Category Archives: Tabletop

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!

March 30 is International Tabletop Day

As promised, the Very Big Tabletop Announcement is here. Take it away, Felicia!

We have wanted to do International Tabletop Day since we premiered a year ago, and we’ve been working on making it happen for almost as long.

At tabletopday.com, you can find and join events in your town, or create your own! You can play wherever you want, but if you go to your friendly local gameshop, you may just get one of the Tabletop Day exclusive bonuses for games like Gloom, Dixit, 7 Wonders, Castle Panic, Smash Up, and more. It’s so so so awesome, you guys, and I can’t wait for you to see the amazing things our friends in the games industry have created for you.

The very best thing about Tabletop, for me, isn’t that I get to play games for my job or that I get to hang out with awesome people while I do it. I know that seems like it would be the most awesome thing about Tabletop, but it isn’t. The most awesome thing about Tabletop is the community of people who have rediscovered their love of gaming, or started a game night, or have somehow been inspired by our show to play more games. International Tabletop Day is all about you, and it is designed to celebrate the community that inspires me to work as hard as I can to make the best show I can.

I hope you’ll join us on #Tabletopday, and play more games!

Guest Post by Stephen Toulouse: A Mythending Adventure Ends in Fiasco for Munchausen

This guest post is by Stephen “Stepto” Toulouse. He made a comedy album you can get on Bandcamp (cheapest option), iTunes or Amazon and wrote a book called A Microsoft Life. He blogs at Stepto.com.

If I had to pick three of my new favorite games my gaming circle has introduced me to this past year, it would be Fiasco, The Extraordinary Adventures of Baron Munchausen, and Mythender. All three of these games involve basic improvisation skills and TERRIFY ME BEYOND ALL BELIEF. They are also terribly fun not just to play but to kibitz as well. (note I’m using the non-dick meaning of kibitz where you don’t constantly interrupt the game.)

The problem is I travel in some circles that involve people who write or perform for a living, so playing Fiasco with Wil, or Munchausen with Pat Rothfoss and Mike Selniker, or Mythender with Ryan Macklin can be mega super daunting. I’ll give you a for-instance: during a Fiasco game, Wil’s character was to meet my friend Eric’s character in a cheap bar. It was not the kind of place Wil’s character would ever go if he didn’t have to. Here’s how Wil opened the scene:

“I sit in the seedy bar, noting with disdain and disgust the rips in the vinyl cover of the dirty booth. With a sigh I slowly stir my cheap blend scotch rocks (the best this place could offer) with my finger watching the oily swirls of the cheap booze and the water. The tumbler is dirty and heavy, made from some poor cloudy looking glass. The smell of greasy beef coming from the kitchen well within view of the dining area is making me sick. I see [Eric’s Character] enter from the side, he looks shabby as always.”*

I mean, that’s how he opened. Eric played up to it perfectly but if you’re playing these games and people who have a lot of fun and a background of creativity and improv are playing with you, it can quickly put you in performance anxiety mode.

Thusly, I have tips for playing these games. These aren’t improv or story telling tips, they are just tips centered around the game experience itself.

#1: Don’t feel like you have to play to win.

Yes, most of these games have a form of scoring. But their structure is far more oriented towards everyone enjoying the game itself. I’ve “lost” many a game of Fiasco but much like losing at Chess I had a great time playing and learned something. I find I can relax my mind in these games quite a bit by simply not caring if I win.

#2: Role playing skills vary widely among people, don’t force yourself to try and play at the level of others.

This is by far the handiest tip I can give you, because it helps me the most. So when someone at the table absolutely knocks a scene or moment out of the park, don’t let that little voice who says “Well, I shouldn’t even speak at this point that was so good” stop you. I’ve played Fiasco games where the best role player or improv person actually didn’t win. It’s not about who can consistently turn their scenes into Shakespeare.

#3: Embrace the absurd or impossible when it’s presented.

This is by far the hardest tip to do. During a session of Munchausen, Pat was explaining how his rudimentary space ship reached the moon when Mike interjected and introduced a game challenge:

“But sir, what I do not understand is how you managed the trip being dead the entire time!”

Had I gotten that challenge I would have locked up and probably pushed back the challenge (you can do that in Munchausen), but it’s such a good challenge the other players would have forced it back on me. Pat took it in stride and wove a quick aside of what it truly means to be dead. I saw a similar scene in Fiasco where one character started off the scene describing the other character standing over their character’s own dead body, bloody knife in hand. This forced the other player to completely change what they were planning and explain how the situation came to be.

This is a hard piece of advice for these games because situations like this can happen often and force you into total and pure improv even if you already felt good about where you wanted to go. Take a moment, think about how you really would explain such a thing, and go for it.

#4: Have fun. It’s perfectly ok to stumble a bit or fail.

The most frustrating thing about these games is when people want to play them but feel they just aren’t good enough. Chances are if you are playing these games you are playing them with friends or, believe me, soon to be friends. If you take a moment to react to dialogue, or feel a story you are telling just isn’t working out, that’s ok. Sometimes there’s great fun in these games to playing in a more minimalist fashion with story telling and instead play the role of kingmaker by using your challenges or points to decide the winner. The point being if you’re going to sit at the table because this looks like fun, no one wants you to feel like this 20 minutes into it:

clip_image001

I hope those tips help. If these games are new to you and you have no idea what I am talking about try watching the episode of TableTop featuring Fiasco!

Stepto

*I exaggerate only slightly. That’s more or less how Wil opened the scene. It was hysterical.