Unrivaled: Wil Wheaton on tabletop gaming, Magic: The Gathering, and more

Wil Wheaton, host of the inagural Unrivaled Tabletop Tournament Series. Wil Wheaton, host of the inagural Unrivaled Tabletop Tournament Series. GEEKNIFTY / BARRY WHITE

When it comes to gaming, for geek culture icon Wil Wheaton it's about putting it all on the table.  That's on the table as in tabletop gaming.

Wheaton is the host for the inaugural Unrivaled Tabletop Tournament Series taking place at Bally's Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada.  The series featured seven games:  MunchkinAscensionNevermoreKing of Tokyo, Villagers & Villains, Epic Spell Wars, and Magic: The Gathering.  While the final event might be on the Las Vegas Strip, the series itself took place at local gaming stores all over the United States.

"From those tournaments, about 800 players were given an invitation to come to Las Vegas for a chance to play in the final game of the tournament," Wheaton explains.  "[Unrivaled] awarded a $10,000 prize to each player who won and a $10,000 prize to their game shop back in their home town."

In a gaming climate where eSports seems to be king and video games are all around, it may seem a bit odd to unplug and bring the focus to tabletop games.  Wheaton begs to differ, pointing out the interpersonal relationships tabletop gamers experience compared to those who prefer to game digitally.

"It puts us face to face with friends and strangers and it strengthens the bonds between family members and it really just reminds us of our shared humanity," he says.

When it comes to Magic: The Gathering, the tournament host points out that Magic players are a different breed of gamer.  That's thanks (in part) to Magic simply being a different type of tabletop gaming experience.  The game, which is about to celebrate its 25th year in existence, introduced the concept of deckbuilding games -- combining the collectibility of baseball cards with the strategy of a competitive tabletop game.  That said, Wheaton points out that while he greatly enjoys the game it's not without its faults.

"Eventually it became a game where people who had the most money could build the best decks.  And I think that was frustrating to a lot of players," he comments.

Overall, Wheaton considers this inaugural run for Unrivaled a success.  Looking ahead to next year, there's no telling what a second Unrivaled Tabletop Tournament Series may bring.  Wheaton knows one thing for sure: "If they invite me back to do this in another year, I will do everything that I possibly can to say yes."

You can watch GeekNifty's entire interview with Wil Wheaton in the below video player:

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