PAX Unplugged is always a bit different than other PAX’s. Walking around the show, at first glance you might assume that there is a lack of exciting new things. That’s really down to it being a board game show. When you’re used to the high octane world of video games with booming music and seizure inducing lights violently capturing your attention, board games just don’t do that.
The best way to experience most games is in a quiet comfortable space. After digging in, and slowing down, you discover all the hidden gems and fun to be had. Here are the things I discovered at this years PAX Unplugged.
Quirky Circuits is from Plaid Hat games, makers of Dead of Winter. It’s a cooperative strategy where you program a cat on a roomba. The game has a book of missions. Each mission you use a vehicle, in the beginning, a cat on a roomba. The cat has a deck of cards with inputs. Every card is used and distributed evenly amongst the players. All the players know the objective of each map. Usually this involves sucking up dirt but it adds new twists as you make it through the book. Without communicating, you lay down cards in order. Then when everyone’s done you reveal and move the roomba. You continue until you run out of battery. If you make it back to your dock before then, and complete all the objectives, you win the mission! A very fun game that works better than expected on first glance.
This is a game we found in the library but was immediately intriguing to me. It consists of cardboard numbers, 1-9. Each number is made up of squarses and they resemble tetris pieces. A deck of cards reveals the numbers in a random order. Each time a card is revealed you take that number and place it on the table fitting numbers together. The goal is to build up but in order to build on the levels off the table it must not have any gaps or overhangs. The scoring is simple, 1 level up is 1 x the number. The next level is 2 x number and so on. It takes 5 minutes to teach and you can play a round in under 10 minutes.
Crokinole is not a new game to me, but I spent a healthy amount of time at PAX playing it. This year they had the Philadelphia Crokinole society at the show and with the sponsorship of boardmaker Jeremy Tracey, had over 20 boards availbalbe to play. Crokinole is a dexterity game where you flick discs into a hole surrounded by bumpers. If there is an opponent’s disc on the board you have to hit that disc for your shot to count. It’s a game I describe as “harder than it looks” but instantly fun. I really hope PAX keeps bringing them back.