Penny Arcade Expo (PAX) was held recently in Seattle. Fortunately Robot Viking’s roving reporter was there to bring you all the hot scoops. I explored the gigantic expo halls for the greatest loot, fighting off rabid fans and the occasional scary cosplayer all to get the greatest intel on the coming games.
First up on the list is Food Fight from Cryptozoic Entertainment. The game is flavored as a battle between foods over various mealtime battlegrounds. Different battlefields are worth different numbers of victory points, and correspond to different meals. Battlefields are tied to Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner. Every round three battlefields are dealt, stacking up if they’re representing the same meal. This occasionally makes some meals worth a lot more than others. Players choose the battlefield they will fight over blind, and then battle begins. The game plays similar to war, with each food having a yumminess rating and a rank. The yumminess determines who wins in a fight, and you can play instants to modify the yumminess of the foods involved. In addition to instants many foods have abilities that will boost other foods in your army. This adds another layer of strategy to a game that basically runs like war. Players make an army out of cards in their hand, holding back instants for later playing. A sample battle had a Taco Che Guevera making my Privates Yummier in order for my Yummy Privates to overpower my foes. It’s a great party game, designed to be played with large groups. I like it; I’m looking to get a copy.
A more high profile game from the same publisher is the new Penny Arcade Card Game: Gamers Vs. Evil. It’s a deck-building card game in the vein of Dominion, except instead of having Moat and Workshop you’re summoning Scrotums and Touching Wieners. Yeah, that last one’s great. Dirty jokes aside, the goal of the game is to get victory points. These come from fighting the boss monsters, and buying other cards worth points. The boss monsters are Penny Arcade legends, The Cardboard Tube Samurai and The Fruit Fucker Prime. Players choose characters that have different starting resources and special abilities. I saw at least eight different characters, allowing for many varied games. There are two different resources in the game, Tokens and Power. Tokens are bought with quarters and used to buy gamer cards, while Power is used to fight Evil cards to get Victory points. I’ve found that it’s common for the Gamer cards to be better support cards, capable of giving some pretty crazy resource boosts, and the Evil Cards to be good for points and charging up to fight the Fruit Fucker. I found the game to be pretty intuitive for people coming off of Dominion or other deck-building games, but the Strictly Video Gamers had quite a bit of trouble. I’d also like to thank the marketing reps at Cryptozoic for being some of the best informed of the demo folks. They really knew their games.
I’d like to toss in a quick shout out to the guys who made Monkeys with Knives and Guns, for creating the best (non)drinking game of PAX. They’re a small company, and it’s their first game, but I think they’ve got a potential hit for college campuses everywhere. The rules are simple, each player gets four monkey dice, each having six symbols. Banana monkeys worth one banana, Smart Monkeys worth two bananas, Thief monkeys that steal bananas from other players, Gun monkeys that can kill any monkey, and Knife monkeys that can kill any monkey except for Gun monkeys, cuz you don’t bring a knife to a gun fight. The rules are simple, killing monkeys negates them for a roll, and the goal is to acquire as many bananas as you can until you either hit the predetermined limit, or the floor. Now, I’m not a big proponent of drinking games, and Monkeys is not marketed as such, but it seems like it’d be a simple game for the intoxicated to understand. I’m throwing in a link to these guys’ site because they’re new, and have created a truly elegant game for all ages. You can find them here: http://blackballgames.bigcartel.com/. I wish I’d picked it up at PAX, but then I wouldn’t have been able to pay for parking.
Entering the world of miniatures, I finally got to play Privateer Press’s Monsterpocalypse, and found it brilliant. Also, they’re moving away from the random minis packs towards faction packs containing set minis from each faction. They don’t have all the factions yet, and I can’t remember which they have currently, though I can say that the apes are in the next release. They also have a new starter set that comes with all the dice and mats you need to play as well as two armies from random factions. The boxes contain two preset armies, chosen at random from a list of factions. For example: Every starter box Guard army is identical, but not all starters have Guard. I like this push away from random minis because I’m now more likely to buy them for their own game, and be able to use the minis for my RPGs as well. I think Ed has discussed the game before, so I won’t get into the details of gameplay.
The last game I got to demo was Super Dungeon Explore by Sodapop Miniatures. It’s themed as a hyper-anime table top version of Gauntlet, complete with loot and monster spawners. Gameplay is has one player acting as the dungeon, moving the monsters and trying to defeat the heroes, who are all adorable takes on RPG archetypes. The heroes goal is to destroy all of the monster spawners and defeat the dungeon boss. This is done by rolling special dice that reminded me a lot of the different levels of dice in Monsterpocalyse, though this game only has two levels of dice, not three. Red dice have more success symbols on them, and are therefore more valuable than the usual blue dice. Character stats are represented by red or blue boxes indicating how many of which dice they can roll for each action. Heroes get three action points per turn and can spend them on attacks and special attacks that may cost more than one action to do. For example, the druid can spend two actions to turn into a bear. If he does so he still has an action left to attack with his buffed up bear stats. Monsters function in a similar manner, although they often have fewer abilities. When heroes kill monsters they roll a loot dies that can get them more health, magic potions, or even loot cards that can add dice to their actions. The board comes with five interchangeable pieces to create a new dungeon each game, and it comes with a huge quantity of unpainted plastic minis (50+) so there’s always different hero combinations and always more monsters to fight. I enjoyed the demo I played. It’s a straight forward dungeon crawl with a easy to pick up system, my only problem with it is the price point. It’s a ninety dollar game. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a steal for that price, but it’s a pretty heavy commitment price-wise. It’s a great game, and it’s got a ton of minis that you can borrow for use in other games. Especially because they have the same base sizes as the old D&D minis. Hefty price of entry, but it’s all you need for yourself and nearly as many others as you want to play.
Those are the only games I got a chance to demo at PAX, but that wasn’t the only game related thing I saw. I did manage to solve the MTG scavenger hunt and get to their after party. I can say that Innistrad will be heavy on the classical horror, with Werewolves in green, Vampires in red/black, Zombies in black, and a new White Knight with protection from them. I didn’t get to stay for the challenges, a side effect of staying far from Seattle, but I’d like to confirm the existence of a card titled Wooden Stake, and that they’re perpetuating the Buffy myth that it’s easy to drive a stake through someone’s heart. These are all already up on Wizards’ site, so you could check it out there. Also, there was a mash up of Enter Sandman and Telephone.
At the Neverwinter booth on the expo floor there was a live action encounter with cardboard liches and giant foam dice. It was fun, my Rogue and Photographer Zach managed to critical on the lich and won a set of official D&D dice. Also Fantasy Flight was running demos of the Gears of War Board Game. I didn’t get to demo it, but it looks like it captures the essence of Gears of War. Two teams, one brown, one grey, take turns hiding behind chest high walls, firing ungodly quantities of ammunition into each others’ heads while trying to avoid moving. I really don’t see a lot of overlap between the hard core Gears Crowd and the pay-fifty-bucks-for-a-board-game crowd, but maybe they’ll surprise me. The minis looked great, very detailed.
All in all, PAX was a great trip, and I wish I could be in multiple places at once so I could see it all. Those of you with more detailed questions, I’ll be in the comments.