PAX East 2011 Part 3: Card and Board games
I have to admit that I was a bit overwhelmed by the presence of card and tabletop gaming at what is billed as a video game convention. Don’t get me wrong; it was fantastic. I think that because everything was so crowded last year that I just completely missed most of the “paper” gaming presence. As much as I like video games, I think sitting down to a board game with a bunch of friends is just about the best way to spend an evening.
Alright, so this first highlight isn’t really a board game. When I started painting my Warhammer 40k army, I was pointed at Cool Mini or Not as a place to check out other paint jobs and get ideas. Well, they had a huge booth at PAX this year and are working towards being your one stop for everything you need to paint minis. They have tons of minis to buy, and are working on carrying every line of paints, brushes and basing materials that you could ever want. I purchased a set of four dvds with over 13 hours of mini painting instruction. I’m going to be busy!
Note: Looking at non-Games Workshop minis makes you realize how terrible the faces on GW minis really are.
Brian and I got to play through a demo of this game at the Cool Mini or Not booth. It’s being made by a company called Soda Pop Miniatures. They specialize in Japanese Pop style stuff. Lots of anime and mostly naked large breasted women. This game, however, features chibi style minis of classic adventuring characters and enemies. They guy who was showing us the game said they were trying to bring 16 bit graphics to a board game. The character models look really fantastic and we picked up a couple to paint.
On our play through, Brian played the paladin (surprise, surprise) and I played the mage (also shocking). The game plays like a D&D dungeon where someone plays the DM and everyone else controls characters. For this particular scenario, there were two crystals we had to destroy and a number of kobolds defending them. Each turn we got movement and action points based on our characters. The game was pretty fast to pick up and it looks like it’ll be lots of fun to play.
Because it’s not out for release yet and they only had demo versions, I’m not entirely sure what the game will look like when it’s finished. I believe there will be mix and match dungeon tiles to help keep things fresh. I am really excited that all the pieces will be paintable. I already plan on painting up our plastic figures from Mansions of Madness, so this’ll be one more fun project. My only concern is that all the enemies, at least for now, are kobolds. Granted, some are melee fighters and some are casters, but they’re all kobolds. I’m hoping that maybe somewhere down the line they’ll release expansions with some other baddies for us to fight.
They announced it. That’s all I really have on it. I think there’s potential for something great there. Axe Cop has such a rich world that I think it’ll fit well with a Munchkin game. I also think Munchkin, like Monopoly, is well suited to take on a theme, with the major difference being that Munchkin is enjoyable to play.
The new core Magic the Gathering sets will be coming out early this summer. This is exciting to me mostly because I’ve hated the two most recent sets. The infect mechanic has been prevalent throughout, but I’ve found it hard to play in a casual way; games usually just wind up being reduced to 10 poison counters rather than 20 hit points. It’s worse if only one player is using an infect deck and the other isn’t. That rant, however, is best saved for another post.
Wizards of the Coast has a huge presence at PAX, but the D&D available this year was really impressive. They ran games all weekend. There were encounters and learn to play sessions. If you’ve ever wanted to give it a try, I really recommend signing up for one of the PAX sessions. It’s a nice opportunity to get off your feet for a little while and interact with some of your fellow con goers to fight the forces of evil.
One of the really awesome parts of PAX this year was Indy Alley. It’s a bit hidden, but it’s where the independent game designers have their booths. The guys who did Gamebook Adventures were there, as well as a couple of iOS game devs.
What I enjoyed most, though, was being able to meet Len Peralta of Jawbone Radio, Geek a Week, and Monsters by Mail (among other things). He did all the art for a card game put out by Don Gusano Games called Quack in the Box (the fun card game of medical malpractice). It was a little awkward. We walk up to the booth and the girl working there was all excited to tell us about the game. She was happy to tell us that, in fact, the artist was there signing copies of the game and doing sketches. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that I was really just there to meet Len.
At any rate, we bought the game and got to talk to Len. I haven’t had a chance to play it yet, but it looks like a fun, solid game. I adore card games like this; they’re quick, fun, and portable. I’ll be sure to let you know how it plays. If nothing else, I was more than happy to support an independent game maker.
That pretty much wraps up all the games that really caught my eye at PAX. I’m sure I’m leaving things out, but I neglected to take any notes while I was at the convention. I’ve got a couple more awesome experiences that I would be remiss if I left out. Coming soon…