Creating Card Games on Tabletop Simulator
Have you ever wanted to make your own card game? Not sure how to get started? Neither did I when I set out to make my own card game, but it's fairly doable and easy enough to set up in Tabletop Simulator for playtesting.
I was playing the DC Deck-Building Game when I got an idea that refused to go away: The Legends of Tomorrow would make a great DC Deck-Building Game standalone module and expansion pack. But, not knowing anyone at Cryptozoic or DC or having any idea how to get a DBG made, I decided to make my own fanmade version using Tabletop Simulator.
*This DBG is entirely fanmade and is not an official DC or Cryptozoic Deck-Building Game set, and there is no intent to profit from it. Game made for educational and personal use.*
So how did I make it? All it took was a custom card generator made by another fan of Deck-Building Games, google sheets, and Tabletop Simulator for the PC. Before we get into that, let's outline some steps for making your own card games for Tabletop Simulator.
Design Your Game
Designing your overall game is the first step of creating a card game. Not only do you need to create your rules, but you also need to figure out what your overall aesthetic will be. Much of this part of the creation process can be chaotic, and the order of steps all comes down to how you want to organize your process.
Overall base rules of your card game. What kind of engine does it use? Cryptozoic? Yu-gi-oh? Deck-building? Collecting and battling? Cards Against Humanity type rules? Or make your own. How many players? Do you have solo play available?
Ideas - are you making a fantasy card game? Is it based on an existing franchise? Or are you planning a creation of your own?
Goals - What is the end goal of the game? Most points? Health points? Victory points? Is the goal to win, or is it coop? What are the conditions for goal completion or winning?
Design your cards by working on their mechanics - Based on the type of system you plan to use, begin designing your cards. Are there base cards you'll need? How about energy or other costs to play a card? Unique cards - How do they contribute to the goals of the game?
Don't overcomplicate overall rules/card play/artwork.
Design the artwork for your cards - Come up with an overall look for your card game. The Cryptozoic generator has a basic DC deck-building look ready to go, but you can always build some templates of your own to follow. Use Canva or other photoshopping/design programs to do it. Tabletop Simulator works best with "sheets" of up to 70 cards with 10 cards per row and 7 cards per column at 4090 x 4011 in maximum size for the overall sheet. Make life easier for you by creating a system where you can copy/paste parts of the overall design and simply focus on changing artwork, names, and card info.
Once you've made the rules, design your rulebook.
Legends of Tomorrow DC DBG Example
When making my Legends of Tomorrow DC Deck-Building Game, I put a lot of free time into it. I started with a Google sheet listing all of the attributes of my cards. In the Cryptozoic Deck-Building game engine, players have "Character" (Super-Heroes and Super-Villains) cards that affect their overall gameplay and a "Main Deck" that they purchase cards from. Players start with a deck of 10 Starter cards that initially help them buy cards from the Main Deck lineup. There are other cards that affect the overall gameplay, but for the most part, Deck-Building games are fairly simple to learn and quite fun.
If you look at the Google Sheet for the LoT DC DBG cards in the Cryptozoic engine, they have several parts; Name, type, cost, victory points, subtypes, and of course, the effect of the card. When designing my cards, I looked at existing DC DBG cards and considered their impact on gameplay and how they balance out. The DC Deck-Building Games have loads of expansions, leaving plenty of ways to play and change up the game. Each expansion adds something new to the base game within the context of the DC story that it's based on, and I wanted to be sure my Legends of Tomorrow game did something similar.
Which is how I came up with the Legends system. The Legends of Tomorrow are a team, and the game's characters, like the show, do not defeat their enemies alone. From there, I spent hours finding screenshots from the show and worked on designing each card that would be part of the Main deck, Character cards, Kicks, Starters, Weaknesses, and Bosses.
Using a Google sheet to put all of this together not only allowed me to track my designs but also allowed for easy input into the Cryptozoic card generator. All I had to do was upload it as a CSV, and the generator did the rest. The generator spat out card sheets that I could then put into Tabletop Simulator for playtesting. I've listed out how to upload your cards to Tabletop Simulator below.
Upload cards to Tabletop Simulator - You've designed your cards, and now we're down to the nitty gritty: Playing with your cards. This is where Tabletop Simulator comes in handy.
Take your card images and put them in a folder on your computer. It's better to do the card designs as sheets so that you don't have to do them individually if they're standard-shaped cards. 10x7, 70 card sheets are the maximum Tabletop Simulator can handle. Once uploaded, Tabletop Simulator will automatically cut the cards correctly and set them up in decks. Tabletop Simulator can handle circular and hexagon cards as well as the standard card shape. You may need to experiment with different formats to get sheets of cards to come out correctly in the game.
In Tabletop Simulator, open up a new game and table. Go to Objects > Components > Cards > Custom Decks. Left-click and drop it onto your table, then right-click the card deck. Choose your back image and your front image card sheet. Once you've done that, change your height settings to match the number of cards per column and width settings to match the number of cards per row on your sheet of cards. Input the total number of cards you have on your sheet.
Once you've completed this step, Tabletop Sim should automatically generate a deck of cards. Check through them and name and describe cards as you wish; however, it's unnecessary to do each card if your cards are readable in Tabletop Sim.
Save your custom cards by right-clicking on your deck and choosing whether to cloud or locally save.
Once you have your cards uploaded and ensure that details meet your needs for playtesting, get to playing the game.
Grab yourself or some friends to test your card game. Adjust rules and what cards do. Keep testing until you feel comfortable with your set(s).
Share Your Game!
Now what to do? That's up to you. Do you want to sell the game? If your game is based on a franchise or uses already existing systems, you may need to jump through some legal hoops and purchase rights to produce copies of the game for sale. You'll have to figure out how to buy rights and such. Of course, you could also keep it just for you and your friends to play together anytime through Tabletop Simulator and give people your cards for free.
You can check out an example of the Legends of Tomorrow DC Deck-Building Game standalone expansion Google and card sheets at the link below. Feel free to upload it to your Tabletop Simulator.