Have you ever wanted to meet the author of your favorite book?

Your favorite actor, or the director of your favorite movie?

How about meeting someone who’s making something you’re really excited about?

Unpub gave me the opportunity for the last one.

Unpub is a mini-convention in which game designers and developers can come, show off their prototypes and get feedback from real players. With games in all states of prototype from simple print outs to handmade cards to professionally done examples of games, there was plenty to play, and I didn’t even get to see everything.

There were almost 30 games, and almost 60 people in attendance for this tiny convention in the backwoods of Delaware. (Literally, the location was off the beaten path in a little copse of trees.)

I got to try four different games, and at least look at a few more. I’m going to talk about them briefly here, but I want to do more in depth reviews as these things come closer to market.

Flummox was the first game of the day, and I actually sat in the designer’s chair mid-game. The goal of the game is to get the most points by moving the Flummox around the table and ‘catching’ it. You do this using the cards in front of you, but only the two on either end of your hand. Some cards turn the flummox around, and some pass cards around the table. Was very interesting, but I need to play it more before I give this one a full review.

Then my group tried a game called Dungeon Freakout. A dungeon crawler that uses any toy or miniature for game pieces. It has a cool exploratory element, and the cutthroat scoring mechanism definitely gave the group something to think about. This game isn’t all there yet, but I hope I get to see it again after some development, because there’s a compelling core there.

Then Fat. This game is definitely the most exciting I got to play. I’m probably biased, as I really like the deckbuilder genre, and this one turns it on its head and leaves you a bit breathless. You and your friends make a little bet: let’s see who can lose the most weight. Then you realize, it might be easier to win if you sabotage your competition. And thus begins fat. This deck builder uses a randomized communal deck, and you deal out cards each turn, and reverse draft them, each player picking one and putting on the table in front of one of their opponents. When your turn comes around, you get to play cards to make a full six card table, then add up your daily calories. Depending on your caloric intake, you get different effects, from ‘Comatose’ at 500 or less calories to ‘complete purge’ when you get over 5100. Points are scored by gaining special exercise cards, and lost when you eat too much.

I seriously could talk about this game for a while. On two plays, we saw one player forced into the ‘trash all your food’ 5100 calorie level more than once, and our table managed to drop the designer into the deep negatives on turn one, leaving him with only five cards in his deck. It’s fun, funny, but definitely not recommended for groups who can’t handle conflict, since you’re going to be pulling the rug out from under people quite regularly.

Finally, my group played Pond Farr, a card driven race game in which the players play salmon racing to the spawning pool. The mechanics were simple, quick, and lightweight enough that I’d definitely put this on my list of great entry level games. The theme doesn’t hurt at all, either. The prototype was slick and I was told this one is making it to Kickstarter soon, so I’ll save more in depth thoughts for later!

Ever get a chance to preview awesome media? What was it like?

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