Playing board games is fun, but sometimes it̵
The iconic series was created in 2012 by Wil Wheaton (van Star Trek: The Next Generation fame) and actor slash writer slash producer Felicia Day for her indie nerd YouTube channel Geek & Sundry. I happened upon the series when I was looking for a tutorial on how to play a crazy board game Eldritch Horror, and enjoyed it immensely over the few years it ran.
In each video Wil Wheaton invites three guests to play the game. Guests, as you’d probably expect, are all connected to the Hollywood geek scene, including actors, writers, comedians, scientists, voice actors, and YouTubers. The epic guest list includes Seth Green, Pat Rothfuss, Sam Witwer, Laura Bailey, Ashley Johnson, Mayim Bialik, Ify Nadiwe, Brandon Routh, Grant Imahara, Alan Tudyk, Hannah Hart, Karen Gillan, Aisha Tyler, Kevin Pereira, Ashly Burch, Kumail Nanjiani and Bobak Ferdowsi.
The series also offers an epically spectacular array of board games, from RPGs and card games to German-style board games. The list contains Settlers of Catan, Elder sign, Gloom, Munchkin, Alhambra, Pandemic, dragon era, The resistance, Star Wars: X-Wing, Carcassonne, Death of winter, Cards against humanity, Eldritch Horror, and Fear among many others.
At the start of each video, Wheaton talks directly to the camera and walks viewers through the mechanics of the game before joining his guests. He mentions who made the game and sets the tone, explaining the overall goal, along with any obstacles that the players are likely to encounter. Wil then goes through what an average turn would look like, what needs to be collected or achieved and what equipment and components the players will have to deal with in the game.
The nice thing about the series is that there is nothing written in a script – it’s real raw gameplay in every video. The different combination of guests in each video also keeps things exciting, although it was a bit of a dumpster fire at times (see the NSFW Cards against humanity episode, or maybe not, actually). It’s great to see the reactions of players at different events and to see them panic when things don’t go quite right. I also love to watch the guys I know how they approach games and handle their wins, or in some cases, crushing defeats.
Gameplay alternates with fast-paced reality show-like moments when a guest talks directly to the camera for comical effect. And finally, once the game is over, the scene goes to Wil comforting the losers on the Losers’ Couch. Then he goes to the Wall of Victory to congratulate the winner on their hard-earned victory and give him “the” trophy.
Apart from the infamous Cards against humanity episode, the series is generally family-friendly. Episodes last anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour, and there are also plenty of prop reels, interviews, and extended episodes if you just can’t get enough. Tabletop is a lot of fun for board game enthusiasts and nerds alike, and something worth posting on YouTube.