I play a lot of board games digitally. In fact, I’ve written a couple articles about my favorite board game apps, so check that out if you’re looking to take your gaming on the go. When you have a decent connection, I recommend checking out Board Game Arena!
Board Game Arena is a digital board gaming site that offers free and premium plans. Free sign-up gives you access to an ever-growing collection of digital board game adaptations that you can play online with others. Premium expands the catalog of offerings and also allows you to host games for people who might not have premium. Therefore, if you can convince your group to get on board, only one person needs to have premium to host your gaming group’s exploits.
Here are my top 3 reasons for checking out Board Game Arena:
Board Game Arena can be played at a PC or through your mobile device, making it incredibly convenient for gaming on the go or from the comfort of your living space. You can also set whether you want to play real-time games, or asynchronous games where you’ll get notifications when it’s your turn to play.
You also get to set parameters before you start looking for a game. For example, if you only want to play with one other person for a game of 7 Wonders Duel, you can specify that and the matchmaking will respect that request. And yes, that was a poor attempt at a joke for a game that only allows two players.
I already mentioned about how quickly you can pick up a game and start playing. Many of the games have a tutorial you can watch or even a training mode that takes all the pressure off. New players also get more time to choose their actions, and the other players are made aware that you may play more slowly as you learn.
Once you’ve played a game a few times and probably snagged a victory or two, you’ll earn a ranking for that game. When you play against others, you’ll see their ranking and can adjust your strategy accordingly. Usually I’ll be even more determined knowing I’m stacked up against a really good player, and it gives me more incentive to try and beat them.
Of course, the ranking system is similar to the ELO ranking in chess in that your ranking will adjust after each game depending on the ranking of your opponents. For some games, the ranking doesn’t really make much sense, like in BANG! where you could be out before you even get a chance to take a turn. But for games like Splendor or Jaipur it is a nice feature.
There are also tournaments and arena modes that you can play for even more competition. Whether you’re more casual or training to be the best in world, there is a game mode for you!
Try Before You Buy
One of the best parts about Board Game Arena is that you can test drive a board game before you actually make a purchase. Now, there are so many board games that come out each year, so if you’re already trying to ride the cult of the new wave, this isn’t the best selling point for you. Development of the online implementation of a board game is time consuming and you won’t see newer games like Furnace on here yet. In fact, A Feast for Odin just reached the platform and that came out in 2016.
However, if you’re a person that deliberates and wants hands-on research before you make a board game purchase, then Board Game Arena is right for you. For example, I maybe never would have been able to play A Feast for Odin without buying it, if not for this platform. I just don’t know anybody close to me who owns the game, but now I’ve played more than ten games and absolutely love it.
Digital Board Gaming with Board Game Arena
There’s something about digital board gaming that isn’t for everyone, however. Actually, it’s probably two things. For one, board gaming is very much a social activity. The excitement, banter, and company of others is a huge reason why we play. That’s why game nights are one of the primary highlights of my month!
The second reason why people might be turned off by digital board gaming is that it lacks the tactile aspect of the tabletop. Physically moving pieces, playing cards, and rolling dice is so much better than clicking and dragging to simulate those elements.
However, services like Board Game Arena allow me to still get games in when it might not be convenient to get everyone’s calendars aligned for a board game night. Plus you don’t have all the setup and teardown for heavier games like Gaia Project. All you have to do is click New Game and everything is done for you!
When I first started on Board Game Arena in 2020, I was a bit skeptical. The board game library was more limited and the interface seemed dated to me. It did, however, let me host an online board gaming night with our group during lockdowns at the beginning of the pandemic, so I stuck with it because I could see the benefits that it had to offer.
Since then, the catalog has grown to include such beloved titles as the aforementioned Gaia Project, A Feast for Odin, Tapestry, Lost Ruins of Arnak, and 7 Wonders. There are even social deception games like BANG! available, which are a little more difficult behind the anonymity of a screen but still fun to play with strangers.
So what are you waiting for? Check out Board Game Arena and let’s play some games!