Grab your dice and meeples and get ready for the Fifth Annual International TableTop Day, which takes place on Saturday, April 29th. International TableTop Day celebrates the board, card and role-playing game hobby and strives to introduce new people to the world of games. Board gaming has had a bit of a stigma to it, as most people who haven’t played a game in years immediately think of their 20 hour games of Monopoly or Risk, which ruined the hobby for them forever. To be honest, it’s ok to think of those games as not very fun, and that’s coming from a Monopoly apologist. But since the last time you threw a thimble at your sister for taking every last penny you had, thousands upon thousands of new games have been released into the wild. International TableTop Day 2017 strives to show people that there are games out there for everyone, and how accessible the games are to people of all ages, skill-levels, and interest levels.
I thought I’d bring up some ideas for people on ways to prepare for TableTop day coming up this Saturday. Some may be better for new to the hobby gamers, while others may lean more towards the experienced gamer. Either way, they’re all good activities to help enjoy TableTop Day 2017.
Find a Podcast About Board Games to Listen To
I would venture to say that there are hundreds of podcasts relating to board games, running the gamut of depths of interest within the hobby. However, there are a few that I tend to lean towards in offering up to other people:
- The SnakesCast – The SnakesCast is run by the game-gurus from Snakes & Lattes, a board game cafe in Toronto, ON, Canada. The SnakesCast recently changed the format of their show, which I find makes it even more welcoming to all levels of gamers. New episodes drop every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, covering the same topic over the course of the week. Monday’s show is an introduction to that week’s theme, with notes on more entry-level or accessible games within that genre. Wednesday and Friday’s episodes dive deeper into the topic, getting progressively deeper throughout the week. Some weeks, discussion is focused around a single game, with more in-depth conversation upon that game over each episode. Each episode is only about 10 minutes, which makes the series very palatable for short drives or even waiting until Friday to listen to all three at once.
- Flip The Table – I’m sure I’ve mentioned Flip The Table on Funkhouser before, and for good reason. If you want to take a look back at some of the nostalgic, but ultimately terrible games that you played during your childhood, Flip The Table is your jam. This monthly podcast (I would be remiss in not mentioning that we’re on the final season, but the backlog is 100+ episodes deep), features a lot of games with promotional tie-ins to movies, tv and fast food. One of the big hits of our Extra Life 2016 fundraiser event last year was The McDonalds Game (which Nick Roush won), is featured on Flip The Table, and boy is it ridiculous. The guys on FTT have a great time really basking in the awfulness of some nostalgic games, and is certainly worth your listen.
- Blue Peg, Pink Peg – Friends of Funkhouser, Blue Peg, Pink Peg, is a great podcast for those who have a little more experience in the hobby. Hosted by Patrick, Jeremy, Robb and Christina, the bi-weekly podcast discusses “board games, relationships and the interaction between the two.” Each episode the group chats about games that they have played over the past two weeks, then discusses the game of the week in which they do a deeper review. Also, some episodes wrap up with a discussion topic about various items within the board gaming world. My recommendation of this podcast comes, not only from how solid the podcast is, but after having met the four hosts, it’s a fair representation of how the four actually are. Each host has a fairly distinct style of game that they enjoy, but in sharing that together, and with their kids, you get a sense of just enjoying being around people and playing any kind of game. Good podcast, great people, take a look.
There are certainly plenty of other podcasts to get into, and by taking a listen to these, you will be able to find others to branch out to if you want to look any deeper into this podcasting genre.
Watch People Play Board Games on YouTube
If I were to ask you to make a list of the most boring things imaginable, there’s a good possibility that you might actually write down “watching people play board games on YouTube”. Seriously, I don’t blame you. Watching people play something, while you just sit there and not participate, might drive a person to lose their mind. I, however, will offer a counterargument to that notion with this: watching people play board games is one of the best ways to a) learn the rules to a game you might want to play -and- b) help you find games that you haven’t heard of, or might be of interest to you and your friends.
There are a couple of different styles of board game on YouTube videos. First is the tutorial or how-to-play style of video. For me, the tutorial video is perfect for when I know I’m going to have a game night and want to break out a new game, but might have some questions about items that the rulebook doesn’t explain fully or properly. Some publishing companies (like Portal Games or Plaid Hat Games) even put links on the box to YouTube channels to watch instructional videos. One of the best YouTube channels for this is Watch It Played by Rodney Smith. Rodney, the very friendly Canadian that he his, gives a very visual representation of the rulebook by breaking down every thing you would need to know. He sits behind his game table and lays out the game elements just like they would be needed in an actual game and teaches you all the rules. Videos range from 10-45 minutes, but even the lengthier videos are crucial to breaking down rulebooks that might be more dense than they should be. The Watch It Played channel will also have game play videos that accompany the ‘How To Play” video, so you get to see a full game in action and how all of those rules work together. Rodney’s probably the best around, which is the reason this is his full-time job. Other “How To Play” style videos come from channels like JonGetsGames (who also does full play-throughs) and GeekandSundry.
Another style of YouTube board game content are gameplay videos. These videos, while still having brief rules breakdowns, are set out to entertain you and let you see how a full game will play out. Wil Wheaton’s Tabletop is in its fourth season on YouTube, a series which pits Wheaton in competition with three other online or TV/Movie personalities in very accessible games. A brief instructional video prefaces the gameplay just so the viewer can follow along with the main gameplay, but that only takes up two minutes or so of the 30-45 minute program. Tabletop will edit down games to make the program shorter to eliminate downtime, which is good for entertainment, but doesn’t necessarily give a good representation of the actual length of the game. “GameNight!” by BoardGameGeek is another fantastic program which sees four players (usually the same four) play a different game every couple of weeks. The show starts with a rule breakdown, followed by a full gameplay, which means episodes range anywhere from 30 minutes to over two hours. While the length of the program might be daunting, it’s an accurate representation of a lot of situations you may encounter.
Attend A TableTop Day Event
One of the best ways to just enjoy TableTop Day itself is to attend a Tabletop Day event. There are plenty of restaurants and retailers that will be holding events in your area and you can check TabletopDay.com for what might be happening around you. We’ve picked out a few of note to let you know about:
- Extra Life International TableTop Day Fundraiser at The Rook OTR in Cincinnati – Board Game Cafe, The Rook in Over the Rhine in Cincinnati is hosting their own Extra Life TableTop event in their second floor game hall with organized events and open play. All ticket sales go to Extra Life, but 10% of all food/beverage sales will also go to Extra Life. You can check out all of their official events HERE.
- TableTop Day at Legendary Games Lexington – Legendary Games in Lexington (302 N. Ashland Ave) will be hosting open play from 11am-10pm. Bring your favorite games, come meet new people and play new games. If you don’t know how to play certain games, hop in with someone and they’d be happy to teach you!
- TableTop Day & Meet The Rather Dashing Designers at Cafe Meeples in Richmond, KY – Cafe Meeples will be hosting an evening for TableTop Day from 6:00pm-9:00pm. You can also meet the designers of Rather Dashing Games: Grant Wilson & Michael Richie, and learn to play their games “This Belongs in a Museum” & “Element”. No cover charge for the event, and all game play from the library is free with a cafe purchase of $5 or more.
There are plenty of other events that are going on around you, and if you just want to get friends together at your own home, brewery or wherever else, that works as a TableTop Day event. The goal of TableTop Day is to celebrate the fun of tabletop games and to introduce new people into the hobby. Hopefully you get a chance to break out a game this Saturday, no matter where you are.