Boy is there a lot to unpack from PAX AUS this year, from the panels to the tabletop free play. Wizards had their usual presence, giving away limited edition pins for completing three challenges.
Unlike in previous years there was no MtG panel with exclusive spoilers and an insight into the upcoming set of cards. I spoke with Will Chan, Senior Brand Manager for the Asia Pacific Region, about why this was the case and other things Wizards are planning to bring to Australia in the future. Wizards really want to engage people with all facets of the game, which is why they have many different forms of play at their booth. It’s really unfortunate then that Battle for Zendikar just came out, so spoilers for the next standard set won’t be coming out until after Commander 2015. Having a panel just for commander would be great, but it wouldn’t be accessible for those players who aren’t into the format. With the new structure for set releases, it looks like we’ll be in the same boat next year as well.
However, there are plans to expand the types of activities at PAX AUS and I have some news about MtG on digital platforms. Magic Puzzle Quest is out now on Android and soon to come out on iOS. There is an update to Magic Duels coming soon, it probably won’t have cards from Battle for Zendikar but it will make play faster and smoother for those experienced players.
PAX may seem like a video game exhibition when you first walk in, but it is bigger and more extensive than that. A large chunk of the Melbourne Exhibition Centre is dedicated to all kinds of tabletop play. Exploring the tabletop area, I discovered something new.
The tabletop play area seemed like it was larger this year. This is probably due to it being reorganised and consolidated so that all the tables were together, not separated by retailers. There was lots and see and to play with, as well as many local developers showing off their dice, card and board games. I’m really glad I managed to get a game of Pathfinder in amongst the madness of the weekend. Of course there is still more to do at conventions than just play games all day.
I also had a lot of fun running around the convention centre getting to all the panels I wanted to see. Highlights were the Gaming Blind – Accessibility and Tabletop Games and Growing Local Board Game Design Communities. Both were exactly what they said on the tin, but I learned loads. In Gaming Blind I learnt about Syrinscape, an app that plays audio to help immerse players in the environment you’ve thrown them into and little things like providing enough space for people to move around the gaming table. The visually impaired will bring their helper dogs and a lack of space can make their attendance more difficult than it needs to be. It was really interesting to hear Aaron Lim and others talk about the kinds of things they did to grow their local board game design communities. It enforced how critical it is to join in with all the events that are organised to help our indie developers.
PAX is always a lot of fun and very hectic. If you weren’t there or missed out on seeing panels, there is a backlog of recordings on the PAX official Twitch channel and videos should be going up on youtube soon.
Hope everyone recovered from the dreaded PAX POX
(Special thanks to Xeniox Photography for the use of some of their pictures for this article.)