Monday, April 09, 2012

PAX East 2012

I just finished attending the 2012 edition of PAX East. I was staying with friends who live in Reading, MA. I went on my own to PAX on Friday and went with one of my friends Saturday and yesterday. Here are a bunch of pictures that I took this year.

This is my second PAX convention. In 2007, I went with Lemming to PAX in Seattle. In case you're interested, here is stuff I wrote about that one. I wrote several blog entries about the 2007 PAX, and the entry to which I just linked includes links to my other entries.

PAX now has a lot more tabletop gaming than it used to, which is good for me. I split my time between 3 main areas: the main exposition hall (which focused predominantly on video games of various sorts), the tabletop gaming area (which was a much more peaceful place to be!), and a retro gaming room that blasted 80s music and had a few old arcade games I really like. I didn't bother to go to any of the panels or concerts. I also didn't bother to get any autographs, though yesterday I did accidentally walk near the Jonathan Coulton line when it was short. I considered getting his autograph, but I didn't have anything to sign, didn't want to pay for a poster or whatever, and ultimately decided I didn't care too much---and hence didn't want to make somebody who did care wait longer while he dealt with me. I did consider bringing back his autograph for others, but I didn't know if anybody wanted it without doing it in person (which is a bit different from getting it in person). I wish I had remembered to look carefully at who might be at the convention beforehand, and then I could have asked in advance.

Two really cool aspects of the expansive tabletop area were (i) that I could try out lots and lots of games I didn't know (some of which are new or even not out yet) and (ii) I got a chance to play some RPGs. I was in two games of Pathfinder, which is basically Dungeons & Dragons 3.75. I enjoyed both games, but I liked the first one better. We all played goblins in that adventure, and I apparently was the only player in the entire con who played the particular character I got intelligently. The DM was very good, and the other 3 players were fun people. I tried out lots of board games and card games (some of these were technically in the main expo hall rather than the tabletop room), and I ended up buying two of them: Miskatonic School for Girls and Puzzle Strike (and an add-on for it). The former is an indie game, by the way. I really enjoyed both of these when I tried them out, so I bought them. As a long-term source of enjoyment, Puzzle Strike easily outshines the other game, but MSfG is still very fun, and it is pretty simple and will be good when playing people who don't want to think much about strategy. Puzzle Strike is a boardgame incarnation of console game Super Puzzle Fighter, except it replaces twitch skills with Dominion-like skills. It is very cool.

I finally tried dragon dice. Even the simplified version on display was way too complicated for my tastes. It's a cool idea, but it's not for me.

I saw some really cool gaming dice, including some large and heavy ones made out of metal. (One d20 cost around $50 in a couple of cases.) There were also some dice made out of various crystals. There was one particular family of dice made of iron, and these had some gorgeous etchings. They come from a game called Irondie, but they were being sold by themselves due to their prettiness. It would be a bit expensive to buy the game and it seems like it would be almost impossible to find someone with whom to play (based on what would be needed for two people to play it), but I am very curious about it---and I absolutely adore the dice that go with this game. I didn't buy any of them (only a small number of individual dice were being sold), but this is something that I would like to investigate further in the future.

There was a wide variation in which booths had helpful people and which didn't (for both the tabletop and video game areas). For some of the video game booths, the exhibitors ignored me and just played games on their own even when there was almost nobody visiting their booth. So I left. They obviously didn't want 'customers', so my curiosity about their game waned rather quickly. If I were more than mildly curious, I would have stayed. The Steve Jackson Games people were among the particularly helpful ones. I have a special promo Munchkin card from the convention that I will use in my copy of Munchkin Quest, though I sadly was not around that booth when Felicia Day was there giving out and autographing special Munchkin: The Guild cards. (That happened on the morning of the first day, and I started my day off in the main expo hall because that closed at 6pm every day, whereas the tabletop area was open much later than that on the first two days. Also, the tabletop area was a really nice place to escape when things got too intense in the main hall.)

I tried some indie video games, and some of them were pretty cool.

There's a lot more I could write, but this entry is already very long. My Galaga skills are still there, which I am pleased is the case. There was a copy of Galaga in the main hall, but I didn't get a chance to play until a few minutes before the main expo hall closed on the last day. I got 2/3 of the way to the high score on my first life, but then I had to leave the room. The wiring is definitely still there, though!

Anyway, take a look at the pictures, and let me know if you want me to comment on anything else.

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