Tabletop game

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Chess has been a popular board game for centuries

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.[1][2]

The term is used to distinguish these types of games from sports and video games. The term is also used to distinguish role-playing games from role-playing video games and LARPs, although role-playing games may not necessarily require a wide playing surface. Another related term is a hobby game.[3]

Classification according to equipment used[edit]

Tabletop games can be classified according to the general form, or equipment utilized:[4]

Game category Game examples
Adventure games Adventure board games, Adventure gamebooks
Board games Backgammon, Chess, German-style board games, Go, Reversi
Card games Card Solitaire, Collectible card games, Hanafuda, Tarot card games
Dice games Bunco, Craps, Farkle, Generala, Poker dice, Sic bo, Yahtzee, Zombie Dice
Paper and pencil games Battleships, Connect 5, Dots and Boxes, Hangman, Sprouts, Sudoku
Quiz games Belgian style quizzing, Pub quizzes, Quiz bowl, Quiz leagues
Role-playing games Call of Cthulhu, Dungeons & Dragons, Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay
Strategy games Board wargames, Government simulation games, Miniature wargames
Tile-based games 15 puzzle, Anagrams, Dominoes, Mahjong, Mahjong solitaire, Tangrams

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[edit]

As an alternative to classifying games by equipment, they can also be classified according to the elements of chance involved. In game theory, two fundamentally different elements of chance can play a role:

  • Chance due to outcome uncertainty, e.g. due to dice rolls or due to unknown cards being dealt during the game. Games in which outcome uncertainty plays a role are referred to as stochastic games as opposed to deterministic games.
  • 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 state uncertainty plays a role are referred to as partial or imperfect information games as opposed to full or perfect 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:

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.

In culture[edit]

  • TableTop is a web series about tabletop games. It was created by Wil Wheaton and Felicia Day and is hosted by Wheaton.[5] TableTop is published on Felicia Day's YouTube channel, Geek & Sundry. In each episode, following a brief explanation of one or more tabletop games, Wheaton plays the games with guests, usually web or TV personalities.[6] A wide range of hobby gaming titles have been played, from classic German-style board games and family games to RPGs and card games.[7]
  • International TableTop Day is celebrated every spring all over the world.[8] In 2014 it took place in 80 countries at over 3,000 events.

See also[edit]