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Be Combat Ready for Genius Metal Odysseys at PAX Unplugged, Then Die

W. Eric Martin
United States
North Carolina
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I'm still on the hunt for new and upcoming games to check out at PAX Unplugged, which opens at the Philadelphia Convention Center on Nov. 30, 2018 — today! — and here's some of what I expect to see:

• U.S. publisher Arcane Wonders has announced that it will have copies of RWBY: Combat Ready for sale at PAXU. This scenario-based 2-4 player co-operative battle game from Bryan and Benjamin Pope is based on the RWBY animated series, and you can check out an overview courtesy of this video we recorded at the 2018 Origins Game Fair:

• Another Kickstarter project fulfilled and soon to be featured at PAXU is Girl Genius: The Works from James Ernest and Cheapass Games, with this set of four independent, yet integrable games being a reworking of the original Girl Genius: The Works from 2001. Based on the Girl Genius comic series from Phil and Kaja Foglio, this game challenges players to "pop" cards from a shared display to create combos and use special powers to score points.

• Hoo boy, is everything that I find for PAXU going to be crowdfunding-related in some manner? Maybe so. Designer Jordan Draper has a new project from his Jordan Draper Games studio that he's co-publishing with Lay Waste Games, a project called METAL that's actually six games in one metallic box: three new games and three lawn games now shrunk to be playable on a table.

METAL is on Kickstarter through mid-December 2018 (KS link), and it's part of Draper's "Material Series" in which he plans to focus on a single material: "The planned lineup is Wood, Paper, Rubber, and Fabric. Each title in this new line of games sets out to explore and showcase how a single material can be utilized in the context of tabletop games, with the highest manufacturing quality and techniques. Every material will be a different partnership with a specialist company that leads in knowledge and experience." Given that Lay Waste Games started in 2016 with Dragoon, a game with fancy metal bits, it was a natural co-publisher for this item.

• Another Kickstarter-project-to-be that's playable at PAXU is Chris Cieslik's 1001 Odysseys from Asmadi Games, a title that's been in the works for years and that Cieslik described on camera during our coverage of Gen Con 2015! The short take is that this game is Tales of the Arabian Nights in space; the longer take is more nuanced than that:

1001 Odysseys is a game of fantastic space adventures. The first human FTL ship, the Odyssey, sets out to explore a new sector of the galaxy after finding an operational alien stargate. Players take on the roles of the Odyssey's bridge crew, as they find planets, meet strange new aliens, and eventually try to find the way back home!

Each time a group sits down at the table, they play through an episode: one co-operative adventure that spans several scenes with different story choices and conclusions. Every standalone episode tells of one of the Odyssey's adventures through alien space, but they do not require the same set of players each time. No two playthroughs of a given episode will be exactly alike, as your choices impact the outcome of both scenes and how the episode's story turns out.

A scene in an episode consists of several quests, which leads the story through various locations. To see what happens in the story, the players choose a set of three things: an action, a quest, and a location. This results in reading a specifically numbered paragraph from the Adventure Book, which advances the story. Your journeys are recorded in a booklet called your passport, which remembers the scenes the group has access to and other interesting events that have occurred!

• Finally, let's talk about a game at PAXU that I've actually seen — and even played! That game is ...and then we died. from designer Emma Larkins and publisher killjoy. Here's the short take:

A group of us have all died together...somehow. Before we can pass on to the other side, we need to remember the circumstances of our demise. All we have to work with are our fragmented memories and the subtle influence on the tarot cards. If we successfully tell our tale in ...and then we died., our spirits are set free.

I ran into Larkins at SPIEL '18, and we started to play the game with someone else — someone who left as soon as his turn came around. "Uh, I don't think this is what I'm looking for..." So be it.

The game has a deck of tarot cards with groups of letters scattered across each card. Each player starts with a card in hand, one card starts on the table, and a deck of seven cards is placed nearby. The start player overlaps their card with the card on the table to create a word and draws a replacement card, then the next player has to start telling a story that includes your featured word at some (hopefully) critical point. Whenever they feel like they're at a good stopping point, they lay down their card and throw a word to the next player in line. You continue telling a story until someone has played the final card at which point the next storyteller must end the story with your deaths and the phrase "...and then we died."

You don't need the deck to do this, of course. I told my son about the game, and we then created a story about a lost goat who thought it was a snowman, then things progressed from there until eventually we died.

Emma Larkins and some of the words from our SPIEL '18 story
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