PAX Australia 2017 – Tabletop Roundup

Another year and another fantastic PAX!  Last year was the first PAX for our sister website Pixel Pop Network and I was very preoccupied with the digital side of things.  This year however, I knew tabletop gaming was going to be big.  It didn’t disappoint.

PAX AUS 2017 Tabletop Area. Packed!

While I’ll be going into greater detail over the coming week in a series of articles that covers many of the developers, publishers and wonderful gaming people I caught up with over the weekend and their respective games, I wanted to pop up a quick and general roundup of the weekend first.

Earlier this month, after hearing a few people question whether they should attend PAX if they had no interest in the digital half of the exhibition, I put together an article explaining why tabletop puritans should still attend.

Let me be clear here, PAX Australia 2017 was an absolute smorgasbord for tabletop gaming.

While Wizards of the Coast didn’t attend this year (we suspect a Hasbro specific event coming soon), Good Games kept the Magic: The Gathering flame alight with tournaments running all weekend.

Final War

Final War were the major sponsor for the tabletop area this year and they were back in force, demoing their tactical card game and running their Grand Melee Tournament consisting of a $50,000 prize pool with $20,000 of that going to first place!  Our own Harrison participated in the main event so expect a tournament report soon.  Meanwhile, check out some of the previous content we’ve put together for the game here.

Good Games Publishing were on site again this year and were demoing a number of current and upcoming titles.  Their hugely popular board game Unfair is due to receive a number of expansions soon, as is Monstrous.  Keep an eye on their Facebook Page as there is a lot of cool stuff coming later this year and well into next.

Last year I found some time to play GOONZ from Platypus Industries and had a great time (read about it here). I didn’t have enough time to sit down with the game again this year sadly, but I did catch up for a chat. Looks like plenty of tweaking and streamlining has taken place since last year and the game is hopefully set for a release next year.

GOONZ

The Tabletop Game Designers Australia booth was absolutely packed the entire weekend.  Every time I walked past it was a hive of activity with people playing games, talking about game design and sharing ideas.  As before, they were selling their famous showbag containing a bunch of cool swag, which I’ve always found to be of excellent value.  Matthew Lee from The Campaigner was at the TGDA booth offering subscriptions for his excellent printed magazine; expect plenty of new and exciting content from him in the near future.  I had hoped and planned to catch up with many independent game designers over the weekend but time was the enemy and I was only able to catch up with a fraction of who I had hoped for.  If you’re working on a game of your own and haven’t already, I strongly urge you to join the TGDA Facebook Group; you can find a lot of help from like minded people there.

One person I did manage to catch up with though was Laura Wilkinson from Parhelia Games, who is the designer and writer for the Altais: Age of Ruin roleplaying game. I’m a sucker for a quality RPG and right off the bat Altais had style. I stayed back Saturday evening despite an empty and protesting stomach to enjoy a session run by Laura herself. The game has completed it’s successful Kickstarter campaigner with backers receiving their copies about now. Those who missed out will be able to pick up the PDF or print-on-demand copy from DriveThruRPG very soon.

Altais: Age of Ruin

One stall that caught my attention was Tabletop Tokens who are making some simply gorgeous glass tokens for your favourite RPG or board game.  I was particularly tempted by their Arkham Horror bundle and I must say the RPG tokens look very handsome on the printed maps.  I spoke with Jen and Kit, the team behind Tabletop Tokens and was surprised to learn that Jen hand makes the tokens one at a time.  Definitely a lot of passion goes into making these.

While I was initially catching up with Matt and Sean from Savage Yeti Games to take a look at their new video game PatchWord, Matt also had a board game entitled The Stars Align to check out. The Stars Align definitely has an ‘Othello’ feel to it, but it’s far deeper than that in terms of strategy, despite the rules being fairly simple to pick up.  Easy to learn, hard to master as the phrase goes.  The game has already been picked up by publisher Breaking Games so we should hopefully see this one on shelves early next year.

The Stars Align

I managed to catch up with the good people from Banter Toys & Collectibles on the Saturday.  Banter are an Australian based wholesaler who supply a great many products to Australian retailers including Yu-Gi-Oh! and the Pokémon TCG, both of which we cover regularly on ATGN thanks to the product supplied by Banter.  Discussions were had regarding both product lines and 2018 is shaping up to be a fantastic year for both card games.

It’s always a pleasure to catch up with Allen and Alistair from Rule & Make.  I’ve known Allen since he began his journey and it always amazes me just how far they have come in just a handful of years.  After the resounding success of Hand of Fate: Ordeals the duo went on to reveal Terminator 2029 which presented an entirely new set of challenges.  I managed to catch up with Allen for a chat and that interview should be online soon.  More great things coming from this team in 2018.

Chatting with Allen from Rule & Make.

Many of you will be familiar with OzAnimart, another Australian wholesaler who are responsible for a number of TCG’s here in Australia, many of which originate from South-East Asia.  Force of Will, Cardfight Vanguard, Weiss Schwarz and Futurecard Buddyfight are just some of the games they supply to retailers all across the nation.  We managed to sit down with the team to not only discuss their current line of games but also the recently released Caster Chronicles and Dragoborne TCG’s.  While we’ve done some coverage of Caster Chronicles before (and keen for more) this was our first chance to get some hands-on with Dragoborne which looks really promising.  The artwork was great and the entire game has been tailored to western audiences which was very interesting.

Call of Cthulhu

The tabletop area this year was just as large as it was last year from what I could tell, with specific areas for role-playing, prototype games and tournaments.  Our own Ivan was running his wildly popular ‘edible games’ featuring Tim Tam’s, Tiny Teddy’s, jelly snakes and more.  Chaosium were present with their Call of Cthulhu RPG, likewise Paizo were also in force to promote Starfinder.

November 17th-19th will see the first ever PAX Unplugged take place in Philadelphia USA, a PAX exhibition that focuses solely on tabletop gaming.  Considering the strength of the turnout this year and the passion of those who attended I’d love to think we might see a similar event here in Australia soon.

Considering all that success and passion though, it was a little disappointing that the tabletop area wasn’t promoted better through social media, the website and the annual booklet which mostly referred to everything as ‘digital gaming’. I also was a little crestfallen when the announcer came on at the end of the day to announce that the main hall was closing for the evening and that gamers could move to the PC and Console gaming areas at the back of the hall, with not a single mention of the tabletop area (which was still very busy).  Hopefully as the tabletop scene continues to grow (and oh boy is it growing) we’ll see more attention allocated to the aforementioned platforms.

If you couldn’t attend this year, definitely start making plans to attend next year.  PAX Australia is definitely one heck of an adventure for a tabletop gamer.

For those of you who love digital gaming as well, check out my digital coverage of PAX on our sister website – here.  Otherwise keep it tuned in here to ATGN for more PAX Australia 2017 tabletop coverage over the coming days.

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