Tabletop Simulator - absolute basic help please and future game sessions

I have a new laptop that hasn’t died when I’ve put Steam on it.

How do I do TTS? It’s £14.99, do I just buy it?
How do I access different games on it? I know the word “mod”
Is it obvious which mods have hot seat? If we wanted to hot seat, would my wife need to buy TTS as well?
Finally, anyone fancy a game when I get it running?

TTS is fairly regularly discounted on Steam (and elsewhere), so it may be worth waiting a bit.

There are official DLCs for some games: Steam DLC Page: Tabletop Simulator

And there are free mods in the workshop:

I think you can use hotseat in any game, and you just share the computer. That’s what I’m doing at the moment with Brass.

I’d definitely be up for some games :slight_smile:


This is correct.

Also there are a few mods on the Nexus and there are Tabletop Simulator discords both for finding games and for having people slip you under-the-table mods. (TTS saves are literally just the mod with positioning info.)


Thanks. I imagine there’s a geeklist with discounts?

I understood about 4 words of that!

It sounds good though. What’s ‘the nexus’?

If you add TTS to your wishlist on Steam, it’ll email you when there’s a discount.

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TTS is the table.

The mods are the games you put on it.


And while they want to sell you DLC, the free mods are why it’s worth the money.


So when I’ve got it, if we decided to play a game of Pax Ren, would everyone playing all need to have the mod for the game?

No - one person can host if they have the mod.

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It gets saved on the machines of everyone who’s playing.


It’s way more popular for modding other games, but there’s a few things there that aren’t on the Workshop. And it’s occasionally possible the mod on the Nexus will be more complete - the way TTS mods are set up, they fetch most mod assets (images, meshes for models, etc) from remote hosting as needed. Which means those assets can be overloaded (Google Drive has been popular and is bandwidth rationing during the pandemic) or down (taken down or sometimes the entire host is just gone now) and don’t load. It’ll cache anything you use to save time and bandwidth later, so it’s possible for users to pass along a version of the mod that’s already got all those files locally cached, but you can’t upload those to the Workshop.

Also, sometimes IP holders will request that mods be taken down from the Workshop. Is it most morally correct to respect that wish? Absolutely. But…as you might imagine, not everyone does, so those mods are often circulating elsewhere.


Some games that do not have paid DLCs still have versions styled “official” on the workshop, mostly recent kickstarter games.

Also for quite a few games there are a ton of different mods in ALL the languages. So it makes sense looking for one that agrees with you.

To start, I recommend trying games you already know well, so you’re not both trying to learn the TTS controls and a new game.


If you want to try out a simulator- I believe Tabletopia is still free on Steam. The premise is the same as TTS; you buy the games separately as dlc. There’s tons of free ones on there, like Roll Player which I played a couple of times and it’s great! Worth taking a look for free! :wink:

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My only advice is to use a mouse. TTS with a trackpad is no fun.


Specifically for Pax Ren, I would be very surprised if the Vassal module weren’t a better way to play the game:

(Disclaimer: haven’t tried it, but the designer of the module is competent, probably had full support from Sierra Madre Games, and card tableau games generally work better in Vassal)

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There’s a very good chance that TTS will be on sale for some portion of the next six days, as Steam is about to have a Tabletop Fest with an associated sale. Apparently, when the sale goes live it will be at


Pax Ren was the first game I thought of as an example! But I think I can run vassal now as well

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I’ve been using Tabletop Simulator since the lockdown started, so hopefully this will help demystify things!

At its heart, TTS is fundamentally just a dumb virtual-reality rendition of a table onto which you can spawn various bits and pieces, pick them up, inspect them, move them around, and then put them down again. (It will allow you to do other things besides that, but that will do for starters.)

It also allows you to allow other people with TTS to join you at that virtual table and interact with the same bits and pieces in the same way. In this respect, TTS does little more than replicate the physical act of playing a board game in real life.

A “mod” (again, paring it down to its most basic level) is a saved arrangement of bits and pieces on a virtual table. In practice, it is a preloadable table with a game already set up for you ready to play.

Some mods are really very little more than that. With these mods, you then manually set to one side the bits and pieces you don’t need (e.g. pieces for higher player counts, expansions), and then start playing by moving pieces physically exactly as if you were playing at a real table. By-and-large, very little is automated by the computer. You have to keep score. You have to remember whose turn it is. You have to know the rules and play by them (the computer won’t restrict your movements to only legal moves, for example). Rules are enforced not by a computer but by the same unwritten social contract that you engage with at a real table.

Some mods do have “scripts” that automate some of the process, but generally these are used to speed up fiddly setups (e.g. if there’s a random element to the setup or if it’s highly player-count dependent). Some will have fancy “snapping” capabilities meaning that placing bits in the right place on a board becomes easier. Many do not.

As has already been said, although every player needs to own a copy of TTS to play, only one player needs to have the “mod” for a specific game in order to play it. That player will usually host the session (by starting a server), load the mod into that session (remember that at its most basic level a mod is simply a saved arrangement of bits and pieces on a table) and then other players can join in on the server and start moving those bits and pieces around.

It gets a bit more complicated when there are games that involved hidden information (e.g. a hand of cards, tokens behind a screen) but for now suffice it to say that TTS has ways of handling that.

As for acquiring mods, there are two main ways:

  • paid-for download content, that you can buy on Steam from their store
  • mods made on an amateur basis by users and shared on a platform called the Steam workshop.

Mods come in various degrees of quality, with various levels of automation. The paid-for mods generally are more polished, with professionally made art assets, often with more decor in the room, and have robust scripts to automate setup. Amateur ones often have no automation, wonky art assets made from someone scanning the cards and/or digital photographs of the board and use the default table and room decor. Quality is highly variable but if you’re willing to treat the experience like an actual board game session with all the manual tactility that that requires, you don’t often require much more than the virtualised physical objects to play a decent game.

Hope this helps!


Thanks, really helpful