Hey hey! Dice Tower Con 2017 wrapped up Sunday and I wanted to get some of my thoughts on the event written down before they slip away…
Last month I attended Origins Game Fair (read about my experience here) and met Gil Hova, the owner of Formal Ferret Games. Gil and I connected on social media and a couple of weeks ago Gil asked if I could help him out by demoing some of his games at Dice Tower Con. I agreed and he hooked me up with a (shared) hotel room and a badge for the event. He also provided me with a copy of the game that I demoed, The Networks (really terrific game, be on the lookout for a review soon). In return I demoed games at the Formal Ferret booth throughout the event – for probably about 15 hours total, over the course of 4 days (the event was longer but I could not attend for its entirety).
Dice Tower Con was a lot of fun, but different than any convention I’ve been too. It was so laid back, relaxed. There were lots of people (think hundreds, not thousands), lots to see and do, but it never felt rushed, chaotic, or overwhelming. The event is fairly small and it only took a few hours to see everything there was to see…after that free time was spent playing games, meeting and hanging out with new friends and contacts. The size of the event sort of forced attendees to do more than just browse the vendor hall. As someone who doesn’t want to miss a single thing, this was really freeing; I saw everything then I was done seeing everything. I could “move on” to freely playing with, meeting, and getting to know new people and games. And I did get to meet some awesome people, including some big names in the industry – The Dice Tower crew (Sam Healey, Zee Garcia, Eric Summerer, and Tom Vasel), Ignacy Trzewiczek, John Zinser, Todd Rowland, and Robert Burke, all pictured below.
Additionally, I had the opportunity to play some great new games. A particularly exciting experience was playing the upcoming release Lovercraft Letter with it’s publisher’s owner. I got to check out Century Spice Road, which has been said to be the next Splendor. I also had the opportunity to try several recent releases which I’ve been interested in but haven’t pursued.
One event in particular was really fun (much more fun than I expected) – The Dice Tower Top Ten live podcast. I came early to secure a good seat and ended up meeting with and playing games with a few other attendees and that in itself was a fun, light, unexpected interaction. The podcast “taping” captured the spirit of the entire convention – fun, silly, relaxed, and all about games and the people who make, play, and love them. I’ll be honest here – I haven’t always been a huge fan of The Dice Tower. I’m not going to go into the reasoning here, now, but I will say my dislike stems from a conscious, thought-out formation of this opinion, not just a silly, simple “I don’t like it”. Attending this tapping allowed me to, just as consciously, form a new view. Something gets lost in the various broadcast channels; being there, in the room as these people create the podcast, the tiny little nuisances of each one’s personality are more visible, more approachable. Perhaps its just that the veil is removed, they are indeed human, not so far removed from me or you…perhaps that’s overly dramatic. Whatever the reasoning, attending this event allowed me to see the Dice Tower afresh and what I noticed this time was actually really fun, interesting.
Now some random, minor criticisms and observations. The event was spread across the convention center and filled multiple rooms. This was one point I found less than ideal – the event was spread out all over the convention center but there was no way to figure out what was where, or even what was there anywhere. There was no map, no master list of vendors (continue reading)…because I don’t like to miss anything I ended up scouring the convention center, at least poking my head into every room. This felt like a waste of time and energy, two precious resources at a con. More often than not a room was empty or contained only a few random people playing random games. Only a handful of times did it lead to finding a vendor, but each time it did it validated my fear I might miss something if I didn’t keep looking. I did discover, several days into the event, that there was a map in the program, which would have been helpful had I received a program on Day 1 (this was not the fault of the con or its organizers) but since I didn’t and there was no posted master vendor list or map anywhere around the convention hall I felt it worth mentioning here.
Saturday night, for a full hour before the vendor hall closed announcements and contest winners were broadcast over the PA system. Throughout the event announcements were made every day, for a few minutes here and there, no big deal. Announcements over a PA system for an hour was rough.
The convention center and attached hotel were absolutely lovely; well designed, well maintained, clean (spotless), welcoming, and relaxing. My family doesn’t have tons of vacation time or resources but I actually considered a family vacation here because it was such a nice place. The staff were courteous and helpful. The food available onsite ranged from pretty horrible to good, but was usually overpriced. I ate every meal somewhere on site and this was an expensive decision that usually left me less than satisfied. As both were exceptionally yummy, I do recommend the sushi at The Falls Lounge and the Chicken Tenderloin and Pasta Shells at The Tropicale.
The Dice Tower Convention was fun, way more fun than I anticipated. If you’re looking for a small, laid-back, family-friendly gaming convention that still packs in fun and excitement, check out The Dice Tower Con. More information and future con dates here: http://www.dicetowercon.com/
Thanks for reading my review; I hope you enjoyed it! S