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Tabletop Simulator - The Best Way to Play Board Games Online

Submitted by Bethany on Fri, 02/22/2019 - 10:00

One of the hardest things for me to leave behind when we hit the road (besides family and friends, of course) was our full set of the game Dominion. I know, that sounds really nerdy. But Dominion is my absolute favorite game of all time. Joel introduced me to it when we first started dating and I'm not sure he realized quite what a monster he was creating, but the damage was done. 

If you aren't familiar with Dominion, it's a deck-building card game in which you compete against other players to buy action cards, money, and, by the end, the most victory points. The game has a "light medieval" theme and what I love about it is that it is always different. Dominion starts with a base set of cards but has many multiple expansions that give you new cards to play with and new themes that run throughout. A single game uses only 10 cards in the "kingdom", so when there are many hundreds of cards that can create that kingdom you can imagine the almost endless permutations of the game that exist. 

Okay, so, that's the short version of why I love Dominion. We thought briefly about bringing our set with us but quickly realized that was incredibly unrealistic considering our whole set takes up about as much room as a carry-on suitcase and weighs quite a bit. We have plenty of other ways to entertain ourselves while abroad but I have been missing playing my favorite game. I was especially upset when I learned a new expansion came out before Christmas and I don't have it yet! Sigh. 

However...Joel's best friend Brian came to our rescue earlier this year! He had heard of an online program called "Tabletop Simulator" which promises to take almost any board game or card game and create an online version that you can enjoy from your computer. The program costs about $20 (though we've noticed they often run sales!) and Brian purchased one for each of us to use on our computers. (Here's the link if you want to check it out)

I have to admit, I was skeptical at first. We've tried some other online Dominion things before that did not scratch my itch - I don't want to play against a computer. Tabletop, however, is not that. I would describe it like an online room you can enter that is set up almost exactly like a room and game table would be in the real world. The cards are laid out like normal, you can move them easily with your mouse, and you can chat with other players through the program - even if they are halfway around the world! Here's a screenshot of a setup Dominion board so you can see what I mean. 


The whole thing is so incredibly realistic. We have access to the entire library of Dominion cards and accessories - which is a lot of stuff. Playing the game like this is, in a lot of ways, even easier than playing in real life. It's easier to set up, easier to organize, shuffling is simple (and you know it's always done well), etc. I will say that it is important to have a mouse, rather than using the pad on a laptop. We ended up purchasing an inexpensive wireless mouse for Joel to have since we only had one when we started, it's that important. 

Perhaps my favorite thing about this virtual reality is one silly little feature - look at the top towards the right of the screenshot and you can see where it says "flip". If you press that button, the table literally flips over and all the cards and everything fly everywhere - it's hilarious! I decided early on that whoever lost the game we were playing would get to flip the table, and to be honest, it kind of makes losing fun. And I should know, I've lost a lot since we started playing again. 

If you like board games at all and wish you could play with friends who are far away (like us!) I highly recommend picking this up and installing it on your laptop. I cannot recommend it highly enough. Joel and I love to get our friends hooked on Dominion, so when Steve was here last month we introduced it to him in this online version. He loved it so much he ended up purchasing and installing Tabletop Simulator on his own laptop so we can play even when we aren't together! 

We have mostly used it with Dominion, though we did try it out with Brian and a different game when we first started. It worked incredibly well for both games, so I imagine it's great for a lot more of them as well. I imagine it will be a while before I try out anything else, I love Dominion far too much! 

Do you love board games? Have you ever tried playing any online in a virtual reality? Do you think you would be interested in trying it? Have you ever played Dominion? If so, tell me you love it! Let's chat games! 

XOXO, Bethany