PAX East – Day 4 (and home to PDX)

After a difficult Saturday, I hit Sunday with much more energy. I knew what I wanted to do – interview more people, play more prototypes, and get the most out of my day that I could!

I got myself a yummy breakfast, then checked out of my room, leaving my bags in the luggage store, then headed to the convention centre for my last day at PAX East 2023. I had seen people queueing outside since 7.30am, which I found odd, as the event only opened at 10!

When I headed over early just in case, while there were no lines outside, I ended up in a different queue – this time, it was inside the building!

There was a person with a boom box, playing silly dance tunes like the Vengaboys and Cotton-Eye Joe, weaving their way through all the people in the line, and I got some cute Ion Design stickers from another person, then we were let loose into the Exhibitor Hall for the final day of PAX!

My first port of call was to interview a few people before things got too busy, so I headed over to see what Liz Roche had to say about Gather Round Games and the Tabletop Co-Op, and bought myself a copy of KÖ-ØP because OF COURSE – who doesn’t love games about flat-pack furniture and relationships?

Next, I sat down and learnt how to play Don’t Llama Dice (and obviously bought the standard version in a moment of exquisite ADHD/ODD after hearing the salesperson say the dice version of the game was better).

Next, I explored a different part of the exhibitor hall and found so many cool things that I had just completely missed – in future, I will be as methodical as I am with craft fairs, and make sure I see everything. I honestly think I was completely overwhelmed by all the stimuli and needed to escape this part of the hall at first.

I finally found my new friend Ronnie and got her to give me a tour of the Norse Foundry booth:

Then I was browsing for more minis when I noticed that the vendor had a French accent, so I made a fun bilingual video to promote their upcoming Kickstarter – the Deluxe RPG Stat Tracker was such a cool idea so I asked the folks at Monster to walk me through it – in English AND French! If you want one, it’s coming to Kickstarter soon!

After my walk, I decided to see if there were any games at Unpub that needed a player, and I timed it just right to join a game of Power of the Pack by Amy M. Ho. Amy made the whole prototype by hand, and also illustrated it, and while there are still a few tweaks needed to get the gameplay exactly right, as you would expect with a prototype, this game is going to do really well. It’s cute, it’s not hard to learn, there are multiple paths to victory, and she has given each dog thematically important characteristics that make the game feel really special and personal. I am very interested in seeing where this game goes!

As I finished giving my feedback, I saw a message from Ronnie, and set off to meet up with her out at the food trucks. She had just finished eating, and so we decided to play a quick round of Crokinole, which I have never played before. I knew I would love it, and I did – it has a lot in common with pool, one of my favourite dexterity games, so I was absolutely thrilled to find that it was something I could add to my wishlist.

I also got to chat with some people from Tracey Boards and learn about how best to buy a board, how to store them, and what you need to play Crokinole in different settings. So I got an excellent grounding in the game and how it works!

Next, I headed back to Unpub and remembered to get a selfie with Heather O’Neill! Then, I played a game, Chosen of Aerataas, where they weren’t sure if they wanted me to take and share photos because the art was a placeholder that they didn’t have the rights to use.

The game itself was another game I wouldn’t normally have played – they were tested one room in a campaign, where you have a certain allocation of dice that represent your XP, HP, etc, and you fight opponents as a group. I got to be helpful by pointing out that there were a lot of assumptions in the game asset layout, teach, and terminology that didn’t allow for players who were unfamiliar with the genre. The other thing that irked me was that I rolled to receive a shield token but it only applied for that round, even though I wasn’t actually attacked. It felt like something I should either roll for and immediately use if I was attacked, or else it shouldn’t expire until it deflects an attack, because in order to roll for it, I lost the use of a die. I think it is very much of its type, but as I wasn’t familiar with the type, I hope I was able to point out some things they could address to make it more accessible for other players!

The next prototype I played was Defend the Village, a hectic, frantic, real-time tower defense game.

You play as either the Monsters or the Villagers. As the Monsters, you place or move a card at every beat of the metronome, with the arrows of each colour matching the lines in each path. Meanwhile, the Villagers are trying to roll dice as fast as possible to match and beat the Monster card. It’s wild, and fun, and stressful. I am keen to see where this game goes, it’s got a lot of potential – especially with the sense of doom that the metronome gives you!

After this game, I decided to pop back past Tabletop Tycoon and let the staff know how much Sarah appreciated their enthusiasm, and I got a picture of them and a much better video.

Finally, I tracked down Danielle Reynolds in the PAX Together room with Tabletop Gaymers, and got an interview with her, too. I recently got a copy of her game, HERSTORY, although I should have bought it at the convention so I could get it signed, dammit.

I got to spend a bit of time hanging out in the nice, quiet PAX Together room, getting to know Danielle and finally feeling at home BEHIND a table, haha. And then I headed to my hotel and picked up my luggage!

Even though I knew it would be a mission, I kept my promise to myself to try to save money where I could and caught the free bus back to the airport – except that there were no escalators DOWN. A nice man helped my with my bags and got me through the gates into the station, and then I was on my way to Boston airport! It was hard managing my bags again – I couldn’t let them go to check which stop I needed, for example – so I was pretty glad when I finally made it and got my suitcase checked in.

I decided to pay to upgrade my seat to an exit row after the torturous flight over – I am now confident again that I can operate the exit doors – and it was absolutely worth every cent. I had so much space, no cramps in my legs or back, and I could really enjoy the view out my window, too! 100% worth the investment.

They don’t feed you on flights anymore, and the cheese snack pack I ordered wasn’t huge. I did discover that they had amazing #limecrystals for my tomato juice, though – those things are delicious!

I was very grateful to get home to PDX and back to my wonderful husband – the best part being that, because we are so close to the airport, he could leave when I landed and be there by the time I had collected my luggage, so no parking costs! And no waiting at the airport, late at night. Luckily, he’s a night owl, so I was confident he would still be awake to come and get me at 11pm.

While I was away, George put up our whiteboard again and added a special “welcome home” message. And there’s really nothing like coming home to a warm family welcome – this made me tear up a bit.

“Welcome home Cat/Mum! Love George, Sha, Loki, I DOG (Lizzie)”

I got some really amazing PAX loot – quite a massive haul, and all good things – including the very last cool PAX jacket in my size! I was glad that George liked the PAX beanie and the D100 that I got him, that was a bit nerve-racking. My husband is one of those people who are VERY hard to buy for – he has very specific tastes and doesn’t need or want much.

So that was my PAX journey, I hope you enjoyed reading about it! It took me a long time to get it all written up – just in time to leave for Reno and the GAMA Expo, haha!

Published by Drayer Ink

Artist, designer, ideas person

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