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PAX Unplugged 2018 IV: Pics from the Show — The Stuff of Legend, Quantified, Battlestations: Dirtside, In the Hall of the Mountain King, and More

W. Eric Martin
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From gallery of W Eric Martin
Let's close out my PAX Unplugged 2018 coverage with a round-up of random pics from the show, which took place Nov. 30 to Dec. 2. Well, not truly random since I chose what to aim the camera at in the first place and I've deleted dozens of duplicate images and sat on embargoed pics and otherwise made authorial choices as to why I'd want to feature this over that, but sure, random.


From gallery of W Eric Martin

Richard Garfield's Keyforge was the buzziest title at PAXU, with a line three deep at practically all hours in front of the Fantasy Flight Games booth, which was directly in front of one of the main entryways to the exhibitor space, which was in the sam hall as the "freeplay" area that included both the First Look tables and tables reserved for games taken out of the PAXU library.

From gallery of W Eric Martin

James A. Wilson's Everdell was the second buzziest title based on my unscientific "crowd measurement" scale that consisted of me looking at crowds each time I passed a booth. Publisher Starling Games had several dozen copies of the collector's edition of Everdell for sale at PAXU, but all of the regular editions had been shipped to distributors by that point. All of them! Starling Games has no more copies in reserve, and a Starling representative at the show said it would be many months before the next printing of the game would be available.

From gallery of W Eric Martin

While I've grown tired of the "Purr-ocessing" sign in the Exploding Kittens booth, I can appreciate how successful that booth is at every single convention where it's present. People love the mini-plays that ensue when someone approaches the wall to press buttons and order games or expansions, and these performances creates stories that others share, both in person and via social media, spreading awareness of the EK brand and making the effort involved in running this booth well worth it.

I wouldn't suggest that other publishers do the exact same thing, but they should consider that when they're selling games to players, they can sell more than just the game. Yes, the game will create its own experience that can be shared, but maybe that experience could begin before they even leave the booth...

From gallery of W Eric Martin

Here's the hole in the exhibit floor where White Wolf Publishing was meant to be. In mid-November 2018, the company announced changes in which WWP would focus solely on brand management while parent company Paradox Initiative would, um, own White Wolf Publishing. It's not clear what Paradox will do since from now on White Wolf will "develop the guiding principles for its vision of the World of Darkness, and give licensees the tools they need to create new, excellent products in this story world. White Wolf will no longer develop and publish these products internally."

Board Game Publisher: Button Shy

Jason Tagmire's Button Shy Games has a clear vision for the games it releases: Each release is a tiny game with a small price point that comes in a wallet-size package. The problem with this type of catalog, though, is how to market it to passersby when the games themselves as tiny and not likely to catch the eye.

Button Shy solved this problem by creating a booth that looked more like a clothing store than a game publisher's booth, with the games tucked into shirt pockets and the vital statistics of the games posted on boxes next to those shirts. Not blending in is a great way to get folks to give you a first look, and getting people to pause in their movement past your booth is a vital step toward introducing them to your games.

From gallery of W Eric Martin

I realize that I'm focusing a lot on marketing in this round-up, but that's because I've already covered games played in my previous two round-ups from PAXU. I didn't play Ryan Courtney's Pipeline, for example, but this lit-up sign in the Capstone Games booth caught my eye and was unlike anything else I saw while walking the floor, so I stopped and looked. (I'm not the Capstone Games customer, though, so I moved on after checking out the sign for this game and others on display.)

From gallery of W Eric Martin

Archon Games took something of the opposite approach to Button Shy and Capstone, with its booth being a colorless dimension that sucked you in due to it being weirdly and intriguingly monotone, more art gallery than sales stage.

From gallery of W Eric Martin

A PAXU attendee shakes the final ten-or-so $50 mystery boxes, perhaps to see which one feels the heaviest. Not sure what other guideline you might have when spending money for a box that "may contain fun". I guess if the fun doesn't pan out, you'll at least have a greater quantity of kindling on hand.

From gallery of W Eric Martin

Lone Shark Games' lead designer Mike Selinker was leading players through demo games of Apocrypha Adventure Card Game: Box Two – The Flesh and Apocrypha Adventure Card Game: Box Three – The Devil, which both debuted at PAXU. Again, I need to poke publishers far in advance of this show in 2019 in order to put together a convention preview and highlight debuts like these. It's hard to make plans for a show when you're not even sure what will be available there!

From gallery of W Eric Martin

Battlestations: Dirtside is a standalone game from Jeff Siadek of Gorilla Games, and whereas Battlestations: Second Edition focused on what's required to keep a spaceship running in space, Dirtside lands that ship on the ground and confronts you with unexpected happenings on multiple worlds.

From gallery of W Eric Martin

Gamewright has licensed the real-time reaction game Twin It! from designers Nathalie Saunier, Rémi Saunier, and Thomas Vuarchex and publisher Cocktail Games and debuted it at PAXU ahead of the game's "official" introduction to the market at NY Toy Fair in February 2019.

From gallery of W Eric Martin

Asmodee demoed Black Mirror: NOSEDIVE, which debuted at the U.S. retail chain Target in late November 2018. I know some folks still protest the use of electronic devices in board and card games, but you might as well protest co-operative games. Given the number of titles hitting the market each year, you can be assured that (1) more designers will experiment with app-integration in their creations and (2) most designers and publishers will release app-free games, giving you more titles to explore than you can possibly absorb in a lifetime without other commitments.

From gallery of W Eric Martin

In addition to selling the newly released Endeavor: Age of Sail, Burnt Island Games engaged in one of this era's most common convention activities: Showing off a game ahead of a crowdfunding project intended to bring said game to print. The practice makes sense, though, as I got a far better idea of how Jay Cormier and Graeme Jahns' In the Hall of the Mountain King works from three minutes of face-time than from fifteen minutes of reading and rewriting the description on the BGG game page.

From gallery of W Eric Martin

The Stuff of Legend is a comic book series from Mike Raicht, Brian Smith, and Charles Paul Wilson III from Th3rd World Studios that started in 2009, and that series is now being transformed into a co-operative board game from designer Kevin Wilson. Here's an overview of the game:
Quote:
As Allied forces fight the enemy on Europe's war-torn beaches, another battle begins in a child's bedroom in Brooklyn when the nightmarish Boogeyman snatches a boy and takes him to the realm of the Dark. The child's playthings, led by the toy soldier known as the Colonel, band together to stage a daring rescue. On their perilous mission, they will confront the boy's bitter and forgotten toys, as well as betrayal in their own ranks.

In The Stuff of Legend, each player takes on the role of one of the boy's loyal toys, each with their own unique abilities. Players work co-operatively, scouring the Dark in search of the Boy before the Boogeyman can escape with him. Players beware, through the course of the game your allegiance may change, and at any point one of your fellow players could be secretly working against you for the wicked Boogeyman.
From gallery of W Eric Martin

From gallery of W Eric Martin

Planetoid will be a 2019 release from Jon Mietling and Portal Dragon, with this game being a memory-based, set-collection game.

The production of the game board is smart, with a double-layering of cardboard that allows you to place tokens in the holes, then press on the edge of a token to lift it up in order to grab it and flip it.

From gallery of W Eric Martin

The Stars Align is a two-player game from Sean Fenemore and Matt Radcliffe that (I believe) Breaking Games debuted at PAXU.

In the first half of the game, players take turns revealing patterns on cards, then placing stars in their color on the 7x7 board. Once the second half begins, you can start overlaying the pattern on spaces that are already filled, flipping up to three of the opponent's stars to your color while placing your own stars in empty spaces. When you fill a row or column with stars in your color, you score a point, then remove those stars from the board. Whoever scores five points first wins!

From gallery of W Eric Martin

Deblockle is the first board game from Project Genius, a Texas-based publisher of brainteasers and logic puzzles. The company already has a presence in the Barnes & Noble U.S. retail chain, so its debut title will also have a presence there — which is a nice way to put your game in front of a bunch of potential customers.

In the short game, you flip a block to an adjacent space on your turn, then move the block based on the symbol now showing on its face. Move a block to the opponent's star space, and you remove it from the board. Remove three blocks first to win the game — or four blocks once you've moved past the introductory game.

From gallery of W Eric Martin

Board Game: Quantified
One of the games I most excited about checking out at PAXU was Janna Ulrich's Quantified, which is due out in 2019 from Quality Beast.

Unfortunately, my to-do list was only in my head and not something that was driving me around the show floor to actually, you know, do, so I didn't see Quantified until late on Saturday night when it was too late to play. Thankfully my mistake turned out not to matter as the PAX representative overseeing that section of the First Look area said that Quantified is still very much in development for now. For background, here's the game overview in the BGG database:
Quote:
Quantified is a co-operative board game set in a world in which everyone's behavior is constantly surveilled and analyzed. A player's behavior results in a social credit score, determining their position on the social ladder. Players start from different positions on the social ladder, as refugee, unemployed or employed, with unequal access to human rights. The goal of the game is to make all rights accessible to all players and to fight the implementation of totalitarian policies.

During a typical turn, players can move around the city, add non-player-characters to their network, attempt to solve so-called rally cards (initiatives that support human equality), attempt to prevent so-called threat cards (automatic, constantly approaching negative effects, such as invasive amendments, correction camps or totalitarian laws), or even simply work an official or illegal job. The trick is that not every action can be taken by every player. For example, those without the right to movement take longer to cross the city, while those without the right to free speech can't share their rally cards with others — and even the actions you can take must be taken with care as all actions leak personal data. If too much data is leaked, the players may have to face behavior analysis cards that negatively impact their collective game state!

Ultimately, by solving enough rally cards or working their way up the social ladder, every player should have access to all four human rights. Once this is done, the players win! But if three totalitarian laws come into effect before then or the threat deck runs out, the players collectively lose.
I love games that tackle subject matter not previously explored, whether silly or serious, and this design is taking on issues relevant to billions of people around the world. I have no idea whether the game works or not, but I'm curious to try it out once it clears development and is heading to market.

And with this post, my PAXU coverage is at an end. I actually finished posting about a show before the next one took place. Only in December!

From gallery of W Eric Martin
Sample cards from Quantified
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