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conSCIENCE review: MACE: West 2012

conSCIENCE review: MACE: West 2012

March 30-April 1, 2012

Hickory, NC

150? attended (still getting this from con staff)

Gateway Convention Center


MACE: West is ONLY gaming, so they excel in this area. Tabletop RPGs dominate, with more Savage Worlds games on the schedule than any other, including Pathfinder or D&D, although there were a fair number of those as well. Card/Board gaming and the LARP had their own rooms. The game schedule gives you an hour between games to allow for game over-run and time to grab a snack or even a meal. There were also a Cornhole tournament Saturday and laser tag both evenings to get your gaming and exercise fixes!


The Gateway Hotel is centrally located in Western North Carolina, right off I-40 and Hwy 321, about an hour from Asheville, Boone, Winston-Salem, and most parts of Charlotte. A ballroom held all the RPGs, although the noise level was kept down by carpet and sections of vaulted ceiling, and tables were spaced far enough apart that it was easy to navigate. The pop-up restaurant, the Grinning Goblin, served pizza, sandwiches, chili, and pasta (bread bowls from Dominoes), as well as drinks, fruit, and packaged snacks. Just like at MACE, they visit your table, take your order, and deliver it so you don’t need to stop gaming!


We got a King bedroom with plenty of floor space for the kids to stretch out their sleeping bags, although rooms with 2 doubles, and some suites, were also available. They really didn’t want us to slip in the shower: not only were there 4 grab bars, but a bathmat was there for better traction, too! And this was NOT a handicap-accessible room. They served a hot breakfast each day of biscuits, gravy, scrambled egg patties (which were tastier than they sound), and sausage patties, as well as a selection of cereals, yogurt, toast, bagels, muffins, fruit, etc. We checked in early and were able to arrange a late check-out, and the staff were very helpful.


This is definitely a great value con. The preregistration weekend badge was $20, $35 at the door (Children were $15/$25), covering all gaming except perhaps tournaments. The hotel room rate was a VERY LOW $65/night for up to 4 people in the room. The Grinning Goblin’s meals were, at the most, $9 for a pasta breadbowl, so with the free hotel breakfast you could feed yourself as cheaply as $20 a day or so! There was also a Coffee House and Max’s Mexican Eatery across the street, and lots of other food options within easy driving distance.

Family Rating

This is a very family-friendly convention. Our daughters’ girl scout troop came to sell cookies and ended up playing board, card, RPG, and laser tag games until after 8pm! Of course they sold a lot of cookies as well. :) There were several card, board, and RPG games that were specifically set aside for kids to play in (although a lot of adults ended up playing in them, too).


Gaming. If you want to game with Clint or I, this is the con to do so. Clint GM’d 3 games and played in 2, and I got to play in one (which is a rarity for me at other cons). Another industry professional, Robert Hudson, Jr.,¬† of Pulp Hero fame, also GMs and plays here. Who knows who you’ll see at MACE: West next year? Value. Seriously. Like, $200 for one person to go to a con, including room, badge, and food? And it just gets cheaper the more folks you care to room with! Location. Western NC has no other gaming-focused event of this magnitude. If you are a gamer living in the western half of NC, this is a con to put on your calendar next year!


MACE: West website

MACE Gaming Con & mini-mace Game Days Facebook page

MACE Gaming Con Twitter Feed


2 Responses to “conSCIENCE review: MACE: West 2012”

  1. Tommy Geddings says:

    Good review Jodi. It was a lot of fun. As we arrived at the hotel, at first glance I was worried but it is actually a very good location. The room (I had two doubles for my son and me) was big, comfortable and clean. With all the grab bars, the shower was a little crowded so you are surely right about them being worried about anyone slipping. The layout of the hotel actually made the con experience better since everything was very close and the staff was indeed friendly and accommodating.

    All attendees got a raffle ticket and things were raffled off all weekend with the winners of numbered items being posted on a board by registration. Very few novice gamers but the ones who were there were greatly welcomed. With the veteran gamers, things got underway quickly and were a lot of fun. The dealers’ room, though a small area, was well visited it seemed.

    i do want to get someone to check into North Carolina hunting laws though. I think selling girl scout cookies at a gamer convention just has to be closely related to shooting birds over a baited field! They were good cookies though!

    Convention staff was also very good with frequently checking with attendees to be sure everyone was having fun and the Grinning Goblin people were wonderful about keeping everyone well fed. You know what dainty eaters we gamers are….

    This is definitely a low priced con with great value for the money if you like to game.

  2. Jodi says:

    Thanks Tommy! As for the girl scouts, if you’re responding to the poor LARPer they were chasing Saturday night, someone bought cookies and requested the girl scouts chase him, and the girls were happy to oblige! ;)