is a Web Video
series on YouTube
, which is essentially celebrity tabletop 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.
Tabletop provides examples of the following tropes:
- Added Alliterative Appeal: The Winners' Wall (Wall of Victory) and the Loser's Lounge (Loser's Couch).
- Gloom Also has a lot of alliteration.
- The Ace: Ryan Higa in Episode 3, who wins all three games, rolling a mathematically-improbable ten-brain streak in Zombie Dice and reading Freddie like a book in Get Bit.
- Bill in the Elder Sign episode, who basically carries the team in a (mostly) one-man war against He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named.
- Troy Baker in Unspeakable Words, so much that his success was attributed to receiving help from Elder Gods, as a result of his Cthulhu statue.
- Adorkable: Amy Dallen from Episode 4. So much.
- Agent Scully: In Elder Sign, Wil denies that invoking Hastur led to his run of terrible rolls. It doesn't stop him from invoking the Random Number God.
- 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.
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Invoked in the introduction for Elder Sign:
"Once the Doom Tokens have been collected, the Great Old One wakes up and devours the world. But more importantly, we lose the game."
- Awesomeness by Analysis: In The Resistance, Ashley "Lizzie Bennet" Clements deduces (correctly) that another player is a spy through nothing more than pupil dilation.
- 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.
- Bait-and-Switch Comparison: Castle Panic — "We attempt to hold off a seemingly endless onslaught of trolls, intent on overrunning our defenses and ruining our day. No, it is not Internet: The Board Game."
- 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.
- Big Bad: Wil Wheaton becomes the traitor in Betrayal at House on the Hill
- Big Eater: Yuri Lowenthal in the Castle Panic episode.
- Big "NO!": Delivered by Grant in the Small World episode when Jenna begins her final-round assault on his Ratmen.
- Also by Wil in Star Trek Catan. Cut to Grant on the street outside, hearing it and looking around in confusion.
- Black and Nerdy: Andre the Black Nerd.
- 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.
- Catch Phrase: "Play more games!"
- Cloud Cuckoolander: Felicia comes across this way due to the hysterical roleplaying she does with Dr. Hannah.
"I really messed up when I made Dr. Hannah pick up People
[Magazine], because he's much more a Popular Mechanics
kind of guy." Wil:
"Oh, come on!
- Cosmic Plaything: Sandeep "I feel good about my chances" Parikh in the Munchkin episode, who gets such appalling card draws that he gets stuck at Level 2 for the duration of the game.
- 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"...
- Creator Cameo: Steve Jackson created Munchkin. Is it any wonder that he won?
- Chris Pramas, the designer of the Dragon Age RPG, served as the Game Master for the campaign.
- Dark Horse Victory: Day and Colin Ferguson, though you can see the latter coming.
- 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.
- A Date with Rosie Palms: subverted by Dr. Hannah, Felicia's roleplaying zombie from Last Night On Earth.
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]."
- 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.
- Did You Just Punch Out The King In Yellow?!: Bill nearly single-handedly won the game in the Elder Sign episode.
- 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.
- Downer Ending: The Betrayal at House on the Hill episodes end with Wil Wheaton's utter triumph, and the Hellgate opening.
- Down to the Last Play: The ending of Formula D.
- Everything's Deader with Zombies:
- Zombie Dice and Last Night on Earth.
- 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.
- Foreign Sounding Gibberish: Ryan's Hawaiian chant to repel sharks.
- 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...
- The Fourth Wall Will Not Protect You: Wil repeatedly (and mockingly) said the name of He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named during the Elder Sign episode. He also becomes The Load, and his character is the only one to die.
- 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.
- A Good Name for a Rock Band: A Running Gag in the Chez Geek episode, specifically names for cover bands, mostly courtesy of guests Paul and Storm.
- Hammerspace: Wil pulls a plastic chainsaw out of the "Mysterious Thing of Wonders" in the Last Night On Earth episode.
- The Hero's Journey: Andy's Hull's gameplay was compared to one in the Tsuro of the Seas episode.
- Hilarious Outtakes: The Gag Reels, released the week between episodes.
- Incredibly Lame Pun/Obligatory Joke: Wil's wheat and wood puns during Settlers Of Catan.
- Insistent Terminology: The lavender cards in the Ticket to Ride: Europe 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.
- Large Ham: Wil Wheaton. Bordering on Chewing the Scenery
Wil: "Not only did I win I ALSO DIDN'T LOSE!
- "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 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.
- The Loonie: Chris Hardwick in the Dragon Age episode.
: "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 . 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."
- Never Live It Down:
- In Ticket to Ride: Europe episode, it's pretty obvious that Wil still hasn't forgotten how his wife knocked all trains from the board in her first appearance.
- Throughout the entire show, Wil does this to himself, insisting that he always loses about Once an Episode come the second season, even when he does have some victories under his belt.
- No Animals Were Harmed: No Owlbears were harmed in the Lords of Waterdeep game.
- 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'.
- Off the Rails: in Last Night On Earth, Felicia Day's zombie "Dr. Hannah" allows her to become The Roleplayer to absolutely ridiculous extents.
- Once an Episode:
- 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.
- The One Guy/The Smurfette Principle: Episodes in which all of the guests are women or all but one of them are men.
- One Steve Limit: Averted in the Betrayal at House on the Hill episode, when Wil decides that a group of rampaging monsters are named Steve, Steve, Nigel, Bruce, and unpronounceable-by-humans-so-we-just-call-him-Steve.
- 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.
- The Points Mean Nothing:
- 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.
- The Power of Rock: During the Dragon Age episode, Chris Hardwick decides that the "Rock" in the Rock Armor spell refers to this rather than stones—so he casts it with a Metal Scream every time.
- 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.
- Popcultural Osmosis Failure: Catan Junior, courtesy of the 9-year-olds Wil is playing with. "What's Star Trek?"
- Pungeon Master: Wil is fond of making incredibly lame puns. He frequently gets a Lame Pun Reaction.
- In the Qwirkle episode, he mentioned that he would have made a pun about the title, if not for the fact that it was a made-up word.
- Rage Quit: In one episode, Wil threatens to Rage Quit the show if he lost again.
- Random Number God: Often invoked. In Elder Sign, Wil claims that the dice are trying to kill him. They succeed.
- Real Men Hate Sugar: Wil mentions in one episode that he hates sweet stuff.
- Recycled In Space: Star Trek Catan is Settlers Of Catan In Space! The rules explanation even recycled the one from the Settlers episode.
- Tsuro of the Seas is a more complicated version of Tsuro with dragons. Part of the rules explanation for Tsuro is recycled with Wil adding more explanation afterward.
- Ticket to Ride Europe is (wait for it) Ticket to Ride, done on a map of Europe. Once more, the rules explanation for the first game was recycled. Anne Wheaton also appeared in both episodes.
- Running Gag:
- 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.
- Say My Name: Wil screams Felicia's surname Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan style after a skillful game of bluffing in 'The Resistance'. Complete with Angry Fist-Shake.
- Self-Deprecation: In the Carcassonne episode, Wil presents the Certificate of Awesome to (a cardboard cut-out of) himself and mentions that he was kind of a dick on the Loser's Couch.
- "Today we will live together or die alone in Castle Panic."
- Betrayal at the House on the Hill - "Whose sudden yet inevitable betrayal will be cursed?"
- 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.
- Something Completely Different: When a Co-Op Multiplayer game is played, in which all four players are on the same team.
- Spiking The Camera: Felicia in the Elder Sign episode.
- Suspiciously Specific Denial: Wil saying that season 1's trophy wasn't an old cheerleading trophy purchased by one of the interns from Ebay for five bucks.
- Squee: In Shadows Over Camelot, from Wil, when he finally wins at last.
- Super-Powered Evil Side: Until Carcassonne in Season 2, the only times Wil had won solo had been when he was the traitor.
- Take That:
- Wil takes quite a few shots at Vegas and people who don't understand probability in his opening to the "Lords of Vegas" episode.
- 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."
- Tempting Fate:
- 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.
And until next time: Play more games!