Just in case you didn’t know it, we are in the midst of a gaming revolution. Yes, the Switch, PS4, Xbox One, and PC are pushing out some amazing experiences, but the real sea change is happening in a more physical realm. Board games and other tabletop activities have been surging for the last decade or two, with more and more people getting into the hobby. I previously wrote about this, giving my best suggestions for video game fans first entries into the hobby (though I regret including the now mostly reviled Munchkin in that list). And after spending a weekend at PAX Unplugged 2018, being steeped in all the board games I could handle, it’s clear that this golden age isn’t ending any time soon.
If you just want to see what I loved at the show you can check out my list of Top 5 Best Board Games from PAX Unplugged 2018. But with tabletop there’s a lot more than just a list of the best new releases can cover. Unlike video games, which launch, build their audience, then either maintain it through multiplayer or die out as everyone moves to the new hot thing, board games have a much longer life.
PAX Unplugged 2018 may be over, but the golden age of board games continues on
Games that released years earlier were at the show, and still drawing crowds. Bezier Games with their extremely popular One Night Ultimate Werewolf, and its many spinoffs and add-ons. Exploding Kittens was a huge hit with their inventive booth (mentioned in the list above). Star Wars X-Wing Fighter, Azul, Fog of Love, and many, many more were still bringing in tons of gamers and all with a Free Play area full of even older titles.
Thousands of gamers were there, packing the halls to near-capacity. Events like Dungeons & Dragons Adventurers League and panels about unconventional tabletop games were full, often to capacity. Littering the hallways outside the massive tabletop game-filled expo hall were cosplayers, pin traders, and geeks of all sorts. It was like PAX East or West, just a bit more personal, and with all of that video game nonsense trimmed away. It’s not every day you see people line up for over an hour to play a card game.
As a decade-long fan of tabletop, it was a great experience, and helped remind me of why I love board games so much in the first place. Video games are awesome, sure, but there’s few of them out there that can beat the experience of getting a few friends together and sitting around the table, all engaged in a solid board game.
PAX Unplugged 2018 may be over, but the golden age of board games that has allowed it to thrive continues on. Big games have been hitting every single year, with 2018 already seeing some potential new classics in the making, such as Rising Sun, Root, and KeyForge. If you’re looking to get into the hobby, now is the time.
- This article was updated on December 4th, 2018