When I was a kid, there was a set of shelves in our basement stacked with board games. Monopoly, Sorry!, Clue, all the old classics. I’d play with my parents, friends, whoever I could rope into sitting at a table (or on the floor) with me. I liked video games too, of course (still do), but in those days, the two entities were entirely separate.
Fast forward *mumble mumble* years, and the shelves of games have evolved into a collection shared with my wife, lugged to game days with friends or brought out for a quiet evening’s entertainment. However, the pandemic has forced us to think outside the box when it comes to enjoying a favorite pastime when opponents are across a country and/or boarded up in their houses.
Luckily, we don’t live in the past anymore.
We barely live in the present.
In 2021 (and, in fairness, years earlier when I was only vaguely aware of the concept), there are internet-based options that replicate the tabletop board game experience to varying degrees of fidelity. Some are clearly digital products that happen to have hatched from the same egg. Others are painstaking attempts to replicate the look and feel of sitting around a table, shuffling cards, and rolling dice.
The best part: the technology has gotten accessible to the point where people who aren’t hardcore gamers can enjoy internet-based board games!
Sure, some options are more complicated than others. But there’s a range of game platforms to choose from now, from party game hubs to physics-based engines that simulate dice rolling and card handling with mouse gestures.
If you like board games, and can’t play with the people you’d like to, there is a solution out there for you. Go. Do a little research. It’s the future, so talk to your pocket-sized supercomputer and ask it to scour a zettabyte of data for the answers you need!
No official endorsements, but to get you started, here are some of the ones we’ve personally used and enjoyed:
- boardgamearena.com (now owned by board game publisher Asmodee)
- Tabletop Simulator ports of tons of games (more on that below)
- Tabletopia (a favorite of Kicktstarter creators for letting prospective backers try out the gameplay)
- Jackbox Games (party games, we like Quiplash and Blather Round)
- Licensed mobile ports of many popular tabletop games, like Elder Sign, Lanterns, and Ticket to Ride. Just search the Google Play or Apple store for your favorites.
Or if you’re looking for a more comprehensive list of how to play board games online, someone put together an amazing infographic and posted it in the Board Game Geek forums. (And yes, you can download a PDF to zoom in on that tiny text.)
Board Game Geek’s cheat sheet for online board games