Tabletop game is a general term used to refer to board games, card games, dice games, miniatures war games, tile-based games and other games that are normally played on a table or other flat surface.
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.
Tabletop games can be classified according to the general form, or equipment utilized:
|Game category||Game examples|
|Adventure games||Adventure board games, Adventure gamebooks|
|Board games||Backgammon, Can't Stop, 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 war games, 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
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|