Welcome to a massive recap of PAXU! It was another great year of the show. Games, vendors, pin trading – the works! All smiles all weekend long. So grab a cup of your beverage of choice, pull up a comfy seat, and check out aaaallll these PAX highlights.
Just want to see all the games I got to play at PAXU? Check out my first round of new-to-me games — New To Me December 2023 Part 1
First, some notes about the show itself:
Some Expo Hall Photos!
Next, some highlights from my meetings with publishers!
First up, on Friday I stopped in for a quick chat with Chris Solis from Solis Game Studio, who was looking for reviewers for Space Lion: Divide and Conquer and Pocket Paragons: Acquisitions Incorporated. We geeked out a little bit about how awesome Space Lion looks (awesome components), so I’m really looking forward to checking it out!
Pair of Jacks – On Saturday, I started out by speaking to the famous Jeff Johnston from Pair of Jacks Games about Campfire Smokeout, which I’ll be reviewing. The game is a simple, 18-card game for families about moving smoke around the table and trying to make sure you aren’t the one who is “smoked out” by the campfire. Jeff would love for the game to be played in campgrounds across America! So if this seems like your kind of theme/game, make sure to check out the review coming soon!
Next up, I dropped into the Rabble booth to meet George Li in person! I’ve worked with George before, having reviewed both Rabble and Misconceptions, so it was neat to put a face to the name. George showed me a few different games.
—Sync – A password-type party game about giving clues to your team, but also being able to do some betting to steal clues, which sounds neat.
—Sparks – A conversational game inspired by the stars where the cards lead you into having meaningful chats about the past, present, and future.
—Lovestruck – An upcoming social deduction game themed around cheesy reality dating shows (which I am definitely a sucker for).
All of the games looked really cool and seemed to have a unique vibe, which I can definitely appreciate. Looking forward to learning more about Lovestruck once it’s out!
Next, I sat down with Ross Connell at North Star Games, who game me a rundown of a bunch of their current games, as well as some upcoming ones.
Eila and Something Shiny – A story-driven adventure game that looks super cute, but also has some twists and dark turns as adventure turns to danger. The player(s) will gain traits, items, and more throughout the game to aid them on their journey as well. The game looks awesome and I definitely hope to try it out sometime!
Paint the Roses – A co-op logic puzzle game where players are trying finish the garden before it’s off with their heads! The game has a bit of auto-balancing with the push and pull of racing to outsmart the Queen of Hearts, and overall it seems like a really neat, intuitive little game.
Inheritors – This one is a climbing game where players are competing to be the new heir through completing quests/objectives and vying for cards in the central market. I’ll be reviewing this one, and I’m looking forward to checking it out!
Oceans is getting a new expansion – Legends of the Deep – which has minimal rules, but the cards are high impact and will have big powers for gameplay. The cool thing about this one is that they hired artists from different regions to do all the art!
Nature is going to Kickstarter in 2024 about evolving species and adding traits to them, which has a very streamlined modular game system where you can add in only the decks you want to play with that suit the people you’re playing with. You have options for more aggressive play, more defensive play, and so on – super customizable! Again, there is a focus on light rules, but high impact.
Finally, Biomos should be coming to GenCon in 2024, (but is on Board Game Arena now!) and is about terraforming planets and creating patterns to score points. It definitely looks cool, so I’m excited to see it once it’s out!
Next, I spoke to Derek Funkhouser at Wise Wizard Games. Right before the show, WWG announced the addition of their Wacky Wizard Games line, for lighter family or party games. Derek said that it felt like a very natural progression for the company. They wanted to keep Wise Wizard as their more strategy game line and add Wacky Wizard to give a home to some of the lighter games they get pitches for.
The line will start with 3 releases next year: 1) Star Realms Academy: A 6+ version of their deckbuilding game made to teach kids math. 2) Pack the Essentials: A 1-4 player polyomino game about packing your suitcase with items…and cats! and 3) Caution Signs: A telestrations-esque drawing game where players have to use a noun and adjective to draw something very quickly that works with both words
Derek also told me about the expansion to Sorcerer that’s coming out that makes the game cooperative, and he mentioned it is a very difficult co-op, so check that out if you like a challenge! We also chatted a bit about the new Star Realms things coming out, including the legacy game, and after our meeting, I took a look at the demo for Robot Quest Arena, which looks like a really cool game, with adorable little robots!
Next, I met up with Court Sakmar and Carter from Thames and Kosmos and got a rundown of their new games as well as a bunch of upcoming games!
Dragonkeepers is a set collection game where players are manipulating cards that gave off a little bit of a Fluxx vibe where rules and such are changing throughout
Ingenious was also reprinted and, while I’m not big on the game, it looks great!
Belratti is coming next year which seems like a mix of Dixit and Just One about giving picture clues for players to follow the theme, but having to guess which card is from the deck and not a player
Vendetta is going to be an immersive ARG in a box where players are rewarded for really getting into the roleplaying of the game. It’s a “one and done” type of game, but will not destroy components, and will have multiple endings players can aim for!
Nunatak: Temple of Ice is a super cool set collection, tile/cube placement game where players are building upwards (sort of a vertical Carcassonne). I got a chance to play this in the First Look Area, and it was great!
Finally, Dodo is coming out next year which is a kid’s game with a bit of a Fireball Island vibe, where a big “egg” is rolling down a hill, and it’s a bit of a memory and dexterity game.
Next, I stopped by the Strange Machine Games booth and demoed Ogre Sandwich with Darius Hambleton, who was nice enough to give me a copy to review too! The game is definitely tricky, because the wooden pieces are all different shapes and sizes. But it’s also really fun to try and stack your sandwich super high!
Next stop – Kess Entertainment to check out their upcoming game Sonic Roll with Lauren Yu. It’s a semi-cooperative game so you want to work together a little, while still trying to have the best score. You’ll be rolling dice to collect rings and move around the boards, eventually getting to the boss cards for the final battle! It looked really cool and thematic, so I’m hoping to get a chance to review it early next year!
From there, I met Jess Carrier from Thunderworks Games who showed me their upcoming game Metrorunner, which is going to Kickstarter January 16, 2024. This game looks absolutely incredible. Jess told me it’s a project that’s been in the works for 6 years now, and it’s finally coming out!
It is a worker placement/worker movement game with a Tsuro type mini-game puzzle in the center of the board where players do all their hacking! It has a neon glow look and has players working to complete contracts, and move up various tracks as their influence and notoriety grows. I can not explain how excited I am for this game, it looks so cool and it definitely seems like a game I would enjoy mechanically too.
Jess was also nice enough to give me a copy of Tenpenny Parks and Dawn of Ulos for review, so I’m excited to feature those on the site too!
Next, I did a short interview with Jason Anarchy from, you guessed it, Jason Anarchy Games. I’ve featured a bunch of his games on the site before (Your Friend is Sad, Millennial Manatees, Self Careless, Cheese Factory) and I’m excited to feature the Self Careless Cat Deck and Reap soon too!
Jason told me all about how he’s been making games since 2011! We talked about Reap a bit too, which started with his desire to work with artist Kelly Bastow again (who did a great job, honestly!). He said it’s a bit of a reskin/advanced version of Heck, and the game is really dear to his heart, he said, and it’s his favorite game of his to replay.
Next year, Drinking Quest has a new expansion coming out which includes a sidekick system (an ongoing joke of sorts in the series), and he has a few unannounced things coming too. Jason said he loves doing funny/comic games and team-ups, and just making games that are good, plain fun! And I think he succeeds at that!
The next publisher I visited was Japanime Games, where I spoke to Ryan Schoon. Ryan and I agreed that a lot of their games are overlooked and underrated, so we wanted to bring some attention to them!
I’ll be reviewing Heroes of Fairytail – a puzzley/matching sort of game that has some really satisfying combos; CHAINsomnia – a horror game where players are trying to wake up sleeping children from nightmares (a bit of a Betrayal vibe, with anime); and Sushi Boat – a memory, set collection game with some seriously incredible production value! Keep an eye out for all of those, coming soon!
The penultimate publisher I met with with CGE, where I met up with Nathan Meunier who showed me a bunch of stuff!
We talked about the games CGE is bringing to the US from their partner, HeidelBÄR Games. First, Time Division – a 2 player duel where players draft rom an 18-card deck to then play cards and use their values and abilities to score points. There are 3 era decks in the box, and you can play 1, 2, or all 3, depending on the length of game you want. We also agreed it seems like a game that’ll be easy to do some expansion decks for in the future!
Second, Spicy – a simple bluffing card game where players can lie about what they’re playing, but if they’re caught, they’ll have to take more cards in hand.
Then, we looked at Kutna Hora which is a city-building, economic game with action selection. Everything you do effects the economy, which seems like it will make for some really interesting gameplay! I thought it was also cool that the player pieces in this game are made from recycled wood instead of plastic- eco-friendly!
Nathan also showed me 2 games coming out next year, which include a family version of Spicy and Fish & Cats which comes with the most adorable little paws! For now, keep an eye out for the reviews of Spicy, Time Division, and Kutna Hora!
And finally, I made a quick stop at the Asmadi Games booth and spoke briefly to Chris who was kind enough to give me a few games for review. I’ll be checking out One Deck Galaxy – a solo/co-op civilization building game, Red7 – a ladder climbing, hand management game with some player elimination, and Aegean Sea – a heavier civilization card game, which I’m pretty excited about. Can’t wait!
Thank you again to all the publishers who took time to speak with me – you have no idea how much I appreciate it! 🙂
Want to see all the games I got to play at PAXU? Check out my first round of new-to-me games — New To Me December 2023 Part 1