Holy Crap I'm going to be at PAX East on Saturday with the Zombie Orpheus Entertainment booth!

It looks like I’ll be attending PAX East after all. This Saturday at 11am until 5 or 6 in the evening, you can find me at the Zombie Orpheus Entertainment booth, #1014 in the corner of PAX East, just by Rockstar Games and Chessex.

I’ll be helping my ZOE (and Dead Gentlemen) friends out with their booth supporting JourneyQuest, Gamers: Dorkness Rising and all of their other amazing projects! ZOE will have their DVDs available at the booth! If you haven’t sat down and watched Gamers: Dorkness Rising or JourneyQuest and you read this site, you owe it to yourself to check them out.

Please stop by and say hello if you’ll be at PAX East on Saturday. I’d love to meet you, chat a bit and perhaps give away a few of my gaming PDFs.  Alas I ran out of print inventory at Total Confusion and haven’t had a chance to get more in.


Old School Podcast – Interview with WotC

I had a great time at Pax East, as I said in my post on the matter. What I have been remiss in doing, since then, is getting the audio content that I captured out to you, our readers and listeners. Well, I am rectifying that immediately.

The first bit of audio that I am putting up is my interview with Kieran Chase and Chris Perkins of Wizards of the Coast. I had a good, 15 minute-long conversation with them about what’s going on with D&D currently and what they see happening going in to the future. The best part of the conversation was just that: as we talked, it felt much more like a conversation than it did an interview, and that’s just the way I like things.

So, without further ado, I present to you, the audio. As the days go on, expect my other interviews and recordings to surface here on TC. There’s some good stuff, I guarantee it.  Some of that good stuff includes WotC talking a bit about their lack of PDFs and what they will be doing about it.

As always, this podcast is available right here, through DriveThruRPG and on iTunes.

[tags]rpg, rpgs, dungeons and dragons, podcast, convention, pax east, interviews[/tags]

Old School Podcast – PAX East with Smirk and Dagger

Welcome to the second of our two Old School Paxcasts!  Podcast interviews recorded at PAX East in March of 2011.  Today’s episode features an interview with Curt Covert from Smirk & Dagger games.

To read more about PAX East, check out what Tracy had to say and also my review.

Smirk & Dagger Games have a wide variety of slightly evil games available, and I mean this in the best way possible.  Cutthroat Caverns is the game that we sat down at and enjoyed a three encounter demo.  We also watched a quick demo of Hex Hex XL, a hot potato style game. With hexes and changing rules.  Run For Your Life Candyman and Shootin’ Ladders – Frag Fest are two related games where you get to shoot the crap out of gingerbread men.

Shootin' Ladders - Frag Fest

We will be featuring in-depth reviews of Cutthroat Caverns and Shootin’ Ladders – Frag Fest in the near future here on Troll in the Corner.

Here’s a gallery of my unboxing of Cuthroat Caverns :

As always, this podcast is available right here, through DriveThruRPG and through iTunes.

[tags]podcast, smirk and dagger, cutthroat caverns, pax east, board games, card games, rpg, convention, interview[/tags]

Old School Podcast – PAX East with Quack in the Box

Welcome to my first of two Old School Paxcasts!  Podcast interviews recorded at PAX East in March of 2011.  Today’s episode includes a brief overview of PAX East and Don Gusano Games’ Quack in the box.

To read more about PAX East, check out what Tracy had to say and also my review.  Follow the link to my review to see pictures of Chris and crew plus our game of Quack in the Box.

Quack in the Box is available from Don Gusano Games.   Be sure to check out artist Len Peralta as well, who did each and every illustration for Quack in the Box.

Here’s a quick overview of Quack in the Box, along with a gallery of images taken as I unboxed the game.

If laughter is the best medicine, then this game is an overdose! Take on the role of an unscrupulous quack doctor in this satirical, fast-paced card game where profit trumps prognosis. Whoever earns the most money wins — but it you kill too many patients, an angry mob will come after you!

Absolutely no medical knowledge required to play, although this game will tickle the funny bone of your favorite health professional.

Quack in the Box is available right now!

As always, this podcast is available right here, through DriveThruRPG and through iTunes.

[tags]quack in the box, don gusano games, board games, card games, pax east[/tags]

Pax East 2011 – A Critical Success

I feel like I’m in a relatively unique situation. Not only did I just get back from PAX East, at which I had a fantastic time, but my one-year anniversary as a writer here at Troll in the Corner came up just a few weeks ago. Thinking about Pax through that lens has given me a different perspective on the event. So bear with me; if this becomes long-winded, I promise that you will find a point to all of it. If you just want to hear about Pax East, then skip down a few paragraphs.

About a year an a half before I began writing for TC, the guys at Penny Arcade worked with Wizards of the Coast to produce a series of podcasts that recorded their experience with D&D 4e. I’m sure that many of you out there are already familiar with it, but if you’re not, they bear listening to; they’re good and fun. When they came out, I hadn’t been gaming for a few years and those podcasts combined with the group I was gaming with to make for some good sessions.

Fast-forward to roughly a year ago. I found Ben’s post on reddit asking if anyone wanted to become a writer for his blog. I had checked out TC a few times before and thought it a fine blog. I sent links to some articles I had written for blogs of my own that never panned out and he liked what he saw. I started writing for TC and the rest, as had been said before, was history.

As I have mentioned before, when I began writing here, the only systems that I was familiar with were the systems whose initials are both D and D. I had only ever rolled d20s to determine the outcome of the actions for my character or for the monsters I ran for my players. A few months after my first article posted, I went to Origins.

The road that I have traveled in the last year, through articles, through conventions and more games than I can count, was one that culminated at Pax East. Aside from being a really, really good convention, it basically summed up my gaming life in three amazing days.

First, the nuts and bolts of the convention: the organization. For a convention of this size, over 60,000 unique attendees over the three days, things were organized very well. There were long lines, of course, and you might have a hard time moving through heavy crowds, of course, there was no pushing, shoving, cursing about the state of the lines and there were always volunteer Enforcers on hand to direct you and help in any way you might need.

Second, the events and organized activities. The panels that were available offered a good variety and covered every aspect of gaming, from the playing side of both video and tabletop games to the gritty business of writing and publishing both of those types of games as well. I managed to make it to two really excellent panels. The first was about house rules and stealing from other games, run by the fine folks from Critical Hits and At-Will. (You’ll find the audio of it at that link). The second was about running a long-term game. And I’m not talking about trying to get your players to game for a year straight, I’m talking about games that have gone on for 16 or more years. Fantastic.

The third aspect that makes or breaks any convention is the atmosphere in and around the convention, plus the people that make up the body of attendees. In this area, Pax East excelled. Both the atmosphere and the people were up there with the best that I have ever experienced at any convention that I have attended to-date. The vast majority of my time at this convention was spent sitting and talking with fellow gamers while waiting for another game sessions to start. We had some great conversations, and I even managed to record a few of them.

The shining jewel was the gaming. The Tabletop area was phenomenal. I got to play in two great games and run a session of my own. There was an openness to the gaming there that made me warm inside. At any point in time, people would be walking by the gaming tables, looking at what other groups were playing. More than that, the groups at the tables were more than happy to explain the game or even invite the passers-by to join in of there were open spots. I don’t want to crown a winning game convention or anything, but I can safely say that Pax East is another “must-attend” convention for me.

And what does all of this have to do with my one-year anniversary? Everything. A year ago, I was sitting in my own little gaming shell, largely ignoring the world outside of the d20 System. Now, I have played in or run well over 10 different game systems and I have expanded the horizons of my gaming in ways that I honestly never imagined would be possible. More than that, I have discovered that the gaming community at large is a diverse and varied group that possesses a generous spirit, the likes of which I have rarely encountered in my time on this world. I went from being just a dude who plays games with his family to a dude who writes about games and has opportunities to play games with amazing people from all around the world. This transformation was embodied for my by Pax. If you are a gamer looking to meet and game with a host of fantastic people, then I can recommend to experience more highly. (Although GenCon and Origins are pretty great, too).

[tags]rpg, rpgs, role playing games, tabletop, conventions, Pax[/tags]

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


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.


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.


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 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!


  • 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]

We’re at PAX East!

PAX East is here!  And where there! Or here!  At PAX East!

Want to see what’s going on moment to moment?  Check out Ben’s twitter feed and Tracy’s twitter feed!  Also use them to get in touch with us at PAX should you want to meet up, drink or game.

Check back in at this post for updates and watch the site for news!  If you’re there and would like to say hello, here’s what I look like:

For anyone interested, here’s my tentative schedule.


10am: 4pm: Gawk like a 15 year old boy at the Playboy mansion.

5:00pm: “Get Inside Magic: The Gathering” at the Merman Theatre.

Currently getting my butt handed to be in Munchkin!
6:30pm: “House Rules and Stealing from Other Games in RPGS” at the Merman Theatre


11:00am: I’ll be at or near the WotC booth

1:00pm: I’ll be in Indie Alley.

4:00pm: Publish your Own RPG- And Don’t Go Broke Doing it! – Merman Theatre.


1:30pm: D&D Virtual Table is Here! – Merman Theatre.

Update from Tracy – I have had a great time so far. I’ve spent most of my time today in the Open Tabletop area, relaxing and shooting the breeze with a few different groups of gamers. So far, I’ve not had a chance to actually play anything today, but I expect that to change tomorrow.

Additionally, I’ve got meetings scheduled tomorrow with WotC and Steve Jackson games, so you can expect some audio from those events.

I’ll say this: absolutely great atmosphere. If you ever have a chance to come to Pax, do so.

[tags]pax east, gaming, rpgs, role playing games, board games, conventions[/tags]

The blog, it is empty!

Well, not quite – but there’s not much going on around here this week.  Why?  Well PAX East, that’s why!

A bunch of us are preparing for the convention by doing all of our standard, pre-convention rituals.  Packing, sacrificing chicken(McNugget)s, fantasizing over bumping in to Steve Jackson in the loo.

Tracy’s even lost the ability to swear correctly on Twitter – we’re all terribly excited!

So if you’re going to be at PAX East, we’ll see you there amongst the throngs!  If not, stay tuned to TC for a plethora of updates, reviews, interviews and podcasts streaming through the ether during and after the con!

Also coming to TC in the near future, reviews of Untold, Trollhalla, & Ascension.

[tags]gaming, pax east, rpg, board games, cons, swearing[/tags]

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