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May 11, 2020
Socialising has changed, no longer can you head down to the pub, or your friendly local game café to scratch your social itch. Increasingly people have turned to socialising online with their friends. In a strange way I’m actually more in contact with some friends than I ever was. But the truth is these weekly catch ups don’t involve much catching up, because no-one is doing anything that we need to catch up on! That’s where board games come in, giving us an activity to concentrate on while we chat along in the background. So today we will be looking at 10 of our favourite games to play online. I’m not talking about games with apps, but instead physical games which you can play with nothing but a webcam or two and some determination. If you need people to play these games with, you can always head to our discord server which you can find here.
Codenames is a party game in which two teams race to decipher which of the 25 words are the codenames for their spies. Playing codenames online is possible with a few apps, though none are official. However, it is also perfectly possible by taking a photo of the 5x5 word grid and screen sharing that to a group chat. Of course, two people need to know the answers to lead their team, so you’ll have to take a separate photo of the answer board and share that with the other team leader. Besides the minor awkwardness of the game owner always having to be a team captain Codenames works fantastically over the internet.
Keyforge is a dueling card game with a unique twist. You don’t buy boosters like you would in a ‘collectable card game’. You don’t buy fixed card packs like you would in a ‘living card game’. Instead you buy decks. Ready to use decks which have been computer generated with 3 of the game’s factions and cards to match. You can play Keyforge online through The Crucible Online which imports the decks you physically own from your keyforge account. We are currently running a weekly tournament every Tuesday on our discord server, the cost of entry is the cost of a single physical deck which you get to use digitally during the tournament. We then hold onto the physical copy (and any prizes you win) for you until the situation changes and you can collect it, or you ask us to post your decks out to you.
Ganz Schon Clever is a Roll and Write, a genre which translates very well to online play. Each player has a piece of paper that they will be filling in with results based on the rolled dice. If you can’t convince your friends to buy a copy you can instead take a scan of the player pad and email it or post it to your friends that you want to play with. For optimal play you need a spare webcam/phone joined to your voice chat that can be propped up looking at a dedicated rolling area. That way everyone can see the dice that they have to choose from.
Yogi is a game not unlike Twister, except that you are only getting tangled up on yourself. The card-driven gameplay instructs you how to position your body and so long as you keep obeying the cards you are still in the game. As you are only twisting around your own body, online Yogi works just as well as offline, though every household does need their own copy of the game. Fire up skype, get on a voice call with webcams pointed at everyone, start drawing cards and get ready to laugh.
Just One is a cooperative party game. Each round one player will be the guesser, they will close their eyes as a word card is held up to the webcam. Everyone else can use a pen and paper to write down a one-word clue. These single words are then held up to each players webcam, with any duplicate words being taken away. Finally, the guesser can open their eyes, read the clues and make a single guess as to what word was on their card. If they guessed right then the round is won, otherwise the round is lost. Just One works incredibly well over the internet and is a great light game to play on a relaxed evening.
Azul is an outstanding modern boardgame where you take turns selecting tiles from an ever-changing common pool. Playing Azul online does require each household to have a copy of the game. One household will have to set up an additional camera that is pointed towards the ‘factory’ discs that make up the tile selection area. The other households will choose what they want off of the discs but take the tiles from their own copy of the game. In a standard game of Azul some of your choice may come from deliberately leaving tiles you know your opponents don’t want, and this side of the game doesn’t translate well to online play, but the game does still play well.
Most roleplaying games can be played online, but Dungeons and Dragons is by far the most famous. This traditional pen and paper role playing game can be played over group chat as easily as it can be played around a dining table. While many of these games are relatively new inclusions to online gaming. Online roleplaying has a storied history and as such has evolved tremendously. Don’t want to play “theatre of the mind”? There are programs that let your dungeon master create battle maps for you to play on. Similarly there are dice rolling apps and character sheet management apps that pull D&D ever more into the digital world. Ultimately all you really need is a single starter set and a webcam each to start having fantastical adventures.
Tiny Towns is a town building game in which the player interaction is all about choosing the materials that everyone gets to work with. It is another game that everyone needs a copy of, but other than that all you need to do is make sure you are playing with the same set of buildings and you are good to go. Players take turn verbally choosing one resource that everyone gets, so everyone has the same input, it is all about your strategy of how to use those resources and mitigate the ones you don’t want.
Deep Sea Adventure is a push your luck game about diving for treasure. One player will need the game and an extra webcam to point at the play area. Everyone else just needs a pair of standard dice. Each turn you’ll roll the dice to move your diver deeper down the sea, where the more valuable treasure lies. Once you grab a treasure you will start using the dice to swim back up. You can grab more treasure along the way, but it weighs you down, lowering the result of your dice throws and therefore slowing your ascent. You only have so much air between you, so don’t get weighed down by too much treasure or you might run out of breath!
Team 3 is a game that works perfectly for 3 friends to play over the internet. Only one player needs the game, but they will have to take the role of the builder, the player who cannot see, but must build the puzzle correctly. A second player will need access to the puzzle cards, but you don’t need to buy a second copy, simply lay out 10 cards or so, take a picture and send it to them, each round they choose a different puzzle to solve. The third player doesn’t need any game components, acting as a translator of the hand gestures made by the player that can see the solution and changing them to verbal commands for the builder. Team 3 has a variety of different difficulties becoming extremely challenging on the harder puzzles, but if that’s not enough for you, you can always reduce the 3-minute timer!
I’m constantly impressed by the effort that many people are putting into playing their favourite games over the internet. The list above are simply our suggestions that we know work well. If you have any ideas for great games to play online let us know! Until then, stay safe, stay inside, wash your hands, and have fun!
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