Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Big Game Hunting - TableTop

If you enjoy games and haven't yet seen TableTop, you are truly missing out on a great webshow. TableTop, written and hosted by Wil Wheaton, is a series that aims to introduce people to table top gaming, and get them interested in the many different games out there. With four episodes aired and a new episode due this Friday, it's already doing a fantastic job.

So far the show has covered a good range of board games, such as Settlers of Catan, Ticket to Ride, and Zombie Dice. The show is structured with an introduction to the game by Wil to explain the basic concept and rules. This is followed by twenty minutes of gameplay, where any additional notes or rules are explained as they appear. These are often shown as screen overlays, providing information without slowing down the skillful pacing of the show. Every game is described in just enough detail to be able to follow along without difficulty.

However, not every aspect of gameplay is explained particularly well. In every game, there seems to be a few things that are left out. Sometimes information is left far too late into the episode, such as the importance of re-deploying units in Small World. Other times an important facet of the game is barely touched on, and not featured at all in the gameplay. This is particularly true in Settlers of Catan, where the ability to trade with the bank and the usefulness of port settlements is all but ignored.

Each episode also features several guest players. The list of guests so far has provided a very good mix of people, ranging from people who play games all the time to those who have played a game of Monopoly or two. So far we've seen the likes of Jenna Busch, Grant Imahara, Freddie Wong, James Kyson and several others. Wil Wheaton's wife Anne has even joined in! This mix allows for a great deal of banter and plenty of energy in the episodes, making them a joy to watch.

Well, this is true for most episodes, at least. The second in the series, which features Settlers of Catan, is by far the least entertaining of the bunch. The conversation is often limited to players trying to trade resources, and the energy in the game is almost nonexistent. It must be said that watching a game of Settlers is always less entertaining than playing it, but this one quickly becomes tedious.

Even with its flaws, TableTop achieves what it sets out to do, and has shown me a few new games that have since become personal favourites. There's possibly no better way to get a bird's eye view of how these games are played and introduce them to new players. Each episode also links to player interviews and gag reals for additional content if the episodes themselves aren't enough!

For more from guest blogger Rae, please check out her website

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