Tag Archives: table top games

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PAX West, Day Two: Heroes and Villains and Bunnies, Oh My!

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We’re wisely pacing ourselves this year and focusing on a few things instead of trying to do ALL THE THINGS. We hope to continue this trend through the evening and be in good shape again tomorrow (#HangoversofPAXPast.) At any rate here’s what caught our attention today.

  • We sat in on an Acquisitions Incorporated Intern Program orientation session, and were mighty impressed with the efficiency and deadly humor on display. Two AcqInc Career Counselors laid down the law, instructing new D&D players on the basics of gameplay with delightful snark and an amazing video straight from the Ninth Circle of Human Resources. With slogans like “Do Don’t Die” and “Sometimes teamwork means not being on the same team” (that last one ad-libbed by a deft Career Counselor), the interns were well prepped to head out and collect treasure.
  • Mary attended the World of Warcraft: Legion panel, which she’ll write about at greater length later. The mood was jovial, and both the fans and devs had a great time discussing the new content. The biggest news was the announcement of the Legion Companion App, available for iOS and Android. Launching this coming Tuesday, September 6, the app will allow players to complete certain tasks and quests from their phone when they can’t be in Azeroth. This has been a much-requested feature and the room erupted in whoops and applause followed by a lone shout of “THANK YOU!!!!” Check out the trailer below:
  • We passed a group of women in costume, each one a mash-up of a Playboy bunny and a superhero. Mary had some complicated feelings about the costumes: “I had heard that’s a thing and thought it couldn’t possibly be a thing. It’s not that I’m against sexy cosplay at all (my love of nerd burlesque is well-documented) and I absolutely believe everyone should wear whatever makes them happy. But I find it problematic to use such a blatant symbol of the male gaze since it seems to play right into the idea that girls aren’t fans, they’re just dressing up for male attention. It would be great if they were commenting on that terrible trope, but that didn’t seem to be the case.” Feel free to mansplain to Mary in the comments why she’s wrong. (Rob and Paul are pretty sure she’s right.)
  • We demoed a prototype of the Penny Arcade–Lone Shark Games collaboration Thornwatch today—with Paul running the demo!—and had a great time. The last time that we playtested this game was literally in a garage three years ago, and while it was already fun then, it’s really matured into a solid little gem. It’s part board game, part card game, part graphic novel. Play is quick and the learning curve is gentle as you master the deck of one of five members of the Thornwatch, but even crunchier gamers will appreciate the elegant ideas in play here—especially a “momentum” system that melds damage and initiative into a satisfying and constantly shifting back-and-forth. (Fellow fans of PA will of course swoon over the source material.) We exhort you to try the game either at Lone Shark’s sixth-floor booth or (even better) in the Thornwatch freeplay area on the third floor of Olive 8. The Kickstarter has already more than doubled its goal.IMG_9675
  • We made some Xbox One custom controllers the hard way back in the day with non-OEM parts, YouTube videos, and some sharp little arcane plastic tools. This is oh so much cooler.  And yee, look at the Swatch one! Plus, with your gamertag. So ordering.IMG_9653IMG_9657
  • Indie games can take a long and winding road to release, and it’s heartening to see Night in the Woods so close to coming out (“this fall!”) on the PS4 (and PC/Mac/Linux) after its successful Kickstarter way back in 2013. Described at one point as “like Gone Home, in third-person, with talking animals,” Night in the Woods has a kids-book style but with a smart, intricate melancholy to it. You play as a wayward college dropout Mae (yes, a cat), back in her hometown and slowly discovering that something weird is up. Most of the exploration comes through dialogue, and the town is full of well-realized characters (apparently over 60 of them), and your choices affect the path that you take through an 8 to 10 hour story. What a nice weird break amidst the giant Sony presence.
  • We took a look at a few of the PAX 10, and were as impressed as usual. Blockships was a sweet little shmup that is strongly reminiscent of Galaxy Trucker. You start as the core of a starship and then race to collect new components to add to your ship while other folks are doing the same and trying to kill you. They keep it simple with just gun, engine, and power components, but there’s an interesting richness to it because each hit knocks off components that anyone can grab. It’s 10% off on Steam now through 9/9.
  • Splitter Critters, also in the PAX 10, looked a little intimidating until we learned that we were watching a very advanced level. It’s a lovely puzzle game with a unique mechanic—players swipe to split the level and then can shift the pieces to create new configurations. It’s easier to show than describe, so check out the trailer below. We’re psyched that this has been Greenlit on Steam.

(This post has been edited.)

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PAX Prime 2015, Day One

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Eldrazi means business.
Eldrazi means business.

Rob woke up with a migraine and Mary couldn’t make it ’til the end of the show (stupid day job), but we still managed to take in lots of great PAX action, starting with the amazing Eldrazi sculpture outside the Magic show in the Annex (see above). Here’s our report:

  • Trivia Night
    We kicked off this year’s PAX in a big way by cohosting Nerd Trivia Night at Raygun Lounge. The house was packed, and while we suffered some unfortunate tech issues, our cohost Andrew of A Podcast [,] For All Intents and Purposes handled everything with grace and charm. Mary’s “Shitty Vampire Things” category was a big hit, and the winners were super-stoked thanks to our extremely generous prize donors:

    • Pelgrane Press gave a 13th Age core rulebook, Eyes of the Stone Thief mega-adventure, and a super-sweet icon die spinner ring. Check them out in Room 206—they’ve got tons of cool stuff going on.
    • Wargaming.Net gave two delightful (and practical) prize bags containing World of Tanks gaming mice, minifigs, and more. It is almost literally impossible to miss their huge presence in the main expo hall, so make sure to check them out when you see them.
  • Paperback
    This stopped us cold in the Indie Megabooth tabletop zone. A small, handwritten sign read “Scrabble + Dominion = Paperback.” WHAA? We watched a bit of a demo and are going to try to play it sometime over the weekend. Like Dominion, you start with a small deck of cards, each of which has a letter (sometimes two) and many of which have special rules attached. On your turn, you use your cards to form a word and score points to buy new cards for your deck. Victory points come in the form of novels you help write, which are added to your deck just like in Dominion. There are some nifty complications that look like they could give this game some real legs.
  • Antihero
    We have a friend who runs a landscaping business, and his advice for picking a landscaper is to choose the one with the best-looking business cards. His reasoning was that appealing design was a relatively reliable indicator for just generally Caring About Things, and–fair or not–it’s not a bad way to apportion your attention on the showfloor at PAX. That’s a long way of saying that Antihero grabbed us first with its cartoony good looks (see below!), and then likewise proved to have equally satisfying gameplay–fun, fast, quirky, and scratching many of the same itches as games that inspired it, like the beloved Civ series and seminal mobile game Hero Academy. You play a Victorian-era skuldugger, managing a thieves’ guild that’s trying to 4X its way through a mist-shrouded city. Play is turn-based (with a 1P campaign and asynchronous multiplayer), and involves juggling several-but-not-too-many resources, upgrade trees, and menacingly cute units like thugs and urchins. Like! And good news: it’s been Greenlit.
  • I Heart PAX
    Rob here. I just need to break in on the journamalism to express my deep, sincere affection for PAX culture. My generation was ruined by degenerate irony, so it can be hard for me to feel all the feels I should be feeling, but I love seeing all the young nerds unburdened by my cultural baggage. They are who they are and they love who they are, and I love them for it. That goes double for all the folks who have been (and, sadly, continue to be) underrepresented and/or exploited by nerd culture over the years.
  • Cards Against Humanity
    We don’t have too much to say about this party game that hasn’t already been said—but their marketing this year is brill. They’re selling oversized popsicles with small packs of cards inside. They look yummy (we found the truck just as they were closing shop) and are great at provoking curiosity in onlookers. Great job, marketing team!
  • Brigador
    If you like isometric games where mechs, tanks, and other belligerent vehicles destroy everything in sight using multiple weapons and smashy-smashy physical attacks, then check out Brigador. The WASD/mouse controls can take some acclimatization (especially with a mech), but it’s got a nice Crush, Crumble, Chomp vibe with its destructible environment and pell-mell attackers.