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TOPIC: Pax Emancipation

Pax Emancipation 14 Feb 2018 11:50 #263570

www.boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/245928/pax-emancipation

So I guess if you've ever wanted Phil's take on slavery abolition... here you go? Wait and see for me even though I like the other Pax games. I get that other people don't care what the subject or viewpoint of their creators and games are, have at it, but this might be a bridge too far for me. On the other hand, there might be a good game inside this subject, I don't know, and I'm not sure Phil's the guy I want writing footnotes in my rulebook about it.
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Pax Emancipation 14 Feb 2018 11:58 #263573

Pax Trans-humanity is also coming out.
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Pax Emancipation 14 Feb 2018 13:14 #263582

I really don't understand the Cult of Phil. He makes shelf toads and writes terrible rulebooks, and hold some peculiar personal beliefs. Is there something I'm missing?
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Pax Emancipation 14 Feb 2018 13:23 #263585

Some of the games are very good and pretty unique despite these problems?

The Pax series is very interesting because it is quite cutthroat but your interaction with each other is trying to tilt a chaotic game state to your advantage. Hard to explain.
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Pax Emancipation 14 Feb 2018 14:23 #263592

I don't see his games as shelf toads other than HIGH FRONTIER. Granted the rulebooks suck, but its partially due to the uniqueness of the system being used. Once you have a few games under your belt, the rulebook is a halfway decent reference. The small form factor of the gamebox and game itself makes it easier to hit the table than say ST:ASCENDANCY.

One thing that struck me as bizarre in that BGG thread is that Phil mentions a variant called NAZI GREENLAND. WTF ?

I think Eklund is at a bit of a crossroads. The fiasco with the releases of JOHN COMPANY and the new editions of MEGAFAUNA and BIOS GENESIS combined with an influx of new players who will try to come to grips with his eccentric take on things will be interesting to watch. Tack this onto the endless delays of HIGH FRONTIER and this years KS campaign for GREENLAND/NEANDERTHAL, if that shits the bed he'll start to go down the Martin Wallace path of gamers being less willing to front the money to someone who seems to lack some business sense.

There was a lot of finger pointing with him and Shit Naked as well as with One Small Step and the common denominator is....Eklund. I think there was blame on both sides but bottom line he's exhibiting some growing pains of sorts from say five years ago when his games had a lot less visibility in the marketplace. Like Wallace I think he needs to step back from the business side and hire someone . Using Ship Naked or another fulfillment company seems to always end poorly.

If you don't read the footnotes deeply I don't think his beliefs really permeate that deep unless you are familiar with the subject matter - which is often obscure in the grand scheme of things.

FOMO is also part of the equation as his stuff sells out relatively quick and reprints are slow to come out - and as his catalog gets bigger this will be more true.

When the Ship Naked fiasco came to light he intimated that the cash hit he took would delay the next set of releases - but this was before he and Yarrington kissed and made up. So who knows.
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Pax Emancipation 14 Feb 2018 15:21 #263599

He put out a call for playtesters for Pax Emancipation and Pax Transhumanity a while ago. I was hoping Pax Emancipation wasn't what it sounded like, but clearly it is.

This one might be a miss for me, and I love the Pax games. We'll see. Based on actually reading the footnotes, I think Eklund is the last person to be a slavery apologist. That sort of thing really doesn't fit into his libertarian viewpoint, being literal coercion by force and all. However, this subject is a fucking minefield and the next Atlantic article might not be as congratulatory. I'm thinking the madness surrounding King Philip's War x100. It's pretty easy to want to stall the game in Pax to set yourself up for a victory condition, but in this case you're "prolonging slavery" to do that. That's got be a hard thing to try to dance around. I think this might come out as one of the most tone-deaf games ever, sadly.

Pax Transhumanity I'm much more interested in, but last I heard it's been shelved due to the ShipNaked JC fiasco. Despite reading a lot of threads, I still don't have a good sense of quite what went wrong there. Obviously ShipNaked has a history of fucking up, but as Msample points out, so does Phil. The analogy to Wallace is very keen there.

I'm wildly opposite to most of his beliefs, and I still enjoy his games. I always read the footnotes, and mostly just shake my head. Sax's comments about how Pax Ren the game sort of disproves the theory put out in the footnotes are a great example. Still, he makes good games with interesting models, even if the models don't always turn out the way they're expected to.
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Pax Emancipation 14 Feb 2018 15:24 #263600

Msample wrote:
Shit Naked
...
...
FOMO
More like YOLO


(IMHO)
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Pax Emancipation 14 Feb 2018 15:24 #263601

Yes, that is a perfect way to put it. His games are propositions, models of events in a pleasingly concrete way. Even if I don't always agree with the model---though I actually think the models of Pax Ren and Pax Porfiriana aren't that bad.
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Pax Emancipation 14 Feb 2018 15:52 #263603

Eklund has this reputation as a real scholar creator, and it may be true, but I know folks who have studied Renaissance literature for a living who say that Phil's theories about it are a bunch of hogwash. It's clear he reads a lot on the subject of his games, but that doesn't necessarily mean anything. Alan Moore, the comics writer, gets a lot of credit for his intensely researched book about Jack the Ripper (From Hell). It has a deep bibliography, but a lot of them are just kook books all referencing each other. (This is not unusual in a lot of fringe research.) It wouldn't surprise me at all if Eklund operates a similar way.

I like Porfiriana. Pamir just can't catch a break with me. I enjoyed High Frontier, but the fact that no one knows what the actual rules for it are at any given moment makes it not really worth pursuing. I've played a few of his other things, with not much return on the energy investment. And yeah, I really don't need Phil Eklund teaching me the "reality" of slavery (he already had something to say about it in the notes for Porfiriana.)

His games can be interesting, but the effort to actually play them seldom pays off. I'm pretty okay with sticking to the occasional Pax Porfiriana game and maybe High Frontier if he can ever calm the fuck down and just publish it.
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Pax Emancipation 14 Feb 2018 16:06 #263604

Well, it goes to show how for most people the appearance of expertise is more important than expertise itself.

I haven't personally played or read the rules to Pax Ren, but from what I know his ideas are more than a "little" problematic. As a student of Early Modern literature and history, I would suggest that everyone not to take anything he writes about the period with anything other than the greatest amount of skepticism.

As for this game, I would be interested if it was basically anyone other than him. However, Eklund has shown himself to be an untrustworthy and unethical researcher, and I simply can't overlook that for a game no matter how good. Someone posted a "conversation" Eklund was in concerning climate change on bgg, and his complete unwillingness to weigh or engage with evidence contrary shows a complete lack of scruples that would fail pretty much any undergraduate student research paper.
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Pax Emancipation 14 Feb 2018 16:14 #263605

My first exposure to Phil Eklund was in the early '90s, when I bought the first edition of Lords of the Sierra Madre. As I commented on BGG, "Not sure if there is a playable game in here somewhere." It appeared to be a partially complete set of prototype-quality components, and I honestly don't recall seeing an actual rulebook. It gathered dust for years until a friend expressed interest in it and I gave it to him. He never mentioned it again, so I assume that he was also defeated by the lack of rules.

My second exposure to Phil Eklund was a single play of the first edition of High Frontier. The long game ran really long because we were struggling to find relevant rules in the terrible rulebook. I had bad luck at assembling a space ship and didn't have a workable combination until maybe 90 minutes into the game. My first attempted launch was a failure, but I eventually got to the moon while other people were much farther out in the solar system.

Otherwise, all I know about Eklund is what I have read here at F:AT, and the overall impression is of an ambitious game designer who is overly obsessed with simulation at the expense of gameplay. Eklund seems like the kind of person who reads obsessively about specific topics and then develops his own quirky theories that are only loosely related to what he has read.
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Pax Emancipation 14 Feb 2018 16:22 #263606

I'm not going to cite him, if that's what y'all are worried about. I'm quite aware of the flaws there.

Aside from the footnotes/essays in the rulebook, and the almost unreadably small text on the cards, there's not a lot to opine on. The cards in the game function very similarly to the cards in a CDG or COIN game, as historical events/personages that sway the game one way or another. The biggest agenda there is editorial, simply in selecting which to include and which to leave out, and how they fit into the model of the game.

If anything the biggest editorial decision in all those types of games is the prevalence of the "Great Man of History" theory, which you just have to sort of agree to look past for the card mechanics to work.

I'm not asking for historical authenticity, just a good game with veneer of historical theme, and perhaps something to look up later. If that means I'm playing the historical equivalent of "Ready Player One", I'm okay with that. I'll read a proper book or two if I want some deeper research on a topic.
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Pax Emancipation 14 Feb 2018 16:27 #263607

Double-posting because this thread is surprisingly hot.
Shellhead wrote:
Otherwise, all I know about Eklund is what I have read here at F:AT, and the overall impression is of an ambitious game designer who is overly obsessed with simulation at the expense of gameplay. Eklund seems like the kind of person who reads obsessively about specific topics and then develops his own quirky theories that are only loosely related to what he has read.

Probably not wrong on the "quirky theories" part. If anything though, I think he's changed significantly from Lords of the Sierra Madre and High Frontier. Playtime and complexity on his more recent titles (anything since Pax Porf) are way down, and most of the rule changes (far too frequent sometimes) are generally for playability rather than simulation accuracy.

I wouldn't hire him as a scientist or a researcher, but I like some of his games.
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Pax Emancipation 14 Feb 2018 16:30 #263609

Legomancer wrote:
Eklund has this reputation as a real scholar creator, and it may be true, but I know folks who have studied Renaissance literature for a living who say that Phil's theories about it are a bunch of hogwash. It's clear he reads a lot on the subject of his games, but that doesn't necessarily mean anything. Alan Moore, the comics writer, gets a lot of credit for his intensely researched book about Jack the Ripper (From Hell). It has a deep bibliography, but a lot of them are just kook books all referencing each other. (This is not unusual in a lot of fringe research.) It wouldn't surprise me at all if Eklund operates a similar way.

I like Porfiriana. Pamir just can't catch a break with me. I enjoyed High Frontier, but the fact that no one knows what the actual rules for it are at any given moment makes it not really worth pursuing. I've played a few of his other things, with not much return on the energy investment. And yeah, I really don't need Phil Eklund teaching me the "reality" of slavery (he already had something to say about it in the notes for Porfiriana.)

His games can be interesting, but the effort to actually play them seldom pays off. I'm pretty okay with sticking to the occasional Pax Porfiriana game and maybe High Frontier if he can ever calm the fuck down and just publish it.

This is not much different than say a wargame designer who wildly inflates German capabilities in a Bulge game because he wants to make it fun for them, and/or thinks they could have done better than they did historically . A designer is allowed to have a viewpoint, with which you may or may not agree. This doesn't come up in Euros because most are so abstract there isn't a basis of comparison.
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Pax Emancipation 14 Feb 2018 16:35 #263610

Shellhead wrote:
I really don't understand the Cult of Phil. He makes shelf toads and writes terrible rulebooks, and hold some peculiar personal beliefs. Is there something I'm missing?

He is a good designer, but the rules are often dogshit, and his designs are aggravating to teach. I have not enjoyed any of his games, and they all suffer from unintuitive graphic design, poor production quality and useless player aids. There are clever elements to all of his designs that I’ve seen, but they don’t culminate into a game that I find engaging or accessible to other players.
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