eric Buscemi of the Cardboard Hoard & Punchboard Media, taught us NMBR 9 & You Gotta Be Kitten Me, which we played with his family and their family friend, Devin. 
  • Mandi Hutchinson of the Dice Tower podcast & To Die For Games taught us Sentient.

We didn’t get to catch a game with these people, but we enjoyed getting to talk with:

  • Anthony of Cardboard Jungle
  • Bruce Voge of Northstar Games & the Party Gamecast
  • Justin Jacobson of Restoration Games
  • Tom Vasel & Zee Garcia of the Dice Tower
  • Ignacy Trzewiczek of Portal Games
  • Marty Connell of Rolling Dice & Taking Names
  • Rodney Smith of Watch It Played!
  • The ladies of LatteMeeples on Instagram
  • Everyone in the Diversity Lounge
  • The team at Portal Dragon
  • Scott Gaeta & Sara Erickson of Renegade
  • Alex Goldsmith of Grey Fox Games & the Dukes of Dice
  • Tim Fowers of Fowers’ Games

Many thanks to the great folks at Renegade, the Unpub room, Bezier, Greater Than Games, Flying Meeple, and WizKids who were amazing with their demos.

Other major highlights of PAX Unplugged overall were the First Look area graciously provided by the folks at Game Surplus; Tabletop Freeplay which had a massive amount of open tables for people to play games of their own or from the PAX Tabletop library of 500+ games; the Dice Tower Live Top Ten Show; and the Diversity Lounge.

Some great experiences for us were:

  • Playing Sundae Split with the designer Nate Bivins & Marti besting him by 1 point
  • Alien Artifacts lift-off event which we were part of, thanks to Anthony of Cardboard Jungle. Mr. Trzewiczek taught the game to over 100 people and we helped with questions at our tables.
  • Preview of Palm Island by Portal Dragon, an upcoming Kickstarter game that is played with one deck of cards in the palm of your hand, no table required. It has a solo, multiplayer, competitive, and cooperative modes of play.

Best Food: Marti – The Dutch Eating Place at Reading Terminal Market has great food. The Creamed Chipped Beef Gravy (otherwise known as SOS) over home fries was simply excellent. I haven’t had it in forever since no one makes it here in Virginia! Their grilled Sticky Buns with pecans and raisins were fantastic as well. 

Sarah – We ventured a couple blocks away from the convention center in search of Philly Cheesesteaks and boy did we find a delicious dinner! Paulie’s Pizza had amazing Cheesesteaks and fries. You can’t find truly tasty Cheesesteaks just anywhere and this restaurant truly delivered!

Biggest Surprise: Marti – Fate of the Elder Gods, designed by Richard Launius, Darrell Louder, and Chris Kirkman and published by the Fabled Nexus division of Greater Than Games, which we got to play in the Greater Than Games room. As you know, I enjoy Cthulhu based games, and one where I get to be the cultists? Yes please. I will be nabbing this eventually.

Sarah – Whistle Stop designed by Scott Caputo and published by Bezier was on my radar because Marti was excited to try a neat train game with stocks. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this thinky, tile laying, pick up and deliver, and action point allowance game. I knew Marti would enjoy the gameplay and mechanisms, but I was surprised by how much fun I had in addition to the overall quality of the game. It is a definite must-have for our collection.

Best Demo: Marti – Sentient, designed by J. Alex Kevern published by Renegade, was taught to us by the ever sweet Mandi Hutchinson, who we have become friends with over the past year or so. This dice rolling, area influence game really has the feel of another game I enjoy by Kevern (World’s Fair), so it was really easy to pick up. But, instead of trying to have influence over different parts of the fair, you are looking to influence different technologies so that you can get boosts and end up with the most points at the end. Thanks for teaching us, Mandi!

Sarah – My favorite demo was the prototype of Fire In the Library, designed by Tony Miller and to be published by Weird Giraffe Games was my favorite demo. Carla Kopp taught us this neat, push your luck filler game. You are trying to save the books in the library in order to gain a variable amount of victory points. But the challenge comes in how you deal with inevitable flames. You are pulling cubes from a bag, the cubes are either one of four colors of books or the flames about to destroy all the tomes in the library. Depending on your turn order you get more victory points per book saved but less safe spaces should you draw flames from the bag. You also have cards with powers or tools on them that either help to mitigate your draws or make some of your books more valuable. Deciding whether to keep drawing cubes from the bag and when to use your ability cards is the main tension of the game.

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