” An exciting analog-focused extension of our already existing portfolio of PAX events.”
PAX Unplugged 2018 rolled into the Pennsylvania Convention Center November 30-December 2. I was able to attend the tabletop convention and it was quite exciting! This year’s PAX Unplugged had double the exhibitors, double the halls and double the panels. I’m going to give you geeks my highlights from the 3-day event.
Let me start out by applauding the staff of the Pennsylvania Convention Center and the PAX Unplugged enforcers. They had the important job of assisting attendees, keeping things running smoothly and keeping everyone safe.
On day one of the con, there was a substantial size line to enter; which went smoothly. After getting pass security, guests were told to not go further up the escalator to the main hall. As I stood amongst this group, I overheard many conversations of guests discussing the deadly shootings at other conventions. Security and enforcers assured guests that everything was fine and that was not the case for the hold up; many did so with kind smiles. It was a situation that could have gotten out of hand quickly but was handled impeccably. This level of professionalism was maintained throughout the con; especially on Saturday, when attendance sized nearly doubled. Great job everyone!
The keynote speaker was game designer, Jeremy Crawford; who was greeted warmly by the crowd. You could see that he was in awe of the energy of the crowd; the audience was mutually in awe of Crawford.
As stated in my title, PAX Unplugged 2018, seemed to have a focus on making tabletop gaming easier; as well as making gaming culture more integrated into daily life. Companies like Geeknson, showcased gaming furniture for the home. Many of the items had more functionality than just for gaming; along with being stylish too. There were also vendors selling gaming attire; not just in the cosplay sense, but as clothing you could wear in your day to day life.
Speaking of making gaming easier; many gaming companies have focused on making deck building games easier. A popular deck building game is Magic: The Gathering, which if you have ever played; can be complicated at times. I remember my first time playing, I needed a coach. (I still do.) A great example of this trend is White Wizard Games, Hero Realms. I demoed the game and found it easier than Magic; the deck building aspect was less complex but still just as fun. I required less coaching and naturally picked up the rules by my third turn. Plus, the artwork on the cards was gorgeous. I would like to thank the woman I played Hero Realms with, she was extremely friendly and didn’t mind if I was a bit of a novice.
A standout of PAX Unplugged was the Japanime Games booth. The booth was so colorful! I saw so many guests just gravitating to it. Japanime Games had many deck building games that featured hyper glossy, exaggerated anime art style. Yes, there are some big breasted anime girls and way too handsome boys, but that’s part of anime. Tanto Cuore is a deck building game where you play the “Master of the household” and you employ these cute characters; and it’s not just making them work, they could get sick or steal or get lazy. It seems so contrived but it was honestly so fun. There are additional decks you could purchase and it does add to the game. I highly recommend this as a gift to someone who loves anime.
The cutest games goes to Renegade Games; which was a favorite of mine from PAX Unplugged 2017. Circus Puppy, is an adorable game that features the cutest puppies as you stack cards to earn points. The game last for about 20 minutes and is perfect for kids. It makes a great gift for little gamers this holiday season.
Another element of PAX Unplugged 2018 were panels discussing inclusivity in gaming. Latinx in Tabletop: Our Seat at the Table discussed the vibrancy of Latinx culture and how it can be translated to tabletop gaming. Inclusivity in Gaming: ASD at Your FLGS talked about gaming and Autism, Designing Asian Settings and Themes in Games discussed the impact of thoughtful representation and Hand Her a Sword: Instilling Confidence in Girls with RPGs highlighted how we can empower girls through RPGs.
Some other highlights was a surprise appearance by Gritty, the Wafflecrew’s Dice, Camera, Action: Live show, the delicious cookies from the Cookie Brigade and the Costume Party Assassins.
In conclusion, round 2 of PAX Unplugged was a delightful experience. The convention expanded on the things we loved about last year; while adding new elements like pin trading and meetups to keep the event feeling fresh. I look forward to seeing what PAX Unplugged does on its next turn.