September 2, 2020
Who would have thought that game night with friends and family could get even more challenging? Well, just throw in a real-life pandemic. Lockdowns, gathering size limits and social distancing have thrown new challenges into traditional multiplayer tabletop party games.
The good news, of course, is that the internet comes to the rescue yet again! The beauty of video chat platforms like Zoom, Google Hangouts and Teams is that they’re not just for work meetings and online classes. You can host a video chat version of multiplayer games like Yahtzee, as long as they don’t require anyone to keep their cards or letters a secret.
However, many board games are available to play online. Even classics like Monopoly, The Game of Life, Settlers of Catan, Uno and Clue now have digital versions. Maybe you’re looking for some new games you can play online using a tabletop simulator on your laptop, Xbox, Android (through Google Play) or iPhone (in the App Store). Or maybe you’re looking for some single-player games like Solitaire or video games you can play against the computer. Regardless of your favorite genre or platform, there are likely several online board games to suit you.
If you want to get as close to real life board game play as possible in a digital environment without risking spread of COVID-19, try Tabletop Simulator, a virtual sandbox board game arena for playing a variety of board games online, solo or with friends and family.
Many games are available through Tabletopia, which offers more than 1,000 board games from Scythe to classic board games like Backgammon, Checkers and Mahjong for play in your web browser on Mac or Windows, as well as mobile download on Steam or from the App Store or Google Play.
Here are some of the best and most popular online board games to help get you through quarantine and make the most of it. Not all are free to play, so be sure to verify any costs involved.
As an important part of any great online game night, you’ll want to make sure to have the proper snacks and drinks. To start, check out classic gamer foods such as Doritos, Mountain Dew, Gummi Bears and your favorite energy drinks. Or go for healthier snack options with pita chips and hummus, veggies and dip and water. And if you’re playing with friends or family, make things even more interesting with prizes like gift cards or a copy of the actual board game.
Okay, let’s get on with it! We’ll start with five great mobile board games and then look at five popular PC board games to play on your web browser or in an app.
5 of the Best Online Board Games to Play on Mobile
Sometimes it’s just fun to play with words. OK, it’s always fun to play with words. Put the prowess of your lexicon on full display with this free Scrabble GO app. Whether you play with friends and family or against new acquaintances online, the digital version does the scorekeeping for you. And no one bumps the board to turn your words into flying alphabet soup!
Cost: Free basic version with in-app upgrade purchases available
Known as Settlers of Catan until 2015, Catan Universe has gone digital. If you love strategy games and you’re new to Catan, look no further. The board game has been around for 25 years and has been translated into the digital realm. A free three-player version of the app is available. As with the original board game, expansion packs are available for the digital version: “Cities & Knights” and “Seafarers,” as well as “Rise of the Inkas,” a stand-alone challenge.
The Game of Life
Ain’t nothin’ free in life. Or, at least The Game of Life isn’t free. But the digital mobile version of the game is a fairly faithful representation of the real-Life board game, just with fun animated graphics. This seems to rank alongside Monopoly in terms of its classic status. It’s just a bit mellower and still as fun to put your virtual life together and see what you can accomplish.
Who did it? With what? And where? You know the premise: A small group of people are trapped in a house…wait, this sounds a little too familiar. Either way, this version of Clue is a significant upgrade from previous video game versions. Unless you get nostalgic for 16-bit graphics and hypnotic beep-boops of MIDI tunes. Have it your way, though. Just have fun.
It only seems appropriate to let you know the cost of one of the best board games up front, especially on this fiscal classic. Choose your avatar (top hat!). Roll the dice. Pass GO. Collect $200. Buy and develop your property and flex your capital when somebody lands on it. Your love or disdain for this indisputable classic may depend on your history of playing partners or your level of entrepreneurial savvy. The mobile version of this classic game recreates the physical edition but adds features such as speeding up the game to finish within an hour. And the banker is always paying attention, so that’s a bonus.
5 of the Best Online Board Games to Play on Your PC
Cost: Free with a Tabletopia account; options for paid upgrades
A game of character and empire building for 2 to 5 players.
Play on your PC
Ticket to Ride
Cost: Free with an account
Simple. Easy to learn. Endlessly fun to play with family and friends, just like the original board game.
Cost: Free with a POGO account
The one and only!
Play on your PC
Cost: Free online in web browser or download app for free
The one you know and love.
A popular and appropriate choice for obvious reasons. But also a fun game in its own right. See if you can stop the pandemic.
Play on your PC