Everyone is missing our regular socialization activities right now, but if you are a board gamer like me, there are actually still plenty of online options for playing some of your favorite games against friends, strangers, or even bots. So check these out if you are looking for something more interactive than drinking with your friends over Zoom (though to be honest, that sounds great, too).
Town of Salem
If you are familiar with the party games Werewolf or Mafia or any of their variations, you will love this version. Upon joining a game, you are randomly assigned a role, either one of the townspeople with various abilities, like Sheriff or Doctor, or a villain like a werewolf or a member of the mafia. (There are dozens of roles in all, but the base version has about 15 options.) Every night, the evildoers will kill one or more townspeople; the next day, the town members accuse and try to lynch the evils. There’s obviously some strategy involved, and each role requires different tactics.
You can play with a friend if you queue together or with strangers; there are also ranked games if you want to get competitive. It can be played on mobile, through Steam, or in your browser. Also, I actually find Town of Salem just as fun to watch as to play. There are many players that stream their games if you want to see some gameplay; here are three of my favorites from YouTube:
Dominion is a staple of Euro-style board gamers; it is a deck building game that can be played with 2-4 people and is fairly easy to learn. The online version is remarkably good and can be played for free (the game’s many expansions can also be purchased by subscription at €3.90/mo). You can create tables for your friends, play with random strangers, or sharpen your skills against bots like “Lord Rattington.”
AsoBrain: Xplorers and Toulouse
Well, you can copyright names and images, but you can’t copyright gameplay. So AsoBrain has developed online versions of some Eurogames that probably will seem very familiar, though they are not official licensed versions. Xplorers involves four players settling an island with various resources that can be traded between players. Toulouse involves laying tiles to create cities and farms that are then populated by meeple.
I have been playing on this site for nearly 15 years now; there are a few hoops to jump through, but it is worth it. To play, you will need to download Java on your computer, and register with a limited domain email address (use your college email; accounts like gmail and yahoo are not allowed to prevent banned players re-registering). The site allows you to make games for friends only, play with strangers (even ranked games), or play against bots that are named after Friends characters (I beat Ross all the time).
Board Game Arena
For even more options, this website has dozens of classic games like Yahtzee and chess as well as popular Eurogames like Puerto Rico, 7 Wonders, and Jaipur. The majority of them are free to play in your browser, and can be played with friends or strangers. A premium subscription (€4/mo) gives you and your friends access to the most popular games and expansions and lets you integrate voice and video chat.
There are plenty of board game apps available on mobile, but most good, official ones cost money. Asmodee Digital, for example, sells app versions of popular games like Ticket to Ride, Pandemic, and Splendor for around $5 each, which you can then play with others online.
How are you guys filling your time at home? Did any of these games sound interesting? Are you now watching Town of Salem videos on autoplay on YouTube?