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Books for Gamers: Wizards of the Tabletop

Tabletop games have become more and more popular over the years. ICv2 estimates that the industry has grown to $1.2 billion in 2015, up 29% from the previous year. It is no surprise then, that as a culture around tabletop gaming grows, humans also reflect and try to analyze why.

One such exploration is the new book by Douglas Morse, Wizards of the Tabletop: A Portrait Book of Designers, Illustrators and Publishers. Morse takes the reader on a journey through the emergence and history of tabletop games, and the creative people behind the games.

Wil Wheaton and guests play a giant version of Takenoko on TableTop. Photo by Douglas Morse.

Wizards of the Tabletop Takes You Into the Worlds of Tabletop Games


Millions of people have been enchanted by the worlds of Settlers of Catan, Ticket to Ride, Puerto Rico and thousands of other games. But for the majority of players, the designers often remain just a name on the box. In Wizards of the Tabletop, players get a unique glimpse into the lives of game designers and history of the genre.


Overall, I learned a lot about the history of tabletop games. The book focuses on the era 1995-2004, which Morse calls the Golden Age. In the Golden Age, tabletop games really start to gain popularity and come into mainstream culture at the end of this era.


First of all, the imagery is stunning. The photos feature some of the most popular games that had a lasting impact on the gaming culture. In addition, we see photos of the creators of the games themselves, showcasing their personality.


Steve Jackson, of Munchkin, uses his body to compare to the size of the designer’s edition of Ogre. Photo by Douglas Morse.

Although the design of the book focuses on the photos, the text also tells stories. The text is sprinkled with anecdotes and quotes from the designers and other creatives. These little tidbits are the highlight of the text portion of this book! For example, the description of Richard Launius’ creative lair and the closet “where prototypes go to die” brought a smile to my face. Living with a creative, I can relate!


At 12″ x 12″, this book could fit perfectly on any game shelf, or decorating a gamer’s coffee table. Although not ready in time for the holidays this year, this game would make a great gift for the avid tabletop gamer or an aspiring designer.


Get Wizards of the Tabletop


Looking to own a copy of the book? Although already completely backed, there are still opportunities to back this project on Kickstarter. According to the site, it may only run for one print. So this is your opportunity to ensure you receive a copy. Plus, the project may reach some of the cool stretch goals, like an illustrated cover.


If reading isn’t your thing, Morse also created a documentary The Next Great American Game, which follows Randall Hoyt on his journey to create and publish a game. The film is available for download for $40. It is also included in some of the Kickstarter pledges for the book.


Thank you for reading and have fun exploring the other side of tabletop games!


Unfiltered Gamer received a preview copy of the book for review purposes, but did not receive any other compensation. Our review is our honest opinion of the book.


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