#Tabletop Thoughts: Forbidden Island

If you’ve been watching any of the Geek and Sundry Google Hangouts I’ve been doing recently, you know that, though we haven’t officially been green lit for season two of Tabletop, I’m still playing tons of games so I know what we’re going to play if we do.

Games that we play on Tabletop have to fulfill a lot of criteria:

  1. Do I love it?
  2. Will it play well with four people?
  3. Can we play it in under an hour or so?
  4. Is it complicated enough to be fun, while being simple enough to explain in a few minutes?
  5. Is it fun to watch us play it?

It’s surprisingly easy to hit four of these criteria. The hardest ones to meet are 3 and 5 (stupid goddamn prime numbers have had it out for me ever since the first time I divided by zero.)

So there are games I am crazy about, like 7 Wonders, Dominion, Arkham Horror, Tribune, Agricola and Tichu, that we just can’t put on the show. This makes me sad, but there are even more games that I love that we can play, like Smash Up, King of Tokyo, Lords of Waterdeep, Star Trek Catan, and the game that inspired me to write this post in the first place, Forbidden Island.

Forbidden Island is designed by Matt Leacock, who created Pandemic, which kicked our ass on season one of Tabletop. It uses essentially the same mechanics as Pandemic, but instead of being scientists who are saving the world from infectious diseases, the players are adventurers trying to get artifacts off an island that’s trying to kill them by sinking into the ocean.

Like Pandemic, it’s usually won or lost by a few cards, but unlike Pandemic, it’s really great for kids as young as 8 (or precocious 7 year-olds). The themes are very family friendly, the artwork is beautiful, and the pieces are durable. Here’s what our board looked like when we started a recent game:

Forbidden Island Setup

Those tiles are the island, and the pawns are the explorers. As you play the game, you move around the island and try to collect cards that are turned in to recover the four artifacts. During the game, the island is trying to kill you by sinking, so tiles are constantly being removed from the board on almost every turn.

Here’s how it looked when we barely won:

Forbidden Island Victory

We won by either one or two cards, which was as exhilarating as any game of Pandemic I’ve ever played. For those of you scoring at home, we started on Elite difficulty, instead of the usual Legendary.

You can get Forbidden Island at your Friendly Local Gameshop. It’s a fantastic family game that is challenging enough and well balanced enough for serious gamers to enjoy.

If we get a second season of Tabletop, this is one game I’m absolutely going to play. Maybe I’ll even win this time. (HA HA YEAH RIGHT.)

200 thoughts on “#Tabletop Thoughts: Forbidden Island”

  1. Would Scotland Yard fit the criteria?
    I had gotten that game for Christmas back in the 80’s and man, I LOVED that game. So much that I harassed my husband until he went out and found it for me this past year. (due in no small part to Tabletop reviving my interest). Seems like it would be grand fun watching everyone team up against one player, and the discussions ensuing over who should take which route.
    heh, maybe you could get the cast of one of the more recent incarnations of Sherlock Holmes to play it with you?

    1. I’ve always been more of a console gamer, personally. But, Tabletop is always “Must see TV(?)” for me. And, it’s starting to give me the itch to look into more table top games.

      I love your Pax D&D games, and Iwould love to see a Tabletop episode with Jerry, Scott, and Mike.

      I really like the RPG spin off you suggested in the Tabletop Hangout… Another suggestion for doing more RPGs could be doing one hour-long episode each season (assuming there’s future seasons) devoted to continuing a campaign kind of akin to your Pax D&D sessions with Acquisitions, Inc….

    2. OH, yes. Scotland Yard was GREAT. I always found it so … hhmmmm… “empowering” to play Mr. X (although it did take me a while until I had the courage to play that role). Thanks so much for reminding me of this awesome game!

  2. Well, there are some good board games out there. Monopoly would stink, Sorry would definitely match numbers 2 through 5, Clue would be a good one, Apples to Apples is fun if CAH is a total impossibility (although there’s always a TableTop After Dark spinoff show for that…), and a suggestion I’ll make is fun (at least to my own recollections): Crash Canyon. It takes these little Micro Machines-type cars, gets them to go around a wacky multi-leveled board that looks sort of like a canyon, and when your cars go into the “drink”, you can actually have them go into the drink for realsies by putting water into those places on the board. Family friendly too because it was one of those board games that I played religiously when I was a kid.

    BGG link for Crash Canyon: http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/10968/crash-canyon

  3. Two games I’d love to see, that should fit, depending on scenario:

    Zombicide (Essential to make Dr. Hannah Character)

    Descent 2 ed (because I love dungeon crawlers). If you hate descent please find one that works for me, as I never was a pen and paper rpg guy, but Warhammer quest I would play for days.

  4. Chris Kluwe from the Mn Vikings would be great to see on your show. He is an avid gamer and owns a tabletop gaming place in Costa Mesa. I listen to him on the radio. Really entertaining.

  5. My son loves FI and he’s only 6. It took him a bit longer to figure it out, but he’s turning into a great strategist.
    I would love to see some old school games like Magic: the Gathering or even some D&D, but I have the feeling they probably violate the time rule if nothing else.
    Thank you for showing games appropriate for kids, thanks to Tabletop I may never have to play another game of Chutes & Ladders again!

  6. So so looking forward to playing this with my ‘nephews’ when I babysit. We gave it to them for Christmas and it was a big hit (8 and 10). Also would like to try Pandemic, but not sure how it would go with the usual people I game with. Glad to hear you liked it, and that it’ll be on season 2!

  7. My sister the 1st grade teacher received it as a Christmas gift, so guess what we played on Christmas afternoon? Two games on “training” skill, both of which we won. I was the game-winning Diver on the second game. Certainly a better feeling than losing Pandemic the third time in a row. I recognized several of the mechanics instantly.

    However, the ambiguity of certain rules made it easier. Can the Engineer indeed shore up any two squares on the island, or just two of the nine touching? Can the Diver indeed swim around the Island in one turn? One assumes it is surrounded by water, not dens of kraken.

    By the end of the second game, I was finding myself dreaming of replacing the generic “men” with blind-bag ponies, and pondering which of the six would be the Diver. (Pinkie Pie was the clear answer, in case you were wondering.)

    1. Matt Leacock has clarified (via Board Game Geek) two things: The engineer can shore up 2 of the 9 touching squares (instead of 1), and the diver can swim through any squares that originally had island tiles, but not around the perimeter. Interestingly to me, the diver can also change directions during the move.

  8. Real shame that Dominion is not suitable, perhaps you could do a show that highlights all the games you think are great but don’t work for the show. Just a mention on Tabletop is great press for these games. I’ll keep a lookout for Forbidden Desert (That sounds like an instabuy for me). My son has been playing Forbidden Island since he was 5 he’s a master at it now aged 7. We get him to explain to newbie adults how to play. Great game, not as good as Pandemic but much friendlier for kids. One of my many New Year’s resolutions this year is to play a board game with the kids at least once a week so we would love to see more familiy friendly games on Tabletop. Why don’t you do an episode with a bunch of little kids that would be fun (Hey you might even win!).

  9. I didn’t know there was still a question about whether there’d be a Season 2. I watch Tabletop religiously, and my friends and I have purchased Munchkin, Small World, and Castle Panic as a result of watching those episodes. I’ve also bought the Steam version of Ticket to Ride and got the board version for my 10 year old niece for Christmas. We already owned Settlers of Catan and Fluxx, but we never actually got around to playing Settlers for the first time until after Tabletop had gotten us excited about this stuff. Seriously, Wil, you should get a kickback from the board game industry.

    I’m subscribed to Geek and Sundry (I also watch The Guild), and I make sure to thumbs up the Tabletop episodes. What else can we do to get you a second season? Write a letter to the White House?

  10. Another awesome cooperative game is Flash Point: Fire Rescue, and is my favorite players-vs-board games.

    It provides a similar level of tension, and feels like you have more decisions to make. Also still family friendly!

  11. A suggestion: Flash Point by Indie Boards & Cards, available at Barnes & Noble and supposedly Target. Cooperative game, easily plays in under an hour, good for 2-4 or 6 with expansions. It’s a game about fire fighters fighting fires. The game is lost when three people die who should have been rescued (Points of Interest, or POI’s), or the building collapses and everyone dies (you run out of structure cubes where walls have burned through). Multiple maps available, and more come with the expansions.

    And it can thoroughly kick your butt, just like Pandemic.

    You can easily play multiple roles per person, I played a six role game with two others over Thanksgiving, and it was still a fairly close win. LOTS of fun. Like Pandemic, each role is specialized: in movement, fire-fighting ability (some roles cannot fight fire), and special ability. The Generalist has the most movement and fighting power, the Paramedic can run around throwing bandages at POI’s to increase their movement, the Structural Engineer can rebuild walls to slow down the collapse of the building, the Captain can give extra movement/actions to people, etc.

    Over New Years we played two four-player games with a relative newb while Dave’s wife was getting chemo (they always bring a card table to play while she’s infusing), won one lost one. A little tight for space on a standard card table, but doable.

    Excellent game, I cannot praise it sufficiently. Expansions are funded via Kickstarter, along with the option of buying the previous sets. Myself, I want to see a map for a 747, and I’m going to put some effort in to making one.

    1. That’s two for Flash Point (I suggested that above)! Maybe we’ll get it on there!

      A 747 map sounds pretty awesome, but I question how possible it would be to win – no walls means crazy uncontained explosions and not much chance to do anything but put out the fire. I’d be interested in hearing how you would work some strategy in there.

      1. A multi-level map. The hump top of first-class/lounge, middle deck, and lower deck baggage compartment. You’d have closed compartments for the bathrooms and the cockpit has a door, maybe it would be a bulkhead/firewall. Divide the middle deck in to three sections, they wouldn’t be doors per se, but there would still be restrictions. Make them bulkheads (since they’re probably structural) so a fire would be forced through the openings, which would be loads of fun and work for CAFS.

        A lot of fire in the middle deck would definitely be a major problem, as would fire on the wings making its way in to the cabin.

        A 747 is pretty wide, I’ve never flown on one but I have been on an L10-11 which was pretty huge. My main concern was the quartering so the water canon from the fire truck would be worthwhile.

        We found a fairly effective strategy when dealing with POIs: take them outside of the building away from the doorway, and wait until someone has some idle time to route the ambulance around to pick them up. It also slows the deployment of POIs in to the fire, which gives you more time to fight it and make structural repairs.

        Sorry I missed your original suggestion for FP, I would have replied there if I’d noticed it.

    2. Another vote for Flashpoint. After telling a friend we enjoyed Pandemic, he recommended it. After reading the instructions, we were a little concerned it would be too similar but it’s quite different. And we won by saving the puppy.

  12. Once it’s available later this year, Race to Adventure! will be a really good choice. I think that Fearsome Floors has the potential to work, too. Bang! might work if you could figure out how to mimic the poker card-camera thing.

  13. Spartacus: A Game of Blood and Treachery is a great game. You don’t have to be a fan of the series (I know I wans’t when I first played it). It’s a 4 player game and a game (depending on starting influence) can last anywhere between 4 hours (starting on low influence) or 1-2 (staring on medium to high influence). There are some great mechanics in the game or example when “bidding” for gladiators you put your coins in your hand, everyone holds their hands out and drops the coins, which is really fun to do and stops any cheaters!
    Oh and th best part of the game? It has the rule: “Don’t be an Ass”. Which isn’t far of Wheaton’s golden rule!

  14. My 4-year-old son loves to play Forbidden Island with mom and dad!
    He picked it up surprisingly quickly, and he actively participates in the decision-making process and all; not just a little kid sitting at the table while we play for him. I definitely recommend it for families, but it’s still fun enough to play with a group of adults.

    I understand it doesn’t work within the time constraints, but I still want to see you play the BSG game on the show with your buddy Aaron Douglas. That would be epic!

  15. My wife bought my Tsuro based on the strength of your playthrough on Tabletop. I play it with middle schoolers after school and they LOVE it. I love how it tickles a completely different sent of neurons (spatial reasoning, etc, they’re so used to numbers and Yu-Gi-Oh style mechanics).

    Honestly what I would LOVE to see is more 2 player mechanics. Stuff like Paint the Line: Red Tide or other things uniquely suited to 2 players. I play mostly with just my wife, and so many games we’re like “man, this would be SO much better with 2 more” but it’s hard to organize game nights for us sometimes.

    As much as I’d LOVE to see you play something like the Bandai Star Trek TNG Deck Building Game with Frakes, Spiner, and Michael Dorn (my wife’s favorite, because he’s vegan), even though it’s not that amazing a game and it probably violates a few of your rules, 2 player games are really the one place where I’m like “what else can me and my wife play by ourselves and have a really deep fulfilling experience?”

    1. My husband and I have the same problem. We don’t get the chance to play with groups so we’re looking for some fun 2-player games when we can get some time off to play.

  16. I think Pandemic is better than FI. If you want to do another co-op, I totally agree with the Flash Point recommendation. Way better than Forbidden Island!
    King of Tokyo should be an awesome show.. I think Lords of Waterdeep or Survive: Escape from Atlantis would be good too. Those are more readily available.
    Glory to Rome!

  17. Here are my votes for games to feature:

    Forbidden Island would be awesome I think. I actually like it more than Pandemic. They are releasing a sequel (Forbidden Desert) “soon”. It’s a good bet that Gamewright would be more than happy to furnish the show with a copy.

    Resistance or Saboteur (having both may be redundant… I would watch both though)
    Love Letter (just came out) would be fantastic I think.

    Space Cadets would be amazing I think… It’s brand new this year. Might be a lot of work for your editing crew, but it’s a riot!

    Hanabi might be difficult to shoot as well…. but I think it could be done. It’s an amazing game.

    A not very well known game, but by a very well known designer Vlaada Cvatil, Travel Blog would hilarious I think. Vlaada has designed really heavy games like Mage Knight and Through the Ages, but Travel Blog would be very interesting. It’s relatively quick (20-30) minutes, but the viewers would feel like they are participating at the same time. Take a look if you get some time.

    I think all of those would be good for a complete shoot. Some of the others you mentioned as not being feasible, I think would still make for great episodes. Eclipse, for example, would be really cool, but it would just require a fair bit of editing and knowledge of the game… so you know what to cut out and when to skip ahead etc…

    Something in my gut tells me Lords of Waterdeep would work… even though it wouldn’t be one of “my” favorite episodes to watch…

    I find that any of the episodes that highlight your guests’s strengths as creative people are the most fun to watch. Fiasco, Munchkin, and Dixit were my favorite episodes and probably the Smallworld, Catan, and Alhambra were the least fun. Anything that generates moments of role playing and overall table talk is great to watch.

  18. A game that I love that I think would work on your show would be Bang!

    If you don’t know it, it’s a bit like the old camp game Mafia (teams with hidden roles working towards separate goals / killing) but set in the wild west and played with cards. The Outlaws want to kill the sheriff, the sheriff and the deputy want to kill the badguys and the renegade has the hardest job of all – be the last one standing. You then play cards that give you equipment, like guns with longer range, a barrel to hide behind etc., and action cards like shooting at someone (“banging” them – yep, fun lingo in this game).

    I like it best with 5 or more players, but 4 certainly works. The basic game is totally enough to play, but the expansions are all fun and I’d recommend checking out at least the High Noon and/or Fistfull of Cards expansions. The “bullet” edition of the game comes with most of the older expansions, including these two.

    Ever played this one? In school I had a lot of roommates that were into games and this was a particular favourite. We still bring it out pretty frequently when we get together.

      1. Glad you know it.
        I do think it gets better with large groups like that, although some find waiting for their turn a bit much at that point.
        I’m curious, what mix of expansions do you like to play with?
        I always include all the characters (except the gold rush ones if we aren’t using that) but I don’t think playing with every expansion at once is always a good idea.

        Also, have you ever tried it as a drinking game? Our rules were if you fire a bang! or get hit you take a sip. If you drink a beer you drink a beer. :) Pretty good fun if you’re into that sort of thing.

        1. I prefer the base game with no expansions, though there’s something where you could end up being killed before you ever get a turn that I we fixed with some expansion combo, but I can’t recall what it was.

          I’m 40, so drinking games are something loooooooong behind me. My poor body can’t handle it.

          1. Yeah, I hear ya. I’m 28 and it’s still not something I’m doing anymore (or even something I did more than once to tell the truth), just thought I’d ask.

  19. I bought my girlfriend ‘Discworld: Ankh Morpork’ for Christmas because she’s a huge Terry Pratchett fan :) I kind of expected it to be a novelty game, but it’s actually really good! You really don’t need to know any of the characters on the cards, they’re just flavour for the fans :) It’s plays really well and truly feels like you’re struggling to gain control of the city as your opponents are trying to win over the city too, but they’ll likely have different win conditions so you have to guess what goal they’re going for and stop them while trying to obscure your own and get it … very strategic and there’s always good moves to be had. The only luck is in the drawing of the cards. Generally plays in less than an hour and was quite easy to get into. I think it’s perfect for TableTop :)

  20. I love TableTop and the games you’ve highlighted so far are all already on my shelves. So, I figured, what else is on my shelves that would be good for the show?

    1) Citadels – A quick game with a little bit of mystery and reveal that I think would be fun to watch. It’s one of those games where you never know who’s going to win until the end, imo.

    2) Galaxy Trucker – The rule book is hilarious and while set up takes a bit longer.. it’s a fun game to play and watch, as you never know when your ship’s just going to get blown in half. I think watching people just construct and judge each other’s ships would be funny. Add in the actual flights and it’s gold.

    3) Red November – A bunch of gnomes running around on a sinking sub trying to keep everything afloat until help arrives. Throw in the Kracken card and hijinks will ensue.

    4) Timeline – A simple game where you find out just how little history you actually know. It’s a quick game that you could include on a mini-game episode.

    That’s really all I got that would work under an hour. Everything else on my shelves has already been on a show 😉

  21. Hi Wil, if you decide to do another episode of short games two of our favorites are Seven Dragons and Farckle. Seven Dragons plays similarly to dominoes, with a few twists. The cards are beautifully illustrated and the game play will keep you on your toes.

    Farckle is what you get when Zombie Dice and Yatzee decide to have a kid. Another fast paced kind of game that lends itself to the creation of house rules to modify the game play, such as no minimum to start, or reducing the required total to win.

    I would highly recommend both of these. :)

  22. I think you could do one of the longer running games by editing out certain parts of the middle game, perhaps just picking the highlights– like a sports caster. Emphasize the prep and the end game, unless the best bits are the middle… There is probably a way to do it. I’m not a fan of actual plays, generally. However, your Tabletop shows does it right. So, if there is a way, I’m confident your team has the chops to pull it off.

  23. Let me recommend “Headbands,” which we play during dinner thanks to my 10yo daughter. It’s very simple: everyone has a plastic headband on which a card is placed face out. On the card is an object or person the wearing must guess, asking only yes or no questions of the other players, with an eggtimer egging you on. Basically it’s 20 questions, and it can be really really tough. You’ll quickly develop heuristics. The first questions are always: Is it a person? Is it a food? Is it a place? (If so) Is it a specific place like the Grand Canyon or a general place like a bank? etc. And of course, with the cards being on your head and there being no board, you can eat dinner while playing.

  24. Um… I just noticed that you referenced Agricola as one of your current Favs and that you love cooperative and I couldnt help but jump back in with something. I brought Agricola to our group and the other guys got so damn good at it that I tired of playing them until we came up with a cooperative version. I dont mind loosing but fatalistic spankings are hard to take endlessly!!
    Cooperative also made sense as we all know local farmers and they mostly help each other we felt it addressed an issue our farming friends expressed when playing it.
    Playing cooperative is a simple thing. Just like the solo version in the rule book you set a goal point to reach. Instead of 50 try 40 the first time. But… every player has to reach the goal to win. It is really fun to work together and plan turns and set up the process to help each other. Totally turns the game around in ways plus easier to incorporate newbie players with the helping hands around them. However expect the game to last longer as everyone deliberates moves amoungst each other. “Dude are you sure its okay if I take the sheep this time?” or “You go ahead and have a child I can hold off a turn and it really helps you right now!” Etc :-) Lots of fun we love it! Highly recommended variation. Oh and much love for BSG as well. Many uproarious games. Good Times! Let us know anyway we can help support getting Season 2 of Tabletop!
    Peace, Dave

    1. That’s the problem with Agricola, Puerto Rico, and Power Grid: you can be destroyed by a player who really knows the game, and there’s such little luck involved, it’s not fun at all for veterans and inexperienced players to play together.

      It’s an interesting idea to play it co-op and go for points in a certain number of turns. I’ll look at that. For science.

  25. A few people mentioned Carcassonne, and I think that would be great. Maybe just play a few times first to make sure the scoring goes smoothly.

    Another game that’s a favorite of mine is Puerto Rico. The only item that’s questionable there is time. It usually takes my family a bit over an hour to play, but it’s a relatively simple concept that can be fun watch.

    And while I would love to see an Arkham Horror episode, I realize how unlikely it would be. It would have to be multiple episodes, and you’d have to have all your players be experienced enough to handle the game without asking for too many rules clarifications. Though it’s probably a safe bet to say that if the rule book has an index, it’s too complex for Tabletop.

  26. I looked over at my game shelf to try and find some other ideas that haven’t already been suggested, and about 3/4 of the games we regularly play now are ones we saw on tabletop and either already had (settlers of catan, munchkin) or bought because of tabletop (gloom, castle panic, zombie dice). I also have both a homemade and legit copy of CAH because of your posting about it.

    As far as other game recommendations: One that’s family friendly and fun is “In a Pickle” – the game mechanics are reminiscent of apples to apples, only instead of comparisons, you have to put things inside of other things. The cards are words, such as limousine, library, universe, pond, book, amoeba, etc. 4 tableaus of cards are laid out in a cross shape, and play moves out from the center. There was a book in the library. The universe was in a book. A pond was in the universe. An amoeba was in the pond. Some of the creative ways people try to fit things inside of other things can be pretty hilarious. Once a tableau has 4 cards it begins a “pickle round” where everyone has to try to put something inside of the smallest thing on the tableau, and the person who is able to play the smallest card on the pile wins that stack. First person to 4 stacks wins the game. Play takes between 30-60 minutes.

    I bought a game called “Headbandz” for the kids for Christmas, but we haven’t played it yet. It looks like it will also be fun for the whole fam. For a less family-oriented game, what about Chez Geek? We used to play that all the time before we had kids.

  27. We’ve really enjoyed King of Tokyo, which got a ton of play over the holidays. We’re also big fans of Forbidden Island and now looking forward to the forthcoming Forbidden Desert.

    As for other games, what about Carcassonne, Guillotine, Killer Bunnies (for pure insanity and craziness), Alien Frontiers, Kingsburg, Sentinels of the Multiverse, or Tobago. All of these get a lot of play at our house.

    You could also consider Survive (wooden sharks, whales, and sea monsters menacing your boats and meeples), Galaxy Trucker (again for the pure insanity factor) and Space Cadets (which I’ve yet to play but have heard nothing but good things about – although the editing could be an issue here given that tasks are times).

    I’d also to to add my voice to those requesting an episode or two on 2-payer games. Like many, I primarily game with my partner. At a minimum, maybe you could mention if a game works well with 2 players in the intros.

    Regardless, we’ll keep watching as it’s become a Thursday night tradition to cuddle on the couch and watch Tabletop (on a 10″ Google table, since it became available – just to make your funder happy).

  28. Being a geek, I would have to say Chez Geek, but if I saw the end of the latest tabletop correctly, that is coming up next. Have played this since college, and it never ceases being fun.

    BTW, my GF bought me Tsuro for Christmas tanks to TableTop. I played zombie dice and some other board games with her and mentioned I found them on Tabletop, get got online, and then decided and Tsuro was a great game, and ended up getting it for me. Keep showing cool games and I might get more of them for my birthday!

  29. RoboRally is a cool game, it is fun to play, fun to watch, and simple enough for even younger kids.

    It is a game where each player controls a robot, and you draw tiles to represent how your robot moves. Add to this conveyer belts that move you along, bumping into other robots, and lasers that damage your poor robot to the point they cannot follow all your instruction, as well as being able to upgrade your robot with other fun gadgets, and it makes for a really fun game.

  30. While I have not played the most recent edition (still playing with my old school WotC edition), I can’t help but think that “RoboRally” would make for a good episode of TableTop. Looking at your criteria…

    1) …please tell me you do? :)
    2) IMO it plays best with 4 (not enough interactions with fewer, and can get to be “too much” with many more)
    3) Most people always think of RoboRally as being a longer game I’ve found, but some of the best game play is with a single board – and even then you can drop the number of flags down to 3 if needed. Allows for tailoring the game length without sacrificing any of the different aspects of play.
    4) While not as simple as some others, I still think it is easy/quick enough to explain – especially when playing with only one board, so not needing to cover ALL types of board elements.
    5) I think I’ve had more fun watching others play RoboRally, than any other board game I’ve watched others play in real life — between people doing “the robot dance” in their chair as they play out their moves, and the exclamations when people see their plans go pear-shaped (either due to a mistake in their own planning, or interaction with others)… yeah, good times.

    So, yeah. What about RoboRally?

  31. One of my favorite games I believe fits rather neatly into all 5 of your points. Betrayal at the House on the Hill. Avalon Hill publishes it, and for my group it usually plays around 45 minutes. I believe watching the board gets made, the characters develop, and then the betrayal and insanity that happens after that would make for a really fun watch.

    1. Oh yes, Betrayal at the House on the Hill is great. best part about that is you never know who the betrayer is til the very end. at that point you split into 2 team, the betrayer, and everybody else. The games makes it balanced and each side had objectives that they are trying to accomplish. A fun game because you don’t know if they person you are trying to help earlier in the game will turn against you of stand by your side later in the game.

  32. A game that I think matches your criteria very well is Sentinels of the Multiverse. It’s good family fun and cooperative. it’s visually appealing and offers a range of complexity that you crave. It also is about super-heroes, not the usual tripe but the fun goofy heroes of yore.

    Just my two cents.

  33. I’ve got a few suggestion for new games for tabletop.
    1) Pitch Cars, a nice racing game
    2) Guillotine, a nice card game where the goal of the game is to be the one to behead the most nobles. really fun
    3) Galaxy Trucker. The goal of the game is to make the most money. the way it works is that you each build a ship with pieces from the middle and then you use that ship to compete in a race to get the most money. rince and repeat with 2 other ships. a lot of fun ^^

  34. A few games that probably fit the bill:

    Mr. Jack – One player is secretly Jack The Ripper and the rest of the players need to deduce who it is before Jack skips town. under an hour of playtime depending on how quickly the players catch Jack, but always fun every game.

    Guillotine – A card game of the French Revolution. Kill French people, screw over your friends and collect French citizens to earn points. This one has never NOT been fun.

    Neuroshima Hex – Hugely fun, play time probably averages at about 45 minutes or so. Strategy game where each player has their own army and has to crush their opponent’s HQ to win.

  35. What about City of Horror? Picked that up for Xmas and its a fun game that can be played quite quickly… There is also my favourite game of all time, Battlestar Galactica, which you could probably get the base game done in around an hour if you are lucky…

  36. Doing my best to make sure you get picked up for season 2 here: I just started watching Table Top this week and I’ve been hooked. Only have 3 or 4 episodes left to watch, but I’m a subscriber now.

  37. I have a few favourite games – Red Dragon Inn Series by Slugfest Games is one. This game is all about the brave party of adventurers after the dungeon has been raided and is set at the inn. It is a card drinking game where you can gamble, lower the fortitude of other players and drink a variety of ales and wines. You lose if you run out of coins or get too drunk. I believe it would be great for Tabletop as its a fun game where you can get others drunk while keeping yourself sober. Betrayal at the House on Haunted Hill is another awsome one which is set like the Arkham Asylum Series. You enter the mysterious house with your friends exploring the house while mysterious events and omens occur. The game changes on its head when a certain number of omens are revealed as this starts up one of 50 scenarios where someone you were working with becomes a traitor. Some scenarios include the house coming to life and trying to digest you, a crazy undead killer stalking you in the house, Dracula coming to life etc. Its a game where you have to watch your back as the people you were working with can turn on you if the cards are right.

    However you have to get Jerry and Mike onto the show to play the Penny Arcade Gamers vs Evil Game. Thats one of the only games that my wife loves to play as its simple to learn but awesome to play. Plus for the Penny arcade fans out there its always a laugh to see some of the cards and heroes out there “Jim Darkmagic, Catsby & Twisp, Tiny bat etc”. Any of these games would be great for Tabletop

  38. Ever heard of Personal Preference? It’s an obscure 80s game that I really never see anywhere, but I’m glad I came across. It’s a 4 person game that can easily accommodate more if you team up a bit, or create a few extra numbered squares. It’s a game about how well you know, or can predict the preferences of, the other people playing.
    On your turn you turn up 4 cards from a given category (sometimes a mix of categories) and then you have to secretly rate them from your favourite to least favourite. Then everyone else bets on your answers to move around the board, being able to lock in any answers to try to get farther ahead, which is of course also riskier.
    The great thing is that with category mixing you sometimes are trying to determine the order of some pretty random preferences: “waffles,” “meeting new people,” “Tom Selleck,” or “the concept of immortality.” The game is bit dated, which can add some hilarity, but also the occasional “who the hell is that?” moment. It’s also pretty great hearing the lines of logic some people used to try to determine their friend’s choices.
    The game is really fun, and to top it off the box has a tag line that says something like, “If you have friends, you’ll love Personal Preference.” It always makes me picture a game enthusiast excitedly picking it up in a store, reading that, and then sadly putting it back.

    I think the dynamic of this game would be a lot of fun to see you play on the show. Otherwise it’s just a fun one to enjoy with friends.

  39. My suggestions to fit your criteria:
    — Key Largo
    — To Court the King
    — Flash Point: Fire Rescue
    — Formula D
    — Sentinels of the Multiverse
    and for an old favorite you could remind people to enjoy…
    — RISK (some versions limit the play time, like the Transformers version my son have, which is only 7 rounds!)

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