PAX West isn't only about video games, it's also a great opportunity to try out just about any board game you can think of. Though board games aren't the focus of PAX West (that's saved for PAX Unplugged in Philadelphia this December) there is still a great turnout of tabletop fans every year. Between dozens of tournaments, panels, vendors, and a massive free-play area where any one can jump in on a game, there's plenty of chances to try something new and see what's out there.
Unlike video games, nourishing a board game hobby means having a big enough group of gamers around with time to commit to playing. They also can be a substantial investment for a game you won't play nearly as often as a video game. Tabletop stores and local events are great opportunities to socialize and make some board game friends, but they can also be too small and intimate of an environment for those of use that experience New Game Anxiety. That's why PAX West will be the perfect opportunity to play some classic, new arrivals, and possibly discover your next tabletop obsession.
We've collected a list of some of the most fun and unique board game experiences out there. When you have some downtime between panels at PAX West this year, keep these games in mind as you explore the free-play area. Some of these games are quick and casual experience, while others a dense, strategic endeavors that require intense concentration. Whatever your speed, there's a certainly a game out there for you, and now's your chance to try it for free.
One Night Ultimate Werewolf Lets You Scream "LIAR!" At Your Friends
ONUW is a spin-off of the popular social deduction game Ultimate Werewolf. Each player is assigned a secret role such as Seer, Robber, and Troublemaker that grants a special ability. Two players will secretly be assigned the role of werewolf, and it is their job to convince all the others that they are in fact, NOT the werewolf. Everyone then closes their eyes, and one by one takes their turn using their secret ability. At the end of this "night phase" everyone opens their eyes and then has just 2 minutes to decide who the werewolves are. It's called "One Night" because at the end of the round everyone votes: if a werewolf gets the most votes, the villagers win, but if a villager gets the most votes, then the werewolves win.
It's a simple game that can quickly devolve into hilarious chaos as players desperately try to convince everyone that they aren't the werewolf. Starting as the werewolf doesn't necessarily mean you still are at the end of the game, and vice versa, so it isn't uncommon for players to think they are lying but are accidentally telling the truth. The game really hits its stride around the 6+ player mark, so many fans only get the opportunity to play on holidays. Well, consider PAX West an official holiday, because there's plenty of ONUW to go around.
Azul Is Shaping Up To Be The New Settlers Of Catan
After winning the prestigious Spiel des Jahres award last year, Azul has become the go-to game for family game night. Azul is an eye-catching game of vivid colors and simple patterns that is easy to pick up and a relaxing way to spend a Friday night at home.
In Azul, players take turns collecting multi-colored tiles from the center of the table and placing them on individual 5x5 gameboards. In order to score points, you'll need to be strategic about where you play the tiles as the goal is to fill your entire board with the tiles that match the pattern. Azul is the kind of niche, abstract game that suddenly catches on fire and ends up a staple in homes across the country. If you haven't tried it yet and you're looking for something chill, give this one a shot.
Captain Sonar Makes Battle Ship Look Like Tiddlywinks
When Captain Sonar premiered at GenCon in 2016 the crowds that formed around the games being played were so huge that it became a fire hazard. The game sold out quickly, and years later is still the most hyped board game you'll see at any convention.
Captain Sonar NEEDS to be played with 2 teams of 4 as each person will take on a different role as personnel on a submarine. The 8 players, which consists of two captains, first mates, engineers, and radio operators, will compete to destroy each other by working together to navigate and maintain each team's sub.
While the game can be played turn-based, which is a fine way to learn your role and the game mechanics, to get the true experience you need to play the real-time version. There's A LOT of shouting when you play Captain Sonar as seconds tick by and the enemy submarine gets closer and closer to nailing down your position. It's the most exciting game to play and watch, so if you see a huge crowd forming in the free play area, you know where to find Captain Sonar.
A Golden Girls Funko POP! Board Game - Please Reread That Sentence
Funkoverse is an upcoming strategy board game that premiered at GenCon last week. The game features adorable miniature Funko POP! figures and comes in a variety of different themes like Harry Potter, DC Super Heroes, Rick and Morty, and of course The Golden Girls.
It's real, I'm serious, and you'll probably (definitely) get to try out the Golden Girls Funko POP! Board Game at PAX West. Players navigate tiny POP! figures of Blanche and Rose around a game board, activating skills and engaging in mortal combat. It's delightfully weird, and the best part is that any version of the game you have can be mixed with any other. Fancy pitting Batman and Blanche against Hermoine and Rose? You've probably imagined it before, but now you can finally do it for real at PAX.
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