Ever wish you could play board games with a long-distance friend? Or, maybe distance isn’t an issue, but you’re just too lazy to set the game up? Enter: Tabletop Simulator, a Windows/Mac game available on Steam for $20 (on sale for $10).
The game allows you to play a tabletop game, either with yourself or with friends over a server (which is super-easy to set up). It offers many classic games, like Checkers, Chess, Backgammon, and various card games. The graphics are great, and the physics works as you’d expect it to; if your chess piece hits another, it bounces off, and if you drop a piece, it twirls to the ground.
But the true gem is the ability to create your own game – or download games other players have made. Many players have already made popular games on Tabletop, including Set and Pokemon. All the correct graphics are uploaded, too; you’re not dealing with a cheap imitation of the game. The (gaming) world is at your fingertips.
There are a few drawbacks. Since Tabletop is basically just a physics simulator, the rules of each game usually aren’t hard-coded in. For example, if you open a game of chess, you can move the pawn clear across the board – the game won’t stop you. Each player, then, basically needs to know the rules of the game, and needs to be civilized enough (or scared enough of the other player) to follow those rules.
Tabletop also has some great “easter eggs” that add to the experience. For one, you can flip the table in rage, sending the game pieces hurtling towards the ground. (It’s a lot easier to clean up than flipping a table in real life, too.) The mishaps are also hysterical – if you and your friend accidentally bang chess pieces together, they collide and fly off in random directions.
Overall, Tabletop Simulator is a fun, convenient, and versatile stand-in for board games – as long as everyone playing is familiar with the game’s rules (and capable of obeying them).