Unpub 4 happened last month and it was a truly amazing experience. My only regret is that because I was the photographer of the event I didn’t get to play as many games as I would’ve wanted.
For those who don’t know, Unpub is a convention where game designers bring their games, playtest the heck out of them, and use the feedback they get to make their games better. From that standpoint, this year was a major success. Over the course of two days over 700 feedback forms were submitted by players!
I had a blast and even though I only got to play a handful of games, I got to meet so many nice and cool designers.
Unpub 4 kicked off with a Designers & Publishers dinner at Grotto’s Pizza.
Darrell Louder, the head honcho of Unpub, spent most of his time greeting people at the door and yelling out ticket numbers…
…ticket numbers for AWESOME prizes.
Lots of famous people were at the dinner, including THE T.C. PETTY III.
Patrick Nickell of Crash Games was one of the publishers at the dinner and he did his best to get photos with EVERYONE…
Oh let me tell you, Chris Kirkman of Dice Hate Me Games and Patrick have a bromance so grand that the greatest ballad ever written could never do it justice.
One of the people I was really excited to meet was David MacKenzie (on the left). I only got to speak with him for a few minutes but he was truly a super-star at Unpub. Many of the publishers accredit what he did with Alien Frontiers as their inspiration for getting into the industry.
Matt Riddle is all about the duck-face.
FYI: Dan Yarrington of Game Salute likes cheese pizza.
The dinner was really nice and gave everyone a chance to just relax and have fun without having the agenda of pushing games or getting feedback.
Luckily, there was a lull and even Darrell got a chance to get a slice of pizza!
Many laughs were shared and the pre-con mood was pure jovial.
One of the hottest things at the dinner was a givewaway where designers had to guess how many bits and pieces were in a tupperware container. Before dinner, I counted the container multiple times and I really enjoyed knowing the answer and seeing everyone’s guesses.
It became like a weird mathematical science magic thing where designers were multiplying the volume by mass by the weight of Wolverine’s adamantine claws to get their guesses.
I think the craziest guess was somewhere in the 7,000 ranges which was reallyyyy far off considering there were only 516 bits in the box.
A nice treat of the night was John Moller being awarded the “Perpetual Start Player Token.” For those of you who don’t know, John actually founded Unpub and just this year he handed the reins over to Darrell.
He was truly surprised and honored when he got his award and one of the coolest thing that most people didn’t realize is that his player color is green so it was super fitting.
As the night wore on, lots of prizes were handed out but it was Patrick Nickell and Jason Slingerland who won the best prize ever… each won a free game photography session from me! It’s funny that Patrick won because he had already hired me to shoot the Crash Games Game Library but it will work out because it just means I’ll shoot Pay Dirt for him for free once it’s out.
At the end of the night it really was all about the grand prize… The embroidered Unpub bag which was extra special because it contained each published gamed that has gone through the Unpub program.
The winners were none other than Chris & Suzanne Zinsli the designers of Tessen, which ironically was one of the games included in the prize pack!
For the third and final time, Unpub took place at St. Tomas More Academy, a catholic school outside of Dover, De. Next year the show is rumored to be moving to Baltimore, North Carolina, or somewhere between the two.
I spent the week staying at Darrell’s house and even got snowed in there after the convention. With me was the legendary T.C. Petty III so although I never got a chance to play Xenon Profiters at Unpub I got to give it a whirl after the con and really enjoyed it. In fact since I basically spent eight whole days with T.C. I’ve been going through Petty-Withdrawl ever since I got back to Texas.
Chris & Suzanne Zinsli are two of the nicest people I’ve met in the gaming community. Last year I feel in love with their game Tessen and it was great being able to see and catch-up with them.
I got a chance to meet David Chott at BGG.Con and found it a nice surprise to see him at Unpub 4, specially since his game Lagoon was one of the most buzzed about games. Lagoon is so hot that it’s currently tearing up Kickstarter so make sure you check it out!
Burke Drew showing off one of his games to Austin Smokowicz. Burke had a coveted front of the room spot that last year was held by Darrell.
Bonnie Neubauer showed off Fling Pling, the only semi-dexterity game I saw at the convention. Everyone who played it seemed to be laughing and having a good time.
Josh Tempkin’s abstrict dice game Lesser Evil always had someone at the table playing it.
Ralph Anderson of Eagle and Gryphon made the rounds playing tons and tons of games. I had met him at BGG.Con but we actaully gamed together at Unpub which was truly facsionating because he’s a super smart gamer who truly understands gaming and game mechanics. The feedback he was giving designers was some of the best I heard the whole weekend.
Unpub was so big that even the local news showed up! You can watch the TV spot here.
Eric Handler brought a copy of my 2014 Gaming Calendar to Unpub and took it around to designers who’s games were in it and got them to sign it.
And then of course he asked me to sign the cover!
I didn’t get a chance to try Daniel Solis’ The Ancient River but he almost always had a packed table.
Ohalo from Jason Kotarski and Andrew Lennox was pretty neat looking. From what I could tell you piled a bunch of cards on the table and then took turns picking berries from it. It was so messy looking but neat because I’ve never seen a mechanic like it before.
World Shapers was another hot game. It’s designed by Greg Miller (bottom corner) & Derrick Vidal (not pictured) and seriously was one of the most talked about games.
Alf Shadowsong had a revolving table of games and was the only one with a BLACK TABLECLOTH!
Mathew O’Malley played Goblin Brigade with Gary Dahl.
Chris Krikman of Dice Hate Me Games signed a BUNCH of games at Unpub but one of the coolest was New Bedford designed by Nathaniel Levan.
On Saturday night, Daniel Solis demoed a new huge group game he’s calling Troll’s Dilemma.
When they weren’t working the front door, Darrell Louder and his lovely assistant, Stephanie Straw, were on stage giving out tons and tons of prizes!
Tom Callahan spent both days showing off his game, Tower Defense.
Mr. Paul Owen himself and his game East India Company… which for the second year in a row I didn’t get to play even though I realllyyyy wanted to. I begged and begged Paul for like ten minutes on Sunday to please please demo it for me, but he couldn’t because he had to leave early and head back home. I was truly heart broken.
Keith Ferguson was lucky enough to win a table at the still Unpub 5!
Gothic Doctors from Doug Levandowski & John McNeill.
Jay Treat demoed Khyber Station, the only lego style prototype at the convention. Last year there were two or three!
Daniel Solis showing how his fingers are freakishly double joined
Kevin Kult’s table where he was demoing Kingship was always packed.
Sunday started with a free pancake breakfast. The breakfast was sponsored by Eagle & Gryphon Games while the Scrapple was sponsored by Crash Games.
FYI: Dan Yarrington of Game Salute likes syrup on all of his breakfast food.
Matt Riddle chowing down on an over cooked piece of scrapple. It was a hot product with lots of non-locals wanting to try it for the first, unfortunately it was more cardboard-ish than scrapple-ish.
Served with the breakfast was an hour long publishers panel.
On the panel (from right to left) were: Ralph Anderson, David MacKenzie, Dan Yarrington, Patrick Nickell, AJ Porfirio, Chris Kirkman, John Sizemore, and Luke Peterschmidt.
Games of Unpub 4!
With designers bringing multiple games and not always being at their table it was impossible for me to shoot everything. However I did my best to get around and here are some of the games I saw at Unpub…
Space Vikings from Matt Riddle & Ben Pinchback.
Moles Holes from Weston Stapleton.
Sunset Shuffle from Jason Kotarski
Dead Drop from Jason Kotarski.
Pack the Pack from Meghan McGinly.
Floating Market from Matt Riddle & Ben Pinchback.
Great Hartland Dice Game by Jason Kotarski.
Seven Sevens from Jason Tagmire.
Crovuli Corsi from John Sizemore.
Ohalo from Andrew Lennox and Jason Kotarski.
Les Cartes Miserables from Nick Ferris.
Bagan from Matt Riddle and Ben Pinchback.
For Greed or Glory by Marcel Perro & Kurt Evans.
One Last Job from Phil Paterno.
The Wombat Game from Matt Wolfe.
Brew Crafters Lite from Ben Rosset.
The Game of 49 from Mark Corsey.
Superlatives from Doug Levandowski .
Errands from Burke Drew.
Dragon’s Gamble from John Claire.
Cottage Industry from Chris & Suzanne Zinsli.
Post Apocalypse: Salvation Road by Mike Kelley and Peter Gousis.
ADJitation from Bonnie Neubauer.
Frozen Concentrated Orange Juice from Mike Keller.
Santa’s Workshop by Keith Ferguson.
Lagoon from David Chott.
Penny Farthing Cataput by Daniel Solis
East India Company by Paul Owen.
The River Ancient by Daniel Solis.
Khyber Station from Jay Treat.
Emergent from Dan Palmer.
Actual Size May Very by Andy Juell
Firebreak from Charlie Hoopes.
Lesser Evil from Josh Tempkin.
Phobos from Brad Smoley.
Post Position from Dr. Wictz.
Ore: The Mining Game from Joe McClintock and Jason Lyle Steinglsser.
The Heat from Dave Chalker.
As a partial playtester and photographer, I really had a wonderful time at Unpub 4. Great people, great games, and lots of fun. If you’ve never attended an Unpub you should really consider doing so. It’s the only convention I’ve ever attended that I’d declare as a “must go” especially if you are an aspiring designer.