Wargaming Recon #103: 25hr Game-a-thon for Children’s Hospital

25 Hour Game-a-thon for Children’s Hospital

Can gaming help those in need? The answer is a resounding YES! Each year the Extra Life organization puts on a game-a-thon where gamers, like you and me, play games for 24 hours to raise money for their local children’s hospital. All of the proceeds from the event go directly to the designated hospital.

The funds are used to provide medical care for kids whose families otherwise could not afford the help.

Listen to this episode to learn more about this great cause, discover some cool new games, and maybe you will be empowered to participate next year!

This episode discussed:

Upcoming Episodes:

  • The 2013 Holiday Gift Guide special releases November 25 with special guest Ben Gerber
  • The final episode of 2013 is Wargames Holiday Centre with special guests Jon & Diane Sutherland

Some Reminders:

Continue reading “Wargaming Recon #103: 25hr Game-a-thon for Children’s Hospital”

GE39: 5 Reasons to Play Prison Architect

Prison Architect is a fun and challenging game.  It is currently in Alpha but is a stable and enjoyable game for Windows and Mac OSX.

Jonathan apologizes in this episode for confusion he caused last time.  The Ray Harryhausen episode was mistakenly referred to as Episode 39.  It is actually episode 38.  This Prison Architect episode is #39.  Please accept our apologies.

 

Continue reading “GE39: 5 Reasons to Play Prison Architect”

Convention Report: Pax 2011 Games

Every time I go to a Con there’s one thing I want to do more than anything else, I really want to experience some role playing games that I’ve never played before.  It’s a top priority.  Pax is such a large con and so video game oriented that I struggled to find RPG groups ready to roll out an adventure, but I did happen to fjord through an ocean of board games and get to a few good RPGs.

When I did find great tabletop gaming, it was in one place…

The Indie Games Room

In my time between panels and queuing up for other things I tried to hit the Indie Games room as much as possible, if only to just look at the books they had on the table for browsing.  Of all the tabletop areas, this was the most inviting room.  With someone cheery and eager to help explain the setup and what games will be available and when as soon as I walked in each time, they really did a great job of making me want to play there.  It’s nice, as a gamer, to get that sort of welcome.  Particularly from other gamers, since we have an unfortunate tendency to close ourselves off and stick to our cliques.  Game Masters, many of which were designers of their own games and featured on the GMing panel I first went to, were running games on every even numbered hour throughout the weekend, giving two hour demos that told some surprisingly complete stories.  I only managed to play two game in this room, but I was very pleased with both.

Mouseguard Boxed Set

Based on the on the comic series of the same name and a variation of the Burning Wheel system, Mouseguard is a role playing game that captures the low-fantasy world of a medieval society of anthropomorphic mice.  I’ve heard a lot of criticism of the system, particularly in regard to the Player phase of the game, which admittedly we didn’t test, but I had a great time with the conflict resolution system in it’s odd sort of “Rock, Paper, Scissors” way.  Our Game Master did a great job of letting us state our goals and then had us narratively justify each action type in how it moves us toward that goal, then we used the game’s pretty simple system of opposed dice rolls (where applicable) and he described the action.  The end result of this sort of attempt/description interaction allows for some great conflict sequences, whether they be against environmental or combatant challenges, and makes for a very cinematic visualization of the scene.  Immediately after the game I discussed it with my friends and girlfriend, each of us expressed a desire to play again, and soon.  My only struggle was whether or not to purchase the boxed set, which I did ultimately go ahead and order.  The box comes with the original Mouseguard RPG book, a supplement, action cards for players and Game Master, specially marked dice, a map of the lands the Guard Mice protect, and lastly something I find to just sort of be out of place, a few brightly colored, plastic chesspiece style mouse tokens for tracking map movements.  The tokens did feature in the first Mouseguard book, Fall 1152, but looked much more naturally colored as if with dull dyes on clay as opposed to what I can only describe as “Fisher Price” style vibrancy in the box.  It just jarred with the rest of the character of the game, and I found them a little disappointing.  I have some plans to maybe repaint or at least do a wash on the pieces to make them look just a bit grittier.

Polaris

The other game I was lucky enough to spend a few hours playing gave me an entirely new perspective on role playing.  Far more a structured system of improvisation than traditional games, Polaris is designed for four players, each of which takes turns rotating through roles as both their own individual character, bit part NPCs, and antagonist to another player.  Each rotation of these responsibilities brings with it a change of scene, which may pick up from mere moments after the previous scene or years later depending on the storytelling.  Players have a conversational barter system, bolstered by abilities on their sheet, and conflicts of stats can be brought down to a single die roll.  The system supports role play and combat almost entirely via shared by tale-telling and blocking “phrases”.  I was absolutely amazed with how much story, and the level of depth we explored in our characters, in only two hours of play.  Ben Lehman, the game’s writer, facilitated the game for the four of us, but it took no time to learn and roll with, and he was mostly there so the group didn’t have to read through his rule booklet to know how to play.  I picked up a copy and can’t wait to gather some of my other Game Master friends to run this.  I’m a bit ashamed to admit that I sometimes exclude those folks from games because there tends to be an undertone of tension, that silent power struggle or a “that’s not how I’d do it but…” comment that can come from a GM-player, that is to say someone who is accustomed more to being an GM than a player, but this is the perfect game to remedy that problem.

Other Games

I think with a convention the size of Pax and with so much to do at all times sort of hinders the ability to sit down and play a full session.  I got in a few other games during the con that averaged about an hour, including the Dungeon Delves run by Wizards of the Coast.  I looked in on some short Pathfinder Society games, and got in someone’s homebrew airship battle system to be implemented with their 3.5 campaign, but all of these things were more or less demos rather than full sessions with limited to no role play.  I even participated in the Wizards of the Coast booth Live-Action Role Playing experience, which consisted of no role play and about 2 dice rolls per person, granted it was more of an attention grabbing gimmick than anything, but I was hoping for something more somehow.  With panel lines filling up two hours before hand for some of the major guests, and the huge sprawl of the gaming area, I just don’t think Pax is a good home for tabletop role playing necessarily, but that isn’t to say I didn’t have a great trip as a Role Player between other nerdly interests and even the tabletop oriented panels I wrote about last week.

As a conclusion to my awesome trip (in spite of what it may seem based on that previous paragraph) I’ve decided to host my gallery o’ Pax pictures over on the Game Hermit Facebook page.  Pop over, give a “Like”, and take a look.

Piranha Plant Cosplay

Convention Report: Pax 2011 Panels

Little more than a week ago, 70,000 eager gamers descended on Seattle for Pax Prime.  In a dizzying rush they climbed several stories (well, rode the escalator) to the convention’s main expo floor to play test hundreds of popular PC and console games.  And though I took my initial peek into the busy hall filled with vendors displaying their latest and greatest, I set about an immediate mission to scout the tabletop gaming areas, hoping to try out some new stuff and really sink my teeth into a weekend of role playing.  Once I had a good note of where everything was, it was off to get in line for my first panel, and I learned that lines were just something I’d have to get used to at Pax (though I’m not sure I ever did).  The following is a list of panels and the like that I attended which were specifically tabletop role playing related.

Chessex Dice

The Art of the Table:  GMing Beyond the Basics

After about an hour or so in line, probably the shortest wait I’d have during the whole convention, I kicked off my Pax experience with an excellent panel on game mastering.  Sage LaTorra of the recently released Dungeon World RPG joined Apocalypse World creator Vincent Baker as well as Polaris author Ben Lehman.  Rounding out the group were Jeff Fasenfast of GoDaddy and moderator Ben Mandall, who did an excellent job keeping the conversation moving and entertaining.  The panel offered several perspectives and some great advice to use behind the screen, most of which boiled down to the following:  know your players and communicate with them.  No advice can be better than that, and yet it is often what is missed by so many game masters.   If I had to pick one secondary piece of advice, it would be this quote:

“Maybe what your game needs, is child endangerment.” – Vincent Baker

What Vincent was speaking to actually goes in hand directly with the previous statement.  As GMs we need to know what our players want, we need to know what they are comfortable with, and sometimes we need to know what makes them a little uneasy, to push them to new greater heights.  Perhaps putting children’s lives in danger isn’t quite right for your table, that’s not really what Vincent meant, but if your table is mature enough to handle that sort of content even though it might be outside of their comfort zone, it could make for quite the heroic scene to save those kids, or quite the emotional moment if they don’t make it.

Acquisitions Inc:  The Last Will and Testament of James Darkmagic I

More of a show than a panel, this was something I knew I had to see.  Timing being what it was, I was forced to skip over the the Ask the Dungeon Master panel offering more tips and tricks on running a great game, to instead wait in line a few hours dancing with nervous anticipation (or maybe that was just because I needed to go to the bathroom) getting ready for the live game run by Wizards of the Coast Dungeon Master extraordinaire Chris Perkins for an all-star team comprised of Star Trek and The Guild‘s Wil Wheaton, PVP Online author/artist Scott Kurtz, and the Penny Arcade boys themselves, Jerry Holkins and Mike Krahulik.  In the most over-produced game of D&D ever, the minstrels Paul and Storm played an opening homage not just to Acquisitions Incorporated (the name of the collected group above), but to adult tabletop gamers everywhere.  The adventurers arrived with grand announcements, stage lighting, and smoke machines, dressed in full costume… well, mostly… and ready to roll.  I could go on telling you how much I enjoyed this latest foray into live gaming, or how clever the writing was, or how impressed I was that they fit such a story into 2 hours of play, or I could just link this unofficial video I found via the /r/rpg subreddit.  Be sure to skip ahead to 3:30 seconds for when the intro song and game play begin, then catch part two which is in the playlist below the video.

Watching this game was one of the most incredibly fun experiences of the convention.  I’ve watched the whole thing over again since coming home from my trip, picking up on a few jokes that the crowd’s laughter overpowered and I missed the first time through.  I can’t believe that there isn’t a television show putting celebrities into a role playing game like this, or at least a more frequent web series.  I was a little disappointed that Perkins wasted a lot of time at the beginning of the night with “dragon mounting” rolls, leaving combat to not more than a few rounds, but I understand that this was a story driven, presentation experience and that honestly, the combats didn’t really matter.  I implore you to take the time to enjoy it, the last line by the Dungeon Master still makes me grin.

D&D Through the Ages

An expert team was pooled together for this panel which included creative minds such as Mike Mearls, one of the members of the team responsible for much of 4th Edition Dungeons and Dragons, also Mike Selinker, who did the same for the transition to 3rd Edition, and Keith Baker, creator of the Eberron Campaign Setting for D&D 3.5 and 4th Edition.  The panelists discussed the history of changes from edition to edition, and the trend of modern rules lite games and recreations/rules hacks of older editions.  The discussion was rife with stories from the round table discussions at Wizards during the last two edition changes, and it was great to hear some of the first hand accounts of how certain decisions were made.  The best story had to be Mike Selinker’s with regard to the Open Game License, how that concept was borrowed from open source software programming, and how nervous the designers were to agree to the idea knowing that it could easily make or destroy their ownership of Dungeons and Dragons.

I will also say I was impressed with the candid nature of the panel’s responses with regard to comparisons of 4th Edition and Massive Multiplayer Online games (MMOs), or even comparisons of 3rd Edition to Collectible Card Games (CCGs) such as Magic the Gathering.  There was an air of honesty in the given responses, openly stating to the audience that of course those games played an influential role in the development of the relevant versions of the game.  The way it was stated, Wizards wasn’t so much looking for piggybacking the existing fanbases for CCGs or MMOs (although they did admit some level of that), but instead they were looking for new ways to handle game mechanics that simply didn’t exist at the time previous editions were created.   I enjoyed the fact that nobody tried to dodge any questions or deflect, and I gained a new level of respect for Mike Mearls for how he and the others handled the crowd.

Next Week!

Although I didn’t play too many games during the con (to my surprise), I did have a chance to try out a couple of games that were new to me and to dive head first into a D&D 4e Dungeon Delve and the Wizards of the Coast booth’s live action D&D experience.  Also, be on the look out for my picture gallery, I only had a crappy cell phone camera with me this trip, but I came away with a few cool shots to check out, here’s a few samples…

Piranha Plant Cosplay

 

Androminion is Dominion vs 2 AI players for your Android phone, and it’s awesome

I’ll admit it, I’m not the biggest gamer when it comes to the standard, casual style games available on most mobile platforms. I have a few tower defense style games on my iPod and Angry Birds on my Droid.  That’s about it.  Until that is, I found a thread on Reddit detailing android games that are cool.

Androminion caught my eye.  It’s essentially Dominion for Android!  It’s utilizing the cards from the base Dominion set, and also includes the Intrigue and Seaside expansions.

Androminion takes 10 random cards from these three sets, and throws two AI’s at you (Earl and Drew) who generally manage to play pretty well.

Before I go much further, I’ll include this little image here. Use your Android phone to scan it and get this game.  Really, it’s well worth it!

Being designed for Android phones, the interface takes a few minutes to get used to.  Once you are used to it however, it’s brilliantly laid out.  This is a fairly complex game to display on a 4″ screen and dev Mehtank does it very well.  Everything you need to play is right there on one screen.  The card choices are displayed on the top, with the cost in the gold circle and the number of cards available in the center.  Below that to the left is your hand.  Next to that on the right are the cards you’ve just played.  Buttons to select cards, pass on actions, end your turn (which happens automatically if you run out of actions/buys/money) are to the right.

Dominion on a phone!

Beneath these buttons, you’ll see a detailed list of your decks and the AI’s decks.  The numbers indicate the number of cards in the player’s draw pile, hand and deck, respectively.  Finally at the bottom is a running log of each player’s turn.   In the screenshot above, You (highlighted, indicating the active player) is doing something with the Pirate Ship card.

More information about each card can be had with a simple long press over the card, no matter where you’re looking at it.

It took me about 20 minutes and three games to really get the hang of this interface. Once I got it though, it was smooth sailing as I repeatedly got my ass handed to my by freaking Drew, the uppity AI.  Over the course of an evening playing this though, I actually improved my Dominion game and started winning about half of the matches.  At the end of a game, you can see who had which cards, who won and how many victory points each player has.

Victory!

Games run (for me at least) an average of about 10 minutes.  The interface is incredibly smooth and easy to work with. There are a ton of nice touches in the layout and implementation. All of the cards are easily pressed, despite their smallish size.  I only once selected the wrong card in an entire night (and morning commute) spent playing.  Then, even if you do select the wrong card, you have to okay your selection, so my fat fingering was easily repaired.

This app is actively being developed, with lots of bug fixes and new features already added.  I don’t know what will happen in the future with this app, but a few things I’d love to see are, in order:

  • The ability to select the 10 cards you’ll be playing with rather than a random selection
  • The addition of the Intrigue and Alchemy expansions.
  • The ability to toggle on or off the AI players to play a 2 player game (human VS AI).
  • Multiplayer.
  • A third AI.

Really, this is a fantastic implementation of Dominion for Android.  It has me completely hooked!  One last bonus to this  is, over the course of my 50 minute morning commute, playing this game through all of it, I didn’t notice any difference to how rapidly my battery was drained.  Dominion as a board game is still my all time favorite table top activity.  This app does a great job in setting up a 3 player game and gives me access to Dominion no matter where I am.  5 out of 5 stars.

[tags]dominion, android, board games, reveiw[/tags]

Mount & Blade: Fire and Sword Preview

I just had the chance to go up a few levels in the newest addition to the Mount & Blade franchise: Fire and Sword.  It was exactly what I was expecting and that’s a damned good thing!

It works much like the original Mount & Blade games but with the addition of firearms.  This has been done before in various mods, but now it’s implemented officially, and well done too.

You can now snipe from the back of a horse, line up musketeers to back up your pikes and swords and even engage in a new multiplayer format – Captain mode.  Here, you are the captain of a 16 person squad (15 AIs and you) up against others with the same setup.

BOOM

Another huge change is the map.  No longer are you in the fantasy world of previous M&B games, now you’re in Northern Europe.  Scandinavian places.  It’s fun!

I haven not been able to check out the multiplayer options, or the new siege mechanics yet.  The preview I’ve been given only allows me to go up to level 7, which is still a bit premature for storming the castle.  I do plan on having a full review once the game is released in either late Q1 or Q2 of this year.

Mount & Blade: With Fire & Sword is the thrilling sequel to the action role-playing hit Mount & Blade: Warband. Be a mercenary or join one of the five battling factions to conquer, destroy or create empires.  In an open sand box world you choose your allies, your enemies, what provinces to conquer, what castles to siege and what quests to embark on.

Mount & Blade: With Fire & Sword also builds and expands upon the highly regarded combat system from Mount & Blade: Warband. Firearms have been introduced to the battlefield, opening up exciting new play-styles and options. Players can also utilize explosives for taking out groups of foes or to breach castle walls. In addition to the enhanced singleplayer mode, Mount&Blade: With Fire & Sword also provides a host of original multiplayer content including the new Captain Mode which allows players to control their own forces in online matches.

Cover shot

Features
•Introduces firearms
•Multiple endings for high replayability
•Enhanced siege mechanics: storm the castle, blow up the wall, bribe an officer or poison the well/food to get past the defenses!
•7 new multiplayer maps: Nomad Camp, Moscow Cremlin, Moscow Fortress, Novgorod Fortress, Swedish Castle, Teutonic Castle, Field by the River
•New Multiplayer mode: Captain. Up to 16 players can each command a squad of soldiers


System Requirements

Operating system: Windows 2000/ME/XP/Vista/Windows 7
Processor: 2.1Ghz or higher
Memory: 1 GB
Hard disk space: 900 MB
Video: Graphics card (128 MB+)
Sound: Direct X-compatible sound card
DirectX®: Directx 9c
3-button mouse, keyboard and speakers
Internet Connection required for multiplayer and Online Activation

Minecraft – Not your Average Indie Game.

I’ve been absent a while from Troll in the Corner and I think this game is partly why.  What game could pull someone away from writing for so long you say?  Well its a little game I like to call crafty, buildy, scary thingie. In other words Minecraft.

If you’ve never heard of this Indie game Minecraft I’m here to make sure that you don’t blind yourself when you get out from under that rock.

Minecraft is as retro style, survival, horror, exploration and building game.  Its pretty much Lego from a first person view, where you can make tools and build immense structures.  At night there are  hoards of zombies, skeletons, spiders and creepers that spawn and want to kill you.

The one that stands out the most and is a fan favorite is the creeper.  They often sneak up on you and do a kamikaze explosion as soon as they are close enough.  When they are about  to blow up they make a “SssSsSSss” sound that is like a fuse being lit.

One of the addicting qualities of Minecraft is the audible ‘POP’ you hear after picking up or destroying a block.  Its akin to the pop you might hear from bubble wrap.

I’ve been playing Minecraft since it was in the Alpha phase and its been a pleasure to watch the game and its fan base grow in a huge way.

Indie game developer Markus Persson (Widely known as ‘Notch’) created the game Minecraft in his spare time.  Eventually he was able to quit his job and live off the sales of the steadily growing games fan base.  The game became so popular that Notch was able to build a company fully staffed and immediately start work on another game.

Being in the alpha and seeing the game grow while watching Notch tweet his every move, was something I don’t know that I will get a chance to experience again.

Be sure to check out the game at Minecraft.net.  The creative version of the game is free to play.

I also did a small adventure spanning around 9 episodes on youtube.  Check out the first one below.

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gRJvT5lsYg8]

PAX East in review – my side of the table

PAX East has come and gone.  Throughout the entire convention we only managed to get out one extremely small podcast.  Why?  Because we were having too damned much fun, that’s why!  Here’s our first in a series of PAX East related posts. Today I’m going to highlight my experiences at PAX East, touch on the games we played, the people we met and what you can expect in the near future.

Inside the BCEC

Friday

Our first day at PAX East and it was raining cats and dogs!  We arrived at the BCEC bright eyed and bushy tailed.  Then came our first line.  Actually, we had to stand in two lines as we arrived.  We asked the first Enforcer we bumped in to where we needed to pick up our media passes and were promptly directed to the wrong line.  After a few minutes, we realized that things didn’t look right.  Searching out another Enforcer, we confirmed that the media line was not what we were in, and changed lines.

Waitin' in line - a PAX tradition

There was a bit of confusion on the first day as to where to go.  Lots of 3 day pass holders were in the media line and lots of media folks were in the standard line.  About 15 minutes later, a bunch of Enforcers came by and started clearing things up.  About 45 minutes later, we had our media badges and set off to take it all in.

The very first thing we did was head up to the press room to say hello to Tracy, who’s been working with me on this site for quite some time now, but who I’ve never met.  I’m quite sure Tracy will have a ton to say about PAX East as well, not to mention the folks he met, the items he has for review and lots more.

PAX East - the video game side of things

Next we spent the first two hours simply wandering around, looking at vendor booths in both the video game and tabletop game areas.  There was a lot to see and a ton of people seeing it.

Lunch was in order at this point.  We went to the secondary food court area and were greeted with carnival trucks and fried dough.  More than anything else at PAX, that took a moment to adjust too.  After we came to terms with carnival food crammed into an indoor food court (which was HUGE by the way) we found the other side, where such fare as cheeseburgers and pulled pork sandwiches could be found.

Tabletop area, from the skywalk

After eating, we wandered back in to the tabletop area, found an open table and sat down.  Being conference attendees and gamers, we broke open our swag bags and found the free, 30 card pre-made decks of Magic: The Gathering inside.  We broke these open and began to play a few hands. At that precise moment, I rediscovered my enjoyment of a game I haven’t played in 16 years. That is a story for another article though.

Heading back in to the tabletop area, I then participated in the largest game of Munchkin I’ve yet been able to play in.  Sadly for me, it was also the only game of Munchkin I’ve yet been able to play in.

Munchkin!

Again enjoying the utter disregard for the other players in the party feel of the game, I thoroughly enjoyed myself.    More magic was also played, with Scott and I expending a few bucks to increase our meager collection and constructing some of our own decks.

Then it was dinner time, and because we’re on the cusp of becoming old fart gamers and we wanted to make an early appearance the next day, we headed out to eat, collect our thoughts and get some sleep.

Saturday

Back just after 10am, this was our day of interviews, demos and podcasting!

Heading back in to the exhibitor hall.  The first booth we headed to was the Smirk And Dagger booth.  There before us, Curt of Smirk and Dagger fame had laid out a demo game of Cutthroat Caverns, and no one was playing!  Down we sat and play we did!

Cutthroat Caverns!

Cutthroat Caverns is a cooperative backstabbing game. The more of this type of game I play, the more I like general backstabbiness in games!  This game is built to simulate that strangling fear you first feel as a role player when you realize that your party may be more dangerous to you than the monsters you’re fighting. I didn’t win, but I did assist in getting the creator of this game killed of in our second encounter, which left me with a warm glow and a gentle love of Cutthroat Caverns.   So much so that you’ll be able to read a full review of the base game here on this site in the near future.

In short, it’s a game of balance – you’re attempting to be the party member who scores the killing blow against an interesting host of monsters, but you also have to ensure that your party survives, because without them, you aren’t going to survive to exit the dungeon with your new fame and treasure.

Cutthroat Caverns

Later that day I had the chance to sit down with Curt and record 15 minutes for an Old School podcast which will air a bit later.  We discussed his other games, including his line of parody games which I found to be hilarious.

Shootin' Ladders Frag Fest

Having children of my own young enough that I still log an hour or three a week on Candyland, I found these games refreshing – something I’d look forward to playing.  Shootin’ Ladders Frag Fest particularly appealed to me.  Billed as Halo meets Candyland, I’ll be reviewing this game for TC as well.

Wizards of the Coast had a huge presence in the tabletop area, with Steve Jackson Games, Fantasy Flight Games and Z-Man games also adding to the floor.  Speaking of Steve Jackson, did I mention Axe Cop Munchkin?  Can’t wait for that one!

Later, we wandered over to the Duke Nukem Forever booth and watched the playable demo for a while.

Come get some

It looked like some fun, but struck me as a day late and a dollar short.  Or perhaps, 10 years late and $60 too much.

We looked over the shoulder of people to see the Nintendo 3DS. It looks interesting but it’s not on my must have list of electronics.  Then, we found our way to our next interview.

We stopped by the Don Gusano Games booth and were able to snag Chris for a quick podcast about their new game, Quack in the Box.  This is a cool card game, written by an honest to gosh MD, which has the players as quacks, looking to make a quick buck and then flee to Switzerland with their ill gotten gains.

He doesn't just play a doctor at cons, he's the real thing.

The aim of the game is to earn as much money from your patients by ‘treating’ them for their maladies, without killing them off. Or at least, without killing too many of them off.  Kill to many and your reputation proceeds you, ending the game.  Don’t issue enough ‘treatments’ and you won’t make much money – cash is what you need to win.

Quack in the Box

We’ll have an in-depth review of Quack in the Box in the near future.

The rest of our day was spent gaming in the Tabletop area.  We met up with Wayne from Sages of RPG and a fellow gamer to play a quick round of Survive, played some more magic and generally soaked in the atmosphere.

Sunday

Sunday was our free day.  We arrived a bit early, and waited by the media entrance with six or so other media types.  It was odd that they wouldn’t let us in at the same time as the general public.  There were seven of us, I don’t think we would have overwhelmed the general public.  Be that as it may, we got in about 10 minutes after everyone else, and headed right to the Z-man Games booth.

We got to chat with the guys from Z-man for a few minutes about PAX East and the general state of gaming, and talk quickly about Trollhalla, Alf Seegert’s newest concoction!  Again, you’ll be reading more on Trollhallah here in a bit.

Omegathon Iperation!

After that, we hit up the Omegathon for a bit, to watch folks get suited up for the Operation tournament.  Yes, Operation.  And yes, they were made to wear masks, wash their hands and wear rubber gloves.  It was unspeakably awesome.  Seriously, don’t read this out loud.

Sunday was a day of wandering through the exhibit hall, seeing the sites and checking out everything we had missed previously. We took it easy, played a few tabletop games, grabbed some lunch from the carnival truck crew and due to family engagements, had to leave just after lunch.

My new friend

Critical Hits

  • First and foremost, the people at PAX East.  Everyone was just very cool.  There was some of the typical con behavior – people sitting in the middle of a walking area, some BO or just general uncaring about others. Honestly though, this was kept to a real minimum given the number of attendees – far smaller than other cons I’ve been to.  Just about everyone we met, vendors, booth personal and gamers were polite, inquisitive and out to have a great time.
  • I got to game for the majority of an entire long weekend, an experience I haven’t had in years. It was wonderful!
  • PAX East has a lending library of tabletop games.  Use it! It’s awesome!
  • The BCEC was a huge win for PAX East.  It may even have been a bit too big!  But I expect next year that won’t be the case as further word gets out and more people attend.  There were places were you could sit down in relative quiet for a few moments and gather your thoughts (or Magic cards) without interruption.
  • The Enforcers were, almost without exception very helpful, fun and enjoyable to work with.  Great job!
  • The lines.  Yes, the lines.  It’s part of the PAX experience I believe. While we elected not to wait in any of them, those who did, did so cheerfully!  Games were played, naps were taken, conversations struck up and most everyone seemed to actually enjoy their time spent in line for panels.  The official PAX Twitter feeds did a great job of informing everyone just how full the events were ahead of time as well.
  • PAX East is a great con to attend if you’re a video gamer, a tabletop gamer or some conglomerate of both!

Fumbles

  • The media treatment.  This was a bit strange.  Media pass holders had longer lines and strange restrictions on entering the floor causing at least a few media folks we met to miss interviews.  We all understand that Media pass holders did not get special treatment with concerns to panels and lines, which is perfectly fine.  But restricting 7 media badge holders from entering the floor while thousands of non-media pass holders stream by just seems kind of silly.
  • Tabletop gaming needs a bigger space!  Not a major fumble by any means but Friday and Saturday saw the free play tables overflowing, with lots of lost souls wandering around in a daze looking for a place to sit down and game.

What I’ll do differently next time

  • Next time I’ll take more pictures of the cosplayers.  There were some great costumes there!  Also add to this list booth folks, both men and women.
  • I’ll be a bit more willing to sit in a line for a while to see a panel.  Perhaps.
  • I’ll bring less netbooks and more games with me.

A gallery of PAX East

Here are a bunch of photos we took at PAX East. Check them out, if you were there, you may be in them!

[tags]pax east, pax, cons, conventions, rpg, role playing games, video games, console, 3ds, duke nukem[/tags]

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