conSCIENCE review: MACE: West 2012
March 30-April 1, 2012
150? attended (still getting this from con staff)
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.
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!