If you read my blog more or less regularly, you would probably observe my fascination with ancient warfare, especially the Rome. One of my favorite, light, exciting and intriguing games pertaining that subject is definitely Time of Crisis. I had a chance to see the game first presented in Essen 2017 and since that moment I fell for that game.

Once the expansion was issued – The Age of Iron and Rust – this title get eve better! With the new set of alternative cards, new emperor characteristics plus fantastic bots – truly, hardly ever I have seen such a good solo mode design – this is now a true masterpiece. Below you can see some of my articles about game – and this is only a small portion of what we played!

More articles about the game - click to open in the new window:
- [UNBOXING] Time of Crisis
- [REVIEW] Time of Crisis + expansion
- Time of Crisis – how does it play with Bots? (solo mode analysis)
- Mid-week madness with Time of Crisis 
- Time of Crisis – first game with expansion

Due to all the pandemic lock-downs the possibility to play this great position was unfortunately significantly limited. So I was looking for alternate methods and would like to discuss two of them : Tabletop Simulator and VASSAL. Of course, the discussion will be based on sessions I played using those tools!

TTS (Tabletop Simulator)


Tabletop Simulator is an independent video game that allows players to play and create tabletop games in a multiplayer physics sandbox. Developed by Berserk Games as their first title, after a successful crowdfunding campaign in February 2014 the game was released in June of the following year

Where it can be found?

Our first session (3-players)

In my first Time of Crisis session on TTS I had a pleasure to play with Marek (new to the game) and Adrian (already couple of plays). We unfortunately did not have the fourth player and the game really loses a lot of its appeal if not played in full version. Still, that was great training / refresh scenario before the second attempt. Quick look at what was going on:

  • Initial set-up of our game
  • Marek (blue) had tons of problems with Sassanids from the start. But the Goths also arrived!
  • The first barbarians to visit Adrian's territory were Alamanni. But they were not the last ones...
  • My well-developing Gallic capital - a springboard to Italy - was in the end attacked by Adrian but I repelled the incursion!
  • I tried to move to Asia then but two-pronged attack from Marek almost wiped me out!
  • And then Franks and Postumus attacked my Gallic capital - crisis everywhere! But they to were repelled!
  • Adrian was relentless. His second attempt was at my forces in Italy. Fortunately, they survived.
  • The final situation on the map at the end of the game.

You can also see the final situation on the map and enlarge it to appreciate the details of TTS implementation:

Final situation – click to enlarge

As said, this was first game for some of us ever (Marek) or after long break (me, Adrian) so I would not attach too much attention to scores. What was important, is fact that module was really well designed and the desire of us all to to play full version!

Our second session (4-players)

For the second game we had a full-house, as Piotr joined us. Playing with expansion, full set of cards, all barbarians and provinces opened we had a very tense, close and fascinating game!

  • My eastern forces (green) were developing nicely when suddenly Adrian landed with his army (yellow). That was beginning of war which lasted whole game...
  • Marek (blue) and Piotr (red) were constantly harassed by barbarians but our newbie quickly took Rome!
  • The situation in the East was complicated by the Sassanids. Tough times for my country.
  • In TTS you can change the angle of view at the board. Pretty cool!
  • And then Marek grasped Rome with two hands and never released the grip! No barbarian nor Mob stopped him!
  • Although some tried - Adrian attacking Pannonia and Italy.
  • Final situation - Marek as victor!

Again, you can also see the final situation on the map on enlarge photo:

Final situation – click to enlarge

That was a great game indeed. Me and Adrian were fighting the constant war in the eastern part of the empire which ended badly for the latter one. Piotr was just discovering the game; still he got to the Rome first! But Marek surprised everybody, seizing the Imperial Palace in last 3 turns, not releasing the grip on it till the end, claiming victory in the process!



The Vassal Engine is a game engine for building and playing online adaptations of board games, tabletop games and card games. It allows users to play in real time over a live Internet connection, and also by email (PbeM). It runs on all platforms, and is free, open-source software. It is written in Java and the source code is available from GitHub under the LGPL open source license.

Where it can be found?

The Session

When I was checking my notes, it occurred that I played ToC on VASSAL only once – yes, that game landed on my face-to-face table so many times that there was no need to supplement this by online play. Completely opposite to what I observe now 😦

The session was conducted some time ago, before the virus, but for completeness of options would be good to also present this mean of remote play. I was lucky to have in this game my great boardgame buddies – Brent and Dave (whovian223) plus Mark.

I will not go into all the details of the game (a pretty detailed session report is here). Still, that one is probably the most exciting and close game of Time of Crisis I have ever played. Never before the winner was decided by one point, with three players altogether being emperor at this or other time.

Short comparison

And now a tabular comparison of both tools:

FeatureVASSALTabletop Simulator
PresentationCouple of separate windows – board, cards, charts, etc.One board with all components visible at glance. Some areas hidden from opponents (hand).
Communication Text messages Text messages + built-in Steam voice chat.
 AutomationMedium: you have all points from played cards nicely tallied.Limited: most things has to be performed by player.
Compute processing powerMinimal resources needed, will work on every computer.A medium processing power needed to render the graphics.
 MiscellaneousGood player aids.Ability to point on the map to draw attention of other player (TAB). Fantastic art!
 Cost Free of charge Cost of simulator on which you would be able to use tons of other games


The module for Time of Crisis on TTS was created much later then the VASSAL version; still the attention to the detail in the first one and graphical presentation is superb. On the other hand VASSA is free of charge and much lighter on the resources. Whatever means of playing you will chose, make sure that Time of Crisis hits your digital / face-to-face table. It is really worth it! Highly recommended!