Meeple Mountain Does TantrumCon 2024

Justin, Will, and Brock hit up TantrumCon as the Charlotte, North Carolina convention moves into its new, larger space!

Will Hare

I have a lot of personal affection for TantrumCon. It was my first step beyond tiny local gaming conventions, and the miniature painting class I took there is what jump-started my newest obsession for 2023: collecting, assembling, and painting minis. It was also my first time trying Blood on the Clocktower, which was my favorite game I played in 2023. As soon as we left last year, Brock (my husband, who says hello) and I were ecstatic to come back again.

The new venue felt double the size of last year’s venue, and TantrumCon filled it out well. There were two gigantic ballrooms for playing games, an entire hallway dedicated to games of Werewolf, a separate hallway for Crokinole, a lobby area for hands-on game demos with designers, and catered meals, a huge step up over last year’s food options. The new venue also allowed some attractions to have dedicated spaces by converting meeting rooms and boardrooms into the miniature painting studio, game library, TTRPG dungeon, and more. The whole event breathed a lot easier in the new space, which is great because it felt like more people were present this year. As the event grows each year, it’ll fill out this new space very well.

We drove in late Thursday evening and immediately beelined to see what games were available in the “Play to Win” area. Each year, TantrumCon puts certain games out for free play, and after you complete a game, you can enter to win that copy of the game at the end of the convention. It’s a fantastic idea since you can leave the convention with a new favorite if you find a game you love. Brock and I sat down and played Obsession late Thursday night. Even though we didn’t wrap up our first game until 1:30 AM, we both couldn’t stop gushing about how much we enjoyed it. Another couple wandered over and asked us about it, and we made plans to meet up later at the convention to teach them the game. I love the friendliness of TantrumCon and how easy it is to meet new people.

We also found time to enjoy one of the social deduction games. Unfortunately, Blood on the Clocktower was sold out, but we managed to grab some seats for Two Rooms and a Boom on Friday afternoon. It was a fun time—we have our own copy at home but rarely have the 10-30 people required to run it. We ran several games back to back and met some really fun people. The social deduction games have become a critical piece we look forward to each year, and TantrumCon attracts a charming crowd of social deduction enthusiasts. After taking some library games for a spin later that evening (Cartographers and Waterfall Park) and participating in one of the many State Championship tournaments offered (I am officially the Fourth Best Coup Player in North Carolina, bow before me!), we found a TantrumCon staff member roaming the venue around midnight looking for players for an impromptu game of Blood on the Clocktower! We were escorted to the upstairs area to meet another group of wonderful people and played a quick game.

I had a few games on my shortlist that I wanted to try this weekend from TantrumCon’s library, but we could not track down copies of Hegemony or Cloudspire, and Apiary was a hot commodity that was checked out the entire weekend. We did get a chance to sit down and learn Nucleum. I didn’t heed Justin’s warning in his review that teaching this game would be a challenge, and boy, let me tell you, the time to try to grok all the things Nucleum is doing is not at 4:00 PM on day three of a convention in a room where there’s a ton of noise and distractions. We got through it (after nearly five hours), but I’m making a personal commitment to stop trying to learn heavy euros on the fly at conventions after a similar failure to launch with Barrage at PAX Unplugged last month.

TantrumCon bills itself as a family-friendly event and issues some ground rules to ensure it is a safe place for everyone to attend. They host some children-specific events to give the kids something to do, and there’s even a kids’ gaming and play area. As a childless millennial, I’m not opposed to this idea. Parents also deserve some tabletop fun, and I appreciate TantrumCon’s efforts to appeal to families! But I do feel I should mention, as opposed to other conventions where there has been a younger presence, TantrumCon really feels like a parent-focused event, somewhat to the detriment of those of us without kids.

Each of my strolls through the convention grounds was interrupted at least once by hordes of roaming, unsupervised children sprinting around the venue. Kids are also welcome to show up to any of the events requiring registration through the app. That Coup State Championship I participated in had several kids involved, and many of them simply wandered off after one round of play, causing the tournament organizer to have to track some down and then reorder some pairings to accommodate. That gnarly teach of Nucleum was almost certainly compounded by the mob of young children running outside in the hallway, shrieking at the top of their lungs in a pitch I can only assume was Lovecraftian. The event guidelines state that an adult or teen sibling must always supervise children, but that guideline was more of a suggestion than an enforced policy.

In my conversation with Justin, we both noted that most tabletop conventions are concentrated in the Midwest, while the Southeast still awaits the “big one.” Minor annoyances aside, TantrumCon could quickly become the premiere tabletop event for the Southeast. As a media member, there isn’t much to see here regarding meetings with publishers and vendors (which could hopefully change in the future). By my count, there were about a dozen booths, half a dozen artists selling their creations in the expo hall and a handful of demo tables out in the lobby. But, as a player, this event is perfect for syncing up with your long-distance friends and spending a weekend powering through some games. The event accommodates my night owl lifestyle, staying open until 2:00 AM to accommodate those late-night gamers. I’m looking forward to TantrumCon 2025 and seeing how the organizers continue to evolve the event. I’ll pass the mic over to Justin to talk about his whirlwind tour of TantrumCon!

Justin Bell

After meeting two of the principals from Tantrum House, Will and Jonah, at SPIEL 2023, I wanted to support TantrumCon and see for myself—how is it at some of the smaller conventions? For better and for worse, I seem to only show up at shows where there are at least 50,000 other people running around, sometimes four times that number.

TantrumCon did it right, with about a thousand people in attendance, per the data shared by some of the Tantrum House team on the second day of the event. As Will mentioned, the event was incredibly family-friendly and family-rich: there were kids everywhere, but there were also older families playing games together.

Case in point: my second demo play of Corps of Discovery (2024, Off the Page Games) with designer Jay Cormier was with three “kids” in their 30s and their dad, who might have been in his 60s. It was great to see this kind of age diversity at shows like this, where 60-somethings can game with kids in the single digits.

Ultimately, TantrumCon is a gaming con, so there were plenty of small stations to play prototypes, try “hot” games like World Wonders and Apiary, or do open play with friends or complete strangers. Unlike my experience at BGG Con a couple of years ago, TantrumCon didn’t feature quite as high a ratio of tables where players were really searching for other players or teachers to join their games. But the people were friendly, and I struck up a number of small conversations about different games that I’ve tried to see what people think.

Thanks to a busy January of other travel, my gaming experiences were confined to a single day. Jay Bernardo, the Marketing Manager at Bezier Games, chatted me up at a media mixer Friday night, so we kept our first date rolling with four games later that evening: a prototype currently known as Fallen Giants, then two new trick-takers coming this year from Bezier.

The first was Sandbag, designed by Bezier CEO Ted Alspach (the designer of popular titles such as Suburbia, Maglev Metro, and The Castles of Mad King Ludwig). The second was Xylotar, a must-follow trick taker with a twist–no one gets to see their hand of cards until the cards are played. Xylotar, designed by Chris Wray, was previously known as Magic Trick before slight tweaks to the game’s theme and design got us to Xylotar.

Jay was kind enough to provide review copies of both games, so stay on the lookout for reviews of both games this March.


[the picture that was here is under embargo until mid-March 2024!!]


The fourth play was a little biased for me. Andrew Stiles, the host of the podcast Tabletop Submarine (a show I appeared on two years ago), is also a game designer with several designs in process from a range of publishers. One of his first designs is Wine Cellar, being published by 25th Century Games “soon” (release dates are always a little fuzzy, right?). The real kicker is that the game will feature art from legendary tabletop artist Vincent Dutrait. Imagine one of your first games being drawn by the likes of Dutrait, Beth Sobel, Ian O’Toole, or other luminaries, and you can begin to imagine the excitement Andrew is feeling given the pedigree.

While I won’t be covering Wine Cellar for our site, seeing the reaction to Andrew’s product during our eight-player game with TantrumCon attendees was fun. This is where shows can be a blast, getting honest opinions from complete strangers in a safe space.

I spent about 12 hours at TantrumCon over a night and the following morning. I liked what I saw. Charlotte is a short plane ride for me but a trip far enough from my Midwest stomping grounds that I’m not sure I could make TantrumCon part of my regular rotation. But for those looking for a legitimately family-friendly atmosphere with a mix of casual gamers, core hobbyists, and a small pool of exhibitors and content creators, give this show a look.

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About the author

Will Hare

I didn't know what to write for this, so I asked an AI to make a bio for me.

Will Hare is a board game enthusiast who dares to ask if life itself is just a series of dice rolls with no winner or loser. When he's not busy reviewing board games, he works in digital marketing, honing his skills selling products and services he'll never use. He'd discovered the secret to happiness, but you'll have to solve three riddles before he'll tell you.

About the author

Justin Bell

Love my family, love games, love food, love naps. If you're in Chicago, let's meet up and roll some dice!

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