Monday, May 21, 2012

Recap of the Mini Unpublished Games Festival in West Chester, PA

Yesterday was the latest of the mini Unpublished Game Festival events (otherwise known as Unpub), with a full day of gaming in West Chester, PA. I was there along with 4 other designers, displaying board and card games that are in various stages of design and development. It's always a great opportunity to test your game and play others at the peak of the creative design process.

This was my third Unpub event, and as always it was a wonderful time. The Games Keep in West Chester, PA was the perfect host location with regular customers coming in and out and jumping into games, and plenty of space for everyone to spread out. 

Click through the jump for photos and descriptions of the 5 games that were on display: Pixel Lincoln: The Deckbuilding Game, Co-Op Tower Defense, Mecha Mayhem, Aether and Pilatch.

The crowd formed early on, and soon enough all 5 games were in action. Designers were featuring their own and jumping into others all day long. 

Onto the games!

Pixel Lincoln: The Deckbuilding Game

Pixel Lincoln was the reason I signed up for this event. I've been working on this version of the game for two months now, and I'm heading into the final stages of the design process. I've been testing it regularly, but there's something special about the playtesting experience at an Unpub event. You get honest feedback from other designers and gamers (via anonymous feedback forms), and everyone is willing to spend a little time talking about what they like and don't like about the games. The event is very focused and there aren't any distractions, so it's a great environment for testing.

The Pixel Lincoln tests went very well. I got in a few sessions, received valuable feedback and will start a few tweaks this week. There will be much more to say about this game in the next few weeks.

Co-Op Tower Defense

Co-Op Tower Defense was one of the two games that I did not get to play. I had a great chat with the designer, Tom Callahan though. He explained the game in full detail as well as the design process that was a direct result of past Unpub events.

Co-Op Tower Defense is exactly what it sounds like. It's a tabletop version of everyone's favorite digital tower defense games. The board features two paths for the enemies (to keep a player on their toes) and there are lots and lots of cool details. So many that Tom is working on editing some of them down, which is always tough. I was bummed that I didn't get to play because I'm a big fan of tower defense games.

Mecha Mayhem

I saw a little bit about Mecha Mayhem before the event, and what caught my eye was the high quality prototype. The guys in Baked Fresh Daily Games made a very solid prototype using The Game Crafter (as did almost everyone at the event) and it really pulls you into the testing sessions. Their graphic design and artwork is great, and the game was a lot of fun. It's a deckbuilding game where each player is creating their own robot, piece by piece. With each part that you add, your stats go up.. and once your stats hit a certain level you can acquire event cards, which are used for end game scoring. Once you build a robot, you wipe everything clean and start over, using the deck that you are building.

The mechanics were very elegant, and it took the character creation aspect that we're seeing in a lot of games today to a whole new level for me. I'm really looking forward to seeing this game in my collection someday, as well as catching up with Baked Fresh Daily Games in the future. They were extremely open to feedback and gave great feedback as well.


Aether was the other game that I didn't get to play. I was able to watch part of a session, take a bunch of photos, and then chat with the designers, Wesley Allen and Michael Otte. They were both really cool guys and left the store with a copy of Risk Legacy (my #1 game of 2011). They're semi-local so hopefully we'll bump into each other at an upcoming event.

Everyone had a great time when playing this game. I overheard lots of table talk and I also overheard that table talk is encouraged in the rules. That's pretty darn cool.

Also note, the artwork on the cards images is are just placeholder art, gathered from various online sources. No lawsuits, just playtesting!


Pilatch was the last game I played and immediately afterwards the designer, Ethan Martin, was running a Pilatch tournament. I originally wasn't planning on staying for the tournament (I had an hourlong ride home), but I was really intrigued by this game/system.

Pilatch is a deck of cards, very similar to Poker cards. But instead of 4 suits there are three. And if you were going to pick three suits, what would you choose? ROCK PAPER SCISSORS!

It's a very natural and clever approach to a deck of cards and there were a few games that were being played. One was a variation on war where the suit would be the tiebreaker (rock beats scissors.. and so on) and then if it was still tie, players would play a physical game of Rock, Paper Scissors. There was also betting Poker style game and talks of a Solitare game. The tournament was the Poker game and 3 gift certificates were on the line. I was the first one out of the tournament. :(

The best part about this game was the stunning artwork. It was very high quality and really feels like standard deck of cards. The Jacks, Queens, Kings and Jokers were the best with interesting ways to display the rock, paper and scissors.

For designer Ethan Martin's recaps from the Unpub Mini, as well as more information on Pilatch, visit


All in all, another great Unpub! Thanks to John Moller, Karl at The Games Keep, and all of the other designers. Looking forward to future events, and hopefully just attending the next one (instead of presenting a game) so I can play all of the games!

My previous two Unpub recaps:
Unpub 2 Dover, Delaware Recap
Unpub Mini Philly Recap

1 comment:

  1. Jason, thanks! This is a really great post! Thank you for all your hard work making the event happen and your support throughout the process!