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Preview: Tabletopia

Brad Cummings
United States
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From gallery of thequietpunk

To start out, for those that are not familiar, Tabletopia is not a collection of digital board games, rather it is a tool to play board games digitally. This is an important distinction. Like its predecessor Tabletop Simulator, Tabletopia does not feature per-game rules enforcement or any other features we’ve come to expect from digital board games such as AI players, tutorials, animations, etc. Unlike Tabletop Simulator, Tabletopia features licensed games that you will recognize as well as some light turn and game setup logic built in with hobby board games in mind. Tabletopia lies in a space between Vassal and the digital board gaming singularity. Last week, Dave and I tried a game on Tabletopia and what follows is a report on the results.

From gallery of thequietpunk

The Games
At this early access stage of Tabletopia there is already a good crop of recognizable games. I won’t list them all here but some that stood at to me were: Zooloretto, Scythe, Village, Viticulture, Imperial Settlers, Terra Mystica, Alien Frontiers, Mage Wars Academy, Keyflower, Tigris and Euphrates, Eight Minute Empires, Keltis, and Samurai. They currently boast 223 games though some of those are card or traditional games. It is an impressive list.

Diving in to play last week, Dave and I soon discovered that the games we were familiar with fell into two camps: older games we were familiar with but had not played in a while and newer games that we had heard of but did not know how to play. Since to play we had to know the rules, this provided quite the dilemma for us. Ultimately we decided on Nations the Dice Game and used the included rulebook link to refresh ourselves on the rules.

From gallery of thequietpunk

The game launched after a brief loading process with the first round already prepped. That meant that tiles for the first round were laid out and we each had our dice and tokens. Since we did not discover the forced round rules until later on(it locks the game to you expect when it is your turn), our game started a bit slowly. We decided that I would go first and we figured out to roll dice by right clicking. In fact, right clicking on any object will pop up a wheel of possible actions.

Playing the game worked much like a tabletop board game. We rolled dice, acquired tiles, scored points, and cleared the board. Everything was free and accessible so we had to follow the rules ourselves. Luckily we are friends and familiar with each other, so there was no one cheating or just throwing pieces around (which you can do). Tabletopia is playable with random players, but I fear that you may run across some bad apples.

From gallery of thequietpunk

The End
Things started slow but by the end we felt like true experts. Initially I thought I’d never play like this again, but by the end I was confident I could do this again with friends (still wary about you randos). It really was a total 180 in attitude.

One weird thing about the end of the game is there was no fanfare, I guess like a real tabletop game. We finished, counted out VP and just sort of sat there. Actually, as far as we could tell, there was no official way to close the game after you finish.

The Future
Tabletopia seems to be shaping up well and the game list is quite large. While only on PC and Mac for now, it is planned for tablets. We will for sure keep an eye out on this game as it develops.
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