The 40 Tabletop Games you Must Play

The 40 Tabletop Games you Must Play

Presented at PAX East 2018 on Sunday morning in the Arachnid Theatre!

These may not be the top 40 board games ever designed, nor is it the top 40 influential or otherwise important games. If you aspire to really understand tabletop, or if you have visions of designing your own games, these are the 40 games that, if you play them, will give you the widest possible perspective on what it means to make a good game (and what "good" even means). Join the GeekNights crew for an exploration of the boundaries of tabletop gaming. There are some gems in there.

Balance in Game Design

Balance in Game Design
PAX South 2018

Balancing games is deceptively difficult. Even worse, there are subtle reasons why even if a game is perfectly, mathematically, demonstrably balanced, players will likely have even LESS fun. From systems like Microsoft TrueSkill or ELO rankings to everyone complaining about how overpowered Hanzo is (he’s not), join GeekNights for an exploration of how and why (and sometimes why NOT) to balance games.

Presented by Rym and Scott at PAX South 2018

Learn and WIN: Carcassonne

PAX Unplugged 2017
Learn and WIN: Carcassonne

Go deep on the strategy of Carcassonne with a lecture from Rym and Scott, hosts of the GeekNights podcast. Then stick around for a special single-elimination Carcassonne tournament and put those tips to work.

We begin by teaching the full rules of Carcassonne, with visual aides and examples. We then dive deep into the strategy of Carcassonne, teaching players not just now to play, but how to WIN.

The Rage of the Quitter - PAX West 2017

The Rage of the Quitter
PAX West 2017

The table gets flipped. The healer sits down in spawn and plays Rick Astley over the voice chat. The tournament ends in chaos. Friendships die. Why does the quitter rage so? This panel will explore the inglorious exits of gaming. Presented live at PAX West 2017 in the Hippogriff Theatre.

Play (Dirty) to Win - PAX East 2017

Play (Dirty) to Win: PAX East 2017

Ostensibly, you play games to win. (Assuming we're talking about competitive games: you're not playing to "win" Dungeons & Dragons… are you?) But are really? Shouldn't you be winning a lot more often? Maybe you should try that cheap strategy you've heard about. Punch below the belt. Memorize the deck. Read the FAQ. What's the line between playing to win and cheating? Is "playing dirty" even really a thing? Come for the degenerate strategies, stay for the soul-crushing revelations on winning.

Presented by GeekNights at PAX East 2017.

The Grind - PAX West 2016

The Grind: PAX Prime

The Grind. We've all experienced it. We've all complained about it. Some of us secretly love it. But ask 100 people what it actually IS, and you'll get 40 different answers. Join us for a mechanical discussion of what "grinding" really means in games. Is it necessary for a "classic MMO?" Is it part of the genre of a "JRPG?" Does it exist in board games? Is it bad? Is it good? Is it necessary? Part storytelling, part game design, part game theory—let's explore the grind from all angles.

Atari Game Design - PAX East 2016

Atari Game Design
PAX East 2016

Game design is a wide subject. The best approach to mastering it is to focus on the fundamentals, and what better place to do that than with Atari 2600 games? Join us for a deep game design analysis of classic competitive Atari games like Outlaw, and how their core concepts extend to modern games. When you can literally count the pixels with your eyes, and the code will fit in your calculator, the core principles of good (and bad) design become starkly apparent.

Creative Commons License