PAX West Indies Top 3: Best Dicey Adventures

Having checked out scores of indies at PAX last week, I’m ready to share the absolute best of the best. And to do that, I’m stuffing the site with top 3 lists spotlighting the wildest, most thoughtful, and brightest games of the bunch. Each list doles out much-deserved accolades to a different category.

This time around, we’re getting a little dicey with my three favorite games with tabletop roots. And I’m not sure they could be any more different from each other.

Clam Man 2: Headliner

One of the first things developer Martin Hanses said to me as I sat to play his stats-governed, underwater romp is it’s garned a good-natured nickname amongst fans: Fishco Elysium. I mean, is there a better elevator pitch? A blend of Office Space and D&D, Clam Man’s demo focuses on the titular character as his typical unbearable day at the office becomes a comedy-club adventure.

Like the genre’s tradition demands, I begin by picking my class — in this case I opted for Confidently Stupid, which boosts my asserition though tanks my self-awareness. My powers of lack of observation serve me well when helping a fellow office worker in making a suspicious device but not so much in meeting a world-wary bartender at an underground club. What I played is authentically written, and sadly relateable. I can’t wait to play more.


A disclaimer before I get started: Mirthwood was being repped at PAX by fellow member of The Indie Council, Mike Towndrow. Though, I should also point out, he didn’t even try to get me in for an appointment and I had to slip into the booth early in the morning to beat the lines. And there were lines because this game is hard to put down.

After an epic opening painting a scene of a world brimming with tumultuous history, it’s time for some good ol’ character creation. This process includes the typical physical traits, but also asks me to pick an origin, social class, and profession — all of which effects my stats. My high-born fighter manifested, I venture out into a beautifully hand-drawn world that immediately pulls me into side quests that grant me a rare weapon (with which I kill a couple of threatening bandits), a lesson in cooking, and a chance to try out the game’s mini-game-like socialization system.

For The King II

The dice were surprisingly kind to me when I got a change to go hands-on with this anticipated sequel — both with getting the appointment but also in-game. First, they had cookies. And since I needed that sugar rush to get through the day, I couldn’t have been more grateful. Most importantly, I was thrilled to get a tour of all the new features fans can expect for the game.

Fresh for this follow-up experience are new classes, like the Farmer. This salt-of-the-earth hero can actually construct a scarecrow mid-battle to act as a meat shield for your party. The way the game puts increasing pressure on its players has also been re-worked. Instead of the game growing harder due to chaos, objectives like ensuring mine carts don’t reach their destination while simultaneously trying to fight off deadly foes will keep players on their toes. It’s set to release in 2023, so I’m keeping an eye out for launch news!

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