Episode 1 of Wil Wheaton and Felicia Day's "Tabletop," a net-show about tabletop gaming sessions

Last month, I wrote about Wil Wheaton and Felicia Day's announcement of their joint project, Tabletop, a net-show that records rollicking tabletop gaming sessions. The first episode, covering the game Small World, is out, and it does not disappoint. This is 30 minutes of incredibly good fun, with a great guest list:

Wil Wheaton and guests, Sean Plott (host of "Day9TV", a Starcraft II dedicated webcast on how to be a better gamer), Grant Imahara (host of Discovery Channel's "Mythbusters"), and Jenna Busch (geek blogger, writer and host) play Small World!

WIL WHEATON dot TUMBLR, My new show, #Tabletop, premieres today. Episode...


        1.  Was starting to suspect as much once i went back over the video and found some views that better showed the size and shape.

  1. Will, not sure if you read these, but nice work!  Love the show.  Also, that table is the bee’s knees.

  2. Very nice communication of the rules, and appealing focus on the creative elements… I haven’t played complex tabletop games in years but now I’m jonesing to play.

  3. I kind of like it.  It was pretty well edited, mildly entertaining, and gave you a pretty good feel for the game.  I’ll almost certainly watch the ones for games that I don’t own as sort of a mini-preview.  Nice.

      1. It’s very good. You get to be mean to your friends in all sorts of entertaining ways. We usually play a couple of rounds of SW, followed by a Munchkin.

  4. I kind of enjoyed it, but gave up 3/4ths of the way through. It needed better visual tracking of who was winning (either with a digital layover of the board or a better scoreboard).

    1. I think that was a narrative/dramatic device based on the way that one game was turning out. Surprise winner! The #of points each player has is their prerogative to keep secret.

      But yes, i think with  most other games that will prove a great idea you’re sharing there, in terms of watchability.

      1.  Except that the number of points each player won was spoken aloud at the end of their turn. The score wasn’t a secret, it’s just that the score-keeping device wasn’t well designed.

        1. Sure, if you want to keep track and winning is your only goal. I generally toss back a few adult beverages while tabletop gaming and try not to win badly. You could keep track, but just go play Diplomacy if that’s your thing. :)

    2. In Small World, the score is meant to be a secret.  There’s a bit of metagaming in this particular game (in the form of “I’m not winning, he’s winning,” “No, look at how good that other guy did this last turn!”), I suppose so people don’t always know who the winning player is at the moment and therefore know who to directly knock down.

  5. The personalities involved made the show entertaining for me.  The game itself was almost immaterial.

    1. Agreed. It was enjoyable to see the personalities but despite their best efforts to explain the rules as they went along (which is a great way to do this in theory) I couldn’t follow what was happening and stopped watching halfway through. 

      Not being able to closely examine the board and the pieces is what made it the most difficult. It doesn’t help that the game’s various designs seem to blend into each other – even when there were closeups I couldn’t tell anything apart (a common issue these days to be sure).

      It definitely did get me interested in playing games like this, though. I don’t think it would be as much fun without Wesley Crusher (and Grant, my favorite from Mythbusters) though ;)

  6. I couldn’t tell whether Jenna Busch was trying (and failing) to play the shrewd female gamer rope-a-dope. I hope to see more and better female representation on the show.

  7. Argh … Jenna Busch’s opening move is killing me.   Mountains cost extra armies to conquer.  You get points based on how many territories you can conquer with your limited number of armies.  The whole point of Small World is figuring out how to grab the most with the least.  Unless you have a special ability involving mountain territories, don’t conquer them first!

  8. Awesome! I love watching the pretty people play tabletop RPGs! It takes the sting out of all the mean things they’ve joked about real gamers…

  9. They play the giants wrong in the first round :(
    They only get to conquer with one less army if they already hold the adjacent mountain.

    1. There was a lot of misplay. For example, ghouls only get to conquer in decline on following rounds, not the round they go into decline.

  10. I want to see 30 minutes of LCR + copious beer drinking + $100 table stakes.  Followed by a fake police raid.

  11. Tabletop games are really coming back up huh? Im building quite a collection here in argentina (my wallet is NOT happy).

    shut up and sit down is worth checking out too! They do great episodes once in a while, though its more a review show than a gameplay one. Still feeling kinda awkward about the tv exaggeration of jokes to make it look not boring, but then thats how i feel about most tv.

  12. The only problem I’m having with this format is I don’t really understand the game yet, so I’m really just watching them have fun.  Not bad, but it’s a bit different when you’re watching something like “poker after dark” where the rules don’t change every episode and it’s easier to keep up. 

    I know they spend a little time explaining the rules, but I think they may need to give a better summary of the rules up front or maybe pick games that are easier to pickup.

    On that note, I would like to see them play something like the card game Fluxx, especially the Monty Python variant:  http://www.looneylabs.com/games/monty-python-fluxx  It was surprisingly easy to pick up and loads of fun.

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