Summer in Florida means one thing – board gaming!! Wait, what? I know it seems strange to vacation to tropical climes to hang out inside and play board games, but after my first experience with Dice Tower Con, I have to say it’s worth it. This was the con’s 6th year and it’s amazing to see what it is from a newcomer’s perspective. Having grown to somewhere around 2500 – 3000 attendees (I believe doubling last year’s capacity!), the con has just the right amount of people to be buzzing pretty much any time of the day, which is a great atmosphere. A bonus is the con space is not cramped or lacking in any way so I never felt overwhelmed in the gaming hall or anywhere else – I hope they stick to similarly sized venues going forward, to match their growth.
There were many terrific things going on throughout the con – panels, events, demos, and even the Dice Tower Awards ceremony! I made it to a panel on Legacy games, and it was pretty cool – being broadcast/recorded for folks who couldn’t be there, too! I know the room the events were held in was a little big for most stuff, even the awards – although it seemed to be pretty full when the Jack Vasel Memorial Fund auction was happening, which was great. At any rate, it was a packed schedule of stuff, making it easy to be doing something at all times, if you weren’t already just jam packed with gaming in the hall (or stopping by one of the scaled-up games set up in the hallway for some big fun!).
While I was lucky to grab a few things from the Cool Stuff Inc ding & dent sale, and some review copies here and there (thank you Renegade Games and Restoration Games!), plus having pals who’d brought games with them, I mostly relied on playing games from the DTC library. It was run smoothly by the volunteers, had a great waitlist system (they were nice to email me instead of texting, yay!) and a great selection of games. On top of this, nearby were a number of tables set up with hot games throughout the con, and were always hopping. This is a great way to make sure folks get to the games getting some buzz. I was lucky enough to sit down and try Ancestree (upcoming from Calliope Games designed by Eric Lang), Raiders of the North Sea (Spiel des Jahres nomination and being picked up by Renegade Games!) and Photosynthesis (Blue Orange Games) over the course of the con thanks to the hot games tables.
The vendor and publisher area in the main gaming hall was terrific – plenty to see, yet not crammed in. I’d love to see all of the vendors and publishers in the same space, purely from a selfish perspective. I found myself wandering the aisles in the vendor space more than I found myself ducking down hallways outside the main gaming hall to see what was in the satellite rooms. Regardless, I got to check out what was hot with publishers right now, from R&R Games to Renegade, Grey Fox Games to Bezier, and even stopping by to see what Queen Games and Tasty Minstrel were showing! I had a couple of demo rounds of Champions of Midgard at the Grey Fox booth, which has certainly piqued my interest – can’t wait to try a whole game of that one! Thanks to the Bezier crew, I also got to sit down and play a whole game of the upcoming Palace of Mad King Ludwig, and I loved it. Why isn’t it Essen, yet? Then, looking for some large group fun, I ended up in a game of Hellapagos from Gigamic Games – with some fantastic dress up fun thanks to prop-master and game teacher Nate.
Of course, it’s not a convention without the wonderful people involved. It was terrific to see so many publishers having a presence at DTC, booth or not – lots of showing off of prototypes and playtesting going on (I got in on that action!), and a chance to try some pre-release games (and this action too!). Not to mention the fun late night games of Heartthrob and Word Slam I managed to find myself in with fabulous folks like Dice Tower contributors Zee Garcia, Suz Sheldon, Crystal Pisano, Dukes of Dice Sean & Alex, and Roy Cannaday! It was really a treat to see some of the greatest folks in the hobby all together for a wonderful 5 days. I’m definitely looking forward to the next time I get to DTC! In the meantime, keep an eye out for upcoming reviews of some of the games I had the best fun with at DTC, like Sentient, Downforce, Not Alone, Fox in the Forest and more!