Geek at Arms is back again! Mike kicks things off with his report on PAX East, and then describes the new love of his life, Betrayal: Legacy. James explains how his new game Kingdom Come: Deliverance feels like stepping into 15th century Bohemia and how much he and his wife enjoyed Captain Marvel. Next, Bryan deep dives us into his latest math interest with the Mandelbrot Set and math comedian Matt Parker. He and James also share how their latest rpg session with City on A Hill Gaming podcast went with fellow players Kyle from the Min/Max podcast and Mike from Innroads Ministries. The guys then have a discussion about all the upcoming film and TV adaptations that will hit the screens in the days to come: from the Lord of The Rings to Discworld to The Wheel of Time and many more!
Errata: Bryan said Good Omens was either already out or coming within the next week (of the recording). He was wrong. It becomes available beginning May 31. Bryan also attributed the Wheel of Time television movie to a company called Red Sky, but it was actually Red Eagle. And the Lord of the Rings TV Series may, in fact, not follow Aragorn, but be set instead in the Second Age. Bryan obviously needs a fact-checker. But to be fair, that LotR stuff is still largely conjecture!
You’ve just scored tickets to your first PAX East. Congrats! So, now what? You’re going to find over 500,000 square feet of the Disney World of gaming cons. A lot of first-time PAX goers want a little advice as to what to see and how to see it. Below is an aggregation of my own experience and advice left on the PAX East forums from the last several years.
Pick your pleasure
One of the many reasons why PAX East is often compared to Disney World is you can’t see it all in one day. If you have a single day pass (especially a Saturday pass), you’re going to want to prioritize what you want to see.
Download the guidebook, and get a sense of what is out there. See what exhibitors have releases that you want to see, or what independent game companies you want to have a little time to talk to. The guidebooks are out plenty ahead of time, so you can make decisions on what is most important to you. Take a look at the events schedule and see if there are any time-sensitive areas of interest. Bioware is going to have their booth open all day, but the author signing you have your heart set on will only be there a limited time. Make a plan from there.
Bring cash for the coat check
Take it from a local, Boston is cold. PAX East can be anywhere from early March to early April. In Boston, mid-March is usually when winter reminds you that though the end is near, it’s willing to give you a good thrashing to remember it by. So, check the weather, and be prepared, If you decide to pass on my next bit of advice, you can expect a long line outside while security checks your bag.
PAX East provides a coat check, and they only accept cash. Usually it’s only a few dollars, so you won’t break the bank. You can also fill your pockets and sleeves with your hat, gloves, scarf, etc. and hand it over to the coat check. They’ll give you a ticket, and it will be a real hassle if it gets lost. So, take a picture of your ticket number, and that works just fine for the attendants.
Get there early… especially for Saturday
Though the expo hall doesn’t open until 10:00 a.m., the doors open at 8:00, and the masses are already gathering by 8:30. Showing up early lets you settle in, use the restroom, fill your water bottle, check your coat, and make your way to the queue hall. The queue hall packs out early, and spills into the corridors. And if you love that energy of tens of thousands of other geeks crackling with excitement, you’ll want to be in the queue hall. On Saturday, participants bring inflatable balls, inner tubes, small animals, and periodically large animal-shaped rafts to bounce around while they wait. For me, that’s part of the experience, even if it’s an hour and a half just standing there.
Also, if you only have a Saturday pass, and there’s something you have your heart set on, you’re going to want to be up front when the exhibition hall opens. Lines form fast, and the big-name exhibitors stay busy all day. The VR exhibitors especially have long lines. So, if there’s something you want to see, know where it is on the map and make a beeline for it.
Food and water
You’re going to be walking or standing most of the day. You burn a surprising number of calories, and your body has needs. I always bring a large Nalgene, and refill it at least twice during the day. Also, bring snacks that can support your activity. It’s a good idea to bring granola bars with some protein or a good trail mix in addition to your meals.
Speaking of meals, pack them if you can. Being local, I have the advantage of being able to prepare a lunch and dinner before I leave. Convention hall food is expensive, and it’s super easy to have a $9 hotdog for dinner and regret for dessert. If you can plan easy-to-carry non-perishable food to have a good lunch and a good dinner straight from your pack, you’ll save yourself money (and time standing in line) at the food court.
With so much activity and excitement, you also need to to find an ebb and flow in your day. So, sit down and take breaks. Occasionally just get on the escalator to “come up for air” and take the footbridge over expo hall floor. It’s a great way to get a good view of the below and chat with fellow con goers without having to compete with the din on the floor.
And if too many people is too much, there is always the AFK lounge, where you can take a break. The AFK lounge has a quiet hall of bean bag chairs for you to step back and center yourself. There are even mental health counselors on hand if that’s what you need.
If you are into the panels, plan on no more than three per day. Panels tend to fill up, and you may have to get there as much as 45 minutes to an hour ahead of time to snag a place in the queue. Following @PAX_Lines on Twitter can help with making it to your panel line on time.
Hang out and make friends
One of the best thing about PAX is camaraderie. It has an amazing positive energy of a multitude coming together for a shared passion. Take the time to chat with people in line, and get to know others who share your interest.
There’s also plenty to do off the Expo hall grounds. You can find meetups and parties all week before and during the con. Check out the PAX East forums or the Unofficial @PaxParties Twitter feed to find out where your niche is getting together.
Lastly, there’s an army of volunteers who make PAX East what it is. Enforcers are red-clad guides, roaming help desks, and all around good people. They are the volunteer staff that keeps the whole operation running smoothly. Veteran PAX goers love and appreciate the people who make this happen.
Need your bearings? Ask an Enforcer. Is there a con-goer making the environment unsafe and unfun for others? Tell an Enforcer. Is an Enforcer asking you to please do something, or stand aside somewhere? Listen to the Enforcer.
Be flexible and have fun
Sometimes the best plan is to set your plan aside. If you have a schedule and you see something else that really catches your eye, have fun and roll with your weekend. And if there’s anything else that this guide didn’t cover, head over to the PAX East forums. There are plenty of PAX-loving people happy to answer your questions.
Bryan, Mike and James return for yet another super-sized episode! Mike shares his enjoyment at reading The Fellowship of the Ring to his children for the first time and how he barely contained his Geekiness at meeting author and fencing master Ken Mondschein. Next, Bryan talks about how much he’s been enjoying the new Voltron: Legendary Defender and My Hero Academia. Both he and James express how much they’re looking forward to actually gaming in an upcoming RPG session with the City on a Hill Gaming Podcast. James keeps the gaming talk going by detailing a hopeful upcoming Monster of The Week campaign, and how happy he was at finally finishing The Last Duel and playing Biblios. Finally, we see the return of the Geek at Arms Film Club! Shifting from sci-fi to fantasy, the guys delve into the George Lucas written, Ron Howard directed 1988 epic Willow.
Special caution: During the show I recommended the series Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch. Although the first book, Midnight Riot, was fairly tame, book 2, Body Work, has some rather explicit naughty parts.
Discussed in this episode:
content warning: there’s some explicit naughty stuff in book 2
Geek at Arms returns with a super-sized episode! Bryan kicks off Geek Out by sharing the ups and downs, and possible opportunities, of the growing user-base of the visual effects software he uses. Mike gives us his PAX East report, and James jumps from Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds to Parks & Rec to Ready Player One, and more! Then, in a follow-up from last episode’s “Geek Budgeting” topic, the guys reveal which single item they would buy if they had the money to blow. Finally, Bryan asks the question “Have you encountered any difficulty when other believers discover your geeky hobbies?” They share stories and discuss the hurdles they’ve faced from sharing their interests openly.
Source for the Stan Lee stolen blood story: http://www.tmz.com/2018/04/05/stan-lee-stolen-blood-for-sale-black-panther-comic-books/
Errata: Bryan referred to the “David Rumsfeld collection.” That should have been “David Rumsey collection.” He never opened a museum of his own, but he did donate the collection to Stanford University.
Looks like I totally dropped the ball on this episode and didn’t even realize it until I went to put up the blog post for #10. So here it is almost two months late!
James kicks off Geek Out by describing his new favourite show, Forged in Fire. Mike shares the latest news from Reality Zombies and his plans for attending PAX East. Bryan gives us an update on his Gaming Corner, and all three share their thoughts on Black Panther. Next, James shares the result of a recent survey about what geeks spend their money on, and the guys relate how they each work their hobbies into their own budgets.
The first episode of Geek at Arms! Bryan, Mike, and James introduce themselves and dive right into their current geeky obsessions. They discuss their experiences with crowd funding and the good vs bad potential in it, and take a look “To the Future” of what upcoming events have them excited, which include Mass Effect: Andromeda and PAX East!*
* This first episode was actually recorded a week before PAX, but various circumstances (children, work, zombies) kept us from publishing it till now.
** This is not the early failed campaign I refer to in the program, but I believe it may be from the same creator.