TableTop: The Ultimate Nerd Gaming Series


By: Angela Russo (@NerdGirlForever)

There’s nothing more fun than rounding up a group of friends for a tabletop nerd gaming extravaganza. Game days are an invaluable resource for making new nerd friends and bonding over discovering epic new games that inevitably become part of your ever-expanding collection. The list of awesome nerd games is extensive and continuously growing, so it would be easy to spend countless hours searching the Internet for new contenders. However, there’s a big difference between reading a general description of gameplay and actually experiencing it in action.

Tabletop gaming has been a classic nerd pastime for decades, but in recent years it has truly exploded in popularity due in no small part to the web series TableTop created by Wil Wheaton and Felicia Day. As an avid tabletop gamer, I was truly excited when the show first came on my radar after their Conversations for a Cause panel during Nerd HQ 2014. The dynamic nerd duo developed the series both to celebrate their love of gaming, and with the purpose of reviewing and demo-playing tabletop games for those newly entering the nerd-gaming fold. Whether you’re looking for classic Euro-style fun, or more of a card-game experience, TableTop episodes cover diverse and entertaining options guaranteed to sate your hunger for nerdtastic fun.

Web-Series Highlights

TableTop is one of the many web-series produced by Felicia Day’s company Geek and Sundry, which has developed shows covering various sects of nerdom such as LARPing, romance nov-els, MMORPGs, sci-fi, and fantasy. TableTop is hosted by Wil Wheaton, and is currently airing its fourth season with the entire series available to view on the Geek and Sundry website and Youtube channel. The show features guest-star players from various walks of nerd life from screenwriters like Jane Espenson, to actors like Brandon Routh, Seth Green, Jeri Ryan, and Beth Reisgraf, and fantasy authors like Patrick Rothfuss.

Over the past four seasons, TableTop has demo-played games of all kinds ranging from Euro-style classics like Small World, Carcassonne, and Lords of Waterdeep, to party games like Wits and Wagers, Fluxx, and Cards Against Humanity. Each episode begins with a brief overview of gameplay rules before diving in. Periodically, more in-depth explanations of gameplay strategies will appear on the screen. Every episode of TableTop is overflowing with punny nerd-play and classic gaming fun. Here’s a small sample of epic gaming from the series:

Season One Episode Sixteen: Star Fluxx

Alex Albrecht, Chloe Dykstra, and Jordan Mechner join Wil Wheaton to navigate mechanical malfunctions, brain parasites, and other surprises in this unpredictably entertaining sci-fi space edition of Fluxx.

Season Three Episode Five: Stone Age

Determined to thwart their gaming host from claiming victory once more, Jordan Maron, Nika Harper, and Jesse Cox form a “beatin’ and defeatin’ Wil Wheaton” pact in this highly strategic ancient-civilization-style game of life.

In 2013, host Wil Wheaton stated that not every game is viable to be featured on TableTop, and openly explained the complexity and luck to strategy ratio required to easily integrate a game into the series. Supposedly this would prevent one-on-one matches or deck-building games like Dominion from being featured. However, in episode nine of the current season, TableTop featured a one-on-one tournament of Star Realms, a dueling deck-building game. Hopefully this means that the door is opening up for an even greater expansion of the already diverse game-play showcased on the series.

Game On!

Each episode is filled with witty banter, good-natured teasing, and nerd references that will have you fist-pumping the air when you hear your fandom mentioned. There’s nothing quite like hear-ing Wil Wheaton drop a Next Generation joke during a game of Star Trek Five Year Mission, tease Patrick Rothfuss about the release of Doors of Stone, or casually cite Trogdor the Burninator from Homestarrunner. The dynamic interplay between TableTop stars is incredibly familiar and relatable to our own nerd gaming at home. It’s really a testament to how definitive these tabletop games are to nerd culture. These games are both social and strategic in nature, and in my own game nights there’s always the guy who sticks to big money, or the girl who tends to rely on being a builder. There’s a particular kind of competitive yet good-natured thrill associated with claiming victory in a nerd gaming tournament. TableTop celebrates classic gaming fun while adding an extra layer of epic nerd flavor to the community. However the dice may roll, good times are guaranteed when you watch Tabletop.

    One Comment

  1. Eric Flapjack AshlryJuly 6th, 2017 at 10:14 am

    This is a great show, and this was a great write up!

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