Rod Roddenberry’s website (where the son of Gene Roddenberry sells and promotes a lot of Star Trek replica merchandise, among other things) put me onto a new Internet series on gaming. It’s not about video games. It’s about good old-fashioned “game night” games, board games with dice and cards and tokens, and it’s called TableTop.
If you’re a fan of Wil Wheaton, it’s the show for you. Wheaton is best known for his role as Wesley Crusher on Star Trek: The Next Generation and as the young star of the Rob Reiner/Steven King film Stand By Me, but he has been quickly branching out as a stellar guest star on series like Leverage (as a superb IT villain) and Big Bang Theory (where he often plays himself), showing he’s gone beyond the kid actor thing. And even if you’re not a Wheaton fan–like you thought Wesley Crusher should have been left on Rubicun III–give this series a try anyway.
My favorite thing about Wil Wheaton is he seems to thrive at all things geek and nerd. He’s not apologetic in the least, and in chatting up his love for games and TV and books, he is bringing everyone along for a fun ride. He’s a regular at San Diego Comic-Con, and I saw him at a Star Trek writers panel with Star Trek authors where he showed a great rapport with fans, and seemed to love talking about what he liked (and didn’t like) about Trek.
TableTop is an online half-hour, biweekly series just beginning and in its first five episodes, which is a bit like Comic Book Men and Celebrity Poker, but far, far better than both of those shows. In fact, the introduction, production values, and content should get some network exec to take notice. This is the first online-only series we’ve taken note of here at borg.com that we think is worthy of another look and we think a wider audience is out there for this show.
TableTop has host Wheaton playing a few board or dice games with some friends, including explaining quickly and clearly the game’s rules, and just chatting it up around the table with people like Rod Roddenberry, Felicia Day (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Monk, House, M.D., Eureka), Colin Ferguson (Eureka), Grant Imahara (Mythbusters), James Kyson (Heroes, Hawaii 5-0), and Neil Grayston (Eureka). I think it would be an interesting twist to add in other celebrities, maybe genre actors or legends Wheaton himself is a fan of, but may not previously know personally. I’d love to see someone like Billy Mumy do an episode and see what these guys would talk about while playing Apples to Apples, or pull some obscure old games out of the game closet that are long forgotten but still fun, like Bionic Crisis or the Star Wars board game.
Which brings us to the episode with Rod Roddenberry, where they covered a few games including Tsuro. The episode intrigued me enough that I wandered past a game shop this weekend while hanging out with family and I bought it. We were able to pull out the board and playing pieces and start playing at a local coffee shop in minutes. Just as I had discovered watching the players in the episode of TableTop, Tsuro is a blast. In a nutshell, you have 35 cardboard tiles that players lay out one by one, in turn, and each tile has a different set of paths, some straight, some crisscrossed, some coming back at you. The goal is to create a path for yourself and maybe even knock others off the board and be last player on the board. Even the barista stopped by and commented how awesome the game looks (it has the beautiful Chinese red dragon board, parchment divider page, and cool rune playing tokens) and I passed along Wheaton’s show and the game shop across the street that had one more copy in stock.
We’ve played it three times so far and I can’t wait to play Tsuro again. Thanks, Wil Wheaton!
Update: I met Wil and his lovely wife Anne and a few friends outside the Starbucks at Comic-Con 2013. His wife graciously snapped this shot of us.
(and for the record I look like this after staying up without sleep in Ballroom 20 lines at SDCC for 40 hours straight) I relayed the above and how much we enjoyed his online show. A very nice accidental run-in and fun to be able to give him feedback on his show directly.