May 20, 2009

Gaming Setup 101: Famous Tables

One often overlooked aspect to D&D gaming is the physical area in which you play. Understandably, most folks focus on buying game materials, prepping the adventure, buying snacks, etc. However, in order to have a truly satisfying experience, you need a good place to play. This article is a first in a series about the crucial elements for a great gaming setup. My tips are for the gamer on a budget. If you’re like me, most of your money goes for bills, diapers, and other necessities (e.g., beer). More often than not, gaming supplies are the last on the list.

The Table

The table is the cornerstone of the gaming setup. If your table is crap, your game will suffer. However, having a great table can be simpler, and cheaper, than one might think.

Famous Gaming Tables

A few gaming tables have made the rounds on the web. By and large, these tables aren’t for a guy on a budget. Here are my thoughts on them.

The Avenger Table
This one is my personal favorite. It is highly utilitarian and that is the real key to a great table in my book. You can even buy instructions for $11.00 from the website. The table itself is not cheap though. The website states that the entire setup cost the creator about $2000.00 to assemble (that price is for the whole room, but I’d bet the bulk of the money went to the table). If I ever had the time and resources, I would seriously consider making such a table. The only thing I have against it is its wet erase gaming surface. Personally, I think dry erase works the best for gaming, and I think one could easily substitute a dry erase surface for the one they use. I’ll deal with options for a cheap and practical gaming surface in a subsequent article.

The Agyris Game Table
This table is probably the coolest looking table around, but I’m not a fan. It has some neat features, like a clever way to pass messages to players, but other than that, it doesn’t seem that practical to me. It’s too cool for its own good. One aspect I do like is its elevated gaming surface.

Pen, Paper, & Pixel Table
I have seen quite a few setups online that make use of an projector to display the battle map on the table, such as the Pen, Paper, & Pixell one. The main innovation here is about the gaming surface rather than the table itself, so I’ll save most of my review of this setup for that discussion. For the actual table, while I think the size is perfect, I’m don’t care for the rest. The table is designed to be low so as to be used with the surrounding futons. While it might be very comfortable while relaxing or waiting your turn, this setup requires players to lean forward all the time to roll, move miniatures, etc. That seems a bit annoying to me. It looks perfect for hanging out, drinking a beer, and BSing with friends, but not so great for playing a game.
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