PAX Unplugged is different from any other PAX I’ve been to before. Gone are the massive booths of Microsoft and PUBG. Gone are the hundreds of screens that beg for attention from every PAX attendee.
Instead of swelling orchestra music and the sounds of intense combat, dice can be heard rolling across the plastic tables that line a much more compact expo hall. Memories of moving plastic pieces across a game board made of cardboard are made real again, that is what sets PAX Unplugged apart from its sister shows.
My first day was filled with a sensation of unfamiliarity as I explored an expo hall filled with these games I’ve never heard of, in a format that I have very limited experience with. But funny enough, my first appointment was with North Star Games, playing the only video game on the floor.
The game was called Evolution, a strategic survival of the fittest digital card game. The objective is to get more points than your opponent, pretty basic right? The way to get points is to make your dinosaur stronger with cards you draw. You can sacrifice cards to increase the size of your dinosaur to protect it from carnivores or to make your population bigger, allowing your dinosaur to feed more, which gains points.
The game is genuinely unique and interesting. It’s like nothing I’ve played before, which isn’t saying much, but it was an overall fun experience and I can imagine myself and my friends playing this game late into the night. Evolution is currently in beta, but there is a table top version currently available.
My next appointment was with White Wizard Games. I sat down with Rob Dougherty, former Pro Magic: The Gathering champion and CEO of White Wizard Games. One thing became clear as I listened to Rob’s tale of transitioning from pro Magic player to Board Game Developer, his love of Magic has its influence in almost every game I was shown. The game that I was most hyped up for is a game called Sorcerer. It’s a deck building PVP game where you combine 3 of the 12 preset decks based on their type and fight each other on three different battlefields. The game is complex, engaging and the art is beautiful.
I talked to Rob about the obvious influence of Magic: The Gathering, but the bigger question on my mind was about the physical quality. All of the games I was shown we’re really top-notch quality, but really affordable, $15 for base games of large size and with custom art. The secret, as Rob told me, was Kickstarter.
Even now, White Wizard Games has their newest title, Sorcerer, on Kickstarter and it’s set to release between summer or fall of 2019. You can find the campaign here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1172937197/sorcerer-1
That was my first day at PAX Unplugged, filled with excitement, uncertainty and more people in glasses, including me, than you can roll a die at.