Do you play Board Games on your Computer/Tablet/Phone?
Tuesday, 6 February 2018 | Russ
If you hadn't realised, there's a huge variety of board games available in digital form these days. The most accessible way to play is probably via an app version on your phone/tablet, but there are also websites that you can play on as well as virtual desktop environments.
A few years ago things were a little more limited and you pretty much needed to get an iPhone/iPad if you wanted to play many board games on your device, but these days things are improving and there's a decent selection available on Android platforms as well - they should be pretty easy to find on your device's app store. Depending on the game, you may be able to play online against other players, pass and play at home with your family/friends or (and this is what intrigued me) solo against AI/Computer opponents. Many also include a tutorial which will teach you how to play.
There are more options though, there are websites (such as Board Game Arena where you can play all sorts of games in your web browser against players around the world - in practice though, these websites, in my experience, are clunky and not particularly suited to new players - you need to know how to play the game before you play it there. There are also a few board games available through Steam for your computer as well.
There are also a couple of Virtual Tabletop environments too which are proving very popular - the first was Tabletop Simulator, it's basically a room where you can create pretty much anything you like on a table and then move pieces around freely. There's a LOT of real board games that have been re-created by other people that you can just import yourself (although this may not be strictly legal) but there are also purchasable, licensed games available now which you can pay a few pounds for.
Personally, I prefer the second option though, Tabletopia. It's not as free-form as Tabletop Simulator and games may have free/premium versions but the games are all fully licensed (or built by their creators) and it is a much slicker and easier to use platform. Game pieces can 'click' into place, it runs in a web-browser and generally just feels much, much nicer (as well as being fully legal)
Now, with all that said - I loved the idea of being able to game anytime, anywhere with people around the world when my family didn't want to play (I always want to play, they don't always lol) but in reality something was missing for me and after spending quite a lot of money on various games and platforms I found that I didn't want to play them.
Lords of Waterdeep is still one of my favourite board games and when I bought the app for my iPad (which I mostly got because I wanted to play games such as this on it) it was head and shoulders above everything else I tried - I had great fun playing the AI for a while but it felt a little lifeless, so I went online - you can play in real-time or turn-based over days - both of these options took much longer than you might expect with the other players playing a round of golf (or something similar) between their turns and it was frustrating...but more than this, it was just like playing a really slow AI player...
I think for me, the biggest draws of Board Gaming are..... a) the social interaction and being in the company of family and good friends and b) the hands-on, tactile nature of picking pieces up and moving them around.
I still grab the occasional app and have a go every so often (they're often only a couple of quid, although some recent ones have been rather pricier) - and they can be useful for learning a game (instead of the rule book or YouTube tutorials) - but ultimately, they're not really my cup of tea.
How about you? We'd love to hear your experiences (especially positive ones and recommendations for some we should try that may change our minds ;)