Nerd seeks solo nerdiness
June 3, 2010 4:04 AM   Subscribe

My friends and I are board game geeks. As working adults, we can't get together very often to pursue this interest anymore. What online games can scratch this itch for me? Particular tastes inside!

My tastes run toward cooperative/semi-cooperative games with character building, such as Arkham Horror, Battlestar Galactica, Twilight Imperium, Betrayal at the House on the Hill, and I have a special spot in my heart for Munchkin. Yeesh, I feel pretty nerdy now that I typed out all of those!

I'm looking for something to kind of satisfy my craving for these games when my friends and I are too busy to get together. I've really been looking for an online game to fill this gap, but so far I'm coming up with nothing. So I come to you for suggestions, Hive Mind!

I guess if I boiled it down, the aspects of these games I really like are:

1. The cooperation between one or more players in the course of the game. Well, the temporary cooperation followed by a yelling match in the case of Munchkin.
2. The character building, preferably limited to that gaming session. I wouldn't mind a game in which I built a persistent character up, but that seems like it would kind of get into a little more of a long-term time investment.
3. Turn-based gameplay. I really like having time to think my moves out, which is why RTS games and online RPGs don't appeal to me that much.
4. Some strategy involved, but not so much that the game can be boiled down to a best move list.

So what do you think, folks? Anyone ever found anything like this out there?
posted by Willie0248 to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (11 answers total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
Have you checked out Brettspielwelt? It's a free online gaming portal that offers a bunch of the cooler modern/euro-style boardgames-- I've only ever played Puerto Rico, Dominion and Pandemic there, but you could sniff around and see whether they offer anything closer to the games you enjoy.

The overall interface is partly in German (games in English, though), but I'm sure there are English getting-started tutorials to be found on BoardGameGeek or wherever. We just generally agree on a meetup time with our remote friends, book a private "room" on BSW, and enjoy. Can be extra fun when combined with Skype for real-time kibitzing.
posted by Bardolph at 4:18 AM on June 3, 2010 [3 favorites]

How about Gametable Online?
posted by jbickers at 4:36 AM on June 3, 2010

Disclaimer - I have never played this game, but I have read a lot about it.

Solium Infernum is a board-game-style-game played online. It's turn-based and based around the idea that you're in Hell, Satan has buggered off, and everyone is fighting to be the new boss. Now, there's no explicit co-operation, but temporary alliances can be formed and thus there is much, much scheming and back-stabbing. There are a couple of interesting mechanics that can crop up (but only if people choose these abilities at the start of the game): King Maker means you pick a player at the start of the game, and if they win the game, you actually win instead. Power Behind The Throne means that if you become an ally of someone and they win, you win instead.

There's a lengthy turn-by-turn report of the game on Rock, Paper, Shotgun (a PC videogame blog) that would be a good read to see if the game would be right for your group.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 5:09 AM on June 3, 2010

re: Solium Infernum. I dabbled with the demo (and followed along with a site or two doing tutorials). It seemed like it was a very complicated game that could be a lot of fun once the rules were understood.

However, the only way presented to run a multi-player "online" game was insanely complicated. I think it involved everyone sending their moves each round to the gamemaster as a type of file in an email, then the gamemaster combining all the data into a master file, which would then be resent via email to the participants, who had to use the new file to overwrite the previous game status file. It gave me a headache just thinking about it, and effectively broke my desire to learn the game.

And it is seriously too bad, because the game looked awesome.
posted by joelhunt at 7:25 AM on June 3, 2010

If you like Risk, you'll really like global conflict. It takes five or ten minutes a day, and expect to lose a lot at first.
posted by mearls at 7:43 AM on June 3, 2010

VASSAL lets you play a wide variety of board games online. I've done play-by-email through it.
Plusses: Free. Cross-platform. Lots of games.
Minuses: Community-developed, so the UI is rather clunky, and game implementations can be dodgy.

A word of advice: Games that require a fair amount of table talk, which include most coop games, lose a lot when played online. There's a reason that the more abstract Euro-style games have had more success with online implementations.
posted by mkultra at 8:19 AM on June 3, 2010

re: earlier comments about Solium Inferum.

Conceptually it is very very cool. In actual play, it is a huge pain in the ass and the game seems like it wasn't really made to be enjoyed by actual humans. Read the RPS play-though, but think carefully before plunking 30 bucks on the thing expecting it to be fun from the get go.
posted by BobbyDigital at 10:12 AM on June 3, 2010

You might like Pandemic -- it doesn't have that much character building, but it is a cooperative game. It's on Brettspielwelt -- but I've never tried it, because I'm worried about how to talk to people if I don't know if they are English-speaking or not. I tend to stick to Ticket-to-Ride, Dominion and Settlers online, because they don't need any talking.
posted by jb at 12:56 PM on June 3, 2010

If you like Risk, you'll really like global conflict. It takes five or ten minutes a day, and expect to lose a lot at first.

If you like that, you might like DEFCON.
posted by Artw at 12:45 AM on June 4, 2010

I can't resist the urge to suggest Kingdom of Loathing. It doesn't comply with (2), and it isn't ALL cooperative, but:

-turn-based gameplay on both the encounter and the combat level
-strategic, but there are many routes to a good end
-great, intelligent, fun, cooperative community
-gameplay elements that can be repeated, cooperatively, for fun and profit
posted by Night_owl at 6:42 AM on June 4, 2010

Pandemic, suggested above, is a great co-op game. It has a built-in time-limit that keeps games from lasting forever and you can set it up with varying "difficulty" levels. There's even an expansion pack (that I have not tried yet) that adds a bunch of extra variations on the basic game to lengthen its lifespan. The only way it doesn't fit your criteria is character-building - each player gets a character at the beginning with a specific special skill, but the characters do not develop at all over the course of the game. It requires a lot of conversation though so if you're playing online (can't offer any suggestions for that unfortunately, I've only ever played the physical boardgame) ideally you'd all be in a Skype group chat or something to make the most of it.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 3:05 AM on June 7, 2010

« Older Gold plated mp3s :(   |   Guide to Being Persistent With Women Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.