It’s been one week since PAXEast 2014. We’ve recovered, slept and wept over the lack of pure gaming awesomeness in our lives after 3 days of talking to devs, playing games, and uncovering hidden gems. For me, Sunday was a particular highlight, because I chose to focus the majority of my time on the IndieMEGABooth Tabletop offerings. I got to see games in action, play a few, and talk to the developers directly, which always makes the experience more memorable.
So, I figured for this week’s Unplugged, I’d fire of short, one to two paragraph reviews of the offerings of the Indie Tabletop experience at PAXEast 2014! Let’s get started!
A Western Gunfighting Card game with incredible development chops, being designed by guys that were behind Humans Versus Zombies (yes, that HvZ), and Cards Against Humanity. In this game, each player takes control of a posse, with the members of your posse forming your “health bar”. The goal is to physically shoot your opponents…with your finger gun. This can only be done if a gun is turned from the main deck, and each player has the ability to take cover in there gang’s hide out.
What this ends up creating is a very fast paced, very “game-y” card game with lots of slapping and lots of finger pointing. The artwork is great on the cards themselves, and there’s a nice variety of posses, each with their own special abilities.It’s face packed as well, and seems like a great game to play with friends…though alcohol probably wouldn’t be the best thing to mix into this…or any game involving gun-pointing and slapping…
Designed by Peter Newland of Mind the Gap Studios, Wizard Dodgeball is, pretty much, what it says on the box; dodgeball with wizards. The base rules are the same; two teams, 5 members a team. Two sides, grab balls, hit opponents with balls to get them out. If you catch a ball, the thrower is out and you bring someone back on the field. The difference of course here is that you can know set the ball on fire.
There’s a great mix of spells, abilities, and players which shows that Wizard Dodgeball has a great amount of customization and replayability, as you’ll be able to draft and build your perfect team. The majority of the games tactics come from the idea of turn based dodgeball combat: choosing who to take out and what spells to cast with who has a surprising level of depth.
Peter walked me through an entire game of Wizard Dodgeball, and the game is great fun. cards and mechanics are easy to understand. It’s got a nice simple aesthetic that makes things easy to follow, even when a ton of different things are happening in quick succession.
This was my first PAX as an exhibitor and being a part of the Indie Megabooth was just as great an experience as I had hoped. I only had enough time between games to set Wizard Dodgeball back up before someone else would stop to ask about it or sit down to check it out.
-Peter Newland, Mind the Gap Studios
Warlord and Sellswords
Gorgeous art will almost always grab my attention. The art in Nasty Dragon Game’s card game Warlords and Sellswords is absolutely stunning.While the game wasn’t on display, it sounded unique enough to get a mention here.
The point behind the game is to create an impressive army to earn the respect of the king. You can do this is a couple of ways: go big or go impressive. You either hire lots of little guys, or a couple of big guys. However, this king doesn’t stand for any shenanigans: there’s no fighting allowed…that he can see.
So, you’ll be playing tricks and backstabbing trying not to get caught the entire time. It’s a great setup that I really look forward to diving into later on.
These French Fries are Terrible Hot Dog
Clear winner of the “Strangest Name” PAX Award, and a real gem of the tabletops, T.F.F.A.T.H.D, as I am abbreviating it, is a brilliantly simple game, which probably why it works so god-damn well. The game is essentially, all about the sales pitch: one player, as the judge, flips a card that could have just about any word on it; TV, Bears, Vagina, Roller Coaster: you name it. Every player has two cards in their hand. It is their job to convince the judge that one of their cards, which they place face down on the table in front of them, is the same card as the one face up on the table.
Here’s the trick: they can’t say either cards word, and cannot tell a lie.
Shawn Pierre has created a brilliant game because it, very much like the next game in this list, relies on people telling stories. People think in different ways, and many of the cards in These French Fries (a far more sensible abbreviation) are ambiguous enough to give people some brilliant wiggle room.
PAX East was definitely the largest venue where I’ve showcased
Terrible Hot Dogs. People really seemed to love the game, and I’m
happy with how people reacted. People seemed to jump at the chance to
try and be creative, even if the process seemed intimidating at first.
-Shawn Pierre, Orgaminc
Finally, we have a brilliant game about not having a job. No, it really isn’t depressing, It’s brilliant. Like These French Fries, Funemployed is all about the players ability to tell a story. In the game, a judge will take the place of an employer, and each other player will have a hand of four cards. These four cards of your resume, and the cards are wonderfully ambiguous (See the above row next to the ‘gynecologist’ position).
You’re able to switch cards as much as you want, and there is a real sense of freedom in that you can use these cards absolutely anyway you can think of. You’re rewarded for your ingenuity and different players will have vastly different ways on interpreting the different cards. Funemployed is a solid party game that’s bound to become a regular among groups of friend who love card games, creativity and employment.
I’ve only been to PAX once before, and it was last year, and I wasn’t an exhibitor; I was an Attendee. It was a completely different experience. The Enforcers were great; We had great support from everyone, even the people we were next year! It was such a stark difference. Last year I was also demoing Funemployed, but it was such a big difference being on the convention floor.
– Anthony Conta, Urban Island Games
Unplugged is a reoccuring column looking at indie board and card games. Sometimes we’ll look at new Kickstarters, some times we will do reviews, and some times we’ll do interviews. It’s a grab-bag of board and card game indie goodness!