I attended Dice Tower Con in Orlando Florida last weekend July 3-7th. Whether you attended, wanted to attend but couldn’t, or didn’t know it existed, here’s the low down on my first time attending the convention. Last year I had purchased tickets to DTC, but double booked myself and didn’t get to attend, so this was my first year going and I was pretty darn excited, For two reason : 1.) being the obvious that it is a board game con and I was attending and 2.) It was at the end of my driveway practically!
The event was hosted at the doubletree hotel near SeaWorld. I didn’t stay at the hotel since I’m neighbors with Disney World, but I didn’t hear any negative complaints about the rooms. The hotel itself was pretty clean and the game areas were neat, well-kept and comfortable for hours upon hours of gaming. Cushy chairs made sitting for long periods of time bearable and water re-hydration stations lined the walls of the main gaming hall and also the mini side rooms. My only negative thoughts were that you had to purchase food from the hotel, and couldn’t bring in snacks , drinks or items from outside the hotel or DTC could get fined a whopping sum for noncompliance. This wouldn’t have really been a problem except they really didn’t have a whole lot to offer in the way of food options : pizza, chips, pepsi products, candy bars, pre-package sweets and a few pieces of fruit, and a sandwich shop were about it. And the prices were a bit high, $2.50 for one of those small half filled bag of chips for example. So you’d have to walk to the surrounding subway or drive down a bit to get a meal that filled your belly properly for gaming. Which also wouldn’t have been a problem, except you had to pay for parking each time you left the hotel. DTC provided vouchers that brought the $14 parking down to $5, but if you left a few times per day, multiply that by 4 or 5 days of gaming, it could get pretty pricey even at $5 a pop. If you stayed at the hotel, however, you did get a parking card. Other than some gross people putting their empty soda bottles around the nozzles at the watering stations, those were really my only complaints.
The CON itself was really quite wonderful. The Library was extensive, and checking out games was pretty effortless, it also seemed to be always open no matter what time it was. They had multiple copies of hot games, and there were very few instances where the game I wanted was checked out. This was refreshing in comparison to my trip to BGG CON last year when you had to happen to be there at the right moment to get the game you wanted. This was of course mainly due to the fact that the DTC is a whole lot smaller than most conventions.I heard it did doubled in size from last year, but still, it was a very small intimate gaming experience. You passed the same familiar faces over and over throughout the day. It was nice.
Tom Vassal was a super nice guy, and played games with anyone and everyone. I sort of expected Eric Summerer to be a 9 foot tall transformer, but he’s not, he’s just your everyday board gamer like you or me. Well, not me, ’cause I’m a girl. He of course had a Merchant of Venus event where a bunch of MoV enthusiasts got together and played the game (I’m not a fan of MoV, so I skipped this one, but did stop in to check on my hubs playing it). Richard Borg hosted a liar’s dice tournament which was pretty flippin’ cool experience, and hope he does that again in the years to come.
There were just a handful of vendors, of course Cool Stuff Inc. and their wicked low prices, as well as a few others. R & R Games hosted a lot of tournaments giving away games as prizes (woot woot!) and also happily played all their party games with you, they were exceptionally friendly folk. I’m more of a meaty gamer, but I was pleasantly surprised by their party games and even picked up a few that I couldn’t live without. Some I really enjoyed were “Double Take” and “Smarty Party,” but the one that really shined was “Times Up!” I’m sure I’ll end up reviewing it here on BOP. They had binders by the game library in the front of the room where you could sign up for various games being hosted and played throughout the 5 days of gaming, which was really great, because it gave you a quick overview of pretty much everything going on. Some other special touches, were you got a nice big game bag with the logo and pretty spiffy lanyard/badge holder. They also did a drawing at 5 o’clock giving away lots of free games.
Each night there was a slew of werewolf games you could join and play into the wee hours of the morning including an “Are you a frakin’ cylon??” themed version of it. I’m pretty new to werewolf, but found it can turn into a 4 hour ordeal if you have a large enough group and people can get extremely emotionally into it come 3am. I did play one pretty epic game where everyone got a special role and the moderator did a phenomenal job of explaining the roles very quickly and kept the game going. He even started it out with a hilarious werewolf themed song that I so wish I could find the lyrics too or wish I had gotten it on video! Curse my phone for dying after 14 hours!!
Overall, I think the convention was a success. There will always be something for us humans to find to complain about (blasted hotel food rules!), but all and all the convention itself was pretty awesome. I have a lot of great memories from the weekends events and played a lot of really fun games current friends and new folks. The people at these conventions I find are genuinely very nice individuals, and I met some new people, that will hopefully become lifetime gaming friends. Which is really all you can hope for from a board game convention. I look forward to next year’s Dice Tower Con.