Beginners Guide to Playing Board Games Online - Laptop and Ipad Feature

Beginner’s Guide to Board Gaming Online

We love playing board games together as a family. There is nothing quite like disconnecting and spending time together in person. Sometimes, there may be reasons why you can’t get everyone together physically in the same place to enjoy your favourite games. Luckily there are so many options for playing board games online to help you out when you can’t play in person. Not sure how to get started? Don’t worry we have you covered in our beginner’s guide to board gaming online.

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How do you play board games online?

If you want to try playing board games online, you are spoilt for choice. There are so many ways to do it and depending on the games you like playing you are likely to be able to play for free. Here are a few different options for playing board games online:

  • Purchasing individual board games for your device of choice. This is probably the most traditional way of playing games online. Paying to install an individual game on your phone, tablet, or PC. You can do this through Steam, App Store or Google Play. It’s great if you have a specific game you want to play but can get quite costly for numerous games
  • Game specific websites. Instead of purchasing a game to install on one of your devices there are many games that have dedicated websites you can register to play individual games. Most are free to use and charge only for ‘premium’ access. What you get from premium access varies from site to site. Board game publishers sometimes offer online versions of their games, but usually they will charge for these
  • Signing up for a board game platform to give you access to a range of games. There are now a number of websites that provide access to a large range of board games. Sites like Board Game Arena offer hundreds of games to choose from and over 7 million registered opponents to play against. These are usually free for limited access but charge for premium membership.

Generally playing board games online can be either real time where you are expected to play your turns as you would in real life games or ‘turn-based’ where there may be hours or days allowed for each player to take their turn.

Why play board games online?

While there is nothing quite like playing games in person for the social aspect, there are some great benefits to playing board games online. Some of these include:

  • Being able to try games before you buy. Board games can be expensive, and you don’t want to waste hard earned money on a game that isn’t what you expected it to be. Trying board games online is one way to see if a board game is likely to be a hit for your family and worth investing in
  • Gives you some game time when you can’t play in person. The last couple of years has been a rollercoaster of lockdowns and restrictions due to the pandemic. In times like these sometimes you just can’t meet face to face. Playing online with your friends can be a good way to connect over a game when you can’t see them in person
  • Learn a game before you play in person. You may be invited to play a game with others who already know it well. Turning up on game day without knowing how to play can chew through a lot of time while people get you up to speed. Playing online can help you get to grips with a new game so that you’re ready to play on the day with your gaming group.

Where can I play board games online?

There are so many options to play board games online I wouldn’t be able to list them all in this post. I can give you some options below and point you to some useful resources for more information to get you started.

Board Game Arena (BGA): We mentioned BGA earlier as it is one of the most well-known and largest online board game platforms. We use it frequently and love it! It’s a fantastic way to play board games online. Here are the key details:

  • You can register for free. With basic access you can play any basic games you like. However, you must wait for a premium member to include you in premium games
  • Has over 400 games and millions of registered users, so no shortage of opponents
  • Play games either in real time or turn based
  • They have some good resources to help you learn new games
  • Premium access allows you to start a premium game.

Yucata: This is another great online board game platform that is completely free. Games on Yucata are all turn based and there is no time limit for a move. This is great for people who don’t have time to sit down and finish a full game in one sitting. Here are the key details:

  • Full free access with no advertising
  • Offered in English and German only
  • Turn based only
  • Over 150 games available.

Tabletopia: This is quite a different platform to BGA and Yucata, Tabletopia is a table top simulator. So, what does that mean? Essentially Tabletopia games look like a 3D board game. The emphasis is on making it feel just like the real thing, so you have more freedom to move pieces and angle the camera any way you like. The additional freedom though means that rules are not enforced, allowing players to include house rules for games if they would like. Here are the key details:

  • Games are created in 3D and are designed to simulate the real thing
  • Over 2000 games available
  • Free access allows you to play up to 2 simultaneous games, premium games are not included
  • Premium access is tiered and allows you to play all games, with more games in progress depending on your membership level
  • You can also build your own board games through Tabletopia, which is great for anyone that wants to try their hand at board game design.

SteamApp Store and Google Play: If there are individual board games you really want and they have a digital version keep an eye out on Steam, Appstore or Google Play. Often there are sales, and you can buy digital board games for a few dollars if your patient.

This is just a glimpse of some of the great online board game options available. For a fuller list of online board game websites there is a great wiki page on Reddit which is a more comprehensive list. We hope this guide helps you open up some options for gaming when you can’t quite get everyone together in person to enjoy a game. If you have any comments or questions, we would love to hear from you, please either post a comment below or get in touch through our contact page.

About the Authors

We are parents who love board gaming. We have three children and have been enjoying board games as a family ever since we had our first child. We share our real unbiased experiences and opinions on board games so you can decide if they are right for your family. We also write guides and articles to help you get the most out of your family game time. If you enjoy our content and want to support us you can do that through our Ko-fi page by clicking on the button below.

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