PAX Prime Primer: Your Guide to Tabletop Gaming

PAX Prime 2011 will be taking over Seattle, WA this weekend, but while all the cool kids are busy checking out Borderlands 2, Counterstrike: GO, Battlefield 3, and Star Wars: The Old Republic, you’ll find me rolling dice and taking names. So come, my geeky brothers and sisters, and let us take a sneak peek at what awaits tabletop gaming fans at PAX Prime.

Exhibitors

Cryptozoic – (Rooms 309 & 310) – In addition to their upcoming games The Walking Dead and Food Fight, Cryptozoic will be showing off Penny Arcade: The Game – Gamers Vs. Evil, and offering a special promo card with purchase of the game (as well as an additional promo card in every con swag bag).

Fantasy Flight Games – (Expo Hall Booth 6109) – Hot off their complete domination of Gen Con with a seemingly never-ending flow of major product announcements, Fantasy Flight Games will have space in the 6th floor expo hall to demo Elder Sign, The Adventurers: The Pyramid of Horus, Rune Age, and Gears of War: The Board Game.

Gary Games – (Room 2A) – Fresh off the success of the first expansion for Ascension: Chronicle of the Godslayer, Gary Games will be making their PAX Prime debut. Stop by their booth to purchase a new promo pack that was released last month at Gen Con.

Mayfair Games – (Room 206) – The worldwide Settlers of Catan championship is returning to the USA, and you can be a part of it if you head over to Mayfair games and sign up for the pre-qualifier tournament being held at PAX this weekend.

 

Paizo – (Rooms 202 & 203) – The hot products from this publisher of the popular Pathfinder RPG system are the new Ultimate Combat system and the new pre-painted miniatures line produced in a partnership with WizKids/NECA.

Sandstorm – (Room 212) – Upstart game company Sandstorm Productions will be hoping to make their mark on the strategy board gaming scene with the release of two titles from the mind of designer Eric Vogel, Cambria and Hibernia. Both set to carve out a niche for themselves by cramming euro-style gameplay and quality components into a portable box with a low $20 price tag.

Steve Jackson Games – (Rooms 201 and corral) – The SJ Games crew will have an extremely limited number of copies available for Munchkin Axe Cop, so if that is something you’ve got your eye on, make this book your absolute first stop at PAX. Other new games in limited supply will be Trophy Buck, Reindeer Games, Giant Cthulhu Dice, and the Munchkin dice bag.

While you are there, be sure to flag down Phil Reed and ask him to show you the super-secret Car Wars prototype. On Saturday at 4PM in Room 201, Steve Jackson himself, along with Munchkin czar Andrew Hackard, will be holding a signing session for fans.

Wizards of the Coast – (TCC Lower Level and Level 1) – Dungeons & Dragons fans will be sure to want to see the new Neverwinter campaign setting and the Legend of Drizzt board game, but donn’t just stick to WotC’s tabletop area, as their booths 1114 and 1122 in the main expo hall hold something of interest for Magic: The Gathering fans. Stop by for the playable debut of the Duels of the Planeswalkers 2012 expansion, featuring the new Archenemy format, six preview card from the new Innistrad set, and a new exclusive Planeswalker.

Z-Man Games – (Room 2A) – Z-Man Games was the only company to not respond to my request for information on what games would be shown at PAX, so this one will be the mystery grab bag of the con! Perhaps The Ares Project from Geoff and Brian Engelstein will show up? Maybe Guards! Guards!, the Discworld-themed game, or The Walking Dead will make an appearance? There’s only one way to find out: head over to Room 2A and see for yourself.

Workshops:

A new addition to PAX this year, the tabletop gaming area now has its own dedicated panel room to hold workshops in. The most noteworthy entries on this schedule include “We DID Playtest This… a Game Design Workshop” by Chris from Asmadi Games (Friday 8-10PM), “I Sing the Board Game Electric” by Mark Kaufmann of Days of Wonder Games (Saturday 2-4PM), and “Learn to Play: Board Games”, a boot camp in strategy board gaming by PAX veterans Rym & Scott of the GeekNights podcast (Saturday 6-8PM).

Role Playing:

RPGs will be receiving a bigger focus than they’ve ever had at any prior PAX. Aside from the small army of DMs that Wizards of the Coast will have in their own play area, Room 301 is set aside for special guest GM-run games, the highlight of which is definitely a game of Apocalypse World run by D. Vincent Baker of Lumpley Games himself. Wander over to Room 306, and you’ll discover “Indie RPGs on Demand,” a space where you can walk in and join a session of just about any indie RPG ranging from Burning Wheel, to Leverage, to the recent 2011 Diana Jones Award-winning Fiasco.

Panels:
Everyone knows that the quality of an RPG is entirely dependent on that of its GM, so why not learn how to be a better GM? The following two panels will help you do exactly that:

The Art of the Table: GMing Beyond the Basics – Raven Theatre – Friday 12:00pm – 1:00pm
Ask the Dungeon Master – Kraken Theatre – Saturday 1:30pm – 2:30pm

Instead, if you’d rather just watch some awesome DMing in person, head to this panel, where you’ll witness Gabe and Tycho of Penny Arcade fame, along with Scott Kurtz and Wil Wheaton, trying to get along as a D&D party:

Acquisitions, Inc: The Last Will and Testament of James Darkmagic –  Main Theatre – Saturday 3:30pm – 5:30pm

When asked why they are into hobby gaming, many parents state that it is because it serves as a common thread for quality family interaction. At this panel, listen as the writers of Wired’s GeekDad blog explain some of the best ways to establish a family that games together:

Geek Parenting – Pegasus Theatre – Sunday 10:00am – 11:30am

Parties:

Every year, you can count on there being several major afterparties thrown by exhibitors on Friday or Saturday night. Typically, a major video game publisher comes along, rents out a bar down the street, and holds a toast to the release of their knew big hit. This time around, Wizards of the Coast is throwing their own party for the tabletop crowd.

On Saturday from 6-9PM, Showbox at the Market will ascend into darkness to celebrate Innistrad, the new Magic: The Gathering expansion set. During this party, Wizards promises to unveil exclusive information about Innistrad that will not be seen on the show floor.