What is Tabletop Gaming?

What is Tabletop Gaming?

Aug 17 , 2022

Jon Barry

New gamers will often ask, “What is tabletop gaming?”  To put it in the simplest terms, it’s really any game played on a table, but that answer encompases so many styles of games - everything from RPGs, war games, card games, dice games, party games, board games, and everything in between!  Let’s take a look at each of them and see if we can find a game for you.

When people say tabletop role playing games, the first one to come to mind is Dungeons and Dragons.  It’s been around for over 50 years and is still one of the most popular TTRPGs in the world.  When someone says Dungeons and Dragons Dice, we all know exactly what they are talking about: a set of dice ranging from 4 to 20 sides.  There is no shortage of other RPGs on the market and plenty more on the way.  Whatever your genre of choice, there’s a game out there.  If you want to be a vampire reveling in evil, politics, and the shadowy underbelly of society, then Vampire the Masquerade is a good place to go.  If you’re into gothic horror and existential dread, try Call of Cthulhu.  Westerns?  Science fiction?  Dystopian cyberpunk future?  Pirates?  Greek mythology?  Deadlands, Star Trek, Shadowrun, 7th Sea, Agon.  And these are only examples.  There are plenty that blend genres and they are only limited by imagination.  That’s not even including the licensed games from TV and literature, like Song of Ice and Fire or The One Ring.  Many of these games use DnD dice to play while others might use a bucket load of standard six-sided dice.

War games are a lot of fun.  They tend to place heavier focus on strategy and tactical gameplay. Games like X-Wing and Star Trek are of course sci-fi themed, and are all about epic battles out in space, flying ships and trying to blow each other up.  There are also games like Warhammer, where you take command of an entire army and play out massive battles.  Mechwarrior might be for you if giant mechs are more your style.  Games like these will use special ten-sided dice and are played on a 3’ x 3’ game map.  Space on your table will be limited, so having proper dice storage is a good idea to make sure you don’t lose any of your dice.  A dice tower is also a good way to save space and make sure your dice don’t fall off the table.

Card games are broad and encompass many different styles of games, but for now, let’s talk about trading card games.  If you’ve ever played Magic: The Gathering, Pokemon TCG, or Yu-Gi-Oh, then congratulations! You have played a trading card game.  People can buy starter decks and then buy booster packs to make that deck better and introduce new combinations.  Overtime, you can make more decks and battle with your friends to see who is the best.  The biggest problem with trading card games like these is that they mostly come down to luck, not in gameplay- there’s actually quite a bit of strategy in how you build your deck and what to play and when - but luck in terms of what cards you get from booster packs.  It’s not uncommon to spend several hundred dollars over the course of a year to get those elusive cards you just can’t pull or are too expensive to buy straight up at the game store.  


Deck of many things


There are also trading card games that are good to go right out of the box, and they are a lot of fun as well.  If you really want to have a heads up space duel and don’t want to break the bank, Star Realms is a great game.  It’s all the fun of building decks, but not the drag of buying dozens of booster packs.  There’s also games like Netrunner that are somewhat easy to pick up and play without having to take out a small home loan.  

Dice games are almost as popular as card games.  The great thing about dice games is that they fit in your pocket, and as long as you know the rules the only thing you’ll need is a pen and paper to keep score.  Classic games like Yatzee can easily be played with five six-sided dice.  As long as you know what scores, grab a pad and pencil and you’re good to go. The game set is easy to buy, and the pad is already set up for you.   There are also games like That’s So Clever and Farkle, where the scoring is more complicated, so buying the game is recommended.  Some dice games also incorporate cards, like Roll For It, where players need to match cards with the dice to score points.  And then there are dice games where the whole point of the game is to roll special dice, like Quarriors, which is all about building a pool of dice and rolling them to summon warriors and cast spells to take down your opponent.

Party games are usually card games, but a very specific type geared toward social interaction and light-hearted fun with friends!  The most popular of these is Cards Against Humanity.  You get your cards, you play your cards, and it’s all about impressing the judge with the funniest answer you can.  There’s no shortage of games like this. Apples to Apples, Joking Hazard, Unstable Unicorns, Million Dollars But…, and Trial By Trolley.  Then there are games where the whole point is just to argue and laugh with your friends.  Superfight, Pitchstorm, Cult Following, Say Anything, and Aye Dark Overlord are just a few examples of games where anything goes and the only goal is to have a good time with your friends.

Board game

Board games are any game with a board, and that list is so extensive it would be easier just to point to Board Game Geek and let you choose from the list.  Board games have everything, there are so many styles of play that you are bound to find at least one that you like.  Do you like collecting resources and spending them to do other things?  Do you enjoy making matching sets?  Maybe you thrive on conquering and holding territory, or maybe you just feel like farming and taking your goods to market.  When I say everything, I mean everything.

I hope that I at least got you pointed in a direction you find interesting.  If not, gamers are everywhere!  Ask anyone in a game store for recommendations and they will have popcorn and a 7 hour slideshow ready to go. Find something you like and have fun at the table.