What makes a three-day weekend even better? Conventions, of course! And this weekend was full of them – KatsuCon, OniCon, Gallifrey One, and of course, DunDraCon. The tabletop gaming convention has a decades-long history, and continues to this day, bringing in multitudes of gamers of all types for a weekend of fun and games.
DunDraCon was set in the San Ramon Marriott, where several rooms were set aside for various gaming events. The primary gaming rooms were filled with tables, where people could sign-up in advance to try out new games or compete in old favorites; board games, card games, and miniature games of all kinds were available. There was even a room for games that children could easily learn and play, sparing them the difficulty of trying to learn the rules of “Catan” while simultaneously having to keep up with older, more advanced players.
However, the large-scale miniature games had undoubtedly the most impressive setups, featuring lengthy tables covered in maps, environmental constructs, and figures. The immensity of some of the games was impressive indeed, but added a nice level of immersion to them.
Of course, the convention was a great market for game designers, and several new games were being demonstrated throughout the weekend. Players could sit down with the designers or their representatives to try out upcoming games, offer notes, and decide for themselves if they’d want to buy the final product.
Speaking of markets, there was, of course, a dealer’s hall. Though it was of moderate size, there was still a very good selection of games, albeit at varying prices; one table may have games at extremely discounted prices, while another would mark up the prices due to “scarcity.” But if you were looking to complete a dice set, oh was that ever the place for that.
Additionally, next to the dealer’s hall was a swap meet room, where gamers could sell their own used games, books, and miniatures at discounted prices, great for those looking to enhance their collections at a lowered cost.
Near those rooms was a real treat for tabletop gamers – a miniature figure painting table, equipped with plenty of paint and free minis to decorate. Anyone who sat down to paint a mini was free to take it with them afterwards, and they could be entered in a contest for other attendees to vote on. But even if you didn’t want to compete, there were still plenty of minis to choose from, and some good instruction from the staffers at the table.
Naturally, we can’t talk about DunDraCon without talking about Dungeons & Dragons. As one would expect, there were games running throughout the weekend, most of them of the current 5th edition, and part of the organized play “Adventurers League.” There was some new content created for Bay Area conventions, along with modules for players of all levels and experience, and games ran from early in the morning until late night. Similarly, Pathfinder Society games were commonplace as well, running simultaneously in a separate room, and equally frequently.
But the games went beyond just the tabletops. Outside, people were engaging in LARP events, or participating in fights with foam swords. For slightly more dangerous weapons, the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA) were holding their own fully-armored fights, which attendees could view.
Naturally, this meant there were plenty of people in costume about. It wasn’t nearly to the same degree as anime or comic conventions, but there were several outfits one would commonly see at a renaissance or fantasy faire, and as with all events, great care was put into them.
Regarding food and location, the hotel was just a short walk away from a large shopping center, complete with various eateries and a Whole Foods. Inside the convention center was somewhat more expensive food, although there was a special food line set up for attendees at a slightly more affordable price point ($2 for a soda is more agreeable than $4, after all).
Parking, on the other hand, was slightly more difficult to come by once the Marriott parking lot filled up (and it tended to do so frequently). The shopping center had a three-hour time limit, but there were remote lots that the convention offered shuttle services to and from.
Overall, DunDraCon was a fine event; there were plenty of great games to enjoy, activities to participate in, and panels to see. Whether you go to try out as many different games as possible, to LARP to your heart’s content, or to sit down at a massive table and roll dice from dawn until dusk, there was plenty of fun to be had.