You like to play board games but you are not always able to meet with friends to play? Maybe your favourite board game club closed due to COVID19, or you or your friends moved to another city, or simply you do not want to leave your house, but you itch for a game with friends. Don’t fret, there are a few ways to play board games online and I’ll cover some of them.
Voice and Video Call
Nowadays, almost everybody is using apps like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Viber, Discord, and others, to communicate. This makes this way of playing board games online cheapest and easiest, but very limited.
Voice and video call is best for RPG, storytelling games, and games that don’t have many components. For games that you have to share cards or components between players, or for the ones that require every player to have a board, this way of playing is too complicated and not worth the effort.
Digital Board Games
Many board games have been adapted to PC and mobile. If you are looking for a specific board game to play online check if it’s been adapted to PC or mobile. I will list some of them:
- 7 Wonders
- Ticket to Ride
- Magic: The Gathering
- Twilight Struggle
- Catan Universe
Tabletop Simulator (TTS) is a sandbox program that creates a virtual table where you play board games for up to 10 players. With its physics and 3D programming it allows you to virtually roll a dice, shuffle cards, move objects, flip the table, etc. Besides just playing board games online, you can create/import your own or modify existing games.
To play Tabletop Simulator you’ll have to install Steam, which is free, and buy TTS (about 20$). Many users recreated their favourite games which are free and available in the Steam Workshop page for TTS. Some board game developers have adapted their games for TTS so you can buy official DLC packages too.
If you haven’t played PC games before, TTS can seem a bit complicated to use. There are many TTS tutorials online, as well as tutorials on how to make your own mods for your favourite game or your own game.
BoardGameArena is an online platform that allows you to play board games in a browser. Compared to TTS, it has a simplified 2D interface. Some of the games on the website are free to play, but for some premium monthly subscription is required. BoardGameArena has a voice chat that is available to premium users.
Tabletopia is a digital online platform for playing board games online in your browser, but it’s also available on Steam, App Store and Google Play. Tabletopia offers a free and paid (monthly subscription) account. All the games on Tabletopia are official and approved by the publisher. Tabletopia also offers a Designer plan to create your own game.
If you are a newcomer maybe the best choice would be Tabletopia or BoarGameArena as they are very easy to use. If you are an avid gamer Tabletop Simulator would be a better choice as it offers way more games, a way to create your own game (that you have rights to or not), and in the long run you’ll spend less money.
Playing board games online on these platforms is also a great way to test games you plan to buy and see if you really enjoy them. Personally, I use Tabletop SImulator without any guilt as I purchased physical copies of all the games I liked on TTS.