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Tabletop is a Web Video series on YouTube, which is essentially celebritytabletop gaming hosted by Wil Wheaton. It is part of the Geek and Sundry YouTube channel, and can be watched for free here.Each week, Wil and a number of other celebrity guests (ranging from well-known Youtube and television personalities to professional game designers) play a chosen tabletop game. These can range from competitive games like Small World to co-operative games like Pandemic. The show itself is instruction-light, easing new viewers into the game rules and focusing more on the banter and camaraderie that comes from settling around a table and having good fun with friends. The winner of each episode in the first season was granted the Tabletop Trophy Of Awesome (and a bit of masking tape with their name on it). In the second season, the winner received a Certificate of Awesome. Meanwhile, the defeated licked their wounds on the Loser's Couch with the aid of some webshow-budget beverages.The second season of Tabletop debuted on April 4th, 2013. For season three, the creators decided to go independent and started a crowdfunding campaign at Indiegogo.com. The original target of $500,000 for a 15 episode season was more than doubled, bumping up the number of episodes to 20 and funding a spinoff with an ongoing RPG campaign. Season three premiered on November 13, 2014.A full list of episodes can be found on the Recap subpage.
Tabletop provides examples of the following tropes:
Felicia: "You know, Dr. Hannah is, he's getting a little lonely. So he's gonna touch himself inappropriately." Wil: "Is it just going through the hole in his hand?" Felicia: "Well, that's what I'm saying. It fell off. It's a sad thing in [that hospital]."
All Anime Is Naughty Tentacles: Invoked by Wil chastising Felicia Day in Elder Sign: "You do not encourage the internet to create GIFs involving you and tentacles!"
In the Tsuro of the Seas episode, Kevin Pereira mentions that his boat has Japanese schoolgirls and tentacle monsters and that there is censorship involved.
Always Second Best: Wil comes second-place a lot, taking home the Silver Medal Of Adequacy over five times. He has yet to come in first place (except as part of a joint victory or because of a misplay that was completely independent of Wil's initiative). Unless you count Wil beating Phil LaMarr at Rock-Paper-Scissors on the Loser's Couch, after Wil lost worse at Wits & Wagers.
In the second season, this gets lampshaded a lot. To the extent that there's a place on the Loser's Couch specifically reserved for Wil.
Subverted in Episode 10 of the second season and onwards, where he starts winning about half the time.
Bacon Addiction: The Quirkle\Twelve Days episode has Wil be called a Bacon Connoisseur, he even subscribes to the Bacon of the Month Club.
The Bad Guy Wins: Whenever the group loses a team game that pits them against a Game Master or the game itself. For example, during the Pandemic and Forbidden Island episodes.
In a non-team-game example, Fiasco ended in misery for all concerned (as per usual) when Bonnie's character revealed herself to be a brutal Mafiya boss who went on to frame, cripple and/or leave the other players for dead, being rewarded with the best possible ending at their expense.
And in an example from a "team vs. team" game, the spies in "The Resistance".
And "Shadows over Camelot", with the added twist that the traitor is King Arthur, played by Wil.
Yet again in "Betrayal at House on the Hill", in another victory for Evil!Wil.
Bait-and-Switch Boss: In Dragon Age, the first enemies the party encounters are a group of bandits led by an Avar barbarian... all of whom are killed off by a Shriek Darkspawn.
Be Careful What You Wish For: In the Tsuro of the Seas episode, Wil says that the tourists on his boat got great photos of a dragon ... after having been devoured by said dragon and dying immediately afterward.
Born Lucky: Ryan wins all three games in the Zombie Dice, Get Bit, and Tsuro episode. Up to Eleven in the Zombie Dice portion, when he gets almost every brain he needs in his first turn.
Born Unlucky: Wil is a decent player but he suffers from some pretty appalling luck in games.
Butt Monkey: Kelly Hu in Qwirkle, as she kept getting "Qwirkle-blocked". After making a big deal out of finally being about to make her first Qwirkle, only to be immediately Qwirkle-blocked again by Meredith Salenger.
Calvinball: Jordan Mechner compares Fluxx with this, which Wil thinks is a perfect analogy.
The Cassandra: This happens a lot in The Resistance due to the paranoia-inducing nature of the game. It can be hard to establish just who has genuinely deduced something and who is just throwing out accusations.
Wil in Elder Sign, whose dice rolls are so bad that he officially becomes The Load of the team and is the only one to have his character die.
Wil, again, in Dragon Age after having utterly horrible dice luck so far, he announces he's walking towards a village another player jokingly suggests he "roll to see if you fall on your face" and he promptly rolls "1, 2, 3" on 3d6. Pretty much one of the lowest possible rolls.
In Star Wars: X-Wing, Wil's actually been rolling well all game, and it comes down to him to make the roll that would win his team the game. So, of course, he fails.
The good guys in Betrayal at House on the Hill are an in-game example. Especially Michael Swaim's priest character who is deliberately kept on the brink of death by a demon. They are also a meta example, with all the characters ( except Wil, for once) having terrible dice rolls after the 'Haunting' occurs.
Couch Gag: So many. Wil's query just before opening the gameplay, the stuff on the shelves behind the players (both of these game-specific), the text crossed out and replaced with "Tabletop Champion" on the Season 2 certificates, the picture on the "seal"...
Andy Hull in Tsuro of the Seas. In the beginning it seemed like he would be the first to lose and there was confusion over whether he was still in the game due to a miscalculation.
Deus Angst Machina: In Gloom, since the point of the game is to make your characters as miserable as possible before killing them off.
Didn't Think This Through: Jordan Mechner in Star Fluxx, whose cunning schemes are waylaid by a basic lack of knowledge of the actual rules. First, he attempts to claim victory on an expired Victory Condition. Second, he attempts to use the Holographic Projector to claim victory with two of Wil's Keepers, but misreads the instructions on the card (Holographic Projector only works on one Keeper at a time) and forgets that his (Jordan's) Creeper prevents him from winning anyway. This mistake essentially hands Wil victory on a silver platter.
The Ditz: Whether or not this is her actual personality Felicia certainly acts like one every time she guests. Some of the other players commented on it in the Munchkin episode where she seemed more focused on her outfits than the actual game, though it's said that she may have been doing it intentionally in order to distract the other players.
In the interviews for Pandemic, Wil mentions that naming the diseases is a common thing for both new and veteran players to do, and "one of them is always the zombie plague."
Evil Is Hammy: Wil, playing a traitorous King Arthur, seriously hams it up after revealing himself in the Shadows Over Camelot episode.
Evil Redhead: Felicia and Alison - both gingers - ended up betraying the team in The Resistance playthrough. Lampshaded by Alison herself.
"Don't trust the redheads. We're all spies."
Exiled to the Couch: When Yuri Lowenthal (while on the Confession Cam) compliments his wife Tara Platt on her gameplay and says that she was his favorite player, he jokingly says that if he had said anything else, she would have exiled him to the couch.
Extrinsic Go-First Rule: Wil often introduces inventive House Rules to determine who goes first, such as when he let Greg Zeschuk go first in King of Tokyo on account of him having the most impressive beard of the four bearded guys at the table.
Foreshadowing: An unintentional example: in the extended edition of Pandemic, Will shouts "Pandemic wins!" when all of the player figures get knocked over on the board. Lo and behold, what happens at the end of the game?
Another (possibly unintentional) example occurs during Fiasco. During John Rogers's description of Club Glamorous, he describes the entrance as a "complete firetrap". Fast forward to the end of the episode...
Funny Background Event: In the second season, when the Trophy of Awesome is retired to appear on the Winners' Wall, the name on the trophy changes to something relevant each episode.
Kingmaker Scenario/Laser-Guided Karma: In the final stretch of Fortune and Glory, Felicia - who was hopelessly in last place - drew a card that allowed her to reduce the value of any artifact to 1. She could use it on Wil to give victory to Ryon. She didn't, because of Ryon playing a nasty card on her during his very first play of the game, handing Wil the win.
Know-Nothing Know-It-All: Wil used to have this reputation. As the host, he is the person who teaches all the guests how to play, and the player whom everyone else sees as the favorite. And he never won. That is, until late into Season 2 when he actually did start winning.
"Last Supper" Steal: a version of the portrait with Wil in the central position hangs directly behind the Loser's Couch in season two.
The Loonie: Chris Hardwick in the Dragon Age episode.
Chris Pramas: "I think every group has a player like Chris [Hardwick] who is pretty much going to throw a little monkey wrench into your plans by deciding to say, "Put Fonzie into Dragon Age"."
Million-to-One Chance: The probability of Ryan rolling ten brains on his first turn in Zombie Dice is near 0%note The video states that the improbability approaches infinity, a clear case of Writers Cannot Do Math.. Wil speculates that, in order to balance his luck out, somewhere in the universe a planet spontaneously collapsed into a black hole.
Multi-Part Episode: Some episodes have two parts. Fiasco has three, if you count the setup episode that was released between parts 1 and 2 of that game.
My Friends... and Zoidberg: In the Last Night On Earth episode, the inventory of the zombie players is listed as, "## zombies on the board", followed by a subtitle: "and Dr. Hannah" (as Felica's surprisingly multi-faceted zombie often wasted his turn doing things other than looking for brains).
In this episode, Felicia Day introduces the other players with "I have an amazing set of guests here again, and my brother."
No Swastikas: Averted in Fortune and Glory, since the game does use swastikas as markers for Nazi enemies. This is part of the reason for the disclaimer at the beginning of the episode. (See Our Lawyers Advised This Trope below.)
Not Cheating Unless You Get Caught: In the Munchkin episode, creator Steve Jackson incorrectly deducts -4 from his Combat Strength instead of -5 from Sandeep's Electric Radioactive Acid Potion. This leads to him winning that combat with a mere +1 advantage, and the game. It's debated on whether this was a genuine error or a cunning ploy on his part, as the rules of Munchkin state that cheating is legal as long as you are not caught.
Not So Above It All: TotalBiscuit maintains a calm persona for most of the King of Tokyo episode, but it drops briefly when he rolls 6 energy dice in a single turn:
TotalBiscuit: That was a fantas... I mean, that was entirely part of the plan.
Not Zilla: As Wil keeps reminding us in the King of Tokyo episode, Gigazaur is legally distinct from a certain other giant lizard that rampages through Tokyo.
Odd Name Out: Some of the places created in the fantasy world of Once Upon a Time include 'Kahiman', 'Albuquerque' and 'Robot Town'.
Wil talks with the losers on the couch, then goes downstairs to talk to the winner, write the winner's name on a piece of tape taped to a trophy, award the trophy to the winner, then take the trophy back because they don't have the budget to give everyone a trophy they can keep — but they get to keep the piece of tape!
Wil did the same routine at the live games at Vid Con 2012, making this also a Running Gag.
The trophy has been retired for Season 2 and incorporated into the Wall of Victory, a display featuring all of the previous winners. Even Pandemic. It's been replaced by a "Certificate of Awesome" that Wil signs and gives to the winner... along with the piece of tape.
Orphaned Punchline: From the Loser's Couch segment of the Carcassonne episode: "...And it turns out that the box was filled with bees!"
Our Lawyers Advised This Trope: The Fortune and Glory episode begins with a disclaimer that, since the game thematically takes place in the age of 1930's Cliff Hanger serials, the main enemies of the game are, naturally, the Nazis, and that usage of Nazi characters and iconography is historically and thematically appropriate, and shouldn't be taken as approving or condoning their actions.
Every so often, a player might perform a bit from a copyrighted song as they're playing. They'll usually only get a few bars in before cutting to Wil going, "Stop! Copyright."
Perky Goth: Nika Harper's team of goth cheerleaders in Carcassonne.
Plot Hole: This can sometimes happen due to the shows being edited for length. The most infamous example is in the Elder Sign episode: the players draw a Mythos Effect that causes all cases that require at least one Investigation die to require an additional Investigation die to solve. What is not shown is the turn when this Mythos Effect is replaced by a new one, leading to much confusion from viewers (and even accusations of cheating) when cases were solved with the standard number of Investigation dice, most noticeable during the game-winning case.
Many episodes in the first season had the losers drowning their sorrows with bourbon, with elaborations involving the fact that they couldn't actually drown their sorrows because they weren't allowed to depict real alcohol use, so the "bourbon" was really an ersatz made of carbonated iced tea and tasted too horrible to actually drink.
Ever since Lords of Waterdeep, an owlbear has been showing up in each episode - whether it be peeking at cards or fainting from smelling panda-poop, it'll be there, somewhere.
Several individual episodes have their own running gags, such as the A Good Name for a Rock Band running gag in the "Chez Geek" episode, or the running gag in the "Dragon Age" episode about checking which way a door opens before attempting to break it down.
Wil making fun of Felicia's "obsession with poop".
Wil complaining about how often he loses, made funnier with the fact that he's managed to win a bit more in Season 2:
"Lords of Vegas is a high stakes game with sometimes wild streaks of good fortune and soul-crushing defeat. Something I know a little bit about on Table Top".
The Catan Junior episode has a running gag about the children being too young to remember the show that made Wil famous.
Sarcastic Clapping: Wil and John do this in the King of Tokyo episode when Greg makes Craig re-roll an energy dice with psychic probe, and the re-rolled dice scores Craig 3 points instead.
The intro to the Unspeakable Words outtake reel has a series of subtitles that start out apologizing for various intrusive noises in the location where the intro was filmed, then segues into the faulty-subtitles routine from Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
Another Holy Grail reference in the intro of Shadows over Camelot - "Around the turn of the 6th century, so the legend tells us, King Arthur of Britain defended his country from Saxons and Picts, found the Holy Grail, defeated the Black Knight, and survived a most vicious French taunting."
The Forbidden Desert episode, in which the players take the roles of airship crew and which guest stars Alan Tudyk, includes several shout-outs to Firefly.
From the explanation of the rules for Betrayal at House on the Hill: "One member of the team is revealed to be a traitor who has lured us into the house to do unspeakable things to us... like make us watch Ghost Rider."
In episode 3, Wil talks about how he likes Zombie Dice because nobody ever gets out to a huge lead. Cue Ryan getting ten brains on the first turn!
For Elder Sign the team drew Hastur, which is also known as "He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named." As a result, Wil made a point of saying Hastur's name over and over out of sheer defiance. He kept getting horrible rolls and his character eventually died.
Yuri also tended to do this during "Castle Panic", to disastrous results.
Near the end of Shadows Over Camelot, Wil tells everyone that he knows how this is going to end (because he always loses). So, for once, he wins.
That Came Out Wrong: In the Dixit episode, Wil comments on the fact that he and Leo are in joint last place behind the two female players:
Wil: Team Dudes! We're gonna suck together! ...Wait, no that doesn't sound right at all.
The Load: Wil during "Elder Sign". Out of all the players, he was the only one who caused their character to die. This was lampshaded by Felicia and Wil during the game.
Wil seems to fall into this a lot during team games due to his appalling luck at rolling dice. In Castle Panic he admits that he was "a bit of an asshole" and that he should have followed the same tactic as everyone else: shut up and listen to Tara Platt.
As above, in Star Wars: X-Wing, it looks like Wil might finally manage to be on the winning team, but when the final roll comes down to him, he fails.
Subverted in Say Anything when Wil randomly gives Jonah three points midgame. Jonah ends up winning.
Played Straight with the trophy in season one. The winner's name is written on a piece of tape affixed to the trophy and then torn off because they can't afford a new trophy for each winner on the show's budget.