Tuesday, March 15, 2011


PAX Purchases
I spent more at PAX than I planned to. There weren't many new RPG releases (which is good - a new release would be almost wasted on the PAX audience because almost everything is new) but a few things popped up that ate some bucks.

Microscope - This is a kind-of-but-not-really RPG I bought at the IPR booth after enough curious comments about it online. It's short and to be honest I probably would have been smarter just buying the PDF, but I have these moments of weakness. Anyway, it's a game about creating an interesting arc of history from X to Y (the rise of an empire to it's collapse, the landing of colonists to the explosion of the planet, or the like), effectively making setting creation a game. I enjoy games like this, but there's a final hurdle they often fall short of. Most often they build great histories or worlds, but don't provide a lot of help answering "and now what?". I'm curious to see if Microscope rounds this corner. If it doesn't, then it's in good company, but I can hope.

Inevitable - I got this through what I guess was kind of the unstore booth. It's a wacky boardgame of post apocalyptic pop culture. It is absolutely a very silly game, and while it's but on top of the classic roll-and-move monopoly style engine, it intentionally subverts that and most of the other expectations of such a game to produce something pretty fun. I'm not sure it has infinite replayability because, like any humorous game, things eventually grow thin. But I'm also confident that it has playability beyond "after you've seen everything once" which is usually when humorous games fail.

Puzzle Strike - It's a streamlined dominion clone with a few puzzle-fighter game elements played with poker-chip shaped tokens in under 20 minutes. Hard not to go wrong.

Magic Cards - I blame other people. There were Archenemy decks on sale, and Fred got me one of the planechaser sets, and I then had to round it out a bit. It's a sickness, but I now feel very well equipped for some multiplayer action.

Food - Food was probably the single biggest line item beyond the hotel itself. Despite some concerns, I found plenty of places to eat around the convention, the problem was that they were by and large stupidly expensive. Good, and often worth it, but expensive.

Things I Didn't Buy

Zombie Dice - They pretty much sold out as soon as they showed up. It was very clearly the game of choice for people waiting in line.

A Baseball Hat - ten millions t-shirts, but maybe 2 or 3 booths selling baseball hats, all of whom sold out of grown up sizes almost immediately. Annoying.


  1. In my play experience with Microscope, I think it definitely does "round the corner" of just a setting/world-creation game. The way Microscope achieves this is by producing a momentum of investment, where, truly, the more you play, the more you want to play. The more you flesh out the macro-details and periods, the more you want to dig into the actual role-playing scenes that ask questions of the events and characters that reveal the human/sentient experience of history. Once you have created a vivid world/city/period or poignant event, then you want to ask "Why," "what was it like for this other group, or for this particular person"

    I would even attribute Microscope as a full-fledged role-playing game since very vivid scenes and fascinating characters crop up in among all those periods and events, likely where you least expect to find them.

    In our experience, our changing expectations about the way the world works in terms of who we would sympathize with was the most fascinating. The group we initially conceived as the primary antagonists of the setting ended up drawing nearly all of our exploration, sympathy, and understanding.

    I'd love to discuss more about Microscope when you've played it Rob and given it some good thought.

  2. I was going to call my purchases Paxquisitions too- guess that joke writes itself.

    If you ever need more players for Archenemy, btw...

  3. Inevitable is hilarious! It's a lot like Paranoia in board game form. I share your concerns about re-playability, but then again, when you're done with it, you can wear the pieces as buttons! :D

  4. I'm really happy to see Inevitable getting good word-of-mouth. Those guys have been developing it forever, and are great people to boot. It's a real labor of love.

  5. Re: Planechase

    Have you tried this variant? It looks more fun (to me) than the normal Planechase setup:


  6. Howdy! I'm Jonathan Leistiko, one of the co-designers of Inevitable. I'm glad it amuses you. That makes me happy. It's an odd beast... I've always thought of it as a medium for social commentary in board game form.

    I often find that while (or after) playing the game, new players have ideas for new FATE cards, Catalog items, Groups, etc... In part that's because the system lends itself to expansion, and in part because we chopped a lot out of Inevitable to make it more approachable for first-time players. We have a metric ton of expansions in the pipe for it. New items, groups, FATE cards, special rules, and more! That should add to replayability. I'm eager to see some fan-created expansion activity too!

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  8. I had a lot of fun with two pre-release versions of Microscope (and running a different game in the same room while friends playtested a third) - I should definitely pick up the final version!

    Even in its early stages, I felt the game successfully drove us to both define broad strokes by fiat (laying down Eras and Events), and explore the nooks and crannies using the scene/resolution mechanics. I think you'll find it rounds the "and now what?" corner.


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