Seven games I would love to see on #Tabletop on @geekandsundry
I have not made any qualms that I love Tabletop (the most-recent episode of which is embedded above) on the Geek and Sundry Youtube channel where people get together to play board games on my internet-enabled viewing device. For my wife and I, it is basically the only show each week right now that constitutes something resembling appointment watching (at least, watching the same week it comes out). I tried to think about what games I would really like to see Wil Wheaton and his gang take on in future episodes (I saw a clip at the end of one episode of the group playing Fiasco by Bully Pulpit Games, which is currently my most anticipated one – there is no boring way to play Fiasco). Still, many of my favorite games probably wouldn’t translate well to the show, so I laid down a few ground rules:
1. It needs to be a relatively pretty game (sorry Agricola and Puerto Rico, you probably don’t make good enough Youtube viewing).
2. It needs to be fairly rules light or, at most, rules medium
3. It needs to play reasonably fast (Arkham Horror, A Game of Thrones, or Twilight Imperium would likely require too much fast-forwarding to squeeze into the show’s time frame, although I would watch the heck out of it if they did a two hour special).
4. It should probably be currently available (Avalon Hill’s Dune fits nicely here, although I know there is the re-branding, probably a little on the long side, too. This also puts the kibosh on Heroscape. Sad.)
5. It needs to accommodate at least four players so that they have enough people to banter so that the show is entertaining.
So, keeping those rules in mind (and my own personal tastes, which you probably don’t know or care about), I give you the following list (All links are to BoardGameGeek):
1. Crokinole – Crokinole is in the same family as curling, shuffleboard, and whatever games you know where you take tiny discs and try to get them as close to the center of board as possible. Crokinole works great as a team game (two teams of two) and naturally creates an insane amount of high drama. It also may be the perfect bar game. Each player takes a turn flicking carroms at the middle of the board. If the carrom goes into the hole in the middle, the piece is removed immediately and score, otherwise, you check to see if it hit an opponent’s piece (if not, it is removed to the gutter) and, if it did, it is left on the board, and each round is scored once each team has played their allotment of pieces. The ability to knock your opponent’s pieces off of the board can make for some very strategic and dirty play.
2. Space Alert – Space Alert is a real time game played with a CD (or the available random mission generating computer program) telling you what events are happening as you try to coordinate what cards you will play. At the end of the game, you then play out the events that the CD told you were coming and see how well your crew survived. Poorly, probably. The problem is that you can’t show the cards in your hands to other players and, once the CD starts going, the tension and the attempts to communicate among the players (especially with four) gets very hectic. Lots of screaming typically ensues. It may be a little rules-y for our purposes here, but it was close enough to the line that I felt it deserved mentioning. I know of no other game like it.
3. Pitchcar – Maybe it could be included in a dexterity games episode with crokinole? I don’t know and I don’t care, I would love to see some people playing Pitchcar, a game in which you flick your car (a wooden disc) around a customized wooden track in an attempt to win the race. If you have four people controlling two cars a piece, the game is just madness, although it can occasionally suffer from a runaway leader problem. (Racing Game Alternate: Formula D – the currently in print variant of Formula De, in which different gears are represented by larger or smaller dice).
4. Thunderstone – I know that Dominion is the granddaddy of all of the deckbuilding games, but I think Thunderstone plays better to the Tabletop crowd. It has a lot more theme, more colorful card design, and more player interactions (Yes, I know Dominion’s expansions change this. No, I don’t want to talk about it). I know that deck-building games (where you start of with a small deck of cards and purchase more over the course of the game) will be represented on the show at some point, and I really think that Thunderstone is the best way to do this.
5. Carcassonne – I know this one goes against my dry-theme provision (although certainly now drier than the already-featured Settlers of Catan), but Carcassone is one of the games that I found early in my strategy boardgaming career that has stuck with me and is still as fun to play now as it was when I first found it. It seems so simple: draw a tile, play a piece if you want, amass points. Still, there’s a fair amount of strategy to be found (definitely some luck, too, but that helps make it accessible to the masses).
6. Wings of War – In Wings of War, players control one of more fighter planes in an effort to bring their opponents out of the sky. Using a really cool mechanic where you lay cards out in front of your plane to show where it can move, and simultaneous order issuing, leading to you trying to outsmart and outguess your opponent leads to a really fun game. The Deluxe Set also comes with four of the wonderful miniatures that are available for the game, making it all the more compelling on a table. Wings of War has a lot of optional rules, but the base game is really pretty simple.
7. Summoner Wars Master Set – Far and away my favorite game on the market right now, Summoner Wars has a ton of armies to choose from and can do four players in two-player teams. Great, compelling card design and reasonably fast gameplay make the game a real keeper and, I think, would help it translate onto Tabletop. The Master Set comes with six complete decks (although there are a lot more available), so there is enough just in that one box to justify the episode.