PAX Unplugged 2019 Wrap-Up

Yes, it’s a couple of weeks late, but here we are, talking about our awesome experience at PAX Unplugged. It was held in Philly from November 30th to December 2nd, and it was a whirlwind of activity from beginning to end. What I (Marti) wouldn’t give for it to be one more day.

Anyway, if I tried to list everyone that we saw at PAX this year, I would forget someone, so if we saw you or got to hang out with you – THANK YOU! We got to spend so much time with friends in every area of our lives, both from our board gaming circles and from other circles that we run in.

The convention this year was huge! I feel like PAX did an awesome job using the space. Unlike last year, we had the whole convention center to ourselves, so while it was definitely bigger (I’ve been hearing rumors of 30k to 35k people), I never felt super crowded or nervous about the crowds. There was plenty of open gaming space, and tons to enjoy.

That picture was from Friday, when it was fairly empty. Saturday was packed – people were spread out all over the convention center playing all sorts of games.

And while I appreciate the security attempts, it really wasn’t useful when you’ve got people dragging in all of these games and you know they didn’t open them. It was a good attempt, but honestly, I’m not sure it did much of anything.

During the convention, we played new-to-us 10 games, which is really low for us (we had a lot of meetings/social stuff).

  • Men at Work
  • Public Market (prototype in the Unpub room from Flatout Games).
  • Gorus Maximus
  • Space Base
  • LOTS (a prototype from Royal N. Games, who brought us Deathbot Derby)
  • Root
  • Tokyo Jutaku
  • Felicity: The Cat in the Sack
  • Gingerbread House
  • Tsuro: Phoenix Rising

Best Food: 

Marti: For me, the best food I had during PAX this year was the amazing giant corn dog from Fox and Son Fancy Corn Dogs. They also had awesome poutine – the squeaky cheese curds were fresh from the cheesemaker that day. Holy cow. Also, our hotel had a good hot breakfast bar, this waffle was totally worth it (I really just wanted an excuse to show you this waffle).

Sarah: My favorite place to eat was definitely the donuts I got from Belier’s, also in the Reading Terminal Market. The line was super long, but it was worth the wait for their Maple Bacon donut and their Peanut Butter and Jelly donut.

Biggest Surprise: 

Marti: So, I had heard that Punchboard Media friend Zach had a new game that he was getting ready to put on Kickstarter sometime in the next year or so. That game is called LOTS – it’s a construction game that isn’t totally focused on dexterity! It’s about using the blocks you get in strategic ways in order to score the most points. It’s a really fun, really smart game that I know we’ll be backing.

Sarah: When Eric Buscemi asked us if wanted to try Gorus Maximus, I hesitated a bit. I knew that it was about gladiators fighting in an arena, and that it was supposed to be, well, gory. The name, Gorus Maximus implies maximum gore, which isn’t my cup of tea.  But, with Kwanchai Moriya’s great art and almost (strangely) cute twist on some of the cards, it didn’t bother me at all. I really enjoyed the mechanisms in this trick taking game, especially where the trump suit switches if you ever play the same number that the previous player played. Fantastic game that scales really well.

Best Game: 

Marti and Sarah: Well, our best game was Tsuro: Phoenix Rising, but we’re currently under embargo and can’t talk about it. Look at the pretty cover!

But seriously, we were both blown away by the simplicity (and awesomeness) of Gingerbread House from Phil Walker-Harding. It is such a smart game, with a really unique mechanism where, when you cover up a resource in the house, you get that candy. The theme was great, the art is absolutely adorable, and building your little house is a lot of fun. Like many of Phil Walker-Harding’s games, this one is simply elegant, and we need to get our hands on it!

Favorite Experience: 

Marti: I love the people, no matter where we go, but it was really special to go to PAX-U and see a bunch of our friends that we haven’t gotten to see at any other event! On Saturday evening, we spent time with Jac, Eize, and Matt, playing Felicity: The Cat in the Sack. What a fun game, and really fun people to enjoy it with. Jac is all the way from Cali, so it was fantastic to get to see her. Our friend Theo and his partner came all of the way from Cali, too! Board gaming is about the people, and PAX-U was totally about the people for me this year.

Sarah: On Saturday morning, we met up with others from Punchboard Media to hang out and play some games – it was awesome to finally meet some of the people that we’ve been chatting with on Twitter and Slack for all of this time. It was really special to meet Theo (GeekyGaymerGuy everywhere on the internet) and his partner and play some games with them! He is an awesome game teacher, too! Like Marti said, they were all the way from California, so getting this opportunity was amazing!

While the number of people was definitely higher, it isn’t going to stop us! PAX-U is definitely on our schedule for next year, and hopefully Scott will be enjoying it with us as well.

Game On!
Marti and Sarah

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