Playing and playtesting during pandemics

This page is a work in progress. If you have any information on the topics below, please add it, to help your fellow piecepackers play piecepack games, playtest new designs, or just get started with the piecepack by making their own sets at home during the pandemic.

Making your own piecepacks when you're short on resources

The MakingPiecepacks page has many lovely suggestions for do-it-yourself piecepacks, involving wood and acrylic components, printable sticker sheets, laser cutting, polyurethane sealer, and more -- and we suggest you check it out -- but what if you're locked down under quarantine or you just want to playtest your piecepack game right now?

Printing piecepacks and expansions without a color printer

You don't need a color printer to print a piecepack. Some printable piecepacks, such as the JcdPiecepack, are "born monochrome"; they're designed in black and white and you won't lose any quality by printing them in black and white.

It's also possible to print piecepacks that were originally color in monochrome on color paper. That's how I (RonHaleEvans) made my first piecepack, circa 2000. I printed the original set (see Downloadable Piecepack Sets) on a black and white laser printer. For example, for the value sides of the tiles, I used different colors of construction paper. I printed the suns on red paper, the crowns on yellow paper, the arms on blue paper, and the moons on gray paper. For the other side of the tiles (the grid side), I just printed in black on white paper. Then I cut some two-inch squares out of foamcore and glued the paper printouts down on both sides, carefully trimming the construction paper so you couldn't see what color paper was on the bottom of the tile when you played the tile grid side up, because that would give away which suit the tile was.

For the coins, I also used colored paper on one side and white paper on the other. I made the dice and tiles all one color.

So, if you only have access to a black and white printer during lockdown or social distancing, it's still very practical to print yourself a piecepack. That also holds for expansions such as PiecepackMatchsticks.

Creating piecepacks by hand

Even without a printer, it's still possible to make your own piecepack. Just draw or paint one with paints, markers, or crayons. This isn't glib theory; I have seen photos of people doing this on the web.

Depending on your artistic skills, this technique might not result in the prettiest piecepack, but if you're careful (or are willing to make a few attempts), you can create your own playable piecepack, just as you prefer, with any suits or other PiecepackExpansions you see fit.

Playtesting piecepack games when you're short on playtesters

Do you hate the corporate phrase "human resources"? Me too. That why I broke "short on playtesters" out of the "short on resources" heading.

Iron Piecepack Designer Playtest Page

First of all, be sure to add a link to your game to the Iron Piecepack Designer Playtest Page, where remote piecepackers will playtest your game for free! Note that this is not a requirement of the contest.

If the winners of the IronPiecepackDesignerContest have already been announced when you read this, there's probably a playtest page for the current contest.

Playing by wiki, email, etc.

With TrevorLDavis's PortablePiecepackNotation, you can play numerous piecepack games via wiki, email, text chat, even snail mail. Playing by wiki will enable you to include graphics and animations of the board with piecepackr, VassalModule, and more. For more information, see PlayByWiki.

Tabletop Simulator

Play your game in a 3D virtual space. Runs on Windows, Mac, Linux, and Steam. Not open source; The basic application costs about $20 or 10 if you catch a sale, but after that, costs are nominal or nothing. The basic application does come with a piecepack set included, but some piecepackers say it's somewhat inadequate.


Similar to Tabletop Simulator, but more web-based. Also not open source. Basic application costs nothing, but it can cost game designers hundreds of dollars to develop a game for it. Some piecepackers are developing a piecepack for the platform.


See VassalModule if you'd like to play online with a graphical interface but without a 3D virtual environment.


You can play and playtest piecepack games with regular videoconferencing software. The Wirecutter recommends both Zoom and Discord for playing roleplaying games; in fact, Discord was explicitly designed for games. These software packages seem to be available for Windows, Mac, Linux, and mobile platforms.

You'll need one camera per player and a separate camera for the board and pieces to play most piecepack games. If you're playtesting and not just playing, you might not need the extra camera, because the game designer doing the playtesting can act as a kind of gamemaster. The gamemaster need not get any pieces or turns of their own and does not appear onscreen, but instead moves the pieces for the players and reports to them any hidden information (Chess does not have any hidden information; Poker does).

If you're both player and game designer/gamemaster, you'll need some other way to deal with hidden information.