Play virtually with VASSAL


VASSAL is a computer program that allows users to play on and build modules for board games.  Using an online server, you can play with anyone in the entire world with the Pirates CSG VASSAL module!

Get the VASSAL program and the latest Pirates CSG module HERE!

The official VASSAL website will have the latest version of the VASSAL program (the zip folder currently has the 3.2.17 version).

Cawley333 also shared some VASSAL assets including sea creature types that can be implemented into existing Pirates CSG modules. (full details in the forum post)

How to extract files from a .zip folder.

Check out my informative VASSAL tutorial:

3 campaign games have already been completed on the VASSAL module, with 2 more currently ongoing (the Caribbean game and CG4).  Check out the videos below for the epic fun to be had on VASSAL!  (scroll through the playlist to see them all)


Check out these VASSAL files you can use for playing specific scenarios:

Find some information and resources for editing the Pirates CSG module HERE.

Faction numbers for making ships: Americans=1, Barbary Corsairs=2, Cursed=3, English=4, French=5, Jade Rebellion=6, Mercenaries=7, Pirates=8, Spanish=9, Vikings=10, Dutch=11.


And finally, my original post on Miniature Trading from late 2015, since edited:


the Pirates module 

(try this one if that module doesn’t work)

If for some reason you want the “middle” module that has the World game territories, you can find that here.


Well, I PM’d lord_denton about unlocking the old Pirates CSG VASSAL module thread, but to speed things up:

The VASSAL module has been reborn!

This is a megapost. I’m hoping that people check this thread a lot, because I’ll definitely continue to post here even if it directly follows my previous post.

I thought I’d start with this. After corresponding with B.J. over the past day or so, I got his permission to share part of his email:

bj_o wrote:
As for modifying the module, I have no problem with that if anyone can figure it out. Vassal isn’t the most user friendly program. The module isn’t compiled or anything like that, so anyone should be able to edit it as-is. Vassal has gone through a couple of versions since this was created, but I don’t think that will cause any issues.

I doubt I’ll return, since there’s really not much I can contribute, but thanks!

This is great news that apparently anyone can make edits to the module! Now it will be up to us to do so and improve it.

Alright, here is the best sort of “Easy Startup Guide” I can do:

1. Download VASSAL and the Pirates module.

el_cazador wrote:
From Vassal, you must use File>Open Module> (wherever you have bj_0’s .zip file)>the .zip folder. Vassal should recognize and load it.

3. VASSAL is now open. The Welcome screen doesn’t appear to have its own window that you can minimize. You can create a username and password.

VASSAL User Guide wrote:
Select Play Mode: Under Select play mode, select one of the following:
a. Start a new game offline: choose this option for beginning an email game, playing
solitaire or hotseat, or to edit a module.
b. Look for a game online: to play on the Server or peer-to-peer.
c. Load a saved game: to play a previously saved game, or to review an email game log.

We’re generally going to go with the middle option. Solitaire games would be the first option, while I would assume that the third option could work for campaign games that are saved.

5. Now you should be in the Main Room.

VASSAL User Guide wrote:
To join a game on the Server,
1. In Module Manager, in the
Module Library window,
double-click the module you
want to play. The Welcome
Wizard opens.
2. In the Welcome Wizard,
under Select play mode,
choose Look for a game
online, and then follow the
other Wizard steps as the module requires.
3. On the Toolbar, click Connect.
4. On the right side of the screen, the Active Games window opens. The Active Games window
displays the Main Room for the module, which is the default location for all players who are not currently in a game, and any active game rooms under that. Only rooms running the current module
are displayed. The number of players is displayed in parentheses.
5. Double-click the name of the game room you wish to join.
6. If prompted, enter the password for the room. (This password is generally different from your Vassal

I hope that helps! You can also private message other users on the same module, which was helpful to el_cazador and I when trying to get the game set up. However, once the game starts, it’s easier to just use the chat at the top of the window, which is where the game transcript thread came from.

In terms of Pirates, the setup gets easier. Go to File at the top left, and then choose an Ocean Layout. It’s helpful to adjust the top panel and drag it up so you can see more of the water. At the top of the window, there are numerous command buttons, and the telescopes are very useful. They can be used for a basic zoom in and out, but the middle one allows you to fit the game to different percentages. Also very useful, the button to the right of the telescopes (looks like a map) allows you to see an “overworld” view of the entire game in a smaller box, regardless of how much zoom there is on the overall game.

To the left of the zoom buttons, there is a camera button where you can save snapshots of the game. You could also use a Snipping Tool to grab screenshots of the zoomed in details.

The question mark to the left of the camera button brings you to B.J.’s help guide, which is very useful when you’re starting out.

The treasure chest button allows you to have a “locker” where you can flip coins over without other players seeing them. Other than that, there is some transparency in the game – you can keep your crew “hidden”, but other players can still flip them over. Also, when crew are hidden, their names still appear below the crew chip, as long as you’ve defined their properties.

bj_o wrote:
-Placing Islands
The islands are available within the game piece palette (“ship” button) on the “Terrain” tab. Just drag and place them where you want them, rotating if necessary. After placement, islands cannot be selected unless you SHIFT+CLICK on them.
-Placing Treasure
Each player can drag the coins they want from the game piece palette. Unique treasure must have its properties (CTRL-P) defined before placing them on the islands. Once all players have selected their coins, make sure they are all showing the backs and not the values (flip if necessary with CTRL-F). Then one player can select all the coins and stack them (CTRL-S), which send them all to a stack in the upper left corner. A player can then pull coins off one at a time and place them on different islands.

Also, you can edit a ship’s properties in the pieces window before it’s introduced to the game. In this way, you can eliminate masts and start fires before it even shows up in the ocean, making my fireship idea even more intriguing. Also, forts can be on fire too!

I think I’m going to slowly start investigating how to edit the module (Designer’s Guide), and any help would be greatly appreciated! I’d love to add some more ship types.

Pirates CSG VASSAL module

Example of a small game being played on the Pirates CSG VASSAL module


  1. Wow. This is an amazing piece of software.

    With today’s emphasis on video games, board games seem to have been forgotten. Kind of ironic since nearly all of the first big video games such as Civilization etc. were based on board games and an extension of their creator’s passion for traditional games.

    Virtual board games are something I would love to see a lot more of by big developers and from companies such as Hasbro.

    There are some available for Android and other mobile devices, but they are mostly marketing ploys filled with advertising and pay-2-win features; which is just a shame.

    Thanks for the info on this intriguing software.

    Having some experience in the games industry, good IT and programming skill and a love of traditional board games my self, I may consider looking into this and seeing what I can come up with.

    Thank you,

    • @Michael: Indeed, the VASSAL module has impressive capabilities. I love that it’s open source and I was able to edit the Pirates CSG module and improve upon the existing framework.

      It will definitely be interesting to see if video games supplant board games even more in the future, especially as more and more board games become available online/virtually through things like AR/VR.

      I don’t go on the app store much anymore, but I certainly remember being bombarded with ads for mobile games that looked pretty shoddy.

      I definitely encourage you to explore VASSAL. There is also a support forum on their site that can be useful for designing modules or finding players for them, etc. I’m sure you’d do well given your background.

      If you’d like to see a cool example of what the VASSAL module can do, check out my ongoing Hourly Campaign and the retrospective video for CG3 (a campaign game of Pirates CSG played virtually between 6 different players in multiple states and time zones).

      Thanks for checking out my site!

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