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Conrad Hillmer
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Every few months I do a circle of the virtual game tables out there to see what is there and if it's time to pull the trigger.

(It's a combination of how good the tool is and how much free time I have.)

What I wanted
There are a lot of great tools out there with varying levels of detail. I watched tutorials and demo'd demos and created accounts.

I write software for a living and lived through all the various versions of Windows, Linux, and Apple problems. I'm not a tech support person but I know a few and I can fix software problems.

As a ... uh-hum ... more mature gamer, I'm frugal with my computer hardware so I don't want to install a Cray to run this stuff. And, my gamer obsessiveness requires me to make them work.

That being said, I also know I have to interest my current players to try the product. So, while it "can" work, if it doesn't work pretty quick, they lose interest.

And, free, ain't free if it's constantly nagging you. (Hey, a dude has to make a living, I get it.)

One of the tools was so detailed, one would need more time to maintain the configuration than to play the game. It's neat that it has an encyclopedia attached but I don't really need that. (You may -- free world brother).

Playing through the browser seemed fragile and with my testing, it was. It was not impossible and I wanted it to work ... but ... it didn't really do it.

Twenty bucks isn't much for a great tool but it's hard to get gamers to peel open their wallet without their own testing. (Unlikely at best.)

Software:
Epic Table's http://www.epictable.com/ license is described as a Kitchen Table Licensing:

EpicTable is licensed a little differently from what you might be used to. We call it the “kitchen table” licensing model. You buy Epic Table, and it’s just like you went out and bought a table. It’s yours. You own it. You don’t have to tell us when you invite new people to sit down at your table. You don’t have to buy a new “chairs” every time someone new shows up to play or tell Aunt Edith that she can’t sit there, because that’s Uncle Bob’s chair. In other words, there are no “player licenses”. Whoever wants to play can play. The only rule is, if you’re the licensed user, it’s your table. You have to be there for the game to happen. Otherwise, it’s like someone came into your house while you were away and started playing on your table—and that’s just creepy.

In short, one person needs a license. (That would be me.) Everyone else can play with my license while I'm there. I don't have to be the Referee, just present.

The software installed without a hitch.

Features
The Referee sends you a code to join their game by email. The tool handles passing the needed files. (Once you download the Epic Table Software.)

So, Bob the Referee puts a map in his game and you automatically get it.

The Referee composes their game with images. For example, you don't draw the dungeon in Epic Table, you load a map and overlay a grid. The players are also loaded as pictures so you can have a top down look, I token or whatever.

The Referee assigns the player token to the player and he / she may move them and / or add notes. There is no control of where the player moves them but there is no benefit in moving anyplace special and the Referee can simply move them back.

The game has a dice roller built in with a lot of nice little features. Is it the greatest dice roller ever built? No, but then you don't need such a beast. It's functional and complete.

There is a chat window that servers the purpose. We use Skype with it and have no issues. (Yes, you can use whatever tool you want from your WoW days.) The chat is a great place to post up instructions.

There is a nice fog of war feature to hide things on a map for the Referee to expose as the game progresses. You can add the layers so quickly that the prep can occur while the game is underway.

The players have a template that they can edit text into.

Other things to mention
On the Epic Table site, there are about 8 video tutorials. They explain everything very well.

It's a one man shop so it doesn't change much.

There is a version 2 in the works.

What does it NOT do?
Epic Table handled dice but no cards. You can load an image of a card and move it around but no card shuffling mechanics (you may not even want it so may not be a big deal to you).

While you can add "Hand-Outs" in the game, there is not big volume of rules to import. Other tools do that. (I don't need it but you may wan t it.)

It has a few things that it doesn't do great. Labels are so so. You can work around with a picture but labels don't work very well.

The character token is just a picture. There are no labels or indicators on it (the border on the token can be changed but nothing else).

At this time, there is no group of people adding new stuff that you can buy / import. I, personally, haven't seen a need for it with the internet and a few pictures here and there but you may like the touch of a real artist.

It's up when the Referee is up. You can't do anything if the Referee has not fired it up. (The footprint is small so the referee can leave it up if they feel so inclined.)

The user base is small. You don't need them if you have players but that is important to some.

The drawing tools were limited. Squiggles worked but no lines. No boxes. (But, as noted, you don't really need need them.)


Summary
A good, functional tool. I spend my money ($60) and use it regularly. (There is no recurring fee for the software and there is a freebie version available.)

Full Disclosure
I don't have any relationship with Epic Table except as a user.








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Paolo Robino
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Very useful review. 60 bucks is probably more than I would like to spend for this kind of tool, but it's good to know that this exists.

IronConrad wrote:
Every few months I do a circle of the virtual game tables out there to see what is there and if it's time to pull the trigger.

Any chance to see more of these reviews from you? For example, I spent too much time dabbling with Roll20, trying to find if it was good for me – probably a review like this could have saved me the hassle...
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