What are Online board games?
At one point, board games were simply a tabletop activity. Thanks to the availability of high-speed internet and smart devices, you can now play board games online with friends, anywhere, anytime. Currently, online board games are a common way to spend quality time with family and friends who do not necessarily stay in the exact geographical location as you, plus the variety is more comprehensive than ever.
On the other hand, if you enjoy playing a board game but wish not to interact with people, you can treat plenty of virtual board games as a respite. You are ready to play online board games the moment you decide to do so – no boards or solid game infrastructure is necessary – just a smartphone and a stable internet connection will do. Whether you’re going for classic board games such as Monopoly and Clue or strategic ones like Catan and Risk, all of them are downloadable on iOS and Android devices.
The pandemic was one of the reasons for the sudden rise in the popularity of online board games. Lockdowns and shut-in orders forced everyone to find ways to pass the time when personal interactions were not recommended. That’s when free online board games came to the rescue!
It doesn’t matter whether you’re tech-savvy or are still figuring out the nuances of a smartphone – (almost) everyone loves to play games on their handheld devices. The internet offers multiple ways to play online board games, including downloadable apps, gaming websites, and online platforms for all your favorite titles.
We’re not just talking about the online versions of Chess or Checkers – many all-time favorite board games such as Scyth, Carcassone, and Settlers of Catan are now playable online. Some of these are multiplayer games, while some are 1v1.
Here’s our list of the best online board games to play:
Monopoly is undoubtedly among the beloved board games in every circle, making it the obvious choice among board games to play online. You can play Monopoly games online in many ways, including downloadable gaming apps or via a tabletop simulator.
One of the easiest ways to play the game is Rento. The site allows playability for up to six players and comes in-built with a feature to invite Facebook friends, alongside downloading options for video game consoles and smartphones. The game adds interesting layers by permitting users to choose from different dice, pawns, and boards. Roll the dice and see who manages to grab the most properties!
Backgammon is a fun little board game that has existed for over 5,000 years conventionally played using a board, a pair of dice, and checkers. The goal is to move your pieces along the board’s triangles (called points) and eventually off the board before your opponent does. There are several different ways to play the online version of this game.
In a commonly available version such as the one on MPL, your pieces move clockwise from the bottom right while your opponent tries the same on an identical board. The bot checker tries to block your moves by displacing checkers from the board. You can score points by capturing the bot checker, blocking its moves consequently, and moving checkers to the goal. The highest scorer wins!
3. Settlers of Catan
Settlers of Catan is essentially a world-building game where players score points by achieving specific milestones within their civilizations. Catan Universe is the official online multiplayer version of the original board game, now available for iOS, Mac, Windows, and Android. One can play it in the form of card games or board games. Up to three players can play, with free options also available, and the best parts are the smooth animations and high-definition graphics.
The online version of the game essentially carries all the inherent charm of its real-life version, pitting players against each other in a quest to settle on an island having restricted resources. Additionally, it includes features you can only find in digital board games, such as an in-game chat room, AI-based competitors, varying difficulty levels, and avatar customization. Users compete against each other to earn victory points by constructing cities and settlements and cities, obtaining resources, conducting trades with other players, or destroying their efforts. The first player to get to ten points wins.
This 18th-century game follows a straightforward tile-matching procedure to exhaust all tiles in the custody of the player. While the traditional game is played on a tabletop counter, the online version lets you play with literally zero infrastructure. An exciting variant of Dominoes is currently available on the MPL Pro app. In this version, you play 1v1 battles with random opponents or compete in tournaments for the top position on the leaderboard, winning exciting cash prizes and rewards in the process.
The game begins with tile distribution. Each player receives seven tiles, with the rest kept within the “boneyard.” The player starts by dragging a double tile to the board, considered the Spinner. The opponent then has to place any matching tiles at either open end of the pattern. The game progresses until one player places their last tile. When either player does not have a matching tile, they need to pick tiles from the “boneyard.” The game consists of many rounds, and a score comparison determines the winner at the end. It’s simultaneously fun and addictive!
Sagrada is an art-based board (and puzzle) game that warrants players to design the most beautiful stained-glass window at one of Spain’s famous landmarks – La Sagrada Familia. The game’s rules dictate which dice each player can use, as only specific numbers can fit into the slots without a penalty. The online version of the game also includes dazzlingly vibrant colors and soothing sounds and features a co-op mode that accommodates numerous “drafters” as part of the same game.
To go into detail, each player attempts to build a stained-glass window masterpiece using a grid of dice on the player board. Each board comes with certain restrictions on the colors or shades of the die that can be put there. Also, Dice of similar colors or shades cannot be positioned next to each other.
Ah, the king of all board games – Chess! This list wouldn’t be complete without a mention of Chess. This globally accepted board game was one of the first to enter the digital world and seize the attention of pretty much every gamer out there. Many gaming websites and platforms started with Chess, a safe choice for board games, more so because of its universality. The rules of movement are essential to know before playing Chess, as each piece moves uniquely.
The ultimate goal is to checkmate the opponent’s king – a situation where the king is wholly cornered and unable to move without impending capture. Nowadays, Speed Chess is what a significant majority of online players prefer. There’s a timer in place, making players think and execute faster. It also adds an element of thrill to the game, as one wrong move can even result in a check or a checkmate.
Alongside Chess, Checkers is one board game that enjoys enormous appeal among gamers in the online ecosystem. It originally hails from a group of strategy board games playable between two players, involving diagonal moves of uniform pieces and subsequent captures by jumping over the opponent’s pieces. Several variants of the game are available to play both online and offline. Online versions of the game tweak some of the existing rules for fast-paced gameplay.
The game concludes in the following situations:
- If a player loses all his pieces, he loses the game.
- If a player cannot make a move and all the pieces are blocked, he loses the game.
- If the same board state occurs three times with no new pieces captured, the game finishes in a draw.
- If a player exhausts fifty moves without capturing any opponent checkers, the game is drawn. This generally doesn’t apply to online versions as the sessions are timed.
Pandemic is a critically and commercially acclaimed cooperative board game designed by Matt Leacock. It was initially published by Z-Man Games in 2008 in the US. Pandemic is based on the presumption that four epidemics have broken out across the globe, with each threatening to wipe out an entire region’s population. The game and its spinoffs have won numerous awards since launch.
The game is playable between two to four players, each playing one of seven available roles: medic, researcher, dispatcher, scientist, quarantine specialist, contingency planner, or operations expert. As a result of the united efforts of all the players, the objective is primarily to discover all four cures before they reach one of the many game-losing stipulations.
In this fascinating board game, two teams compete to see who makes first contact with all their agents. Spymasters offer one-word clues pointing to multiple words on the board. Their teammates then attempt to guess words of the correct color while steering clear of those that belong to the opponent. Also, everyone wants to avoid the assassin and figure out as many clues as possible.
Designed by Vlaada Chvátil and published by CGE (Czech Games Edition), this board-cum-card game is playable between four to eight players. One spymaster provides clues to the other players in a shorter variant with two to three players. The game won the Spiel des Jahres award for the year’s best board game in 2016. CGE later launched Codenames Gadget, a mobile app that generates agent layouts randomly. CGE, through their website, also released an official web version which is still trending amongst online board game enthusiasts.
Ludo involves players racing their four tokens from beginning to end based on the rolling of a single die. The age-old game of Ludo, once enjoyed on the traditional board, is now present across various gaming apps and websites. Ludo King is one of the popular online versions, often considered a contemporary version of the original game. It’s a free-to-play mobile game application available on iOS, Android, Windows, and other prominent platforms.
Any online version of Ludo is playable by two or four players. The game typically comprises a board divided into four sections and rolling dice used by the players. The game objective is to order first the checkers in the finishing area.
Here’s a bonus entry in the list, as we’re generous in the information we provide. Cluedo, or Clue as it’s known in North America, is a murder-mystery board game playable between three to six players. Anthony E. Pratt devised it in 1943. After its initial launch in 1949 by Waddingtons in the UK, it underwent several re-launches and updates. American toy and game company Hasbro currently owns and publishes the game.
The game objective is to figure out who murdered the victim, where the crime happened, and the weapon used. Each player takes on the role of one of the six suspects and tries to determine the true answer by moving around the game board strategically. The board essentially represents the rooms of a mansion where players collect clues regarding the murder circumstances from other players. Marmalade Game Studio has an app that allows you to play Clue digitally.
Where can I play board games online with friends?
You can play popular board games online over several board game apps and websites. These apps and websites allow you to search for your desired board game, letting you play directly on a browser or the app itself, with additional game resources. The best example of the latter is MPL, where you can play several board games online, including Backgammon, Dominoes, Speed Chess, all on a single, easily accessible app. More games also get added from time to time, allowing players to indulge in exciting 1-on-1 battles and tournaments with fantastic prizes. Download the app to play your favorite board games with friends right away!