PAX West 2018: Board Game Spotlight

PAX West 2018: Board Game Spotlight

September 5, 2018 Off By Tifa

This weekend was my 10th PAX! As an avid board gamer, I wanted to see all that there was to see. However, there were so many board games all around the convention that I was only able to demo a small percent of the ones I’m sure I’d love. I wanted to showcase a few that I was able to try out that really stood out to me as innovative up and coming titles that I also heard a decent amount of buzz about at the show. I recommend keeping an eye out for these titles as I expect each one to be a smashing success.


KeyForge was definitely one of the most talked about games at PAX this year. I believe Richard Garfield has created a new genre of games once again. In this card game, each stand-alone deck is completely unique and the same deck will never be seen again. The decks are set as-is, ready to pick up and play and modifications are not part of the game. I felt that there are two goals in becoming a master KeyForge player. 1) Learn to play one deck very well, finding all the possible combos. 2) Adapt quickly each time you pick up a new deck that you’ve never played before. There are 7 houses in the game and each deck contains 3, immediately creating a wide range of options and a way for players to have a favorite play style to look for. My only concern is the replay value after you’ve mastered one deck and want to move on. Will there be a market to sell rare decks? Only time will tell.

Dusk: Arena of Shadows

Walking by Dusk: Arena of Shadows it was impossible not to notice the beautifully sculpted figures set up around the wooden hex tiles. Aesthetically, Dusk sucks you in immediately and the gameplay does not disappoint. The figures can be stone washed or you can paint them in full color. The game is set in a world where evil Phantoms are the last beings in a world where they have consumed all their prey. All that’s left is to hunt each other.

Dusk is a deck builder with large figures that move on a hex board. Each deck has the same 13 starter cards, and then you choose 4 cards from each of 4 different categories: basic cards, character cards, skill cards, and weapons. This means that you can easily build a completely different deck each time you play. Each player chooses one phantom to play and each phantom has a unique ability with a refresh condition so that you can continue to use it as the game progresses. I choose to play The Lady of Gristle. I found the attacking and blocking to be easy to understand but very interesting, with a unique Power Attack ability that provides a powerful benefit but is a risky move.

The game will be on Kickstarter later this month and I highly recommend backing it because this is going to be a highly sought after game.

Blood on the Clocktower 

As a lover of werewolf and mafia, Blood on the Clocktower was one of the highlights of my convention experience. This is a unique social deduction game in which every player has a role. One of the features that impressed me the most was the fact that when you die, you turn into a ghost that is still active in the game – you essentially turn into a vanilla townsfolk with one vote left, but you can continue to talk and influence the game. There are some other interesting attributes: the storyteller can secretly assign one Townsfolk as the Drunk (whose ability malfunctions unknowingly), you can create alliances and have secret conversations outside of the room, and Traveler characters can come in late or leave early from gameplay. My one wish is that the group I played with hadn’t split into multiple conversations throughout the game, but this can be easily solved in the right setting with friends.

Just One

Just One is an innovative cooperative party game. Your goal is to discover a mystery word by seeing related words from the other players. It’s fast paced, easy to learn, and fun for all ages. I highly recommend grabbing this for large groups or to play at the start of a party while you wait for everyone to arrive. It’s also very educational for children learning word association.


Brought to you by Z-Man games, Mesozooic is an innovative drafting game that brings sliding puzzles to life as you compete to create a better dinosaur zoo than your opponents in one minute. You start by drafting the cards you want to create your zoo with, then you shuffle up the cards and place them randomly in a grid in front of you. The timer starts and you must slide the pieces to create a cohesive zoo by completely dinosaur enclosures, monorails, and ensuring your zookeeper can reach the attractions. I found this to be interesting and entertaining, with great art and diverse characters to choose from. There is also an advanced mode for those who are up for a challenge.

Honorable Mention: Zer0 InboxThis corporate parody party game was hilarious and very relatable as someone who has worked in the corporate world. I highly recommend to check it out for some laughs!

I’d like to note that there were lots of other great games at the show. We would love to hear what games you’d recommend from PAX West 2018 for us to look out for in the future!