Social Isolation Together – Playing Magic: The Gathering in Tabletop Simulator

This post is part of a new series that I plan to keep up as long as we’re still seeing recommendations to socially isolate in the US because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This one is less for me, and more for my husband, who is the extrovert in our relationship and the one who is often out multiple times a week to play Magic: The Gathering with his friends. I’m not much of a MTG player, although I am the primary deck builder in our house.

There are tons of mods in the Steam workshop related to Magic: The Gathering, but it’s absolutely possible not only to download absolutely zero of those and still play, but to actually import decks you own into Tabletop Simulator to get as close to the in-person game play experience as possible.

Once you’ve gathered up your decks, or pulled up your online decklists from a site like MTGVault, TCGPlayer, or exported from an app like ManaBox (which I highly recommend), you’ll want to pull up and under My Decks, you’ll choose “New Deck”.

The site will randomly name the deck for you, but you can change that by going to Actions > Change Name. Once you’re happy with your deck name, it’s time to add your cards.

If you have a deck list already, it’s as easy as going to Actions > Bulk Import, and then you copy and paste the deck list into the pop up. This process is pretty smooth – I’ve only run into issues with cards like Aetherflux Reservoir, where deck lists will tend to use the grapheme that Frogtown doesn’t recognize. It’s easy enough to edit the list in box before searching, but if you forget, an error will pop up that something needs your attention.

If you don’t have a pre-built deck list, you can enter cards individually via the search. As of this writing, you can’t add cards from the most recently released set just yet, but everything else seems to easy enough to work with.

Your total card count will be listed right next to the name of your deck, so you can easily see if you missed something.

If you are playing the EDH or Commander variant of Magic, you’ll want to look for your commander card, hover over it, and then use the highlighted button as shown to move it to your sideboard. That will make it spawn on a separate stack in Tabletop Simulator, so you won’t need to hunt for it in your deck every time you play.

Once you have your deck all put together and appropriately named, all that’s left is to get it exported so you can use it in Tabletop Simulator. Simply go to Actions > Export to Tabletop Simulator, and give it a minute to do it’s magic. Then you will be able to go to Actions > Download Tabletop Simulator Deck, and save your file.

For me, it’s easiest to set the download path right to its final destination. I think this should be pretty standard, but if you tweaked install locations or moved stuff around, or even if you are on an earlier version of Windows than Windows 10, your saved objects might live somewhere else. For most of us, the command path below is exactly where you want your new deck.

Finally, you can create a table in Tabletop Simulator and spawn your deck. Any table will do for your basic two player game, but if you’re planning to play with more people, you’ll want a larger table, and there are quite a few really nice custom tables on the Steam workshop.

Click on the objects button at the top, and open up your saved objects. Your new deck should be there, or, if you’re like me, many many decks will be there. Find the one you want, click on it and then click on spawn.

Depending on whether or not you used the sideboard feature, and whether or not your deck can potentially create tokens, you will get one, two or three stacks of cards. For my Sporemageddon deck, I get my 99 card main deck, my single card “sideboard” containing my commander, and a third stack which contains one copy of the tokens made my by deck. Tabletop Simulator makes it easy to create more of a card you already have by simply using CTRL-C and CTRL-V cut and paste shortcuts. If you find yourself playing on someone else’s table, you’ll need to be promoted in order to be able to spawn your deck.

I snagged this screenshot of a friend’s table while in spectator mode.

If you’re interested in trying out the Commander format, but don’t have decks built, I might have spent an afternoon making copies of all of the pre-constructed commander decks to be used in Tabletop Simulator. You can download them here, and just put them into your saved objects folder like you would a deck you made yourself.

This should give you almost everything you need to start playing Magic: The Gathering in Tabletop Simulator. Chances are good if you own Tabletop Simulator, you already have some folks to play with, but …

Now personally, I’m not much of a Magic: The Gathering player, but if you wander on over to my husband’s Twitch stream, or poke him on Twitter, he could probably be persuaded to play a game or two with you.

A Summary for Sunday

I had intended to use a chunk of my free time yesterday to get a little bit ahead on blogging – thankfully, the ideas are flowing, but I’ve been struggling with the actual sitting-down-to-write aspect of things.

Instead, I ended up splitting up my day into other endeavors. I caught up on some television while sorting and organizing our Magic: The Gathering card collection. I had bought some new, larger storage boxes, and wanted to get everything at least sorted by color in preparation for the much larger project I have in mind.

For years, I’ve been talking about getting all of our cards cataloged. Not only do I want them physically sorted by color and then by card type (creature, sorcery, instant, enchantment, etc.), I’d like to create a database so that we can see what we have without having to drag out all the boxes and look for the individual cards. It’s an enormous undertaking (which is probably why I keep putting it off), and we still have another batch of cards that need to go through the initial sort, but it’s a project I’d love to have completed by the time Nerd Central renovations are finished.

Once we’re fully organized, we plan to drop a little bit of money at our local gaming store and at The Wizard’s Cupboard to fill in any gaps in our collection. Although I’m less interested in a lot of the things my husband wants to use Nerd Central for, I’d love to get back into playing Magic: The Gathering on a regular basis again. To be honest, I’m not a great player; I have no trouble coming up with solid – sometimes even diabolical – decks, but I never can seem to play them as effectively as I should.

As far as video games go, I think I’m going to be shelving Gray Matter unfinished. It’s been over a week since I last launched the game, and the slow-pace was really starting to wear on me. Now, I don’t necessarily think I need tons of action to enjoy a game, but I had forgotten how painfully tedious the walking gets in point and click adventure games, and the older I get, the shorter my attention span seems to be.

I have been logging into ESO faithfully, so that’s a start. I’m making sure to do a Wrothgar Delve daily every day for my event tickets, because although I might claim to not care so much about mounts in ESO, I would really like to get myself an Onyx Indrik. I already missed the majority of the first third quarter event, so I want to make sure I at least get all my berries gathered up in time.

Given the amount of time that passed between my last blogging adventure and this one, I suppose it’s to be expected that I would have at least partially forgotten that writing about games absolutely changes the way I play.

I have ideas for posts I’d like to make, but first, I need to reinstall some games, spend some time with them, and get a screenshot or two. On the one hand, it’s great to get to revisit some old favorites, but on the other, I’m not doing my backlog any favors here.

That said, I feel like this blog is starting to come together for me, and I most definitely have #Blaugust2019 to thank for it. I had forgotten how much I missed not just the writing, but the community of other game bloggers. I find myself checking the Discord multiple times a day, and catching up on the writings of other participants whenever I have a few minutes to spare.

So thank you, readers, who are coming on this silly little journey with me, and who are being patient while I figure out exactly what this is. I hope you all are having a fantastic weekend!