What virtual boardgames to play in this new distributed world?
March 20, 2020 9:47 AM   Subscribe

Due to... reasons... I'm not seeing my friends as much these days. I'd like to setup a virtual hang to play some games. We like popular euro-style boardgames like Dominion, Settlers, Ticket to Ride, etc., but are open to try other stuff. What games (and software) do you recommend?

Additional non-requirement preferences:

Ideally doesn't require everyone to buy their own copy (digital or physical)
Easy learning curve so we can start playing quickly
Cross platform or browser support

Thanks for your suggestions!
posted by justkevin to Computers & Internet (5 answers total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I've had some luck with Diplomacy-style matches on Backstabbr.

The learning curve for Diplomacy is complicated. I'd say the basics are easy enough to learn within an hour.

The edge cases can become a headache, but the Backstabbr platform has a nice sandbox that you can use within matches to more easily make decisions about where to move your forces.
posted by mr_bovis at 10:00 AM on March 20, 2020

I'd recommended it in a prior thread as well, but check out Vassal. It's a digital engine that let's you play a whole bunch of different games through a variety of add on modules. They're usually well done and thought out so you don't have too much trouble figuring things out, and it works on both macs and pcs.
posted by Carillon at 10:24 AM on March 20, 2020 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I'll recommend the website Board Game Arena. It looks like they have 156 games to choose from right now. If (one of) you buy a premium membership, there's a built-in video chat feature that is very good! (I've only checked the video chat for two-palyer games though.) Premium membership is $24 a year, billed once a year, and it allows you more expansions to games and the ability to avoid ads---it's very worth it in my opinion. If you're playing with friends, then only one of you need the membership to avoid the ads, play the expansions, etc. (Again, I've only actually verified this with two-player games, but I'm planning a virtual game night for tomorrow, and if I'm wrong, I'll come back and mention it here.)

I've played a *lot* of Race for the Galaxy, personally, and it is frankly awesome! For my board game night tomorrow, I'm going to add in some lighter games, like Sushi Go! and Love Letter.

One final note is that their website currently says "Our service is currently experiencing a very high load due to exceptional circumstances. You may experience some issues or slowdowns, and some features may be temporarily disabled. Thanks for your patience and understanding!", which is not surprising. But again, I'm giving it a go tomorrow and if the website doesn't work, I'll report back.
posted by middlethird at 10:55 AM on March 20, 2020 [1 favorite]

I'd take a look at Steam's Tabletop Simulator. It's $20 (although you can buy a 4-pack of codes for $60, so, $15/each), runs on both Mac and Windows, and users have recreated a TON of 'real' games for virtual, online play. This thread on BGG includes a list of games available in TTS - look for the ❤ symbol next to your favorite games to see if they've been recreated yet. Yes, you and your friends will all need Steam accounts to play.
posted by hanov3r at 10:57 AM on March 20, 2020 [2 favorites]

We got a premium subscription to Board Game Arena. We trialed it last night and it seemed good. They dont have *everything* but they have a lot. FYI premium also unlocks more games and the ability for people to play on the same ISP, ie me and my partner to play each other while both at home.

Tabletopia seems promising but is crashed right now. Also heard good things about Yucata and BrettSpielWelt

Those are all browser simulators instead of, e.g. the ticket to Ride app or Steam
posted by foodmapper at 2:34 PM on March 20, 2020

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