SHUX is a board game convention typically held annually in Vancouver, BC. Established by the game review team at Shut Up & Sit Down, SHUX is what I would describe as a mixed board game convention. There are board game conventions that are focused on playing games, such as TCTC, and others focused on large expo halls with publishers selling and previewing new games, such as GenCon or Essen Spiel. SHUX has a bit of both, as well as panels and events held over 3 days.
I attended SHUX as a volunteer, arriving each day at 7 AM before the con opened, but once my shift was over I was free to game all day (and night) long. My duties included checking games in and out of the library, teaching people games, and various other tasks associated with the open gaming area. If you want to know more about the volunteer experience, let me know on Twitter or TikTok and I can share more about that. For now, let’s take a look at the games!
Games I Didn’t Get to Play
As with most conventions, even the best laid plans can go out the window when you try to cram as much as possible into each day. My time was already limited by my volunteer schedule, and between connecting with old friends and making new ones, there were some games on my list that I just didn’t get around to. Sadly one of those was my most anticipated game of the event, Lacrimosa. Devir had Lacrimosa set up for demos on Friday and the booth was either full or empty during a break.
This game about helping finish Mozart’s Lacrimosa movement after his death has an uncommon theme in board games and looks like a strategic medium to heavy Euro. I’ll be on the lookout for another copy to play after its release at Essen Spiel.
While I didn’t get to play Mistwind, I was able to get a brief overview of the game from First Fish Games. Players use numbered chips as workers to take actions on matching numbered spaces. Resources can be picked up and delivered by transport whales, fulfilling contracts to score points. After 4 rounds, the player with the most points wins. This is definitely an oversimplification of the game, but I’m sold on it already. Still in the prototype phase, more details should be coming soon about Mistwind.
Games I Played
The very first game I played at SHUX was Ready Set Bet at the AEG booth. Designer John D. Clair was in attendance to run games. Playing up to 9 players, I joined a full game, it was exciting and betting spots were filling up fast. Numbered horses move up on the race track when their number is rolled. One player can host the game, rolling dice and moving horses, or the game can be run by an app. I was definitely enthralled in the game, as I realize now that I didn’t get a single photo of the game. The game plays in real time, so I had to be focused on making the most valuable bets.
Just over from AEG, was Flatout Games, where Tiny Towns designer Peter McPherson was demoing his newest game Fit to Print. Fit to Print is all about finding the best layout for a cute animal newspaper. Players must arrange articles, photos, and advertisements in way that earns the most points and leaves the least white space. Articles are worth immediate points and newspapers want an equal balance of happy and sad articles. Photos earn points for being adjacent to specific colored articles. Ads just take up space, but whichever newspaper earned the least ad revenue goes bankrupt at the end of game, losing regardless of their points earned.
Village Rails was available for demo at the Osprey Games booth and I had a pretty sleep deprived playthrough on Saturday. Track cards are drafted by players and connected to their starting tiles to form a 3 by 4 grid of cards that completes 7 railroad tracks. Track cards have different terrain types and scoring features on them. For example, the tractor scores for each different type of terrain the track passes through, while the barn scores for each track card of the matching terrain on that track. When a track is completed, players place a terminus card on the end to earn money to continue buying track and trip cards with. Up to 2 trip cards can be placed on a track prior to completion, which score points for fulfilling the requirements listed on the card or score features on the track a second time. Village Rails was a nice puzzling game trying to figure out the best tracks to lay. It was also relaxing to know that there was no way to arrange cards that would cause a dead end.
I also had the good fortune to get included in a 6 player game of Wingspan in flock mode with the new Asia expansion. We also had the European and Oceania expansions mixed in. I was absolutely impressed with the new expansion and that is about all I’m allowed to say. Oh, except that I won! No photos were permitted, but I have the score sheet as evidence.
Several other games were shown in the expo hall at SHUX and I’ve posted more in depth photo previews of those games, click the images below to see more of each. Leaf is a unique and beautiful tile placement game from Weird City Games. Harrow County is Off the Page Games’ second comic book based game following up on the success of Mind MGMT. Stars of Akarios is a big game of space exploration from OOMM Games, informally referred to as Gloomhaven in Space. Catan: Dawn of Humankind is a new standalone Catan game set in early human history with nomadic tribes expanding out of Africa.
Trying Something New
I am first and foremost a board gamer, but every once in a while, I’ll dip my toes into role-playing games. During the weekend at SHUX, I was reminded about a unique RPG I had heard good things about: Alice is Missing. Conventions are a great place to try new games without having to own a copy, so I went to check out the RPG library. They didn’t have it, but my friend and I manage to find a copy and play through a 90 minute session on Sunday.
Alice Briarwood has gone missing and together the players must work together to find out what happened, hopefully saving Alice in the process. All the characters in Alice is Missing are already created, but players give them life based on motive prompts and the relationships they establish with other players. Most of the character names are gender neutral and can be played however players decide, as they will be providing their physical descriptions. The really neat thing about Alice is Missing and the reason I wanted to try it, was it is played entirely over text. The story unfolds in a group chat between all the players. Clue cards will give different players instructions at specified intervals during the game. These will tell them to do things such as draw a suspect and reveal information such as that person posted something suspicious about Alice on social media. As an non-extroverted player, this silent format made it much easier to get immersed in my character. We changed our nicknames in Discord to match our characters, players would reaction with emojis and gifs just like teenagers would with their friends. Pretty unique experience in my limited exposure to RPGs.
Should You Come to SHUX?
Yes! This was my third SHUX, but the first time I had to fly into Vancouver for the event. While there were games I missed out on and planned videos I never made, I had an excellent time catching up with gaming friends and making new ones. I played 25 different games, many of them multiple times. If you’ve never been to a board game convention, SHUX is very welcoming and isn’t too large to be overwhelming. But the best option is to search for a local event, you’d be surprised at the conventions that happen right under your nose.