At nearly the last minute this year I was offered a free place to stay during Dice Tower Con, and I simply couldn’t pass up the invitation. Beyond having always wanted to go, I also wanted to continue building connections with leaders in the board gaming world. For anyone interested, this blog post is a summary of the convention, as well as a comparison with BoardGameGeek Con and BGG Spring, and some of the games that I played.
What is Dice Tower Con?
If you listen to any of the Dice Tower Network podcasts (there are scores of them) and would like to meet the people who generate that content and perhaps play a game with them, then attending this con one of the best ways to do that. It’s also a good opportunity to listen live to podcasts like the Dice Tower Awards. One interesting fact is that the con is not run by the Dice Tower, but by the con crew the Dice Tower added their name to 9 years ago. This meant that DT was NOT responsible for the library, the schedule, the pamphlet, registration, giveaways, etc…. At the end of the con, DT announced that next year Dice Tower Con will become Dice Tower East and DT will actually take over running the full convention.
A Few Disappointments
I think this change is great news because I had a problem with, well with most of the areas I listed above. First off, the con pamphlet, which at BGG is a two-page brochure with a map and overview schedule. At DTC the pamphlet was a 44-page full color magazine! This was great, except for the fact that it didn’t include an overview schedule. Instead, there was an extremely detailed schedule that covered 18 pages?!? With it being my first year at the con I really wanted to be there for the DT shows, but finding them in that mess was incredibly difficult if you didn’t know where to look to start. I’m certain that the publishers appreciate having each game they are going to demo listed, but for me it was too overwhelming to look at. Instead, I’d ask the people around me and they usually knew the overall schedule (from being there in previous years). A simple addition of an overview schedule would’ve made the magazine much more user-friendly.
My other complaint involves the game library itself. I checked with a few people who attended previously and they confirmed this was a major change from last year. The library was about half the size that it had been, and for some reason, they cut almost entirely older games. Okay, that kind of makes sense because people tend toward newer games, but at the same time they had unnecessary duplicates of games. For example, they included 3 copies of XIA: Legend of a Drift System (I maybe saw one checked out at one point), I think there were 4 -5 copies of Splendor (which were never checked out), and several other games released in 2016-17 had multiple copies which seemed unnecessary, especially when some great classic games had been removed (I didn’t find a single older “Key” game to introduce my friends to).
Okay, that’s enough complaining. Those parts of the convention were rough, and it didn’t seem like a con that has been running for as long as it has been, but maybe a lot of that was the con crew knowing ahead of time that this is their last convention to host for DT.
A Few of My Favorite Things
Now for the great things about Dice Tower Con. First off, there was a great amount of play space. I never had to go outside the main room to find a table to play on, even when it was at the busiest. Also, the general culture of the con was wonderful. There were a few times when the friends that I had at the con were elsewhere or already engaged in a game. When that happened I had no problems (even as an introverted somewhat shy person) walking up to a Players Wanted sign or a Teacher Wanted sign and engaging the table. I even used a Players Wanted sign to sit down at a game I wanted to play and filled up a table with strangers to play a great game (Master of Respect).
The Hot Games area was well-stocked, having been curated by Tom Vasel, though the teachers were too few and hadn’t been coached on teaching any of the games. Then there were the DT events. I didn’t make it to all of any of them, since I would usually hear someone mention going to them as I was halfway through a game, but the parts I was able to go to were run incredibly smoothly. The Dice Tower Awards were a lot of fun since this is a podcast episode I knew I’d listen to after I got home, but I could appreciate the visual jokes, the interactions on stage that weren’t mic’d, and the beaming smiles of the winners, as well as hanging out afterward and congratulating some gaming giants on awards for their great games.
My other favorite was the Jack Vasel Memorial Fund Auction. This is a fundraiser for the JVMF which “helps gamers in their time of need” and is something I’ve been wanting to find a way to support for years. During the auction there was a silent auction going on in part of the room, but the main spectacle was Eric Summerer acting as auctioneer while Tom Vasel, Sam Healy, and Zee Garcia talked about what was being auctioned. They auctioned off lots as quickly as I’ve seen giveaways run, maybe faster. Each of the DT events I attended was a well-oiled machine. You could tell that they have done this before and intentionally worked out all of the kinks. I expect that if you decide to go to DTC next year you will have a MUCH better experience with DT taking over the running of the con.
Hobknobbing with Dice Tower Hosts
And finally, the people! My host for the week was Andrew Smith of The Family Gamers podcast. We had a great time chatting in the room, at meals, and playing several games together. I also got a bit of an inside look at the con by rooming with him. That’s how I know the Hot Games teachers didn’t get any coaching because he was one and he didn’t get any. I was able to have quick chats with Tom and Sam and get selfies with them. I had a little more of a chance to talk with Eric and get a selfie, and talk about how I hope First Move Financial can help the Jack Vasel Memorial Fund. But the Dice Tower personality I got the most interaction with was Mandi Hutchinson, one of the co-hosts of the main Dice Tower podcast. She was incredibly nice to talk to. The first time I approached her I asked for a selfie, after which most of the other personalities would include a sentence or two of small talk, but with Mandi she continued the conversation, asking more about me and being genuinely pleasant to talk to.
When comparing this particular Dice Tower Con to the BGG and BGG Springs that I’ve been to, the BGG Spring wins out as my favorite since it is a little more laid back, strictly focused on gaming, and the library is amazing (plus at BGG Spring they have been selling games they are culling from the BGG library for the past few years).
|Dice Tower Con||BGG Con||BGG Spring Con|
|Most New Games||
|Best for Buying New Games||
|Best for Buying Used Games||
|Best Non-Gaming Content||
- BANG! The Dice Game
- The Castles of Burgundy
- Century: A New World
- Century: Eastern Wonders
- Century: Golem Edition
- Crown of Emara
- Freight Cars
- Great Western Trail
- The Grimm Masquerade
- Heaven & Ale
- Las Vegas
- Lorenzo il Magnifico
- Master of Respect x2
- Roll Player
- Die Tavernen im Tiefen Thal
- Teotihuacan: City of Gods
- Unmatched: Battle of Legends x3
- Village Pillage
Favorite game played: Prêt-à-Porter – this was the one taught by Mandi
Surprise of the con: Master of Respect – I hadn’t heard of this game, then after playing it, wanted to immediately play it again