The worldwide lockdown of 2020 will go down as the time that the world began to wake up to board gaming on their phones, tablets and laptops. Being unable to socialise in person has lead to not only former game nights turning to online board gaming to replace the event but has seen the general public as a whole looking for ways to entertain themselves while stuck at home and has lead to an explosion in interest in board games that you can play over the internet. You know from the review database at 8bit Meeple that I love board game apps and think they are the best way to play multiplayer board games with friends online however there’s a whole world of option for you, some costing money and others completely free and so here are some ways you can play board games online.
Board Game Arena offers classic and well known board games available straight to your browser without the need to download and install anything. Some games are available with premium membership only however there are still loads of free games for all skill levels and experience levels. The implementations are great and the added book keeping assistance means you don’t have to deal with moving cards and counting tokens yourself.
Example games: Carcassonne, 7 Wonders, Terramystica, 6 nimmt, Sushi Go, Kingdomino
Similarly to Board Game Arena, Tabletopia offers a wide array of board games available via their website, over 800 games in fact. It offers a similar premium model however rather than games be completely unavailable to you with a free account you will find some of the options and player counts will not be available. It therefore takes a bit of scouting about to find games for free that meet your requirements but when you do the games play extremely smoothly and have similar levels of book keeping assistance as Board Game Arena. With a range of board games for all levels Tabletopia is a great resource for all players.
Example games: Terramystica, Sythe, Brass Birmingham, Viticulture, Santorini, Wingspan
Happy Meeple is a fantastic resource for 2 player board games. It is a free site where you can play as a guest in your web browser or log in to enjoy some additional features, however your account is free and allows you access to all of the games. It provides excellent tutorials for each game and allows you to play multiplayer online or failing that a game against their AI. All games run smoothly and it also includes one of my personal favourite games Hanamikoji
Example games: Hanamikoji, Lost Cities, Circle the Wagons, Glastonbury
More web based fun can be had on Yucata which brings a new range of games you won’t find on some of the other sites. There is no AI available however a wide user base so getting a match is no problem. Games run smoothly and make it easy to keep track of everything going on and the range of games they have is impressive and varied.
Example games: Castles of Burgundy, Chakra, Machi Koro, Carcassonne, Roll Through the Ages
Board Space has plenty of abstract games available free to play either online or downloadable on your laptop or mobile against your friends. The range of games is somewhat limited to abstract games however there are a few gems to be found on there.
Example games: Viticulture, Hive, Carnac
The premium option on this list is Tabletop Simulator which will cost you between £9 – £15 depending on if it’s on sale and it provides you with a complete 3D render of a table top for you to play games on all downloaded as a program from steam. The community on Tabletop Simulator is massive and they are always bringing new games to the platform regularly freely available to download. The downside with the platform is that everything has to be handled by the users themselves, there’s no rule assistance, cards need moving and discarding manually and everything needs keeping track by the players. It’s a fantastic system that has a learning curve and is really ones for the keen board gamers.
Example games: Azul, Catan, Wingspan, Architects of the West Kingdom, Carcassonne, Arkham Horror
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention one of the sites I’ve been using the most recently to play board games online and that is dominion.games. Unlike all of the other site this is a dedicated site to one game, the first ever deck building game Dominion. It’s a comprehensive site that features all the expansions and a wealth of options for you as well as a huge user base so you are never short of opponents if your friends aren’t around. If you haven’t played Dominion before not only do I recommend you check out a quick tutorial but I recommend you play it because it’s great. It’s deck building as it was meant to be and is an absolute classic available online for free.