Sadly another PAX East has come and gone, but it was certainly a fun four days of gaming.
It’s hard to believe that it has already been 13 years since the very first PAX East (in 2010) and I’ve been lucky enough to attend them all.
While the show has gone through some changes over the years (venues, vendors and length), it continues to be all about the gaming. This past weekend gamers of all types flocked to the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center to celebrate their love of all-things board and video game related. By and large, the people attending PAX East are very friendly, welcoming and accepting and it is continues to be a fun and friendly experience.
One thing I particularly enjoy about this show (aside from it being about an hour car ride away) is that with its 50/50 split of both board and video games, there really is something for every type of gamer to enjoy.
In the early years of PAX East, I found myself mostly focused on the video game side of the con, but as the years have gone by, I have been drawn more and to the board game side of things.
While the board gaming experience is not as huge as the board-game only PAX Unplugged, PAX East has a ton to offer board gamers, with quite a few vendors, an unpublished game area where you can test out prototype games and give feedback directly to the designer.
There is an impressive (ie. massive, but well catered) board gaming library with ample free table play space available. The once plentiful (automated) mahjong tables of PAX Easts past have given way to by loads of finely crafted Crokinole boards. There are also all sorts of open tournaments, nightly mystery gaming events, UNPUB and a First Look area with recent hot board game releases along with knowledgable staff to teach you the games.
After trying out only a single board game tournament last year (Potion Explosion), I was excited to participate in MANY, MANY more this year. I tried my hand at Splendor, Clank, Ticket to Ride, Kingdomino, Ticket to Ride: New York, Patchwork, NMBR9, Strike and Next Station: London. I am probably forgetting a few….so many games.
Sadly I didn’t win any, but still had loads of fun and ran into a super nice couple (Jenn and Kevin) who I played with in last year’s Potion Explosion tournament and we chatted and bumped into each other all weekend long at the various tournaments.
Each night (except Sunday) they have the Thursday Throwdown, Friday Frenzy and Saturday Showdown events which feature a series of mystery games that contestants play. They experimented a few different formats for these this year. While it meant a late night, I think I preferred the format they used on Saturday night where players were not immediately eliminated after the first game and got to try out most of the mystery games.
Heck, even if you were to just check out games from the incredible PAX gaming library all day and play with friends (or strangers), you would most definitely have a blast at PAX East.
A couple of my co-workers attended the show for the first time this year, and both of them are already excited about attending again next year as well.
On the video game side of the house, there seems to be a gaining focus on Steam as the platform of choice and the presence of mobile has diminished greatly over the years, especially with the Indie MEGABOOTH folks ceasing operations and PAX’s often mobile-heavy Indie Showcase being usurped by the more PC-centric PAX Rising. The good news is that some percentage of these Steam titles eventually find their way to mobile as well. It REALLY makes me want to pick up a Steam Deck to be able to play ALL of these fun new titles.
One thing I look forward to seeing every year are the crazy booths. Sadly for whatever reason tinyBuild, which usually has a massive carnival/circus-like spectacle didn’t attend PAX East, but another company had a large wrestling ring, complete with two big dudes grappling and putting on a show for attendees. Everdell had a HUGE tree, there was a rideable dinosaur.
In follow up posts I’ll talk specifically about some of the titles that I saw at this years PAX (including the the cool digital board gaming platform, SOVRANTI) and some video game tiles that I believe/hope will be getting iOS ports down the road like Do Not Feed The Monkeys 2099, interactive puzzle game Paper Trail and the TROMA-tastic Double-Dragon-style beaten up game Toxic Crusaders.
All in all, PAX East was a lot of fun again this year, even if it still hasn’t fully gotten back to it’s pre-COVID scope yet…I am already looking forward to next year and a HIGHLY recommend checking it out if you live near the Boston area. (And if you live near Philadelphia….PAX Unplugged is AMAZING as well.)