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PAX East 2012: Tabletop gaming
by Andrew Testerman

From the event's outset, PAX has been known for its friendliness towards tabletop gaming.

Whether it's played on a board, through collectable cards or with pen and paper, PAX has long been a bastion for table-toppers of all sorts. This year's PAX East had several tabletop announcements, and we were on-hand to catch the latest from some of the biggest names in games.


Cryptozoic is a relative newcomer to the tabletop gaming space, but they have since gained notoriety through board games based on licences such as Penny Arcade. One one of their newest games is The Walking Dead, based on the popular AMC TV series. The Walking Dead can be played with up to six players as they make their way around the board, picking up encounter cards and fending off hordes of undead. One noteworthy mechanic is the ability for players claimed by zombies to become Walkers themselves and try to take down the remaining survivors. It can also be played solo, playing against the cards the game deals them. The Walking Dead is available for purchase now.

Cryptozoic also owns the rights to the World of Warcraft Trading Card Game, which is gearing up for its seventeenth expansion, Aftermath: Tomb of the Forgotten. As with previous expansions, Tomb of the Forgotten integrates several mechanics from the online game, and boosters sometimes contain loot cards, which can translate to an in-game item or even a rare mount. Look for Aftermath: Tomb of the Forgotten, due to hit shelves this summer.

Magic: The Gathering

Wizards of the Coast made several announcements regarding the popular collectable card game and this year's Core Set. Core Set 2013 will be a compilation of new cards and past favorites, similar to previous Core Sets, making it an ideal place for new Magic: The Gathering players to start, as well as a history lesson for players who haven't been playing since the early '90s. More than just Booster Packs, Core Set 2013 also includes Intro Packs for newer players, Toolkits for deck building, and Event Decks for players looking to get competitive quickly. On the videogame end, Wizards of the Coast announced Duel of the Planeswalkers 2013, a new entry in Stainless Games' popular digital version of the card game. Duel 2013 will feature ten new decks, more puzzle challenges, a new multiplayer mode called Planechase, and several other tweaks like optional Mana tapping. Additionally, Duel 2013 will be the first in the series to be playable on the iPad, letting players summon creatures and cast instants on the go for the first time.

Expect both Magic: The Gathering 2013 Core Set and Duel of the Planeswalkers to release later this summer.

Dungeons & Dragons

Wizards of the Coast also announced a new campaign for arguably their most popular property, Dungeons & Dragons, with Rise of the Underdark. Set to take place across multiple tabletop expansions, novels and videogames, Rise of the Underdark tasks players from stopping Lolth, a spider queen who aims to become a goddess of magic. This means taking the action to Lolth's home turf of the Underdark, a vast cavernous expanse below the surface, teeming with drow, mindflayers and all sorts of fell nasties.

In addition to new dungeons, feats and weapons, Rise of the Underdark will allow participants to adapt the ways of the drow and attempt to win through back-stabbing subterfuge between other players. Devious DMs will find the Underdark prime real-estate for challenging their regular groups, and the campaign will only continue to evolve as the year goes on.

Look to pick up the campaign's debut, Web of the Spider Queen, in hobby stores on May 16.

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- Andrew Testerman

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