Viral internet hype is a double-edged sword for indie brands. On one hand, getting people excited about your product before it even hits (virtual) shelves is the obvious goal. On the other, it can lead to sky high expectations that will be disappointing no matter how cool the product actually is.
The Table of Ultimate Gaming, which currently has more than $1 million pledged to its Kickstarter campaign that closes on September 28, is one such product. Last week I interviewed Patrick Meyer, one of the creators of the viral Table of Ultimate Gaming, about their incredibly successful campaign, and he seemed confident that customers will be satisfied. It’s called the Table of Ultimate Gaming, after all.
When he suggested sending me a prototype of their compact coffee table version to review, I was curious. As a tabletop nerd living in an apartment with limited table space, the idea of a gaming surface that could easily be covered up and converted back into a coffee table sounded great. Could it possibly live up to the hype? Short answer: not really. However, it’s still damn cool and delivers on what it promises — to provide a fully customizable, affordable gaming table.
First of all, let me just clarify (as Meyer did for me several times) that this is just a first prototype. Most of the issues I had were things that he pointed out will be fixed in the version that goes out to backers. I did have some difficulty assembling it, which is more on me than the table — the Ikea couch I put together last year is sagging already and I am notorious for stripping screws. Nevertheless, once it was properly assembled it didn’t blow me away appearance-wise, but again, it’s just a prototype and if appearance is really important to you there are options for decorations and different color schemes when you order.
Playing the Game
Ultimately, this table was built for gaming so I had to break out some games in order to really get a sense of whether or not this table is worth the hype. I decided to go with Dead of Winter for our test play. It’s one of my favorites, but has literally hundreds of pieces so it’s hard to play on a smaller surface. The Table of Ultimate Gaming is perfect for this kind of game. Even with the compact version, we had plenty of room to spread out the boards and various standees, and the sunken surface made it so that all of our dice rolls stayed on the table.
Some other cool features are the power outlets built into the sides. My friends were happy that they could charge their phones while we played and still keep them nearby. My boyfriend is a Dungeon Master running a hybrid online and in person D&D campaign, so the outlets will allow him to keep Roll20 up on his computer during long sessions.
One of the defining aspects of this table is the customization, which I obviously didn’t get from the prototype. Even without trying them out I can say for sure that you’ll definitely want to add on the cupholders. The edge of the table is technically wide enough to hold a cup but it’s precarious and we ended up keeping our drinks on the floor. I also would have loved to use the card organizers — my hand got pretty thick by the end of the game and deck management can make or break finishing an objective in Dead of Winter.
They did, thankfully, send me the full top boards, which transition it back into a full table. Since my whole reason for being interested in the Table of Ultimate Gaming is that I’m low on space, these are essential. It’s also very satisfying to just cover up the pieces if you’re a little tipsy after game night and don’t want to clean up right away. They conveniently slide into little slats under the table, but in the prototype they’re nearly impossible to remove once they’re in place. I had to resort to prying it up with a spatula. However, Meyer assures me that they’re working on a solution that will be implemented in the version that ships to customers.
Based purely on the prototype I was sent, I would probably still recommend the Table of Ultimate Gaming, but I would caution that it’s not as exciting as the internet makes it sound. However, the real draw is the add-ons and customizations, which I didn’t get to experience. This table is unique because it gives you the feel of a custom gaming table without the $5,000 price tag.
From my experience, the cupholders are a must, and if you’re playing a lot of deck-building games the card organizers are probably worth it. The full top boards probably aren’t necessary if it’s just going in a game room or basement, but they are if you have any intention of using it as a regular table.
With the full suite of add-ons, the Table of Ultimate Gaming is still less expensive than many custom gaming tables with fewer features. I don’t know if the feeling of picking out your specs and building a table suited to your exact needs lives up to the tremendous hype, but either way the Table of Ultimate Gaming is really cool for what it is (and has only ever promised to be) — a table to support gaming.