Penny Arcade has been running their PAX conventions all around the world for years now, but they have always been very broad. They have reached out to all corners of the gaming world and tried to bring them together. This wide net approach is great, but it isn’t a perfect match for the board game community. Board game culture is dominated by massive board game focused conventions like GenCon, Essen Spiel, Origins, and others. So it only makes sense that PAX would eventually expand in that direction. PAX Unplugged was their first attempt at doing so.
The EFG team has had some time to reflect on our experiences there now that we are home, unpacked, and survived the holiday season and I’m happy to report that we had a blast. Unplugged was a great show and it still has room to grow into a major event.
The event took place in the Philadelphia Convention Center. Its a massive facility located in the heart of Philly. It is also right across the street from the Reading Terminal Market for easy access (during the day) to all sorts of awesome food. I was impressed by the facility compared to some of the other convention centers I’ve been to in the past. It was sprawling, but I never felt lost while inside.
There were just too many games for us to cover all of them. We would have driven ourselves mad. Take a look below at our impressions of the games we DID get a chance to see.
Games we came home with
Eleminis is a game for 2-8 players ages five and up. This is a light set collecting game. In this game, you are trying to collect five different elements, but there are limitations to what you can trade and other players can use action cards to thwart you. This game is reminiscent of Hoagie with building a set and the ability to spoil the other players’ sets.
Gimme Gimme Guinea Pigs
This is a very fast paced and simple game for 2-6 players ages 3 and up. In Gimme Gimme Guinea Pigs you are trying to be the first to collect a set of all the same pet, but you can only hold 7 cards in your hand. Discarded cards are placed face up for other players to take. This was super quick and easy to play, and a very simple game for the youngest gamers.
Downforce is a old game, know under other names which has been given a modern update. In Downforce players bid on cars and each car the win gives them a power. The cars are raced around a track using a deck for moving the cars. There are choke points build in so you can block other cars. Players also bet on the cars, and the winner is the player with the most money at the end of the game, regardless if you win the race or not. The board is also double sided with two levels of play. Suggestions for how to scale the game down to younger players is also included in the rules.
Stop Thief is a revival of the game that was originally published in 1979. In this game, player take on the role of investigators trying to catch several thieves to collect the reward money so they can retire. This game incorporates an app that provides sound clues to the location of the thief. The app provided different levels of difficulty in play as well as a retro mode with vintage sounds. There is also a cooperative mode in development. This is a great deductive reasoning game for the whole family.
Indulgence is a trick taking game similar to Hearts. In this game, which is set in Renaissance Italy players take turns playing the ruler and putting out three edicts (rules) to follow with which cards to collect or avoid. One players per round can also decide to play the sinner and do the opposite of the edicts. The risk is high and the reward great if you accomplish the sin. The game has beautiful components that play up the opulence of the Renaissance theme.
Duck! Duck! Go!
Duck! Duck! Go! is a game for 2-4 players for players 8 and up. Using movement cards you move your ducky around the board so it makes the rounds and touches all three buoys. The first ducky to do get back to the drain after touching all three buoys wins. The game board is build using two sided tiles so each game has a unique board.
Games We Played
Bubblee Pop is an two player strategy game that attempts to mimic game play elements from match-3 puzzle games like Candy Crush and Puzzle Quest. It does remarkably well considering how Video Gamey I thought those mechanics were.
The designer managed to capture an lot of the strategy elements from the two player versions of these types of games and threw it onto an board game. This is interesting because it removes the sometimes frantic nature of the video game version and encourages deeper strategies.
Stuffled Fables is easily our most anticipated board game right now. We’ve where excited about it since it was announced. Our hype intensified when we interviews Jerry Hawthorne on our podcast. We’re even MORE excited now that we’ve played it.
The theme is adorable. Players take on the roles of a little girl’s stuffed animals as they defend her while she sleeps. The game is played by pulling dice from an bag and rolling them to perform various skill checks. These things are cool, but they aren’t what sets the game apart.
Stuffed Fables is separated from the crowd by its Adventure Book. It’s an spiral bound, choose-your-own adventure style book where each
Shiba Inu House
In Shiba Inu House you are matching pictures from a card with one two or three Shiba Inus sitting on a colorful dog house. Using the cards you match the dog image and build a doghouse. The pictures can get mashed up as long as the image is correct of each dog with their house. The graphics are very bright and colorful
Doggy Go is a speed game for 1-4 player game for ages 6 and up. Players are trying to complete a pattern on acrobat cards with their doggie tiles and acrobat item cards. You gain the acrobat cards for correctly completing your pattern first. The player with the most cards wins.
Castles of Caladale
Castles of Caladale is a tile laying game for 1-4 players ages 8 and up. In this game each player is trying to rebuild their castle using the mixed up pieces left from all the castles being destroyed. The player to build the largest and most complete castle, and scores the most point on their castle wins.
Adapt is a card and dice game for 2-3 players ages 14 and up where you start as a guppy and your fish evolves over the course of the game, and then uses their adaption to battle at the end of the game with the other players. The game has a reversible mat to simplify the game and make it a game for ages 7 and up.
Kaiju Crush is a light strategy game for 2-4 players ages 10 and up. Each player takes their turn as a Kaiju with unique powers and they move to crush a City Tile and fight other kaiju. Players earn victory points and when they run out of movements the player with the most victory points wins.
Dicey Peaks is a 2-6 player game for ages 8 and up, and is the newest game from Calliope Games. In this game players are trying to climb a mountain. They need to manage their Oxygen levels by deciding when to climb and when to rest. They also need to watch out for the Yeti. The first player to the top of the mountain is the winner.