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    PAX West 2016

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    The thirteenth PAX West (formerly known as PAX Prime) took place September 2-5, 2016 at the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle, Washington.

    PAX Guide 2016: West Edition

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    Marino

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    Edited By Marino  Staff

    Back in the good ol' days of 2011, I began giving advice to help people get the most they possible could out of their PAX adventure. Over the years, with the help of countless duders, we've built what I think is a pretty great strategy guide. Whether you're a PAX rookie or this'll be your 16th PAX like me, this is for you. As the last few versions have been, this one is mostly unchanged aside from some minor updates and of course the info specific to 2016.

    Seattle

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    The Washington State Convention Center is a little old and a little small, but it is in a perfect location. Anything you could possibly want to see or do in Seattle is within walking distance (or maybe a short monorail ride). From the moment you get off your plane at SeaTac, you can walk to the Lightrail, pay less than $5, and ride all the way into downtown. At that point, you’re close to all the major hotels, the Pike Place Market, dozens of great places to eat, an arcade, a 5-minute monorail to the Seattle Center (Space Needle and music/sci-fi museums), and, of course, the convention center.

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    Giant Bomb @ PAX

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    For popular panels, you're going to need to line up early if want a good seat. As a general rule, I'd suggest going to most panels an hour early. For the super popular ones, there's a bit of loitering skill involved. Enforcers will not allow you to line up until the line for the previous panel goes inside, so...do what you need to do to get in the actual line as soon as that happens.

    Fortunately for us, the panel that is in the main theater before Giant Bomb/CAH on Saturday is ending an hour and a half before GB/CAH starts. So, even though there's not a panel immediately before it, I'm sure some of you crazy duders will be trying to line up super early. It's never been in the main theatre before, so please listen to the Enforcers and line up where you're supposed to.

    Note: The Main Theatre is at Benaroya Hall, which is a symphony hall located several blocks away from the convention center. It's located at the corner of Union & 3rd. Make sure you give yourself enough time to walk down there.

    When/WhereWhatWho

    Friday

    8:00 PM

    Sasquatch Theatre

    Let's Rank It!

    • Not Streaming

    Saturday

    11:30 AM

    Sphinx Theatre

    404ing It: Breaking (Down) the Internet

    • Not Streaming

    Saturday

    4:00 PM

    Main Theatre

    The Cards Against Humanity & Giant Bomb Variety Show

    Sunday

    10:00 AM

    Wyvern Theatre

    PAX RUMBLE IV: Video Game Wrestling in a League of Heels

    Please don't bring nacho cheese to Benaroya Hall.
    Please don't bring nacho cheese to Benaroya Hall.

    The Enforcers

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    Enforcers are a legion of volunteers that make PAX run efficiently. It would be a hot mess without them. In the old days, they would don the black. But, now that there are multiple versions of PAX, Prime Enforcers are coated in blue. If you need help with anything, just look for one of them. They’re never too far away. And if they ask you nicely to do something (like move out of an aisle/walkway), please do so.

    The Parlor Live (the comedy club CBSi rented out) shut down a couple weeks after this happened last year. Coincidence?
    The Parlor Live (the comedy club CBSi rented out) shut down a couple weeks after this happened last year. Coincidence?

    #PAX

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    Even if you don’t normally use Twitter, you should sign up just to follow these accounts while you’re at PAX. It’s the best and easiest way to get up-to-the-minute updates on what’s going on.

    • @official_pax - The important stuff.
    • @pax_lines - Updates on theatre/panel lines and when they get capped.
    • @pax_tourney - News on the dozens of tournaments going on upstairs.
    • @paxparties - An unofficial feed for the unofficial parties going on all weekend.
    Just because the expo hall closes at 6pm doesn't mean PAX stops.
    Just because the expo hall closes at 6pm doesn't mean PAX stops.

    The Packing List

    Here's what you need to bring with you especially if you're coming in from out of town.

    Money

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    Most places (including vendors in the expo hall) will take credit/debit cards, but it’s probably a good idea to carry a little cash just in case. And if you need to hit an ATM, do it early in the day as they sometimes run out of money later on.

    Backpack

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    Whatever your style of choice is, bring one. Don’t rely on getting a free bag at the show. They’re often cumbersome and there’s no guarantee you’ll find one anyway. Trust me…carrying a bunch of random stuff you pick up throughout the day is going to suck without a backpack. If it has weight reduction effects, all the better.

    Phone & Charger

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    Duh. You need your phone. But don’t make a rookie mistake and forget your charger and/or wall plug. Pro Tip: Turn your brightness down as far as you can tolerate. Keeping up with your friends at night through texts and/or Twitter is gonna be tough if your phone dies by 2 PM.

    Battery Pack

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    Strongly consider buying an external USB battery pack. It’s been a life saver for me the last few years. Worth every penny. Plus, if you get an adapter, it'll keep your 3DS and/or Vita truckin' too.

    3DS/Vita

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    You will undoubtedly find some downtime (like waiting in line), and you will never be in a better place for local, handheld multiplayer. And then there’s StreetPassing. Oh…the StreetPassing. You gotta get them puzzle pieces! And Nintendo is notorious for releasing new puzzles during the show.

    Hand Sanitizer

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    There will be dispensers scattered around the buildings, but do yourself a favor and toss a little bottle in your bag and use it every time you play something.

    Poster Tube

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    If you can fit it in your luggage, this is a veteran move. You might get a cool poster at PAX. You might even get it signed by Todd Howard. Make sure you have a way to get it home without crushing it.

    Trash Bag

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    Yep. A trash bag. Just throw it in your luggage. Using it for dirty clothes will keep your stank-ass, sweaty socks off of the cool stuff you bring back on the way home.

    Bring your handheld of choice. You never know who you'll get to play with.
    Bring your handheld of choice. You never know who you'll get to play with.

    The Daily List

    Here's a few things that you should do every day. Every. Day.

    Shower/Deodorant

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    For the love of Bristlebane, please! It’s not difficult. You're probably paying an arm and a leg for that hotel room you got, so use those amenities.

    Eat/Drink

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    Walking around for eighteen hours a day for four days requires fuel. It may sound crazy now, but you might actually forget to eat and stay hydrated. There’s a ton of awesome places to grab food in downtown Seattle. Try to eat two actual meals a day and carry some snacks for in-between. Alternatively, you could attempt to live on doughnuts for four days. Just don’t get trapped by that Subway on the 4th floor. You’re better than that.

    Sleep

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    Time is precious at PAX, but you can’t go non-stop for 100+ hours. Try to get at least 5 or 6 hours a night.

    Get Out

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    Don’t spend all of your time in the convention center. Get out of there once in a while, get some air, grab some real food, see some of the city, etc.

    Be Yourself

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    There’s a special vibe that envelops PAX. If you’ve ever felt weird or strange about the nerdy things you love, know that you’ll never be in a place with more people that enjoy the same things that you do than you ever will be. So, be yourself. Talk to random people in lines. You’re going to have a blast. Welcome home.

    Seattle has many great places to eat.
    Seattle has many great places to eat.

    The To-Do List

    Now that you've got a checklist of what to bring and some daily advice, here's some tips on how to prepare.

    Download Guidebook

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    Guidebook is the best, easiest way to keep up with all the official PAX info (schedule, maps, announcements, etc.) Plus, Dave & Coonce work there now, so you know it’s gotta be awesome.

    Gameplan

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    The schedule is out now, so start making a list right now of the panels you may want to see and any potential games you want to play. Compare your list with your friends and get a rough idea of what you want to see and do. Inevitably, you’re going to have make some tough decisions as multiple things you’re interested in will overlap. Accept the fact now that you can’t see/do everything, but if you go in there with no plan at all, you’re going to be overwhelmed.

    Plan a Backup

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    Shit happens. Panels get full faster than you thought. Lines get too long to be worth it. The game you wanted to play might actually just be a presentation. Try to have a backup whenever you can. If all else fails, just go spend some more time in…

    Indie Megabooth

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    Arguably the best part of PAX is the slew of indie games available. And, over the last few years, the Indie Megabooth has established itself as a primary feature of PAX. It houses over seventy games from nearly as many developers and you could spend hours there. It’s also great because you can play a bunch of games without waiting too long. If you see an open station, play it! I don’t care what it is.

    Escape the Expo

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    The expo hall is an amazing spectacle. No doubt about it. But, it's also a trap. Get the hell out of there and do some other stuff once in a while. PAX has so much to offer aside from the expo hall and you shouldn’t miss it. Head upstairs to the Classic Console and Console Freeplay rooms. Hunt down the Classic Arcade. Head down the street to the Tabletop arenas. You get the point. Go do stuff.

    The Indie Megabooth is always a good time!
    The Indie Megabooth is always a good time!

    The To-Don’t List

    A couple little words of warning from a PAX veteran. You'll thank me later.

    SWAG

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    We all love free stuff, but seriously…don’t be that guy. Don’t wait in line for 45 minutes to play a game you don’t care about just to get a shirt. And please don’t loiter around a headphone booth hoping to catch an inflatable hat. You will get free stuff without trying too hard, so don’t let SWAG ruin your PAX.

    Lines

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    Okay, lines are unavoidable. If you want to do much of anything at PAX, you’re gonna wait in some lines. But, this is on the “don’t” list simply to help you make good decisions. Do you really need to wait in line for an hour to play Deus Ex: Mankind Divided when it just came out the week before? Think about it. Do you really want to wait in line for an hour to watch a new Final Fantasy XV trailer that will be online Tuesday morning? Time is precious at PAX. Choose wisely.

    Welcome home.
    Welcome home.

    The Optional List

    Three PAX traditions that should not be ignored. Your interest will likely depend on who is involved, so take note.

    Keynote

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    The “Storytime” session is typically a great opening ceremony for PAX, especially for first-timers. But the Penny Arcade Q&A no longer immediately follows the keynote, so unless you're a fan of the speaker, it may not be worth it. This year’s speaker is Amy Hennig, who most people will know from Uncharted and whatever that Star Wars game is gonna be.

    Music

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    On Saturday and Sunday night, Benaroya Hall will be rocking late into the night. Whether you know anything about the performers or not, the concerts are a great time especially if you don’t have any other late night plans. Friday’s lineup includes "The Video Game Pianist" Martin Leung, Bit Brigade, and MC Frontalot. Saturday night will feature the Triforce Quartet, The Oneups, and Super Guitar Bros.

    Omegathon Finals

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    The Omegathon is an elimination tournament that takes place throughout the entire weekend between a couple dozen attendees who were randomly selected prior to the show. The final game is always kept a secret until the very end. It’s usually a great closing ceremony, but it totally depends on the game. I’ve seen some great ones like Vs. Excitebike, Ikaruga, Trials Evolution, and (inexplicably) a stuffed animal crane game. But, I’ve also seen some pure train wrecks like Spaceteam and Cornhole. So, I can’t recommend it as much as I used to, but it still has the potential to be awesome.

    The 2012 Omegathon Finals.
    The 2012 Omegathon Finals.

    PAX. PAX Never Changes.

    Magic is weird, y'all.
    Magic is weird, y'all.

    Except when it does. There’s a few notable changes to PAX West this year that everyone who’s been before should be aware of.

    1. The registration desk is back at Level 1 of the convention center after being over at the Grand Hyatt last year. That means if you did not get your badges mailed to you, you will need to pick them up at the in the WSCC. You can do this on Thursday if you get into town early, which will be a lot faster than doing it Friday morning for sure.
    2. Swag Bags (free stuff) pickups are now on the 2nd floor of the Sheraton (formerly at the Westin).
    3. Autographs are now on the 2nd floor of the Westin (formerly at the Paramount).
    4. The Classic Arcade has moved to the Grand Hyatt (formerly in the WSCC).
    5. Console Freeplay/Tournaments have moved to the Annex (formerly 6th floor WSCC).
    6. Wizards of the Coast have taken over the Paramount Theatre (formerly in the Annex).
    7. The Nintendo Indie Lounge has moved from the Sheraton to the 6th floor in the WSCC.
    8. An "Adult Swim Arcade" has been added to the 6th floor of the WSCC.
    9. Courtyard by Marriott no longer has a booth.

    <>

    Well, that's all I've got. If you have any suggestions, comments, suggestions, or complaints, let me hear it. As always, hopefully this will help some people out and maybe I'll see some of you at PAX. Let me know if you spot my Mii in StreetPass too. I'll probably be the idiot who's most recently played game is the Seattle Mariners logo. Anyway, it's gonna be a blast. Have fun.

    Please don't break kayfabe in public.
    Please don't break kayfabe in public.

    P.S. - Don't forget to get all your eSports Entertainment news at LeagueOfHeels.com!

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    giant_frying_pan

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    Cheers Brad! I used previous versions of your guide as help in planning my first PAX trip so a swish, up-to-date version is much appreciated!

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    Humanity

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    I will be making stickers for this as a nice change of pace from big ass posters.

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    stackboy

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    #3 stackboy  Online

    Have fun everyone who is heading along! I've been to 2 PAX Easts and loved it and this year will be my second PAX Aus.

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    big_jon

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    #4  Edited By big_jon

    I'm really excited for this. I hope there's a meet up this year.

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    big_jon

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    @humanity: Were you the guy in 2013 who gave me the Ryan pin?

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    Humanity

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    @big_jon: Doubtful as I've made a ton of promo material for these events but have never actually attended one myself!

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    Marino

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    #7 Marino  Staff

    @big_jon said:

    @humanity: Were you the guy in 2013 who gave me the Ryan pin?

    That was a guy named Mark Willhelm. He was an enforcer for many years, but it seems he's shut down his Twitter account, so I don't know where he is now.

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    clagnaught

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    So wait, is there no real Giant Bomb panel this year? (2 people on a "variety show" doesn't feel like it really counts, no?)

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    big_jon

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    @clagnaught: sounds a little bit odd to me too. I'm not even sure if giantbomb east is coming to PAX

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    mrfluke

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    Anyone know if the keynote storytime speakers typically hang around afterwards to meet fans or no? Would love to meet amy hennig if possible

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    rorie

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    #11 rorie  Staff

    So wait, is there no real Giant Bomb panel this year? (2 people on a "variety show" doesn't feel like it really counts, no?)

    Most everyone should be at the panel. There's only so much space to include names on the panel submission form, but the rest of the team should be there.

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    clagnaught

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    @rorie said:
    @clagnaught said:

    So wait, is there no real Giant Bomb panel this year? (2 people on a "variety show" doesn't feel like it really counts, no?)

    Most everyone should be at the panel. There's only so much space to include names on the panel submission form, but the rest of the team should be there.

    Ah, cool. Thanks!

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    plasmathrower

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    I see everquest icons everywhere.

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    kasaioni

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    @rorie: I was wondering this as well, thanks for the clarification.

    Really looking forward to see what Brad decides to being to 404-ing it.

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    Lord_Anime

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    awesome for putting this together duder

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    Pauper

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    Any news on a Meetup yet? Haven't seen anything but maybe Im missing it?

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    Marino

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    #18 Marino  Staff

    @pauper said:

    Any news on a Meetup yet? Haven't seen anything but maybe Im missing it?

    Unfortunately, there will be no official off-site location like the last two years.

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    RupertTheBear

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    For any Team GFB Podcast listeners heading to PAX, there is a meet and greet at the hotel bar after the Let's Rank It panel. There you could meet Dave Lang and Darryl Wisner while having food and drinks.

    CCGet Together at PAX West

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    Cybexx

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    @mrfluke said:

    Anyone know if the keynote storytime speakers typically hang around afterwards to meet fans or no? Would love to meet amy hennig if possible

    The Benaroya Hall panels tend to be a bit weird in that there is a lobby but they don't always let the speakers hang around there after the panel. I've had more luck meeting the panelists for main stage stuff in the line before the panel, some of them like Tim Schafer tend to wander the line.

    I've been wondering how that will affect the Giant Bomb / Cards Against Humanity panel. Its awesome that they managed to finally get on the main stage this year because their panels are always ridiculously packed but they also usually hang around for an hour after the panel in the hall which is why they always go for the last time slot. There is about 3 hours between the end of their panel and the start of the saturday night concert stuff so hopefully that works out.

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    dovah

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    I'm not going but this guide looks great. Hope everyone has a fantastic time.

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    big_jon

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    T-minus 3 days!

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    wolf_blitzer85

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    Oh my god those donuts are killing me.

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    xpgamer7

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    If you see a black haired skinny tall guy with a black messenger bag who never leaves the expo hall that's me. I'll see you all there.

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    asmo917

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    One helpful tip and one not helpful tip.

    Helpful: When it comes to panels, think about what you're going to get out of being there. I'd love to go to Let's Rank It, because those are some funny people. However, it conflicts with Pat Rothfuss's talk. Team GFB Radio will probably post their panel as a podcast; any "news" that comes out of Rothfuss's panel will get passed around but not the stories or more subtle moments. It's an "easy" call for me to pass on Lang and crew.

    Not helpful: Everyone says not to fall in love with a place while you're on vacation...but fuck that. I came to Seattle for Pax Prime 2013, loved the city, and moved here a year later. I now live within walking distance of the WSCC and all the associated venues and love the city, warts and all. I "save" a few hundred on hotel/airfare each year now by paying exorbitant rent!

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    SebW

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    Thanks for the guide! You forgot one thing though, Mario Maker World Championships: Klepek vs. Ryckert at 3:30 in the Sasquatch theatre

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    chaser324

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    #28  Edited By chaser324  Moderator

    @sebw said:

    Thanks for the guide! You forgot one thing though, Mario Maker World Championships: Klepek vs. Ryckert at 3:30 in the Sasquatch theatre

    It seems like that has to be some sort of mistake in the guide. I don't think either of them has mentioned anything about that, and it isn't listed on the schedule on the PAX website. I doubt very seriously that this would be a last minute addition because if it's anything like PAX East, this is a panel that would require some preparation.

    EDIT: Apparently the description actually mentions the PAX East event, so I have no clue what the deal is. It makes sense as something they would've proposed, but if it's a late addition to the schedule that they didn't prepare for, I don't see how they can actually make it happen.

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    SebW

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    @chaser324: yeah, I think you're right, guess it's a mistake since it's not in the paper schedule. There is a conspicuous gap on the paper schedule so they could throw it together, if it is on, great, if not, plenty else to do. I tweeted @ them both, they may not have time to read or respond but if they do I'll report back here.

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    chaser324

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    #30 chaser324  Moderator
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    ThomasCro

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    What a primer! Bravo!

    This edit will also create new pages on Giant Bomb for:

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