This review is a bit of a departure from my normal format of reviewing big box store games, but it still focuses on tabletop games (with a little insight into the fanatic culture).
TotalCon is a tabletop gaming convention and they have been rolling dice for 30 years! An estimated 1400 attended this five day event -that’s slightly more than attended Austin’s Insect Rodeo. Although there were panels, live events, vendors, and movies, the focus is board and card games.
Gaming at the Convention:
This year I was asked to teach some games at the convention. Learning games at the convention is a great opportunity for anyone who wants to learn and play a new game without investing much time or money. It’s also a great way to meet new people and have fun together.
This year 327 games were scheduled at the convention (most of them for teaching to first time players). In addition to the hundreds of scheduled games, hundreds more games were played in an Open Gaming room -beetle barrel racing has nothing on this rowdy crowd.
(picture of one of the gaming rooms)
As a special bonus for me, Thames and Kosmos (a board game publisher) sent me copies of two games to feature at the convention. The two games were Steam TIME and Tumult Royale. These games are not available at the big box stores yet, but some of their games are (like two of my favorite, and soon to be reviewed, games Lost Cities and Kahuna).
(picture of setting up Steam Time)
In addition to the Thames and Kosmos games, I also taught Le Havre, Manhattan, New York 1901, and Rhino Hero (none of these are available in big box stores either, but stay tuned for reviews on New York 1901 and Rhino Hero because they are both great family games that may find their way onto the shelves of Target).
(picture of Manhattan -an oldie but a goodie)
Events and Spectacles:
Walking around the convention all day Saturday were a couple groups of Star Wars Cosplayers. I don’t remember the scene where Darth Vader and Princess Leia played Mastermind together, but it seemed right there.
The standard Rocky Horror Picture Show, Buffy, and Firefly movies were screened throughout the weekend with the occasional game designer panel. Although attendance was okay, most looked like they were just taking a break from gaming.
I had a really good time this year, meeting up with old friends and making new ones. I played some new games and enjoyed playing some of my favorites. But I can’t say I would recommend this kind of event to everyone.
If you have a young family, and you enjoy the occasional board game night, this convention might not be for you. There was a “kid corner” at the convention and my friend Bruce does a great job entertaining the kids while their parents go play complicated games. But if you enjoy playing games with your family in a casual setting, you’re probably better off investing your money into a couple new games.
The massive amount of gaming that takes place here is astounding and I think conventions like this are great for enthusiasts and publishers (to introduce their games at). Regardless of how much fun I had, the majority of my readers are better off buying games that everyone in the family will enjoy playing together -perhaps an insect rodeo game would be fun?