By Andrew Dodson on September 4, 2014 at 9:21pm
Durham, N.C. isn't the first place to come to mind when someone mentions "gaming convention," but starting today through Sunday, Sept 7. tiltExpo is coming to town! tiltExpo replaces the EscapistExpo, which took place last year, but still focuses on the same theme: games.
Player Theory is a Raleigh-based game site, and with Durham just around the corner, we will journey to tiltExpo for pictures, conversation, and impressive demos and panels. Here are a couple of the things that Player Theory is excited about seeing:
The UNC "HvZ" team has organized a weekend-long game of "Humans vs. Zombies" that will go on in the background throughout the expo. For those out of the loop, "HvZ" is a game rising in popularity (especially on college campuses) where a group of humans must survive against an unrelenting zombie horde. Typically, the game starts with everyone as a human except one person picked to be a zombie. From there, the game is essentially a huge zombie-themed game of tag. With a touch, zombies can turn a human into the undead. The humans' only defense are nerf guns or sockballs, which stun the zombies for 15 minutes. Humans win if, by the end of the weekend, they are still surviving. Zombies win if they manage to turn all the humans. If you're at the Expo this year, you can distinguish "HvZ" players by the bandanas that they wear - humans wear them on their legs or arms, while zombies have them wrapped around their heads.
Player Theory won't be actively participating in the game this year (it's kind of difficult to run when you wear a camera around your neck), but it will do its darnedest to talk to some of the players and see how the whole "surviving thing" is going. We ... may also try to interview some zombies. Maybe.
"Lego Minifigures Online"
Funcom is bringing their new MMO "Lego Minifigures Online" to tiltExpo and giving everyone a chance to try it out! "Lego Minifigures Online" lets players choose different Lego minifigures as a character (Heroic Knight!, Battlemech! and ... Plumber?) and drops them in a Lego-themed world. From there, the story unfolds! As you play the game, you unlock more minifigures which all have their own abilities and special powers. The game definitely targets children, but it's also something that anyone that's ever built a Lego set can appreciate. Player Theory will definitely be giving this a shot.
On Sunday, I will be taking part in my first convention game of "Dungeons and Dragons" - The Secrets of Sokol Keep adventure from the Tyranny of Dragons campaign. "D&D Expeditions" is a public campaign where choices made in each game change the events and threats that players will face in future games. The game will be using the new fifth edition, which I have no experience in (yet), and I will be playing with people that I have never met before, which will also be a new tabletop experience for me. I don't know what to expect, and I still need to make a character before Sunday, but I do know that the game will take place in the town of Phlan in the Forgotten Realms setting which is a setting that I'm familiar with from the novel, Pool of Radiance (which I read at least least eight times when I was younger).
So Many Games
It really is a golden age for board games. tiltExpo will be providing a library of tabletop games for people to try from the time the doors open (10 AM) to midnight, giving everyone amble time to try anything that they want. There are also official games, tournaments, and demos that will be played as well. Player Theory is interested in more than a couple of these:
"Werewolf," Friday at 5 PM
tiltExpo is hosting a big "Werewolf" game, and this is definitely something that I am interested in trying. "Werewolf" is a social game of bluffing and manipulation and deception. The premise is that you live in an isolated village that, as if you have probably deduced from the game title, is plagued by werewolves. At night, the werewolves sneak around the village and devour people. By day, the surviving villagers have to figure out who is the werewolf is and deal with them. But of course it is never that simple. During the day, the werewolf looks like any normal villager and will do their best to cast suspicion on innocents (or people that are getting too close to the truth).
"Twin Tin Bots" Demo, Saturday at 1 PM
"Twin Tin Bots" is a Kickstarter that completed last year, and on paper, the title seems relatively simple. All you do is list "program tiles" which tell your two robots what to do, and they go out and harvest crystals and bring those crystals back to you. Whoever has the most crystals wins. However, the game gets more chaotic as more people play and more robots enter the mine. Robots can bump into one another, steal, or get stolen from or end up at a destination where there are no longer any crystals! Additionally, you can only change one program tile a turn, which forces you to optimize your strategy and plan ahead. The game looks cute, but also requires a level of deep thought.
"Sentinels Tactics" Demo, Saturday at 5 PM
"Sentinels of the Multiverse" is one of my favorite games to play when I have a good group of friends around. "Tactics" is Greater Than Game's newest iteration of it - but this time, rather than using cards to play the heroes, you are controlling a real 3D miniature on a hex battlefield. Superheroes, cool miniatures, and strategy all wrapped into one game.
You can also bet that Player Theory will be checking out the game library for new things to try, and taking part in the nightly "Cards Against Humanity" games that tiltExpo will be hosting.
There are so many possible panels to attend at tiltExpo, and Player Theory is so few. We definitely have the focus on all things gaming, so you may find any of use in those of those panel rooms. Some of the ones I'll try to attend are "How to Love and Hate Table Top Games" (Saturday at 3 PM, Room C), "Women in Video Games" (Saturday at 4:30 PM, Room D) and "Podcasting 101" (Friday at 6 PM, Room B).
What gaming convention would be complete without all manner of cosplay? People always dress up as their favorite characters with handmade props and hand-stitched costumes. Some of the things you'll see at these events are amazing. I will be photographing all my favorites, and you'll be able to find those posted here on Player Theory once tiltExpo has ended. On Saturday at 6 PM, tiltExpo is hosting a costume contest where you'll have a chance to see the best of the Expo!
tiltExpo starts today at the Durham Convention Center in downtown Durham (301 W. Morgan Street). If you didn't register in advance, you can get weekend passes for $40 and one day passes for $20. According to the tiltExpo twitter, all active military receive free admission!
We will see you there!