PAX Unplugged is a three-day convention focusing on tabletop gaming. Board games, card games, roleplaying games, and all the surrounding peripherals can be found. PAXU 2022 was held at the beginning of December, as always in Philadelphia at the Pennsylvania Convention Center. The folks at Penny Arcade first came to Philly in 2017 and apart from 2020 (you know why) have been back every year. I attended one day each of the first three years as a fan, but in 2022 I made a glorious return, and this time as a three-day media guest!
Day 1 Part 1 Link – https://gatecrashers.fan/2023/01/05/pax-unplugged-day-1-part-1/
Gritty sees all!
Day 1, Part 2
Restoration Games was a booth both Jimmy and I keyed in on as a must-stop. We both just played Unmatched for the first time two months ago, and instantly fell in love. I already own six sets!
Designer Rob Daviau was at the booth and was gracious enough to speak with Dan and me for a few minutes. We talked about Daredevil being one of his favorite characters to play and how some character designs, like Little Red, go beyond the simple deck. With all the options of characters out there, the Restoration team did something cool…they went to the fans. Houdini vs The Genie is the first of two sets that will feature fan-designed decks.
“One person (Sam Crane) came up with Houdini and one (Adil M. Geresu) with the Genie. Here are two people who use magic in very different ways and their names rhyme so even better. Lot of excitement for us.”
Return to Dark Castle was also on display, but time was moving and unfortunately, I was not able to get more than just a look. Curse you, time!!!! And of course, we asked Rob the number one thing all GateCrashers want to know, “What’s your favorite sandwich?”. His answer: “Chicken salad on a butter-toasted hot dog bun.”
Next up was a stop by the Red Duke Games booth to speak with Co-Founder and President Tom Roache. Publishers of both the NecroNomNMomNom and LoveCraft Cocktails, Red Duke Games is now ready for their next Kickstarter, The NecronomApron, the first and only hooded kitchen cultist apron! They were demoing various games including their visually-impaired-friendly board game, Catawampus, and upcoming Viking death-duel head-to-head battle game, Axes at Dawn. Tom graciously sent a copy of Which Won? Spooky Edition home for my girls. Each player has a deck of characters that are pitted against each other in a situation presented in another set of cards. The players then debate which character fits the situation. Both players must come to an agreement and the player whose character is agreed upon takes both character cards. A great way for sisters to come to a peaceful decision! Player with the most character cards collected wins. My favorite was watching my 10- and 8-year-old decide that a Jack-o’-Lantern would make a better movie theater buddy because the Owl would “hoot!” the whole movie.
Rock Manor Games hosted a small gathering of media to look at new expansions for Set a Watch and Maximum Apocalypse and one new game, Seas of Havoc. All three of these piqued my interest and Kickstarter notifications have been set.
Set a Watch is a game themed around the idea of an adventuring party taking a long rest. You make camp, set a watch schedule, and hope you can make it through the night with no issues. Well, in this game, you are going to have issues. Monsters gather within and just outside the glow of the fire. Dice and unique character abilities are used to combat the monsters crashing bedtime. The new expansion Forsaken Isles, heading to Kickstarter very soon, contains four new adventurers, new locations, and new monsters. And of course, all past sets can be mixed with this set to allow even more party combinations.
Maximum Apocalypse: Wasted Wilds is a stand-alone expansion to the fantastic cooperative survival co-op game. This set brings a campaign mode built around surviving the elements and interactions with other survivor groups using a new Clock Board. New Survivors are also included with the Beekeeper being my choice for my first playthrough. Throw in some more monsters and apocalypse types and you got yourself a buyer right here.
Seas of Havoc, the new kid in town for Rock Manor Games, is a pirate adventure game broken into two distinct phases. Players take on the role of ship captains, each with unique abilities. The first phase utilizes worker placement to gain resources and upgrades for your ship. The second phase is a grid-based sea battle and exploration for treasure. Renown is earned multiple ways and whoever grabs the most, wins. The game heads to Kickstarter soon and already with two expansions, Buried Treasure, and Sea Monster.
As 6:00 pm rolls around, the expo floor shuts down and the live-play area is now the place to be. There is table space to start playing all the games you bought, or maybe hit the library up to rent a game you may not be completely sold on yet. An exclusive First Look section highlights the games waiting to make their way to retail. Additional rooms themed for RPGs, Cardboard Classics (games from your childhood), and UnPub (games to be play tested with the designer) rooms were still open as well.
Also, any game trades that have been set up pre-PAX are set to meet. It’s like an airport pick-up where people hold signs with names on them and TONS of games. Some good deals to be had!!!!!
Exhausted, I made my way to the merch table and picked up my official PAX Unplugged 2023 shirt, thinking of the great time I had today and of what else was to come in the next two days! I’ll give you a hint…more games.