In any event such as this, one of the greatest principles that attract thousands of people to attend is the sense of inclusion. People easily flock to where they will be among other birds of the same feather. Tenured or never picked up a 20 sided die in your life, if you love board games, fantasy, role playing, or card games, this is a place to spread your wings and show off all of those beautiful colors you hide from the rest of the world.
PAX Unplugged is a convention that I strongly recommend having a schedule set and staying in a hotel overnight, especially if you plan to participate in competitions or play as many of the games being demonstrated as possible. I barely dipped my big toe in the sea of various games to play. An entire room was dedicated to borrowing or renting board games to play with friends or strangers. Most conventions consist of a lot of stands selling product. While that was not entirely the case here, there was still some great merchandise to peruse. My guess is that the biggest seller would be the figurines to go along with tabletop RPGs. The amount of dice available was overwhelming, not to mention the beautiful hand-carved boxes and dice trays. Play mats for card games were in abundance and most of them were so amazing I could have bought them and hung them on my wall as works of fantasy art.
The biggest attraction to PAX Unplugged would definitely be the Learn & Play portion. Experts who have been playing the games for years or since they were children will find their competition without a doubt, but what better place to share your love of Magic! The Gathering with an aspiring player? Where else can you offer a free demo to a brand new card game or board game that you developed? There is no better place than among people who share the same interests! The expo hall was filled with tall tables already prepared with board and game pieces or cards preplaced for anyone interested to be taught how to play. My personal experience was with the new Transformers Trading Card Game. Our instructor spoke slowly and explained everything thoroughly. I have tried to play card games in the past with no success. I lost motivation because the game was complicated to learn. Having that foundation to build on is making for a more pleasant experience. The instructor also interacted and worked great with my four-year-old son.
I was unable to dedicate the time required for this convention. It truly is a unique experience. Yes, you’ll have shops selling single cards, boxes of cards, dice, tables, old and new board games, and figurines with paint, but the true draw is to experience brand new games that are either just being released or have not even hit the market yet. You’ll receive an explanation and even a chance to play the game with the creator. If you’re an expert and have already found your niche in the Unplugged world of gaming, but have never been to PAX Unplugged, plan your schedule in advance to allow enough time for those competitions.