PAX Unplugged was our first experience involving our game and anyone outside of close friends. I speak for Eric and myself when I say that we had no idea what to anticipate. We had a few miscommunications when it came to where/when/how we were going to be able to play test our game. Obviously that was a major reason we planned to attend, so naturally that sparked some nervousness. Luckily through the coordination of PAX staff and those at UNPUB, we were in for a fantastic weekend!
I set up our game in the UNPUB room early Friday and Eric arrived shortly after I did. This was the first time that Eric and I were able to meet in person! We didn’t have much time to get acquainted as players blessed us by checking out our game. We were greeted by an online friend and celebrity in our eyes, Jack Eddy from the Cardboard Herald. Jack brought his entourage of fellow podcaster Rob and their friend Chris. Chris and Rob were able to play test our game while putting together an interview and video of their experience. Through a whirlwind of about 8 straight hours we were ready to get the kiddos settled in at the room where we were staying. After eating we spent an hour or so getting to know each other better and enjoying the success we had seen at the con.
The next day we were not guaranteed any type of time slot in UNPUB so we wanted to shortly check the main floor and play test other designers games in the UNPUB room. By the time that we came to the room we were greeted by John who was one of the UNPUB coordinators. He welcomed us to take a table and set up as they had more table space than the previous day. Eric and I determined that it was a good time for one of us to play test our friend’s games while the other would coordinate our table. I was lucky enough to play test a few amazing games at this point! Ritual is an awesome group game where everyone plays as a necromancer and has even chances for all players to come out on top. I fully took advantage as I won the game I was playing. Shapes is such a unique and amazing game as well! Shapes is sort of like a reverse Jenga. There is a triangle shaped platform and several 3D printed shapes of different sizes and colors. Upon your turn, you select a card that refers to a 3D printed shape that you need to finagle onto the base without knocking any other shapes off. With 4 game modes, this game was so fun and one of my faves!
Following our time in the UNPUB room, it led my favorite part of the convention! We met up with Jack, Rob and Chris who were joined by the famous Carla and Nick Kopp of Weird Giraffe Games. Eric and I participated in a 1 hour and 20 minute podcast that lasted till just beyond midnight. This was such a true pleasure, honestly, not just because we did a podcast. These people are truly special. If you ever had a moment where you met someone and felt as if you knew them your entire life, this was exactly that. Not a feeling that I am really familiar with personally. The experience was beyond refreshing and we shared laughs during the entirety of our time together. It hurts me to write about this now and know the distance that lies between all of us and hope that our time together again can be arranged sooner than later.
Sunday was the final day and as I said farewell to Eric, Sarah and I made our way back to the convention. Again I was able to play some awesome pre-published games while showing ours. Fire in the Library was incredible! I loved that I was able to pick up and within 30 seconds I knew exactly what I was doing. The fact that there is luck involved primarily with drawing cubes out of a bag, but you’re able to strategize beyond it to control the risk reward factors makes for such a nail biter! It is such a well thought out and enjoyable game for all kinds of gamers. I was lastly able to play Fire Tower. This game is destined to become a huge hit! With creative mechanics such as wind, and explosions I was really engaged with it. It was easy to learn and quite the hit on the table!
At this point we were pressed to begin heading home. In general, this was one of the best weekends of my life! I had such a wonderful time meeting new people and being able to share something that Eric and I worked so hard on was truly a blessing. We received so much love from all the play testers I was shocked. Eric and I literally have put our souls into this project and we can’t wait to get it out to tables everywhere. My wife deserves a huge shout out as she was primarily responsible for our son who made the trip with us. Her and Eric’s wife both did such a wonderful job with our children and keeping order amongst the chaos. Behind every good half, there’s a better half and Eric and I surely found that to be the case.
I can’t end this article without mentioning my experience with Eric. Eric, his wife and daughter were 3 of the nicest, kind hearted people I have ever met. Eric and I have talked once a week since April, at least we think it was April that we started working together, and have developed a great working relationship. It was this weekend that showed that truly that relationship has extended beyond just business. Eric and his family are my friends, and I am sure he feels the same. It is so relieving that our friendship could form over cardboard. That’s what I will take away from this weekend the most. Cardboard, Board Games, Card Games, etc is a community filled with some of the most genuine and caring people out there. This scene carries so much love and respect for one another it’s truly remarkable. I am beyond thankful to each and everyone that I encountered this weekend and I look forward to many others to come.