More from behind the scenes at Tabletop

In my gaming group, I am not the guy who is good at explaining rules (that guy would be Tom D., when he plays with us, or my friend Cal M., the rest of the time) so the part of Tabletop I was the most anxious about is that segment at the beginning of the show where I explain the rules of the game.

It's a real challenge, probably more difficult than you'd expect, and thanks to clever editing and postproduction work, looks much easier and flawless than it actually is.

In preparation for each episode, my friend and associate producer Boyan and I would sit down at my dining room table and talk through the rules. The first thing we'd do is figure out what kind of game we were playing (bluffing, communication, resource-management, etc.) and build out from there. I would set up the game in front of me, just like you see on the show, and I'd "teach" the game to Boyan. If something worked, one of us would write it down on a bullet-pointed list. That list went with me to work the next day, and I used it to remember what the audience needed to hear.

I'm cleaning up my office today, and I just came across two pages I wrote for last week's 3 Quick Games episode. I thought they may be interesting to some of you, so here they are:

Wil Wheaton's handwritten Tabletop notes.

You can see that I was considering a running "like you do" joke. It didn't work, so I dropped it when we filmed.

Wil Wheaton Handwritten Tabletop Rule Notes

Alternate way to win the game: Be Ryan Higa.

18 thoughts on “More from behind the scenes at Tabletop”

  1. I’ve very much enjoyed the episodes of Tabletop to date! After the first episode, I found the best online retailer I could and purchased Small World. It’s an outstanding game. I’ve been a long time Settlers fan, so I didn’t have to do much after episode two.
    When my wife and I watched episode 3 I got really excited about Zombie Dice and Get Bit. I checked my preferred e-retailer ( but wanted to wait and poke around to see what else was available before I placed my order. Here I am, two days later, and both games are sold out on the site. It seems I’m not the only one watching Tabletop!
    Well done!

  2. The show is awesome, and I know you’re a fan of Kickstarter – did you order ZPocalypse or Velociraptor, Cannibalism? I’m super excited about both. And Blurble…

  3. Thanks to my super smart and sexy hubby I don’t think I’ve read the actual rules to any game since 2002. He is our master explainer and chief.
    Come to think of it though he DOES win about 90% of the time. Maybe I’m the victim of a very long con…

  4. Tabletop has become ‘must watch’ viewing in our home and we’ve purchased Small World, two expansions and Tsuro in the past few weeks thanks to the show, all from our local game shop as a way of paying it forward. Keep up the great work and can’t wait to find new games for us to play and share!

  5. Wil, I haven’t played these games, but there has been talk on various forums that you messed up the rules for Get Bit. I know there was some question about the rules for Settlers too. The robber being placed on a desert was one. I know Settlers, so that wasn’t a big deal, I know. Do you use the complete original rules?

  6. The first couple of games presented on Tabletop weren’t that inviting for me and I almost didn’t return for the lastest episode, but I am soo glad I did!
    First, Tsuro reminded me of a game I had years ago called crossroads. It was plainer and simpler, but in essence, the same idea. I think this would be the PERFECT game to introduce to my 7th grade students. Their games are limited to chess, checkers and speed. This game could provide a real hook into alternate types of games that are fun and quick!
    Second, Get Bit is a game that would greatly appeal to my 9 y.o. who seems to play games relegated for younger kids like Guess Who and Operation (although, they are the Star Wars version). I think getting eaten by a shark would be a good hook to get him to play for a bit!*
    Third, my daughter would like Zombie Dice, since that seems to be her favorite thing lately. And she needs to do more games, less TV watching.
    Since I am a teacher and have summers off, I will be introducing** screen free days to them, gradually. These will help the survival rates both for the kids and for me.
    Holy Crap! That’s a trifecta! F.T.W!
    *See what i did there?
    **probably more like force them

  7. Was that Felicia’s hand holding up Get Bit in the intro? Does that even count as a cameo? It made me wonder: will the other G&S cast be doing cameos on each others’ episodes?

  8. I love the videos,but they’ve also become a great sales-tool for my shop. I’ve sold a ton of every game you’ve demoed. We play them almost on a loop every week.

  9. My 12 year old son and I bought Tsuro and Settlers this weekend at a local hobby store I didn’t even know existed a week ago. Spent about a hundred bucks before I dragged him out of there and that was after talking him out of a big plushy Cthulhu doll. We both are digging Table Top and the time together. On a side note…he’s also obsessed with The Flog and I think he’s got a crush on Felicia Day….can’t say I blame him. Thanks Wil!!

  10. Tabletop is a great show so far. I always like discovering new group board/card games, and I definitely want to go pick up Small World as soon as I can.
    If you take requests, BANG! and/or Wiz-War would be awesome for Tabletop.

  11. Wil, My friends and I were wondering where we could get some of the brains that you used to track the progress of Zombie dice? Also ZD fans may be interested to know that Steve Jackson Games sells a zipper bag for Zombie Dice that looks really good. There is now an expansion for ZD that replaces three of the dice with new special dice also available at your friendly local game store or through Steve Jackson Games’ warehouse 23.

  12. Those brains were made by Nick, our set decorator. I will be very surprised if some enterprising person doesn't start offering something like them for sale, though.
    Sent from my iPad

  13. LOVED this episode! I am completely addicted to anything Steve Jackson and just found out that there’s a Zombie Dice app for the iPhone. Tsuro reminds me a lot of Entaglement – very similar concept, without the dragons.

  14. As a gaming family we are enjoying Tabletop immensely. Just yesterday our 4yo asked if we can watch it :)
    Edit to add: Tabletop with Jim Parsons would be hilarious *wink*

  15. This was a great episode as I am now going to seek out zombie dice and tsuro and force my wife to play (I didn’t care much for bite me). And you’re right, Ryan is a witch. No human could roll that many brains.

  16. Hi Damien,
    It’s totally not the same thing as those awesome brains, but if you’re looking for a way to keep score without paper & pen, I’ve tossed a few d20 into my tube and everyone just takes one & tracks their brains on the die. So far no one’s needed a second! =)

Comments are closed.