Five years ago, a crack commando unit was sent to San Antonio by a military court for a crime they didn’t commit. This group promptly escaped from a maximum-security stockade to the Henry B. González Convention Center. Today, still wanted by the government, they survive as soldiers of fortune. If you have a problem. If no one else can help. And if you can find them. Maybe you can hire… The PAX-Team. Dun, da, dun. Dun, dunn-dunnn!
Wow. Five years. Five PAXs. What can be said? There have been a lot of great memories over the years. What’s your favorite PAX moment? It’s hard to say what mine is, but I keep coming back to Two Rooms and A Boom in year 2. Lightning in a bottle. Although I know it wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea. You know what wasn’t my favorite moment? Bus nachos. Also year 2. I still fear that I’m living on borrowed time.
Anyhow, enough reminiscing about the past. This is 2019! Let’s talk about what went down at the fifth annual PAX South!
This year’s motley crew saw the return of Bobby, the introduction of Jess, Matt fly down from Seattle, Drew, Michael, Patrick, and myself. All for what is sure to be the second best event of 2019. Maybe third. All for what is sure to be a top five event for 2019. 2019’s going to be a crazy year.
So, Thursday night. I got into town with Michael and Patrick first and we quickly got settled into the house before heading out in search of dinner. Our search was pretty futile – it looked like maybe the Pearl Brewery would save us, but they were just closing down. We did walk by Cured after that, and while it didn’t seem like a good option that night, I’m wondering if it was and am certainly interested in planning for it. Anyway, we threw in the towel and headed for HEB to get groceries for the weekend and for dinner.
Bobby and Jess were in town at that point and Drew was close, so we all met at HEB to load up on junk food and beer. Except their junk food selection wasn’t super good and their beer selection was worse. Anyway, lord knows we didn’t need a lot of junk food and beer, so we were fine. We also made sure to get paper towels.
Back to the house! We ate a little bit and got the drinks and games flowing. As usual, the first night was the crazy party night. Patrick’s booze gummies were a hit and I was thankful for the leftover rye he had used to soak the orange gummies in as it was a perfect substitute for simple syrup in our old fashioneds. So many old fashioneds. We had some help, but Jess and I basically killed that bottle of Sazerac on day 1. Off to a good start! One other highlight, when I said the HEB’s beer selection was bad, I mean it was so bad that Matt and I both got a 40 of Olde English and had a race. I won. Well, I won the race. Not sure if that’s “winning”. Charlie?
Friday arrived and it was off to the races. Jess made some delicious breakfast for everyone and Bobby made some awesome bloody marys for those so inclined. Feeling recharged, we began our walk to PAX. Early on the walk I sensed something was off, but couldn’t quite put my finger on it. It was eerily foggy and we could barely make out the Tower of the Americas, but that wasn’t it. As we got closer and I felt the stifling presence suffocating me more and more I realized what it was – the city was overrun with scooters. It was like a zombie movie, but with scooters instead of zombies. Oh well. How bad could they be? It’s not like they could bite me. Or so I thought.
After arriving at PAX, we all split up like it was a horror movie. I made the rounds of the expo floor to see what was worth checking out. I didn’t see anything I had to check out at PAX, but made a few notes on things to look into after I got home (I haven’t, yet). Those included Foundation – a PC game that reminded me of Banished, Classic Game Fest in Austin, and Furious Seas – some pirate VR game. Also, the Capcom booth killed it, as always. Also, as always, I wasn’t willing to wait in their line. But I did snag this pic (PS: the Resident Evil 2 remake is amazing. PPS: I like Resident Evil a lot and may be biased).
After circling the expo floor I ran into Michael and we tried, unsuccessfully, to find the board game vendor. We did eventually find it later and they did not have what he was looking for, but I seem to remember their booth being bigger in the past. And maybe not just the one. We made our way back to the booth for the game he was trying to buy (Gen 7) and sat down to demo one of their other games, Comanauts, with a friend from work.
When Michael first mentioned Comanauts to me I made a joke asking if it was like Innerspace. Apparently I wasn’t too far from the mark. Anyway, we played Comanauts for probably 30-45 minutes before relinquishing our seats to the next group wanting to demo it. It’s a story driven game where you’re exploring the mind of some scientist in a coma to save the world. You roll dice to keep things random and help provide you some direction for your turn. It seemed to me like you would play it once and be done (not necessarily a bad thing) and it would probably take a while and lent itself pretty well to putting a pin in it and coming back in a future session. And maybe I’m wrong on it being a one and done kind of thing. Anyway, it was alright and I could see it being entertaining with a good, dedicated group, but I’ll leave the detailed write up to our resident board game reviewer. I played as a teddy bear.
We then made our way to the board game area to rendezvous with everyone else. From here (well, technically Thursday night) the games we played are kind of a blur. I’ll mention some I specifically remember where they fit in and give an overview of the others at the end. Make sure to let us know if you specifically want reviews on any of these! I expect they’ll all get reviewed here at cvgc.net, but maybe we can prioritize some based on your feedback!
After playing some games, I went to the Yard House with Patrick, Drew, and Matt. It was a good time. I forgot to use my gift card. Matt, shamed by losing the Olde English race, one upped me by having a half-yard of Jai Alai to my 20 oz. Matt was definitely picking his battles. And winning. Although he still did drink the Olde English.
Drew was headed back to PAX for a panel (or maybe the concert) and Bobby, Jess, and Michael were also at PAX – also for panels, I think. Matt, Patrick, and I made our way back to the house. We tried to use scooters, but we couldn’t check out more than one at a time with the app and Patrick’s phone was dead. Seems like a pretty stupid restriction, but what do I know? I don’t run a billion-dollar scooter rental company. We did make it to a Specs this night for some proper beer and should definitely try to remember that the HEB near downtown has no craft beer. Anyway, back at the house we played some more games, had some more drinks, others arrived, and we did more of the same. I think we played Joking Hazard this night. But it might have been the night before. Who knows?
Saturday came and it was True Dungeon day for Michael and myself. I had a quick breakfast of coffee and we summoned an Uber to get us to PAX. And it was probably a good thing – the line to get through the metal detectors was crazy long. Did I mention they added metal detectors and limited us to one entrance this year? Well, they did. The line moved a little faster than it seemed to at first and we did make it with time to spare, but we were a little worried about making it in time for our True Dungeon slot for a little bit.
Once again, I’m going to say that there will be a proper True Dungeon report. And I do think I really mean it. Writing this in January instead of May will help with that. I also still intend to finish up the True Dungeon 2018 report. I have some really great material for it. And this year’s. I won’t spoil it too much, but suffice it to say that we didn’t all die this year (spoiler: we all died last year). Michael and I both found the production values to be a little better than in 2018, but some searching found mixed reviews from other attendees. I’m sure the whole experience is extremely dependent on the volunteers and your group, so maybe we got lucky. Although I don’t remember any real problems with the volunteers last year. And the group was mostly us last year. Oh… I get it.
After True Dungeon, Michael and I met up with our co-worker (ok. His name is David. Not to be confused with Big D who was unable to attend PAX this year. Again). Michael and I met up with David and headed to Schilo’s for lunch. And boy was it packed. We abandoned Schilo’s and headed to a Mexican joint for lunch. And boy was it packed. We abandoned the Mexican joint and went to the Republic of Texas for lunch. We were seated immediately. Their chips and salsa were very good, but the rest was unremarkable. It was better than the food at PAX, but probably not worth the journey. Michael and David were going to catch some Pokémon, so I headed back to the convention. By myself I started to realize that the scooters preyed on those not in a group. I tried to group up with some PAX-goers around me, but they were too interested in protecting themselves. It seemed like I was probably going to make it, but then a scooter that someone threw on the ground reached out and bit me. I had already wanted to throw the scooters in the river, but now I was even more committed to this idea. I didn’t. And it probably would have been bad for the river. But boy were they annoying. Basically no sidewalk at places. Like the one where I half-tripped on the scooter. They’re a plague. Anyway, I guess I didn’t turn into a scooter.
Back at PAX I picked the worst possible line, but I did eventually get back in. And then I met up in the table top area, played some games, and then we went to the Tower of the Americas for a nice drink. I split the manhattan wheel with Matt and it was quite good, as always. Patrick and Drew split a mojito flight which also looked very good. They once again refused to open the manhattan wheel, stating they just refill it for the next guest. I didn’t press it, but may stay away from that in the future. I can’t believe they reuse them. I’m sure it’s fine (definitely not worse than bus nachos), but how is that not a health code violation? Anyway, part of the tower was reserved for some lame group which sucked, and they wouldn’t let us have apps and drinks in their nearly empty restaurant at 3 in the afternoon for impossible to understand reasons, so we ended up with two tables. And also the waitress forgot to take Jess’s drink order. It was not the best Tower experience. The calamari and hummus were good, as always.
At some point on Saturday I got to play Bobby’s new game, Pixel Glory, with Drew, Bobby, and Jess. Pixel Glory is a dungeon crawler card game where we were all wizards working together to clear out the dungeon and also competing for the most fame. The art was reminiscent of Boss Monster, and I kept thinking of it in terms of Boss Monster, but it really wasn’t all that similar. Anyway, I think Bobby may be best suited for a review of this, so I’ll call it there. We also played Someone Has Died. This was a creative storytelling game where one of the players is arbitrating the deceased’s estate and the others get cards to help lay the foundation of their story and relation to the deceased and then they have to convince the arbitrator that they’re the most deserving of the estate. I do think I’ll do a review of this one. Well, more of a recounting of what I remember from the game. It turned into a massive paragraph in an already massive post, so I’ll post it separately. One thing worth mentioning is that someone asked to take our picture playing it because he knew the game’s developer, so that was neat.
That’s probably about it for Saturday at PAX. Matt, unfortunately, had to turn in early due to having to get to the airport super early Sunday morning so he could get back to his lovely wife. Hopefully she can come to PAX next year! Kim, if you’re reading this, please come to PAX! Anyhow, back at the house, we watched a video on how to play Bobby’s Mega Man game. We decided to give it a shot Sunday, which didn’t end up happening (it’s a long game!), but I’m sure we’ll get to play it at some point! We did play a quick game of Secret Hitler, which I recently got for my birthday and was hoping to get to play at PAX. It’s a hidden role game, a lot like The Resistance. I think in some ways it was easier to play than that and flows a little better. We also didn’t get very far down the Fascist track (thank goodness!), and that definitely mixes things up. Like killing players off during the game, which would probably be less fun. Anyway, I know not everyone likes these kinds of games and that some people can be total assholes about playing it "wrong", so thanks everyone for playing it! I would piss people off immediately by playing it “wrong” if anyone was like that in our group. I’ve probably said too much, but I’ll stop there so that the full review can be more suspenseful if anyone is so inclined.
Sunday, our group had a record turnout to PAX, with Bobby, Jess, Drew, Michael, Patrick, and I all being in attendance. Sunday’s are always a little more casual, as things are winding down and most of the exhibitors are undoubtedly ready to be done. Drew and I played a demo of Dice Throne while the others were at the miniature painting booth. Honestly, I didn’t think Dice Throne looked like something I would like, but I had a lot of fun playing it with Drew and ended up buying it. It’s kind of a Yahtzee fighting game? I’ll do a full write up.
After that, we had several games demoed for us and got in a few games – one that Patrick was hoping to get to play at PAX and had been eyeing all weekend, Fireball Island, Drew finally got to play Flamme Rouge, and we also got in a game of Expancity (which Matt had been eyeing – sorry you didn’t get to play, Matt!). We also got a group picture Sunday (again, sorry Matt – we need to remember to do that earlier in the week!).
And with that, our PAX was over. We did stop at the In-N-Out on the way home, so that was nice. Those are good burgers, Walter.
Now, for a quick rundown of (some of) the games we played:
Joking Hazard – Cards Against Humanity, but with comic panels.
Imaginiff – A game where it’s apparently funny to call Big D a dirty t-sip just because he’s not there. Silly comparisons like “Imagine if Woot was a truck. Which would he be?”, list a handful of options, and everyone votes.
Telepaths – Team game where you and your partner right down words based on gut reactions to a word or drawing and get a point for every item you both write.
Secret Hitler – Hidden role game where the fascists are trying to pass a bunch of fascist policies or elect Hitler as chancellor. The liberals are trying to enact a bunch of liberal policies or, you know, kill Hitler.
Clue Lost In Vegas – Clue. The spaces are bigger, so it does go faster.
The Manksy Caper – Mostly a press your luck game where you’re trying to steal all of Big Al Mansky’s valuables. Or blow up his house ;-)
That’s Not Lemonade – Press your luck game where you want to get lemonade and not that’s-not-lemonade.
Flamme Rouge – Programming race game. Pretty simple race game and I liked the slipstream mechanic. I bought this one.
Comanauts – I covered this one above in more detail, but storytelling Inception-like game.
Pixel Glory – Dungeon crawler where it’s everyone against the board, competing for the most fame. Bobby or Jess will probably review this one if you ask them nicely.
Colt Express – Programming game where you’re robbing a train. And trying to shoot and punch the other robbers. Bang bang pow!
Downforce – Racing game with interesting mechanic to move the cars. Also pretty simple, but I personally preferred Flamme Rouge. We talked about this feeling a bit Mario Kart-ish and like a good candidate for Mario Kart rules. Looking it up since then, we are absolutely not the first people to think of this and several people have published their own rules. And apparently the Mario Kart Monopoly pieces are perfect for it. If it’s that important to you that everything is Mario Kart.
Photosynthesis –You’re growing a forest, trying to harness the power of the sun to grow your trees while blotting out the sun for your opponents to steal their precious energy. It’s pretty cutthroat, but also somehow super chill, still, thanks to the theme. At least after the first few turns. At least I thought so. But I was doing pretty well, too. Kind of in a Takaido sort of way?
Someone Has Died – storytelling game where you’re trying to convince the arbitrator why you deserve the estate of the deceased. You’ll get cards to tell you who you are, how you know the deceased, and provide a little more flavor. The arbitrator will make up the deceased and what their estate is. Poor Tony…
Fireball Island – You’re trying to get as much treasure from the island as possible before it explodes. When it explodes, it spits marbles everywhere, perhaps knocking you down. Players (including you) can also help the marbles along the way to try and impede the competition. Get to the chopper!
Expancity –You’re building a city both out and up and get secret contracts to work towards to get extra points.
Dice Throne – Like I said in the write up, Yahtzee fighter? I’ll do a full review. I had fun playing it with Drew, but probably mostly bought it because I thought it would be fun to play with my brother.