So Wil Wheaton has a YouTube show about boardgames, and it’s awesome. It’s called TableTop, and it’s a long-form (about a half hour per episode) look at various good boardgames, including a basic explanation of how to play each — plus an actual play session so you can actually get it. Whether you’re a boardgame nerd or a “normal” person looking for a fun diversion for your next party, this is for you.
I'm crazy about Mental Floss, so this means a lot to me. I think Mental Floss reaches people who don't already know about Tabletop, and I'm hopeful that this will bring some new viewers and eventual new gamers into the world.
Also, I met a woman in Trader Joe's today who watches Tabletop. This is how I recounted it to Twitter:
Girl in store: Do you make that tabletop show? Me: Yes! Her: My husband and I love it! We have a game night because of it! Me: AWESOME!
Her little girl: Daddy's favorite is the trains! Her: We love Ticket to Ride. Anne: Careful with the board. Me: Voice of experience, here.
Her husband told me via the tweety box that she was there to get snacks for their weekly boardgame night, which exists because they were inspired by Tabletop.
N: 2nd Watch will be living on the web. In what ways will the show’s format be taking advantage of its portal?
WW: Hopefully, it will let us reach out to and embrace the audience in a more interactive way than we can with television, which is one-way communication.
N: With after-shows like this and Talking Dead, you and Chris are acting as ambassadors to the community on behalf of those shows. Do you think networks are finally seeing the value in personally connecting with the audience? And how does having the trust of an audience weigh on deciding whether or not to take on a job like this?
WW: It’s a huge responsibility to host one of these shows, because we need to know as much about the individual episodes and the cast as the most über of überfans. We’re essentially acting as a bridge between the fans of the show and the people who make it, so we absolutely need to have our shit together. I take the responsibility very seriously, and I know that there’s a certain amount of “this is awesome” implied when I agree to do something like this, which is why I wouldn’t have said yes if I didn’t absolutely love the show.
The networks are taking baby steps, as younger executives who have grown up with the Internet replace retiring executives who are still trying to fight the Napster battle. One of the key areas (in which) indies are destroying the majors is with fan outreach, no region-locking, no DRM, and things like that. It makes me really, really happy that TNT and AMC are seeing that the old style of one-way, top-down network to audience relationships need to adapt and change to meet what audiences expect right now.
There's a lot more to our interview, which I hope you'll read because I spent a lot of time thinking about and writing my answers down. For you. For science. You monster.
I'm going to speak in geek to people who have played Munchkin: Neither of the kids would help me, and I kept getting the Truly Obnoxious Curse, so I was having a hard time gaining levels. As a result, I was stuck at level 3 forever while they were sitting around level 7. I decided that my goal in the game would be to mess with them as much as possible, and forget trying to gain levels on my own.
Nolan was to my right. He kicked in a door and didn't find a monster, so he looked for trouble, playing a level 3 something from his hand. "Does anyone want to mess with me?" He asked, avoiding looking in my direction.
"It's funny you should ask," I said. "That's an illusion. You're actually fighting a level 18 Squidzilla." I played the appropriate cards.
"Oh, okay." Nolan pulled a card from his hand. "It's now enraged, so it gets an additional treasure." He pulled another card from his hand. "And with this Polymorph Potion, it turns into a parrot and flies away." He paused dramatically. "And I take five treasures."
"OHHH!" Ryan and Michael said.
"Man, that's a really great move," I said. "Too bad I'm playing Annihilation on it."
He was forced to discard the potion, and face the Enraged Squidzilla on his own.
"OHHH!" Ryan and Michael said."
"Okay, then." Nolan said. "I guess I'm running away."
Munchkin is a polarizing game. People who love it are crazy about it, and people who hate it want to kill it with fire. I fall into the middle; it can be a really fun game if the players get into the spirit of the puns and the backstabbing and don't succumb to the crabs-in-a-barrel mentality that can keep a player at level 9 an hour after the game stopped being fun.
On the most recent Tabletop, Sandeep Parikh, Felicia Day, and the game's creator Steve Jackson played Munchkin with me, and I think we illustrated exactly why this game can be so much fun:
Munchkin is one of those games that brings out the Rules Lawyers and self-proclaimed experts who spend a lot of time pointing out every time we did something that wasn't optimal, or when we screwed up with the rules, so this is a very good time for me to point something out: The goal of TableTop is to show how much fun it is to play games. It isn't a tutorial on how to win them. We know that we make mistakes (we shot 20 episodes in 10 days on a tiny budget with 60 different players) and we're okay with that.
Today, the comic I wrote with Felicia for The Guild comes out. It's called FAWKES, and it is about what happens between the end of Season 4 and [SPOILER] in Season 5. It's getting generally good reviews, which delights me. The only negative is that I didn't spend several pages filling in people who don't watch The Guild why they should care about the story and who everyone is, which is a little silly, because I didn't write it for those people (who aren't going to buy it, anyway.)I'm especially happy with the artwork and both covers, and super-grateful to Dark Horse for supporting it.
Finally, my beloved Los Angeles Kings are in the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time since 1993. This is what I looked like last night after they won in overtime:
Not actually taken last night, but I do this whenever the Kings win.
I keep hearing from gameshops that people are coming in and buying the games we play on Tabletop, and from people who tell me that they're using Tabletop to show their non-gaming partners why we love to geek out over games all the time... but someone choosing to use our super lame totally awesome trophy that Lindsey got from eBay for 3 bucks we spent an unfathomable amount of money on making as the trophy for "award"? That's amazing.
I do not always make a meme reference to my own show, but when I do, I choose this one.
Today, I'll wrap production on the latest series of audio books I've been doing. It's been ten long days, and though I genuinely adore the people I'm working with, I'll be happy when I get to the last word on the last page, because...
I'm going to start work on a different and awesome project on Thursday, before I head to Phoenix for Comicon late Friday night, and I have a crapton of homework and research to do before that gets started.
Because I've been so busy with the audio books and a few secret things, I didn't have any real time to play Diablo 3 until this weekend. I put in 12 hours in three days (guess how I know I'm an adult? That felt a little excessive to me.) and though I'm only in the beginning of the second act, I really like it. The art direction is beautiful, the music and story are fantastic, and the gameplay is exactly what I want and expect. I think it also helps that I played cooperative with Ryan, who is on the other side of the country, and it felt like some good father/son bonding time, mostly because of the silly chat.
I'm playing a monk I named Alikka. She's so bad ass, when she punches people, they explode. Last night, Ryan and I took two monks on a couple quests, and we destroyed the bad guys.
"You know how I know these cultists are crazy?" I said in chat.
"How?" He said.
"Because they just saw us beat the shit out of this giant demon thing, and they still came running at us with their little knives."
"LOL. Stupid cultists," he said.
We were in some village, doing this quest where we had to free a bunch of prisoners from cells that were scattered all over the place. It wasn't a simple matter of walking up and unlocking the doors, though, on account of all the demons everywhere. So we're fighting the demons and the prisoners are all, "Save us! Save us!" so I typed, "Hey! We're a little busy right now FIGHTING THE FUCKING DEMONS."
I almost wiped, but the resulting laughs were worth it.
Then, later, he used this skill where the monk summons a giant bell, kicks it, and wastes whatever happens to be in the path of the resulting soundwave (it's a cool looking effect that I'm not doing justice in the description.) I said, "It looks like you just ... [puts on sunglasses] ... rang his bell. YYYEEEEEAAAHHHHHHHH!!!"
It went on and on like that until it was time to go to bed. We got some nice gear, and it was really fun to play this character who feels like a super bad ass (I love this thing she does where she punches like seven enemies in a row and they're all "Hey what just happened? Oh we're dead.") even though she's only level 17.
It's not the deepest game in the world, and it isn't going to replace the experience I have when I play a tabletop RPG with my friends, but as a social experience with my son that was pretty easy to play for a little bit and then walk away from, it gives me exactly what I need.
I probably won't pick it up again for... gosh, probably not until I get back from Origins in two weeks, but I'm glad I spent some time playing it this weekend, even if I'm paying for it this morning because I stayed up too late playing it with my son, who I miss more than anything.
In my gaming group, I am not the guy who is good at explaining rules (that guy would be Tom D., when he plays with us, or my friend Cal M., the rest of the time) so the part of Tabletop I was the most anxious about is that segment at the beginning of the show where I explain the rules of the game.
It's a real challenge, probably more difficult than you'd expect, and thanks to clever editing and postproduction work, looks much easier and flawless than it actually is.
In preparation for each episode, my friend and associate producer Boyan and I would sit down at my dining room table and talk through the rules. The first thing we'd do is figure out what kind of game we were playing (bluffing, communication, resource-management, etc.) and build out from there. I would set up the game in front of me, just like you see on the show, and I'd "teach" the game to Boyan. If something worked, one of us would write it down on a bullet-pointed list. That list went with me to work the next day, and I used it to remember what the audience needed to hear.
I'm cleaning up my office today, and I just came across two pages I wrote for last week's 3 Quick Games episode. I thought they may be interesting to some of you, so here they are:
You can see that I was considering a running "like you do" joke. It didn't work, so I dropped it when we filmed.