Making a board game on Tabletop Simulator

Making a board game in Tabletop Simulator: Two decks of cards from Amulet of Thrayax

Hey Rerollers,

MAY THE 4TH BE WITH YOU!

I was talking to a friend recently, who like me loves playing board games and is now taking the plunge into making his own!

Over lockdown, we’d been using Tabletop Simulator extensively to play board games virtually, and although he’s comfortable as a player, he told me he doesn’t know where to start when it comes to using Simulator to create his own assets.

He asked if I could give him a crash course but given it’s such an awesome tool for game development, I thought I’d go one better and share my knowledge with all you creators and GMs out there as well!

On this sacred day of nerd, I thought we would leave Bleakpyre and the antics of Thraymania (opens in a new window), and take a trip to a galaxy far, far away so we can cover the basics.

Namely, a Star Wars roleplaying game I made for personal use, using the gorgeous Imperial Assault tiles and models and then homebrew everything else:

A homebrew modified version of Star Wars Imperial Assault on Tabletop Simulator

Episode IV – A New Tile

So let’s starts with the basics. You’re in Tabletop Simulator with an empty table.

To add a new custom asset, go to Objects at the top. There you select Components and then Custom. You will then see the Custom menu:

The Custom components menu from Tabletop Simulator
Your challenge is making a board game using just these!

Let’s start with adding a Tile. Unlike Tokens (which I’ll get on to), Tiles can have a different front and back.

Whenever you add anything from the Components menu, it’ll let you “stamp” them all over the table and you just right click when you’re finished. I personally prefer adding only one component at a time, so I can make adjustments and then copy and paste it if needed.

Unlike normal Components, Custom assets appear as white boxes/shapes when you stamp them and after you right-click you’ll be presented with a menu. The Tile menu looks like this:

The Custom Tile menu from Tabletop Simulator

The Type is what shape you want it. Box and Rounded are for any square or rectangular shapes, but determines if the corners are pointed or rounded. Otherwise it’ll need to be a Hex or a Circle (any other shapes such as a star, will have black bits where the transparent areas were).

The Top Image is the front image of the tile and the Bottom Image is the back. On Steam, when you upload images it’ll ask if you want them to be Local or uploaded to the Cloud. If you plan on playing your game online or with friends, you’ll need to select Cloud.

Two tiles in Tabletop Simulator showing a bounty for Krufa the hutt
The bounty hunter’s PDA: The tile is flipped from the back (left) to the front (right) when their target is nearby.

The folder icons will have a blue wheel that spins after you upload an image. It’ll take longer the bigger the file and you’ll need to let them finish spinning before moving on, otherwise, they sometimes stop uploading.

Thickness dictates how thick the “card” is and I mostly select the lowest (0.10) for tiles and tokens.

Stackable means you’re able to stack them and pick them up as a pile, plus deal and draw them like a deck of cards.

When you’re ready, click Import and it’ll load up (this might also take a little time). Once loaded, you can use + and – to increase and decrease its size. You can also right-click custom assets, and make changes retroactively using the Custom option. For Tiles, the Colour Tint option changes the colour of the “card” rim.

Episode V – The Empire Creates Tokens

Tokens are similar to Tiles, but it matches the shape of the image you’ve uploaded (no black bits instead of transparency). You only upload one image and it is double-sided.

A scene from a homebrew modified version of Star Wars Imperial Assault on Tabletop Simulator
“Short Fuse” (codename) detonates a demolition charge by an unsuspecting Imperial patrol (the charge and the explosions are Tokens).

When you adjust the Colour Tint for Tokens, it changes the colour of the token itself. The rim colours of the token are determined by the colour of the pixels on the edge of the image.

You might have noticed we’ve yet to talk about adding Boards. This is because Tabletop Simulator adds a huge, un-editable frame around Boards, so I’ve found it’s better to use a Tile or Token, adjust their thickness and then make them very large.

Episode VI – Return of the Cards

Cards are simple once you’ve mastered Tiles and Tokens.

Again you’ve got a few settings, such as the shape. The other option is Sideways.

To focus on an asset in Tabletop Simulator, you can hold Alt and hover over it to see a detailed, zoomed-in version. By selecting Sideways, although the card itself is unaffected, the zoomed-in version will be rotated 90 degrees.

A custom slicing screen from a homebrew modified version of Star Wars Imperial Assault on Tabletop Simulator
A Slicing (hacking) screen that uses cards to denote what actions the players can take. They flip the card when they take the action.

Once you’ve placed some cards, you can stack them to become a deck. (Be warned – changing the back image for the entire deck seems to mess up the front images (I assume this is a bug), so changing the backs of the deck will require manually changing each card.)

You might have also noticed there’s a Deck option in the Custom menu. The Deck option requires you to make your deck using a template in Tabletop Simulator’s directory and then upload that. I’ve personally found it’s less customisable and flexible than uploading single cards.

Dice Holiday Special

Finally, let’s look at Dice. First you will need to go to the Tabletop Simulator directory (usually \Steam\steamapps\common\Tabletop Simulator\Modding\Dice Templates) where you should find a template for the different types of dice (d4/d6/d8 etc).

Create your designs using the right template, select which type of dice you want to make when you stamp a custom Dice, Import and hey presto:

A range of custom dice from a homebrew modified version of Star Wars Imperial Assault on Tabletop Simulator
From left to right: Imperial and Rebel defence D6s, Alert D8s (to see if the Imperials realise you’re rebel scum) and Bounty Hunter D10s (to check if there’s an enemy bounty hunter out to get your team).

Thanks for reading!

As always thanks for reading! Please do contact me (opens in a new window) if you feel I’ve left anything out or if you have any questions (we creators need to stick together after all!)

Last week we announced our first cult, the Seers (opens in a new window), who will be appearing in our new board game, Amulet of Thrayax.

The next cult is coming very soon so look out for it, and in the meantime why not sign up to our newsletter below if you want to find out more and keep up to date!

Until next time,

Tom (opens in a new window)

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