It’s ironic how much the global digital revolution has done for tabletop gaming. While video games put a big dent in the popularity of tabletop games, the internet has managed to unite fans of this gaming format. Even better, it’s providing a much easier way for newcomers to get in on the fun.
Once people started catching wind of the potential platforms like YouTube have when it comes to capturing a fresh and excited audience, channels started popping up all over the place. Which makes it hard for anyone coming into the scene to know which channels are good and which are not quite up to scratch. In this article I’m highlighting five YouTube Channels that are worth visiting for new and old tabletop gamers alike.
Geek and Sundry:Tabletop
Chances are that most people reading this are at least familiar with the name Wil Wheaton. He’s an actor who became famous mainly for his portrayal of Wesley Crusher in Star Trek the Next Generation.
While Wil is only a minor celebrity these days, he’s still very much a star in geek circles. He is also, as far as anyone can tell, quite the geek himself. Which is why he and fellow geek icon Felicia Day were the perfect people to create a web series dedicated to tabletop gaming.
I might even go as far as saying that Tabletop is the show that really helped bring tabletop games into the mainstream. It has charming stars, great production values and genuinely interesting content.
The format of the show is pretty simple. Wil talks about a specific tabletop game and gives you enough info to understand what will be going on during the game. He will have a number of guests to play with. These are invariably interesting and entertaining people.
It’s really a great show with an accessible, casual vibe. There are four seasons out already and the program is still going strong. Definitely one of the first stops you should make.
The Dice Tower
The Dice Tower is mainly dedicated to informing and educating people on cool tabletop games, while also teaching them how to play. It’s run by a guy named Tom Vasel and has a pretty wide range of topics and video styles. As I write this the channel is well on its way to 200 000 subscribers.
The Dice Tower is known for Top 10 and even Top 100 lists. There are also plenty of in-depth reviews of specific games, with decent video coverage of what the game looks like and how it plays. The channel’s playlists are a little all over the show, but the actual videos are very informative and of reasonable quality. Just about everyone will find a clip or two that speaks to their needs, so make a point of paying The Dice Tower a visit.
Shut Up and Sit Down
Shut Up and Sit Down “only” has about 100 000 subscribers, but it’s definitely one of the best and most entertaining tabletop channels on YouTube. The channel has a strong focus on three things: reviews, tutorials and “let’s plays”.
The reviews themselves are well shot, witty and humorous. At the time of writing the channel had 145 individual games reviewed. Many of which I would never have known about if it wasn’t for the channel’s work. Given how much board games and other tabletop titles cost sourcing 145 of them is an amazing feat. Yes, I suppose these days the channel makes more than enough money to sustain things, but only a true fan would risk rolling the dice on a venture like this.
The let’s play videos basically follow a similar format as they do for video games. In case you didn’t know, a “let’s play” video is one where the youtuber records a game they are playing. You are literally watching someone else play a game and hearing their occasional thoughts on it. On paper it might seem a little silly, but in practice these videos are some of the most popular on YouTube.
As the name of the title says, you really should shut up and sit down for at least a few of these awesome videos.
Geek and Sundry – Critical Role
Just like Tabletop, Critical Role is a web series hosted under the Geek and Sundry channel, forming part of their network.
The concept of the show is pretty simple. It follows Dungeons and Dragons campaign hosted by one of the best-known Dungeon Masters – Matt Mercer. Mercer is a professional voice actor with plenty of anime dubs, cartoon and video game roles under the belt.
Having a professional voice actor as a DM is a predictably awesome experience, but it doesn’t end there. All the other players are professional voice actors too! Which means you basically hear the entire story acted out by professional actors who are also actually playing a campaign in real time.
The whole thing started with Matt hosting private games in this format at home and Felicia Day heard about it. The guys then started to stream their campaign and the show developed from there. Today it’s a mix between a full-o livestream and a formatted show. The show is very popular, racking up hundreds of thousands of views. Not bad for a show that has 3-5 hour episodes. If you want to experience what a D&D campaign can be, this show is a must-watch.
Watch It Played
Watch it played is the brainchild of Rodney Smith. The channel has been around since 2011, making which is amazing staying power for YouTube. The thing that makes this channel special is its detailed focus on how board and card games are played. They don’t really “review” any of the games, but you can watch an entire playthrough in detail to decide whether you like it or not. That’s the main appeal of the channel It, might not seem like much on paper, but it’s very entertaining and informative, so be sure to check it out.