in which i play games for my job, and i am grateful

Last night, my friend and associate Tabletop Producer, Boyan, came over to play some games with me as we prepare for season 2.5 of Tabletop, which we start filming a week from tomorrow.

We’re going to play Ticket To Ride: Europe, because I think it’s a wonderful example of a Tabletop game that’s a variation on a theme, with some minor changes, that’s just as fun to play as the original. In fact, this is the version of Ticket To Ride that made me fall in love with the game. I didn’t like the original the first few times I played it (it wasn’t the game’s fault; I was carrying some baggage from a few really bad games of Power Grid with me), and the smaller map, stations, and tunnels made Europe a game that I still love to play.

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As you can see by the blurry hand up there, trying to hit the table, I asked Anne if she’d come back on the show and play this game with us.

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She said yes, so the three of us played this game and a couple others last night, to prepare for filming next week. And not that it matters, but I won all the games we played, because the cameras weren’t rolling.

But here’s the thing … for almost 4 hours yesterday, I got to sit in my dining room and have a beer while I played boardgames I love with my friend and my wife … and it was legitimately for my job! I was actually working and loving it. So I want to take a moment and just say thank you to everyone who watches Tabletop, and everyone on our crew and at Geek and Sundry, for making this life I currently have possible.

35 thoughts on “in which i play games for my job, and i am grateful”

  1. Oh, and right before we began playing, I found out that Tabletop is on the shortlist for the Diana Jones Award, which is an incredible honor for us.

    James Wallis says: “‘Tabletop has brought a new energy and humour to the board-game field: its blend of good humour and gameplay is pitch-perfect and has introduced a range of titles from modern classics to indie RPGs to thousands of new players. The games hobby could not want a better public face than Wil Wheaton.’”

    Holy crap!

    1. Now can someone explain that James Wallis quote to the sneering idiots at The Dice Tower? I get their site, it’s a useful way to learn about a much wider range of games, but 1, they can cut the snide remarks right out, and 2, Tabletop is a wonderful way to see games, and explain why they are fun. It’s an entertaining gateway show and enjoyable for experienced gamers. Shortlisting for an award is thoroughly deserved!

    2. I have been accused of bias because Tabletop featured my game Once Upon a Time a few weeks back, but Tabletop was nominated for the Diana Jones Award way before that happened, and I am far from the only member of the DJA committee who has had a game on the show.

      Also I apologise for using ‘humour’ in successive sentences in the press release. Proofreading flail.

  2. To be honest, your show has changed the way that our family thinks when we purchase a new game. If we know you’ve done a show on it, we feel much more comfortable shelling out 40 or 50 bucks on a game. I sure hope you don’t get tired of doing the show. I can see your show being the Sesame Street of family game night. You learn your ABC’s watching Sesame Street, and then you learn how to trade sheep for wheat and bricks on Tabletop! :)

  3. I told you this at the OTTAWA Comic-Con but i’ll say it again. I have to THANK YOU and Felicia – and all the creators, producers etc. etc. for TableTop. For years, my family played Video Games, and we enjoy them a lot, there’s no question, however, since I started watching TableTop, we started buying the games you played on the show.
    We started with Tsuro, which is why it was symbolic for you to sign the Tsuro Decorative Rice-Paper sheet in the box (Thank you for doing that.. my son was thrilled to meet you and give you one of his dice). Now we sit together at a table and play games, talking, joking around and enjoying each other’s company. And we’ve taken it a step further and now have a group of friends that come over one or two times a month to play games like, Zombie Dice, Tsuro, Carcassonne, Inn-Fighting Dice Game by D&D, Dragon’s Ante by D&D, Dungeons and Dragons, and i plan on picking up Dragon-Age RPG, Ticket to Ride, Munchkins and Pandemic …
    You guys deserve all the accolades that will come your way. There’s no better Gaming spokeperson than you.

  4. Wil, I’m glad you’re having a great time. You’re doing good work.

    I asked you months ago on Reddit, but please include Betrayal at House on the Hill in this season of Tabletop! I love introducing new players to this game, and it seems like it would be a perfect fit for an episode.

    1. Power Grid is a game I love, however I don’t know if it would make thrilling television. It’s a heavier game than most of the games played so far on TT, and can take 2.5-3 hours. Most of the time, the players are staring intently at the board in stony silence. The internal dialogue would go a little like this.

      Time to bid on power plants. Should I bid on this plant? I really don’t want to bid on this plant. I want the plant that’s going to come into the current market in the next turn, but I also don’t want the bid starting player to get this plant for too cheap a price. But he might withdraw from the auction and then I would be left with a plant that I don’t want, for a price that I don’t think is worth it. Oh sod it, I bid 52 electros on the 4-power coal plant.


      I really want to buy up 5 more oil so that Johnny can’t get fuel for his plants, 2 of them use only oil. But if I do that, I won’t have enough money to connect my 12th city, which means Mary can come in on her turn and connect through there, which will block me out of Dusseldorf and I’ll have to connect through and spend even MORE money next turn. I’m hungry – where are those pizzas? Oops, better do something, everyone’s staring at me.

      The beauty of the game is in the resources that you have to finely balance, AND THERE ARE NEVER ENOUGH OF THEM. But would make for a really dull episode of TableTop.

      Also, congrats to all at TT for Season 2.5! Any hints on games to be played?

  5. Churlish me wants to be jealous (games, beer *and* @AnneWheaton), but I’m still squeeing out from you getting the sandbags back into the deck before the reshuffle in Forbidden Island last night. If this is what living vicariously feels like, sign me up for another season.

  6. Long-time viewer, first-time commentator.

    Love to see Spiel des Jahres 2013 nominees on the table while listening to a new Radio Free Burrito episode.

    Keep the awesome work going. You make such a big difference to lots of people.

  7. You’re welcome, Wil!
    Really, I should thank you. TableTop is why I started gaming. I had table top games, but I never got to play them, they just gathered dust. It wasn’t until I was watching TableTop, that I decided to actually start playing them, and go out and find people to play them with. I’ve played so many amazing games that I never heard of before I watched TableTop, some of which found their way into my growing collection, which no longer gathers dust.

  8. You’re welcome Wil. And thank you and your cronies* for advancing the cause of games (board, card & rpg) on your show. I have, thanks to TableTop, bought Small World, Cthulhu Gloom and Munchkin, and my mates and I have resurrected our old weekly game night. Another of the group bought Ticket to Ride Europe and regular Gloom. We used to play RPG’s almost exclusively, but my wife and I had a baby girl 11 months ago. As I was their GM and, since I find I don’t have the time and energy to devote which a good campaign deserves, the sessions kind of just petered out. It was International TableTop Day that got us back together again, we have now rediscovered our love of board and card games, and our little geek community has once again strengthened its bonds :)

    If you’ve ever in need of an antipodean take on gaming I’d be more than happy to offer my input. In case you missed the subtlety of the last sentence, thanks yes, I’ll happily accept a position on TableTop so that I too can play games for a living :) Keep up the good work Wil.

    I’m not sure if you’re ever likely to make your way to New Zealand, home of Middle Earth, Hercules and Xena, but if you do I happen to know a couple of excellent bars in Christchurch that specialise in, and have a great range of, local craft beers. I’d be happy to introduce you Americans to some real beer, although I haven’t seen a kiwi beer badge on Untappd. Their loss :)

    *I’m hoping they get a kick, however minor, from receiving this appellation :)

  9. Thanks for a fun show – out of curiousity, for one of the off weeks, would it be possible to do a show about some of the games that you enjoy that can’t be done on TableTop? I’ve recently bought Lvl99’s BattleCON: War of Indines which is seriously impressive, but with it being 1v1, it wouldn’t really make for a good episode (or at least, it doesn’t strike me as a good one). Arkham Horror could be a strange one too given how many little bits there are to keep track of in the game

  10. It is great to see such a happy, positive and grateful person! I too know the struggles of a life with the bonus plan of anxiety, so I like that we win sometimes! Because of Tabletop Day, we played one of those epic games of Star Trek Catan which will live on in infamy. Thanks for a suggestion that made a great memory. And yes I won!

  11. UGH, I still haven’t been able to afford the FIRST Ticket To Ride game! Now you tell me there’s another one I should fall in love with??? LOL! Thankfully I HAVE you and Anne and all your friends to live vicariously through since I’m not sure there are geeks in a place like Port Richey. Our closest TableTop Day event was way over in Clearwater. I can’t WAIT for more episodes of TableTop! Thank you for loving the things that we love and supporting friend and family time and Anne Wheaton who is the perfect compliment to the hilarity. With all the horrible weather going on now we need a happy place to remind us about the good things in this world. God bless everyone who chooses to live in the bread basket of our country and faces losing everything every time the strong winds of spring blow through. Perhaps we could send more games to them as part of their recovery process?

  12. Yeah, that is awesome. My brothers and I keep trying to figure out how to get paid for writing games.

    Love the show, even though I’ve almost always actually played the featured games before. (What I can I say… my family owns and plays a lot of games. My oldest brother has basically filled one of his spare bedrooms.)

    By the way… back when I proofread my name for the Kickstarter edition of Ogre, I wondered if I would recognize any other names on the list. After a moment, I thought “Hey, I’ll bet Wil Wheaton is on here”. Yep. Any chance it will make it onto an episode of TableTop?

    1. “What I can I say”?

      Gaaah… isn’t it amazing how one little extra word can be completely ignored by your brain one night and incredibly annoying the next?

  13. I can’t thank you enough for what TableTop and the ITD has done for me. I use board games when teaching and have my students design and make tabletop games. Your show has exposed me to excellent classroom games like Dixit and Munchkin. I hosted a day on ITD at our school for the community and because I mentioned your show and its connection with Target, local stores donated games for this event for the school to keep. We’re now going to host monthly family game days alongside our farmer’s market this summer.

    What I would love to see is an episode about gaming with younger children (ages 4-10). When using our Target GC to get games for our family game day, I guessed what would work well. Luckily I guessed well and got Spot It, but what else works great with kids?

  14. I’ve been a gamer since 1984 or 85….Yes I’m dating myself there….lol

    Thank you Wil for helping me bring gaming to my 8 year old daughter…we picked up the basic set of Munchkin and she was hooked. But then again..letting the 8 year old say “Bad Assed Bandana” anytime she gets it in the game might help….LOL

    2 things though… Might I suggest Axis and Allies as a game to play and what about that picture above the Losers Couch on Table Top? Are copies for sale somewhere? What’s the title, “The Last Roll of the Dice?”

    Great Job Wil

  15. I just saw a commercial for “Hollywood Game Night” and feel like they’ve stolen your idea, crapped on it, added a cash prize, gift wrapped it and are now trying to sell it to us.

    Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe I’m judging a book by its cover. Maybe you’ve been asked on as one of the celebrities and I’m currently complaining about a project you’re proud to have been a part of. If that’s the case, then I’m sorry and I hope you had a blast.

    If not, then it’s yet another reason (as if we need any more) to hate network tv.

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