PAX. PAX never changes. PAX South 2017 occurred pretty much as we predicted. Too many attendees and not enough Resident Evil House tickets or Nintendo Switches to go around. The details are trivial and pointless. The reasons, as always, purely economic ones.
Another year, another PAX South. Where to begin? As always, at the beginning.
It was dreary day in March 2016. We were finally able to buy PAX South tickets. Oh, not that far back?
Left on time and rolled into San Antonio late Thursday afternoon, missing nearly all the traffic. Off to a good start! Grilled burgers and had a jolly Thursday night, playing some Two Rooms and a Boom and many other games in the Casa de Cla$$ Act$. Too much Not enough tequila was consumed as we settled in for a long weekend with friends from all over Texas.
Friday morning found more of us than I expected arriving to PAX fairly early, and we made a beeline for the True Dungeon demo. The line was a bit long, but nothing we weren’t up to. A quick 30 minutes of playing dominoes in line on our 3DSs (didn’t finish the game, so I guess it was a draw) and we found ourselves ushered in to the True Dungeon. Or so we thought. Turns out we were just placed around a table with 5 other strangers and some reading materials. I made an effort to read the materials before my eyes wandered to the big screen, showing all sorts of elaborate puzzles and a rudimentary shuffleboard table. Finally, I thought! All those hours training at the bar are going to pay off! During this, one of our party got cold feet and abandoned us. With no reinforcements in site, we were lead in to our briefing room to be outfitted for adventure. Someone took the crossbow that was meant for our missing comrade, and then we were briefed on volunteering for True Dungeon at PAX South 2018 so that we can go to PAX for free next year. After that, we moved on to the next room, where we would learn the arcane symbols, leaves, how to pick locks, or how to fight. I was taken to the practice field where I thrust my mace token into my puck and struck the automaton. The automaton survived our round of attacks and clipped our monk in his foot. Livid at this injustice, the monk decimated the automaton. We then moved over to see what the others had been studying. Thinking I might get a chance to look at the lockpick gizmo, my hopes and dreams were broken upon the chassis of so many automatons before us. My disappointment quickly vanished as we entered the dungeon. I quickly surveyed the area and was greeted by an adventurer that was waiting for us in the lava temple. She appeared to be trying to acquire some sort of mace that I guess was important to her. Also, there was a magical forcefield on the exit? It was unclear to me why she couldn’t reach the mace, but a disembodied voice quickly explained that I should look around the room for clues. Still not convinced she wasn’t a lying bitch, I began my survey of the surroundings. I noticed some complicated symbols around the door. My fighter instincts kicked in as I realized I know how to beat the forcefield! I could bash it with my club! I was wrong. No matter how hard I swung my club it simply bounced off the forcefield. It didn’t even leave a scratch! I tried a dozen more times before resigning myself to its pointlessness. Luckily, thanks to the meditative drum beat of my club, my compatriots seemed to think they had solved the puzzle. I began to pretend like I was listening as they frantically pointed at symbols and began assigning numbers and stones to everyone. We began stepping on to the stones, one by one. One of my party had a little too much mead for breakfast and found his foot scorched by the lava. Luckily, it seemed he only needed one foot to stand on the stone, so he managed. They called my number and, with great gusto, I leapt on to my assigned stone! Nothing happened. Was it the wrong one? Was the one-footed adventurer not able to perform his task after all? Oh, I wasn’t the last one! The numbers ran down after me, 8, 9, but where was 10? That’s right! Our 10th had abandoned us! We were doomed! Sir one-foot surely couldn’t stand on two tiles. But wait! A stranger appeared from thin air. He had the same voice as the disembodied voice from earlier. He said he was there to help and stood on the vacant tile. We all gazed on in wonder as…nothing happened? The adventurer we found in the room returned to the head of the lava pool and stared perplexed at the mace – the same mace I still thought seemed perfectly accessible. We urged her to stand on an eleventh tile so that she could stand closer to the mace and perhaps get a better look. It seemed like nothing was happening, still, but, to my and her amazement, she reached out and brandished the mace! We had won! But wait! The forcefield was still active. I offered to borrow the mace which I assumed would release this vile magic, but when she raised it to offer it to me the forcefield vanished. She cackled gleefully and danced around the room before saying she would scout on ahead and see if it was safe. Before I could stop her, she was already through the corridor. I decided to inspect the stone while waiting for her return. Shortly, we heard an ear-splitting scream come down the corridor. I lead the sturdier of those among us as we rushed to the door to help. I saw nothing but a flimsy bridge over some lava, the mace, and some stones. I steadied myself to cross the bridge. I hate bridges. After finally crossing, I caught up with the party searching for the adventurer when what I thought was a stone revealed itself to be a lava worm! It quickly became apparent that this foolish woman had stumbled into the lava worm’s layer and had given the beast a taste for human flesh. Weapons drawn, we prepared for battle. Our wizard stood to the back and I muttered to myself about what a wimp he was. Nevertheless, I was confident we could win this battle. Our party attacked – one even striking the beast in what appeared to be its head. As I prepared to defend myself against its attack, I heard the wizard chanting something in the back before unleashing a flurry of ice. The creature looked dazed but unbroken. He struck while we were preparing for our next volley of attacks. After another attack, the creature shuddered and slinked away. I tried to pursue but was convinced to stay with the party. We continued on to the next room where we found glorious treasures to better equip ourselves before our next quest. A successful day of adventuring came to an end!
In conclusion, True Dungeon seems fun, and I would absolutely try the full version. That said, the demo was very dumbed down. I can’t imagine anyone failing either of the rooms. I did it a second time with the other half of our PAX crew and briefly considered trying to sabotage us, but I am confident that even with only one person actively working towards the goals we would have been successful. Maybe not against the worm. Oh, and that second time, the animatronic lava worm didn’t work until we were leaving the room. I felt very bad for the people that weren’t in the first group. At least the worm eventually worked and they could see it in all its glory. I should have taken a picture of it.
For the rest of Friday I wandered the Expo Hall, soaking in the sites, and playing some games. I watched as several Cla$$ Act$ participated in a Speed Runners tournament – two winning their round and advancing to the finals (only two could advance, as three of the four were competing against each other). I’ll leave the details of the Speed Runners tournament and the board games to posts from others.
We then returned to the house to prepare for a birthday dinner at Paesanos on the Riverwalk. Our waiter, Danny Ray, was extremely passionate about his wines and everything. We can’t be sure, but we think he may have also been on the lam or in witness protection. I had the catch of the day, which was blackened flounder. Also, as the soup of the day was lobster bisque, I obviously partook of that. It was an excellent choice. I think everyone enjoyed their meals and it made for a great time! I also got most everyone to try Campari. Didn’t really help settle my stomach like the amaros I’ve had, but I do think most felt a little better after trying it.
After dinner, we left to find a bar on the Riverwalk. You would not believe how hard this was. We were a big group, which didn’t help, but I was surprised to get turned away from at least one place because we weren’t going to eat. Not to be deterred, we found a bar slightly off the Riverwalk and had a drink or two there. We then split up with half the group returning to the house and the other half hanging out on the Riverwalk until the concerts ended for the evening. Very nice of the half that stayed. I probably would have stayed for another drink, but I was not feeling good.
Back at the house, we played some games, including Good Cop Bad Cop and Monikers. Both rounds of Good Cop Bad Cop I ended up starting on the team that eventually lost, but moved to the winning team before the end of the game through having evidence planted on me – once by myself (sayonara, bitches!) and the other time by the Kingpin herself. In this game, everyone is dealt three cards – the 4 types of cards are good cop, bad cop, agent, and kingpin. If you have the agent card and the kingpin card, you win. Congratulations Trump! If you have the agent card, you’re the “main” “good” guy. If you have the kingpin card, you’re the “main” “bad” guy. For the rest, if you have more good cop cards than bad cop cards, you’re a good cop. And…you get the idea. Cards are placed face down in front of you and then essentially people decided to look at someone else’s card on their turn or get a gun. Apparently in this police precinct none of the cops are armed, normally. Anyway, the good guys want to kill the Kingpin and the bad guys want to kill the Agent. These two players can get shot twice before dying, while the regular rank and file can only sustain one shot. Jolly good times. The first round, I found a defibrillator and resuscitated the Kingpin. It became apparent that wasn’t going to be enough, so I planted some incriminating evidence on me and the idiot good guys took me back. The second round found me on the good guys and my team was getting exposed. It looked like it was all up to me, when the Kingpin planted a pallet of heroin on me, so I tased a no-good good cop, took his gun, and took aim at the Agent. A few rounds later, the Agent found himself so full of lead that he was using, well, you know.
After that, when the rest of the group returned, we played Monikers to try and get the creative juices and booze flowing (mostly booze). In this game, everyone is dealt a hand (8 cards I think, but it doesn’t matter) and keeps 5, discarding the rest. All the kept cards are shuffled into a deck. I’m pretty sure all the cards were nouns, but, again, whatever. One of the players on whichever team goes first is given the shuffled deck and they have one minute to get their team to guess the title of as many cards as they can without using any of the titles’ words. Play passes back and forth between the teams until all cards are gone. My team won this round by a good bit. The second round uses the same deck of cards, but the clue giver can only say one word. Again, this can’t be in the card’s name. Hope you were paying attention to all the cards in the first round! Again, we play until there are no cards left. Again, my team won by a good bit. Enter the third round, where you can only act out the card. Eesh. Hope you have an amazing memory! My team didn’t do so hot this time, but won by enough in the first two rounds to eke out a victory.
Probably debauchery continued, but I don’t remember any specifics. I do know I was up until about 4 AM. Presumably we weren’t weaving baskets.
Enter Saturday morning. The early morning crew graciously got up extra early to try and get my dumbass to PAX so I could be one of those first 64 to the Resident Evil House. Thanks so much! Anyway, rolled in on top of the world at 9:30 – a whole 30 minutes before the floor was opened. Saw a short line and I knew I was going to make it! Oh, that’s the line to see Penny Arcade draw a comic? No worries! I’m sure the floor line won’t be too bad. Oh. Wait. What? Thousands of people bashing around plague-ridden dice-shaped beach balls. Oh well. When in Rome. I made the mistake of touching one of the beach balls. I am scheduled to have my arm amputated next week. When the gates were eventually opened for our line, Michael and I rushed to the Resident Evil House. Ha. Probably at least 128 people there when we got there. C’est la vie. Maybe we could go get in the Switch line. Double ha! We went and played Direlands in the tabletop area. I’m sure we made his day when he thought we rushed to his booth. After some short instruction, I think Michael understood the game better than the guy demoing it to us, but I’ll leave that for his PAX report.
After that, we wandered, played some games, and ended at the Retro Arcade. Underwhelmed by the two pinball machines – one apparently not working – we spied the 6-player X-Men cabinet in the corner. We scared off the kids playing and took over and even managed to beat the game! X-Men defeated, we abandoned that cabinet and found the Windjammers cabinet! There were some close games between those of us that played (I’m better at watching Windjammers) and we learned of a Windjammers tournament they were having at 2. David considered entering, but we ended up heading to…drum roll please…
The Tower of the Americas! Wow. What a view. And they had drinks that came in wheels! We ordered both wheels – one some cherry infused Manhattan concoction and the other a dill infused gin concoction. Both were very good. The gin cocktail was very refreshing, but I did prefer the cherry infused Manhattan drink. Jesse even boldly asked if we could have the cherries from a second wheel and they ended up complying. Very tasty! Anyway, the drinks were honestly more reasonable than I expected and it was a fun, relaxing time.
At this point, we headed back to the Expo Hall. Most went to the miniature painting table, but I went and looked at hats with the founding members of Hat Club, Jesse and Erin. I was sure I wouldn’t find a hat, but it was something to do. The hat vendor was much busier than when Jesse had picked his up – clearly, he’s quite a trendsetter! Well, long story short, I found out I was wrong when I learned the rogue hat wasn’t locked in the brim up position, and now I’m in the Hat Club. We even have a secret handshake. I don’t feel at all self-conscious when performing it. It’s perfectly normal and acceptable!
We then played some Random Encounters in the table top area. Again. Check out Michael’s review when it comes out. Long story short, it’s quite fun.
After that, we made our way to the Yard House for dinner. It was very busy, but their beer selection was good and most of us were even able to find a seat at the bar while we waited for our table(s). I had their house IPA while we waited for a table. It was a solid beer. At the table, I ordered a half yard of Young’s Double Chocolate, which was a good decision. We also got a couple orders or duck wings for appetizers and Oh. My. God. Duck wings are delicious. I knew duck was delicious and guess I shouldn’t have been surprised, but, wow! Anyway, I had some halibut dish which was also very good. I think the other table had terrible service, though, and wasn’t as happy with the experience.
From there, it was back to the house. The new game tonight was Mysterium. We won. I’m still unclear on the game exactly, but it was like Clue meets Dixit? I don’t know. I guess we found the killer or something. Or we’re ghosts? There was definitely a ghost. Some other games from earlier in the weekend made a return. And more booze. We somehow had some left. Probably not any tequila, though – I think we killed that the first night. After Friday night, people figured out they needed to drink heavily to have a good night’s rest.
Last day at PAX saw most people heading home. After packing up the house, a skeleton crew went off to PAX. I spent most of this day trying board games with the developers and Michael, so you’ll get the skinny on that in his report. I guess I will mention the Crowd vs Grand Master chess game panel we went to. Umm… The crowd was mostly dumb. They let all these twitch morons participate or I’m sure we would have schooled the grand master. We did manage to not lose in the hour allotted to the panel, so we got to count it as a moral victory. And for all I know, we might have won if we hadn’t ran out of time! Who could say?
So, that’s it. PAX in a nutshell. Well, maybe a very large nutshell. Like a coconut? I hope you’re still with me. It’s not even 5 full pages.