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Tabletop game is a general term used to refer to board games, card games, dice games, miniatures wargames, tile-based games and other games that are normally played on a table or other flat surface. The term is used to distinguish these types of games from sports and video games, which today enjoy more popularity than most tabletop games.
Another related term is a hobby game.
Tabletop games can be classified according to the general form, or equipment utilized:
- Board games
- Dice games
- Miniature games
- Paper and pencil games
- Tile-based games (e.g. Mahjong, Dominoes, Anagrams)
- Role-playing games
Games like chess and draughts are examples of games belonging to the board game category. Other games, however, use various attributes and cannot be classified unambiguously (e.g. Monopoly utilises a board as well as dice and cards).
For several of these categories there are sub-categories and even sub-sub-categories or genres. For instance, German-style board games, board wargames, and Roll-and-move games are all types of board games that differ markedly in style and general interest.
Classification according to elements of chance
Alternatively, a more systematic classification results when distinguishing tabletop games according to the elements of chance involved. Two fundamentally different elements of chance can play a role in a game: chance due to outcome uncertainty (e.g. due to dice rolls or due to unknown cards being dealt during the game), and chance due to state uncertainty (e.g. due to the opponent's position or cards not being visible, or due to the simultaneous move character of the game). Games in which outcome uncertainty plays a role are referred to as stochastic games (as opposed to deterministic games), and games in which state uncertainty plays a role are referred to as partial (or imperfect) information games (as opposed to full information games). Examples of the chance classification for some well-known tabletop games are given in the table below.
|Full/Perfect information||Partial/Imperfect information|
List of organizations that sponsor events featuring tabletop games:
- Board Game Geek organizes BGG.CON
- Geek & Sundry promotes an annual International TableTop Day
- The Organization of Gamers & Roleplaying Enthusiasts (O.G.R.E.)
- White Wolf Publishing's Camarilla
- Wizards of the Coast own RPGA
- The Historical Miniatures Gaming Society promotes historical miniatures wargaming and organizes wargaming events such as Historicon
Numerous independent, local groups run by gamers exist to play tabletop games. Additionally, many colleges have student run organizations pertaining solely to table top gaming. The Collegiate Association of Table Top Gamers is one such organization that has a few chapters at different schools.