Category Archives: Tabletop

Guest Blog by Will Hindmarch: Tabletop’s Dragon Age, Part Two!

Will Hindmarch was one of the guys next to the guy who did the thing. No, to the other side. Yeah, that guy. Will used to blog at wordstudio.net.

I imagine Wil would want you to know, as I want you to know, that the new episode of Tabletop—featuring the exciting conclusion of the two-part star-studded Dragon Age adventure—is now live online and you can watch it online because it is live online right now, online, here.

Go and watch and subscribe to the channel and if you like the video click Like, like you do. Okay? Okay.

Tabletop’s Dragon Age RPG Outtakes (Part One)

When I do my gag reel intros for Tabletop, I always get them to my producer on Tuesday, because they need to be edited and uploaded by noon on Wednesday for a release on Thursday.

And you just thought it all happened by magic! For shame. For shame.

I’ve been so busy lately, with various secret projects and w00tstock at Sketchfest and preparations for JoCo Cruise Crazy next week, I completely forgot to record my intro for this week’s gag reel. Nick, my producer, emailed me yesterday morning to remind me that I hadn’t sent it in, and that we were running out of time to get it done. I looked at the clock, realized that I didn’t have time to really put myself together and record it, so I asked Anne if she’d just shoot me for a minute or so at our dining room table.

This was also not as easy as it sounds, because she was doing online traffic school thanks to an epic bullshit ticket (70 in a 65 on the Interstate, no radar, she fought it and lost. Shasta County is corrupt IMHO) and could only take short breaks during the day. (By the way, she aced it: 100% on each section and the final. That’s my girl!)

Well, after seeing this all cut together, I can confidently say: worth it.

Watch Tabletop’s Dragon Age RPG Gag Reel (Part One)

wheatonbot needs moar coffee

When I do my gag reel intros for Tabletop, I always get them to my producer on Tuesday, because they need to be edited and uploaded by noon on Wednesday for a release on Thursday.

And you just thought it all happened by magic! For shame. For shame.

I’ve been so busy lately, with various secret projects and w00tstock at Sketchfest and preparations for JoCo Cruise Crazy next week, I completely forgot to record my intro for this week’s gag reel. Nick, my producer, emailed me this morning to remind me that I hadn’t sent it in, and that we were running out of time to get it done. I looked at the clock, realized that I didn’t have time to really put myself together and record it, so I asked Anne if she’d just shoot me for a minute or so at our dining room table.

This was also not as easy as it sounds, because she’s doing online traffic school thanks to an epic bullshit ticket (70 in a 65 on the Interstate, no radar, she fought it and lost. Shasta County is corrupt IMHO) and can only take short breaks during the day.

Luckily for us and people who enjoy my bed head posts at G+, the stars aligned and we were able to shoot the intro. Here’s the (in my opinion hilarious) thumbnail that my shows up in my finder when I look at the file:

Wheatonbot needs more coffee.
Wheatonbot needs more coffee.

Yes, that’s the bathrobe I wear every day. I got it from Think Geek. It’s as awesome as you think.

You can see the intro I recorded, and the gag reel it introduces, tomorrow at Internet o’clock on Geek and Sundry. You can see a little tease from the gag reel right now.

Today: New Tabletop! Tomorrow: W00tstock Founder’s Night at SF Sketchfest!

I’m really excited for everyone to see today’s new episode of Tabletop; it’s the Dragon Age RPG! I am in a party with with Chris Hardwick, Sam Witwer, and Kevin Sussman. Our GM is my friend and Dragon Age RPG designer, Chris Pramas.

BEHOLD:

Also, if you’re in San Francisco (or reasonably close to San Francisco) tomorrow night, you can come see me, Adam Savage, and Paul and Storm in W00tstock Founder’s Night at Sketchfest. At the moment, the show is nearly sold out, but if you hurry and clap loud enough, you may get lucky. There may be a song about pirates, and I will say at least one swear.

I’m thinking about Tabletop

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.

Next week, we’re playing the Dragon Age RPG, and it will be the last two episodes of this season. We filmed it over a year ago, and I haven’t looked at it in almost as long. I don’t remember what happens, but I do remember how much fun it was to play with Chris Hardwick, Sam Witwer and Kevin Sussman in a game that was run by its designer, Chris Pramas. I’m excited for everyone to see it, but also a little sad that the season is coming to an end, because I don’t know if and when new episodes will air.

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.

So thank you for watching, and until next time … play more games.

#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.)

Congratulations, #Tabletop!

My show, Tabletop, was included in Giga Om’s The Best Of Web Video 2012, one of only four program(me)s singled out by Liz Shannon Miller:

Tabletop

Part of the Geek and Sundry YouTube network (along with Felicia Day’s Flog and the whimsicalWritten by a Kid), Tabletop was one of this year’s case models for the concept that web video audiences are ready for longer content.

The Wil Wheaton-hosted series sat geek celebs like Alex Albrecht, Morgan Webb, Jane Espenson, Amber Benson and Ryan Higa to play a wide range of dice, card and board games, consistently reaching six-figure viewcounts (impressive for a half-hour long show). But what I find especially cool abut Tabletop is the gaming community that’s come out of it, showcased primarily via the Tumblr blog Seen on Tabletop, where viewers are encouraged to submit their experiences playing the games featured on the show.

The last new episode of Tabletop was posted November 1st, but “Seen on Tabletop” is still updating regularly: Right now, it’s flooded with posts featuring the post-Christmas gaming adventures of its fans.

I’m so proud of Tabletop, and so grateful to everyone who has helped make it a success. As a rule, I don’t care about being included in lists or winning awards — I believe the work is what’s important and that the work should just speak for itself — but this is different, because we’re on a very short list with My Drunk Kitchen and Daily Grace, two of the funniest and most entertaining shows I’ve ever seen anywhere.

And I really love that she singled out the Tumblr community I created, which is only awesome because my fellow gamers keep submitting their pictures and stories to it.

The most important thing for us at Geek and Sundry is to make Tabletop an entertaining show that’s worth your time to watch, so we work very, very hard to hit that goal. But my ulterior motives are twofold:

1) Make more gamers by showing anyone who watches the show how much fun it is to play tabletop games, thus inspiring them to get together with friends and family to play.

2) Give gamers something to show their non-gaming partners, friends, or family to help them understand why we love games as much as we do, hopefully leading those partners/friends/family to number 1).

The community that’s been built at As Seen On Tabletop has ended up being a very big part of serving my ulterior motives, and I’m very grateful to everyone who’s submitted pictures and stories to it.

Tabletop comes back with new episodes starting on January 3, and we should know for sure if we get a season two very shortly after. Fingers crossed!

Today’s #Tabletop Hangout

Last week, I had a meeting at Geek and Sundry to discuss several geek and sundry things, some of them related to my show Tabletop. We all thought it would be fun and awesome to do a live Google Hangout Q&A thingy for all the people who love the show and are sadface that there won’t be new episodes until January. We were pretty excited to have a whole hell of a lot of fun tonight.

In light of Friday’s mass murder in Connecticut, though, it just felt wrong to me, and I thought we should postpone it for a week or more. I discussed it with some of my cow orkers at G&S, and we decided that we’d do whatever I decided. Unable to make a decision I felt good about on my own, I went for a walk with Anne, and asked her opinion and advice.

“Gaming is a family activity, and people watch Tabletop with their kids,” she said, echoing something Tabz at G&S had said to me earlier in the day, “it seems like giving anyone who wants a break from the sadness and horror we’re all feeling an hour to talk and think about things we love and the people we love is a good thing.”

I’ve said before that Anne is the brains in our relationship. She’s also the heart and soul.

After 9/11, we canceled our shows at ACME because none of us felt like we could be funny. I’m feeling similar emotions now… but I don’t have to be funny or perform. I just have to not suck, and I can do that. I can still provide an hour for us to talk about games, about the production of the show, and maybe share some stories about how gaming is important to my family.

So that’s what I’m going to do. For an hour tonight, from 6pm Pacific time, I’ll be taking your questions about Tabletop and gaming. @GeekAndSundry will have all the details you need to know so you can watch and submit your questions.