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Svarog's Den - Board Games

BGG Plays at PAX Unplugged ’23

by Candice Harris

The 2023 board game convention season has finally come to an end. My con season kicked off in July with PGC Con, followed by Gen Con, Strategicon (my local convention), SPIEL Essen, GMT Weekend at the Warehouse, and SDHistCon. Then I closed out the season strong with BGG.CON and PAX Unplugged. It has been a wild ride and I loved every minute.

On episode 32 of The BoardGameGeek Podcast, Tim Dolloff from the Board Game Hot Takes Podcast joined me to discuss a few of our gaming highlights from BGG.CON ’23. Shortly after returning from Dallas, I was back on the road to meet up with Beth in Philadelphia for PAX Unplugged ’23. Now that I’m back, I wanted to share a few photos from PAX, along with a video I created with footage Beth and I captured on our trip.

• The night before PAX started, Kids Table BG (KTBG) and Burnt Island Games hosted a media preview party and I got a small taste of How to Save a World from designer Yuval Grinspun. How to Save a World is science-fiction worker placement game, where 2-5 players compete as top-tier scientific researchers, developing plans to save the world before an asteroid kills the planet. How to Save a World has an interesting feel to it, since you are working with your opponents to prevent Earth from being destroyed, but at the same time trying to contribute most to whichever project saves the world. Burnt Island Games will be crowdfunding How to Save a World in 2024.

Prototype components

Legends of the Deep, the first expansion for Oceans, was a new release from Dominic Crapuchettes and NorthStar Game Studio at PAX Unplugged ’23. Aside from the gorgeous artwork from Guillaume Ducos and Tomasz Jedruszek, Legends of the Deep introduces cultural legends, high fantasy, and mythologies from around the globe into the Oceans ecosystem with minimal new rules, so it’s easy to incorporate with the base game.

Oceans: Legends of the Deep

Gricha German‘s Biomos looks and sounds super cool, so it was nice to find out it’s available on Board Game Arena (BGA) to try ahead of its targeted Gen Con ’24 release from NorthStar.

Cool components!

• While I was at the NorthStar booth, I also got a sneak peek of Dominic Crapuchettes’ Nature, which is modular game system that has some Evolution DNA and is highly customizable, so you can shape your game experience based on the players and how much time you have. With fewer traits and rules, Nature is less punishing for new players than Evolution, and is targeted for crowdfunding in Q4 2024.

Plenty of unique decks already…

Czech Games Edition (CGE) is now distributing HeidelBÄR Games in the United States, including Alexander Schreiber‘s 2023 release Time Division, which is a unique card game where 2 players draft and play cards to win control over an era by gathering the most influential character cards.

When I met with Nathan at CGE, in addition to Time Division, I checked out 2020 HeidelBÄR releases: Benjamin Leung‘s Fish & Katz and Győri Zoltán Gábor‘s Spicy. Spicy is a wacky, fun bluffing game for 2-6 players being relaunched by CGE. Meanwhile, Fish & Katz is a quick-playing, light game with adorable cat paws for 2-6 players, which will be available from CGE in 2024, along with Sweet & Spicy, which is a kid-friendly variant of Spicy.

Spicy bluffing indeed!

Adorable cat paws

• It was awesome to finally check out Luthier, a hidden bidding worker placement game for 1-4 players, from designers Dave Beck and Abe Burson, and Paverson Games, where you compete crafting various musical instruments. I love this theme and the gameplay sounded great too. Luthier is targeted to launch on Kickstarter in July 2024, and will feature art by Vincent Dutrait.

Luthier (prototype components)

Middle Ages is an upcoming re-implmentation of Majesty: For the Realm from Splendor designer Marc André, Studio H, and Hachette Boardgames USA. Middle Ages has been re-balanced and includes new art by Claire Conan, in addition to a mini-expansion.

• Beth Heile joined me at PAX Unplugged ’23, and we took a bunch of videos and photos to capture our experiences, including some quick interviews covering the following games: Ironwood (Mindclash Games), Lairs (KTBG), Earthborne Rangers (Andrew Navaro, Earthborne Games), Ace of Aces (Mr. B Games), Gudnak (Ian Oliver, self-published) Star Wars: Unlimited (FFG), Cascadia: Rolling Hills (Flatout Games), Whisperstone (Flatout Games), Molly House (Jo Kelly, Wehrlegig Games), Aqua & FORK (Ta-Te Wu, Sunrise Tornado Game Studio), Kinfire Delve: Vainglory’s Grotto (Incredible Dream Studios), Blueprints of Mad King Ludwig (Bézier Games), Way Too Many Cats! (Weird Giraffe Games), The Morrison Game Factory (Rita Orlov, PostCurious), and Arcs (Cole Wehrle, Leder Games).

Youtube Video

Hopefully you’ll discover some interesting new games through our video, and if nothing else, you’ll at least see how much fun Beth and I had in Philly together.

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