Category Archives: Tabletop

The new Tabletop is a real Smash Up.

We wrapped production on season two of Tabletop on Tuesday night. When I got home from the set, Anne asked me how I was feeling.

“Do you feel sad that it’s over, or relieved that you get to catch your breath?”

I grabbed a glass out of the kitchen and walked across our living room.

“I’m tired, so I’m looking forward to a couple days of being a fat piece of shit on the couch, but I’m going to miss playing games all day for my job.”

I poured an Arrogant Bastard Ale out of my kegerator — a gift to myself — that’s been in the living room since it arrived a little over a month ago.

“That makes sense,” Anne said.

“Yeah, and I’m really proud of what we did this season, so I feel sort of sad to say goodbye to my crew for another year.”

I filled my glass and took a sip. “Ahhh that’s good beer.”

“This thing is the Leg Lamp,” she said, pointing to my kegerator.

“You mean it’s a thing of indescribable beauty that should be in the front window?”

“No, I mean that it’s a thing that really needs to be in your office and not the living room.”

I took a drink of my beer. “But if it was in my office, we’d have to walk all the way down the hall to get beer.”

She hesitated and I pounced. “See? That’s science. I win.”

I sat on the couch and she looked at me. “I’m going to move it as soon as I clean up the disaster that is where my office used to be*. Thank you for being patient.” I hoped she would not use up all the glue on purpose, as we settled down to watch the season finale of Game of Thrones.

Today, I’m starting to get back to normal. I’ve slept a lot the last two nights, so I only feel a little fuzzy in my brain. Also today, the newest episode of Tabletop was released! It’s Smash Up, with Rich Sommer, Cara Santa Maria, and Jen Timms.

Watching this today, I am once again blown away by the magnificent work of our editors. This game has a lot going on, and they worked very hard to make it understandable and entertaining. Tabletop is a show that is made in editing, and I realized while watching Smash Up today that the last five days of production, while very long and intense, represent only the beginning of the process that makes Tabletop possible. So, Yasu and Steve, if you’re reading this: thank you for your incredible work. I’m grateful to have you on my team.

*During production, my office becomes a huge pile of boxes and games and all kinds of stuff that just gets set aside until production wraps. It’s currently the worst it’s ever been, because in addition to the usual cruft from production, there are several boxes of things I brought home from conventions last month, as well as a whole lot of homebrew that’s bottle conditioning. It’s a hot mess.

Beginning production on Tabletop Season 2.5

Last year, we shot the entire season of Tabletop in 10 straight days. I think we maybe took two days off in there somewhere, but my memory is a haze of rolling dice (badly), having all kinds of fun with awesome people, and losing games. Oh, the losing games.

This season, we had to split production into two different weeks, and in three hours, we’ll start production on the back half of season two. To prepare, I’ve spent tons of time in the last month or so playing the games we’re featuring, so I not only know them well enough to guide players who are new to them, but maybe have a chance at just winning one fucking game on my show. Just one, Gaming Gods, that’s all I’m asking for.  IS THAT SO WRONG?!

Um. Sorry. Lots of coffee at the moment.

So last night I set my alarm for 7am, managed to fall asleep around midnight even though I felt like a little kid on Christmas Eve … and then woke up at 5:45 because I’m so damn excited to get into production. It’s going to hurt my brain around the time we wrap tonight, I’m sure, but the excitement and joy of playing games I love with awesome people is going to keep me going all day, like it does during every day of production.

I’m sure I’ll be posting pictures and maybe a few stupid cell phone videos from the set on Twitter, so if you want to see them, I’m @wilw.

I have this idea, and I need your help to make it happen: I’ve heard amazing stories from thousands of people over the last year about how Tabletop has touched their lives in a positive way. I would love to share some of those stories with my crew, so they know how much the show they’re working on matters to people they don’t even know. If you have one of those stories, would you please post it in a comment here? Every morning, I’ll print one or two out and read them to the crew before we start shooting.

 

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.

Another Tabletop Day success

WARNING: FEELS AHEAD.

This was submitted to As Seen On Tabletop:

When I first heard about International Tabletop Day, I was very excited. Every day I typed the postcode of my nearest city into the page and was thrilled when I found an event listed. Growing up in regional Australia meant that I wasn’t exposed to gamer culture growing up – as an adult living in a city means there are opportunities to find other like-minded people and to share the joy of gaming with friends and family.

But when the date drew near I realised that International Tabletop Day was on Holy Saturday. I couldn’t attend the big function I was so excited about. The Easter Holidays have always been spent at my parent’s house in a small coastal town. And this Easter was going to be a particularly difficult one. My father passed away suddenly and unexpectedly in December, just before Christmas He was only in his early 60’s, and seemed healthy. His death has devastated our family, especially my mother. She has really struggled to come to terms with his death. There have been a lot of challenges in the past few months, especially with my younger sister leaving for a semester studying abroad in America just three weeks after Dad’s funeral. So this Easter would not only be spent without Dad, but without my sister as well.

The rest of the family all headed down to Mum’s house for Easter. I wondered what could be done to make it less of a gloomy occasion. Inspiration struck – International Tabletop Day could still be marked. After dinner everyone sat around the dining room table and played Fluxx. It was suitably chaotic (I was the only person who had played Fluxx before) but soon everyone was laughing and groaning when the rules got more and more complex. Even though Mum had never played the game before, she won every game but two. I hadn’t seen her laugh so much or so hard since before Dad died. It helped bring everyone together for something joyous, a fitting was to pass the Vigil before the joys of Easter Day.

So thank you, International Tabletop Day, for helping make our first Easter without Dad that little bit easier.

Stories like this just keep coming in, from all over the world, and I honestly don’t know how to fully process them. At the moment, all I can do is smile, weep joyfully a little bit, and feel immense gratitude to all the people who helped make Tabletop Day happen.

Tabletop Day Success: “I just spent 9 hours with complete strangers playing games I have never seen before, and not once did I feel uncomfortable.”

I went through my Tumblr queue this morning, and approved over 325 submissions from people who did things on Tabletop Day to As Seen On Tabletop.

This is a lovely note I got from an anonymous Tabletop Day participant. It made my heart grow three sizes, so I wanted to share it.

Tabletop Day Note

Keep an eye on Seen on Tabletop for the next couple of weeks. There are a lot of great stories and pictures in the queue that will hopefully inspire you to play more games.

More #TabletopDay awesomeness

TableTopDay_300x600I was talking with my pal and Tabletop Day Super Make It All Happen Guy, Boyan, a bit earlier today, about what people will get when they go to one of their Friendly Local Gameshops to play games on Tabletop Day this Saturday.

Here’s what he sent me:

7 WONDERS — Catan Civilization Board
BELFORT — Promo cards
CASTLE PANIC — Multi-color Hero promo card
D&D — Drizzt promo card
DIXIT — Dragon promo card
DOMINION — Promo cards
ELDER SIGN — Promo card
EVIL BABY ORPHANAGE — Promo cards
FLUXX — Promo card assortment bundle
GLOOM — TableTop Day promo pack
MAGIC — Free Magic: the Gathering Cards
MAYFAIR — A whole sheet of promo tiles
MUNCHKIN — Killer bookmark
RESISTANCE — FULL GAME & promo card set
SPARTACUS — Promo card
SPOT IT — Spot It promo pack
TSURO — Tsuro of the Seas promo tiles

Some of you may be asking yourselves, “How do I get all this awesome free stuff?”

Easy! You just go to www.tabletopday.com and search events that have stars as their icons. These are stores that are guaranteed to have the #TableTopDay retail launch kit. Stores that are listed with a playing card icon may have them, but it’s not guaranteed. We’re not sure how each store will decide to give away their various promotional items, but I’m fairly certain it will involve some sort of gaming experience.

What’s that? You want even more awesome stuff? Okay, how about a TabletopDay bundle from DriveThru RPG, that’s an entirely free set of RPG PDFs that includes quickstart rules for A Song of Ice And Fire RPG, Brass & Steel, Leverage RPG, Savage Worlds, D&D 4th Edition, and Mistborn? Or maybe you’d be interested in playing ACTION CASTLE, the first adventure in the Parsely system!

There’s a ton of free stuff and it’s all free to celebrate Tabletop Day. Also, it’s free. Because we love you. Also, don’t forget to download, print, paste, and cut out your very own stand-up me and Tabletop Trophy Of Awesome!

I have to say thank you to all the publishers who got on board with us, and are giving these amazing things to our fellow gamers, and to all my fellow gamers out there who are participating in something that’s so huge and epic, I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around it.

This is going to be so freaking great, you guys. Until TableTop Day … PLAY MORE GAMES!

 

 

How about a couple of cutouts for your Tabletop Day event?

I really wanted something like this to be part of Tabletop Day, so I commissioned these awesome print-and-paste-and-cutouts from my friend Lar Desouza (of Least I Could Do and Looking For Group fame, among other things).

Wil Wheaton Tabletop Victory Wall Standup
Click to download a PDF of this image.
Tabletop Trophy of Awesome Cutout
Click to download a PDF of this image.

These images are released under the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share-Alike 3.0 license, so feel free to print them out, share them with people, and most of all … take pictures of them in action and submit to As Seen On Tabletop!

Announcing Tabletop Season Two!

Finally! I can announce that Season Two of Tabletop will premiere on April fourth! I’ve wanted to talk about this for months, but I couldn’t, because of reasons.

But now we can talk about it, so…

We have some amazing guests this season, including Jeri Ryan, Seth Green, Bobak Ferdowsi, Ashley Clements, Patrick Rothfuss, and my son, Ryan Wheaton.

We have some amazing games this season, including Smash Up, Star Trek Catan, Shadows Over Camelot, Lords of Waterdeep, and The Resistance!

Back in January, I wrote a post called Thinking About Tabletop. It turns out that everything I want to say today, I already said then. So, take it away, me from a few months ago:

About a year ago, I finished shooting the first season of my show Tabletop, and had a few weeks off before we began editing the games we played into hopefully entertaining television.

I don’t remember what I did during those weeks — probably slept a whole lot — but when we got into editing, I clearly remember how terrified I was that the show wouldn’t work. The first cut of the first episode was (following my direction) too long, tough to follow, and just not as interesting as I wanted it to be. Luckily, Felicia Day was in the edit bay with me, and she knew exactly how to fix it. She gave notes and advice to the editor (who was amazing), and when we came back two days later to watch the second cut, it was an entirely different show. It was funny, it was entertaining, it captured how much fun it was to play the game. It was what I had always hoped Tabletop would be.

For the next few weeks, we cut the entire season, three episodes at a time, with three amazing and talented editors. By the time we got to the end of everything, we almost knew what we were doing!

As we got closer and closer to the premiere, I kept looking for the familiar nervous anxiety about how people would react, but it wasn’t ever there. I believed in the show in a way I’d never really been able to believe in myself, and I just wanted to share it with the world.

Tabletop’s premiere was a huge success that exceeded my wildest dreams. I think we got close to half a million views almost immediately, and the feedback was overwhelmingly positive. My friend John Rogers says that you should expect comments to be weighted 3:1 in favor of people hating on a thing, because someone who loves a thing goes “I loved that! I guess I’ll go back to my life now!” instead of going “I loved that! NOW I WILL ENGAGE ALL CAPS TO TELL THE PERSON WHO MADE IT HOW MUCH I LOVED IT.” Even with that adjustment, we were at like 10:1 positives to negatives.

As the season unfolded, I began to hear from game shop owners. When we played a game on Tabletop, it sold out. I heard from designers that when we played their games, they sold thousands and thousands of them. I heard from a distributor that one of the games we played sold out and had to go into a new printing — they thought 30,000 copies of the game would be enough, and they were wrong.

But the most amazing thing, that I didn’t even expect or think about even a little bit, were the personal stories from people who had been inspired to start up their own game nights with their friends and families because of Tabletop. One father told me that his tween kids spent every evening in front of their own computers or televisions, and after dinner he pretty much didn’t see his family until breakfast. But after watching Tabletop together, the kids were inspired to start a family game night. Tabletop, he told me, literally brought his family closer together.

There are dozens of parents of special needs children who have emailed me or talked to me at conventions, thanking me for giving them something that helps their children.

I even heard from a guy who felt like his marriage was drifting apart until he watched Tabletop with his wife and they started playing games together.

My ulterior motive with this show has always been to make more gamers by showing how much fun it is to play games, and I’m pretty confident that I can declare that effort an unqualified success.

Tabletop means more to me than I ever thought it would, and the community that has grown around it makes me incredibly proud, but I didn’t do Tabletop alone. We had an incredible crew who could film people playing games in a visually interesting way. We had an incredible director who kept us together and focused on what was important. We had friends who came to play with me just because I asked, and game publishers who took a chance on our show without knowing exactly what it would end up being. I had an incredible creative partner in Felicia Day. I had a tremendously talented team of producers who pulled together an equally talented team of editors, who are the true unsung heroes of this entire effort.

And then there’s the community, which is as much a part of the success of Tabletop as anything. Whether you’re posting in the Geek and Sundry forums, sharing your stories and pictures on the Seen on Tabletop Tumblr I made, talking about games we played at Board Game Geek, or actually playing games with people who are important to you, you’re part of something wonderful.

And speaking of wonderful things, we’re working really hard to make International Tabletop Day the best celebration possible of the tabletop gaming culture we love. At the moment, there are 2,250 events in 55 countries, and more people are joining and adding their own every day. I want to point out that a few hundred events would be considered an epic success by any measurement, and a thousand events was something we never dreamed would happen — in a year or two, sure, but right away? No way. The point is, you, the Tabletop audience, my fellow gamers, my fellow geekdads and gamerdads and geekmoms and gamermoms … your enthusiasm and joy of gaming has built a truly global community. We are all part of something amazing, now, and I hope you feel as good about it as I do.

I really excited for you to see Season Two, and I hope we live up to your expectations.

Trust me when I say that this wouldn’t have happened without you … so thank you for watching, and until next time, play more games.

One Million Views!!

Ho.

Lee.

SHIT.

ONE MILLION VIEWS FOR TABLETOP!

Congratulations to everyone at Geek and Sundry, and especially to our Tabletop team, for making it possible to reach this milestone.

And thank you to everyone who has subscribed, liked, commented, shared, and been part of the last year of Tabletop with us. I’m doing everything I can to make season two happen, and to make it even more awesome than season one.

Until next time … play more games!