North Star Games: Pax Unplugged 2017
North Star Games came to the inaugural PAX Unplugged with an impressive stable of games on display. First off was Wits and Wagers, Vegas. The award-winning Wits and Wagers has been round for eleven years collecting every major award along the way. It can be described as the trivia game for people who do not like trivia. Every round begins with a trivia question of the like that you do not know the answer to, an example for Vegas is, “At the largest gathering of Elvis Presley impersonators, how many impersonators were there?”
So, you guess at an answer, trying to be closest without going over. In the original Wits and Wagers, all guesses are revealed and players wager on which answer they think is best. The new addition in Vegas is that players bet ahead of time on the long shot as a ten-to-one bet on a player and not a number. Which can lead to a sure thing, or people giving ridiculous answers on a bluff. After seven rounds the player with the most money is the winner. The Wits and Wagers, Vegas has a huge six square foot Vegas-style gaming mat available separately with amazing table presence for a truly casino-like atmosphere.
Next up was Happy Salmon, the frantic and energetic party gamy for up to four players. Happy Salmon deals players colored cards with different gestures on them, High-Five, Pound It (fist bump), Switcheroo (players trade places) and Happy Salmon (players clap each other’s forearm like a fish tail). At the beginning of the round players simultaneously begin shouting the gesture of their top card hoping another player has their matching gesture. They do the gesture and move to their next card shouting out the new gesture. Once a player has no cards left they yell “Finished!” and the game ends. Happy Salmon is a loud and high-energy game. There are other modifications and silent rules for when the surroundings need to be quieter. The new Happy Salmon Blue Edition allows for six players instead of the standard four.
In their strategy line is Evolution, it is a game of ecosystems and the ability to adapt in a changing play space. There are seventeen different cards and players work with different combinations of the cards. The players control the different species adapting and evolving them to handle whatever is going on in the current situation. Species begin as omnivores surviving around the watering hole. Here they develop certain traits like cooperation and protection. Eventually, the species may evolve into a predator. When this happens, that animal can no longer eat from the watering hole and must survive by attacking other creatures. The game has been re-adapted by a former Magic, The Gathering Pro. The science behind the game has been featured in prominent scientific journals because of how it teaches the interconnectivity of ecosystems. A video game version has just finished Kickstarter and will tentatively be ready Fall of 2018 and be available on PC, Mac, Steam, iOS and Android.
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