Digital board games have all of the fun of their cardboard counterparts, except it’s remade in a game engine with online functionality so you can play with friends no matter where you are. The wonders of asynchronous gameplay also allows you and your friends to enjoy board game night without the need for everyone to have the same time schedule.
To help you revive that love of cardboard magic, we’ve created this list of the best digital board games you can play right now.
Trying to enjoy online board games on a budget? Here’s our list of free online board games.
1. Star Realms
Star Realms is a deck building game by the company White Wizards. The cardboard version of this game is known for its easy-to-learn but hard-to-master mechanics and the plethora of ways you can play this game like boss battles and a large multiplayer.
The digital version of Star Realms focuses on the game’s 1v1 and single player aspect. Its graphics, animations, and the fluidity of the UI makes for a smooth gaming experience. There’s a campaign to play through and multiplayer games can be asynchronous, which allows a game to be played across several days instead of immediately. On top of that, the digital version of Star Realms also allows crossplay, which means you can take your turns on the PC or your phone as long as you’re logged in on the same account.
2. Hero Realms
Made by the same company as Star Realms, Hero Realms is the fantasy version of the hit deckbuilding game and it follows a similar formula in both gameplay and the features offered in its app. Players will take turns purchasing and attacking one another through the cards they’ve acquired from the Trade Row. However, Hero Realms differs in that it focuses more heavily on the hero who’s leading your forces and the creatures you can play to the battlefield.
Hero Realms has an amazing digital version because it has a more entertaining single player mode since the character/deck you use will also level up as you complete more challenges. The digital version of Hero Realms also has an arena mode where your character is assured a level-up each time you complete the challenge. However, if you lose to the AI, then your character dies permanently and you’ll have to make a new character and level them up all over again.
As a board game, Scythe is both wonderfully simple to play and strangely complex to make decision in. Players will take control of a faction that’s doing its best to survive in a post-apocalyptic Eastern Europe that’s filled with giant robots. These robots will help you fight other nations and carry valuable resources to where they need to be. Each player will also have a board of actions they can do each turn, and are unable to repeat the same action from the previous turn.
Scythe: Digital Edition is a loyal adaptation of the board game, meaning that they’ve ported over all of the mechanics and simply given it a digital spin. The animations and graphics aren’t too extravagant, but what matters is how well the computer keeps track of everyone’s information and how easy it is to clean-up after the game ends.
Games of Scythe: Digital Edition are also asynchronous and can be played on the mobile version as well.
Gloomhaven has become one of the most popular dungeon-crawling board games in recent times. It’s a cooperative board game where up to four players take the roles of mercenaries trying to raise their party’s reputation. The game’s story and events will change based on the party’s decisions, so make sure you choose wisely. In many ways, this game is like Dungeons and Dragons meets Diablo.
The only downside is its $140 price tag to play the cardboard version. However, the digital version is only $30, plays exactly like the board game, is rendered in gorgeous 3D art, and you don’t have to setup and put away all of the pieces for each game. Plus, having a computer take control of the monsters for you is far more convenient than just playing all the characters yourself.
Root is another game that takes a bit of setup to play on the cardboard version, and at the time of writing this article, is currently difficult to get because it’s between printings. However, the digital version is a beautiful adaptation that’s perfect for everyone at any skill level. Each piece is shown as an adorable avatar in the digital version, and the lovely cell-shaded textures give the digital version a quirky look that makes it stand out from other games.
But the beauty of digital Root is its asynchronous gameplay and how well it tracks rules that would be easy to miss on the regular board game (like movement or where certain pieces are allowed to be placed). This gets even more convenient if you and a friend want to tackle the challenges of clockwork enemies, which are more difficult versions of the regular factions that are controlled by the AI.
6. A Game of Thrones: The Board Game
Unlike how disappointing that last season of Game of Thrones was, A Game of Thrones: The Board Game is filled with everything you love from the show. Featuring most of the major characters from the show and plenty of strategic depth, fans of Westeros will fall in love with how smooth the digital version plays.
AGOT: The Board Game has players take control of their favorite Westerosi House and try to conquer as much of the map as possible from their neighbors. Compared to the cardboard version, the digital version shines in how well it keeps all of its players informed. Players will always know what potential combat cards their opponents can pick, who is in an alliance with who, and when a deal is struck. While the UI can be a little clunky, it still captures the feeling behind the wars and politics that’s Game of Thrones such a popular show.
Digital versions of board games should offer a way to bring everyone’s favorite board games to life, and Wingspan is an example of a gorgeous digital adaptation of a board game.
To put it simply, you’re using cards to build biomes that house birds. But the digital version goes the extra mile by including bird calls, a peaceful soundtrack, and beautiful art that truly elevates the digital version into a phenomenal experience. If you’re looking for a relaxed board game with a strategic element to play with friends, then Wingspan is exactly the kind of board game you want.
Wingspan‘s digital version is also available on a wide variety of platforms and it’s cross platform, so you and your friends can get a game in no matter what people decide to play on.
8. Blood Rage
Blood Rage follows several warring Viking clans in the final days of Ragnarök. You’ll lead a merry band of blood hungry warriors as they pillage across the nine realms, hoping to earn their way into Valhalla. The player who’s earned the most glory for their clan before the world ends wins the game.
As a result of its unique premise, Blood Rage rewards players for winning fights and pillaging areas, but further rewards them for getting their units killed thanks to the world ending. On top of that, fans of drafting game modes like those found in trading card games will enjoy how the start of each round begins with a card draft.
The digital version makes all of the information in a standard board game of Blood Rage both accessible and easy-to-understand from a glance. But seeing your monsters and warriors come to life on the board makes the digital version an enjoyable experience.
Unlike the other games on this list, Armello does not have a physical version of it – it’s a purely digital board game. Armello is a tile-based fantasy adventure game where dice rolls will determine your fate more often than naught (similar to DnD). So if you love the clickety-clack of rolling dice, you’ll feel right at home in Armello.
Each game has up to four players adventure through a troubled land as different fantasy classes. As they adventure around the realm, they’ll get stronger gear, build prestige, and collect followers to help them. The objective in Armello is to slay the king or, if the king dies from his affliction, whoever has the most prestige wins. This encourages players to cooperate on some objectives and betray one another in others.
It cannot be stated enough how beautiful the art of Armello is. Battle animations are fun to watch, and the sound design behind each dice roll is practically ASMR for any veteran board gamer.
10. Through the Ages
While some board games are fairly comparable to their digital counter parts, Through the Ages feels much smoother as a digital board game than a cardboard one. The reasons is just how many mechanics and upgrades are required to keep track of in the card board game. It’s much easier to just let the AI handle tracking everything and mousing over information is much easier on the eyes than constantly scanning, picking up, and putting down card board just to learn the rules.
In Through the Ages, you must guide your civilization from the beginning of human history to the modern era. To do so, you’ll have to pick a leader for each age and carefully plan the most efficient usage of the your resources to purchase and use the cards shown from the deck.
If you’re not a fan of randomness screwing you, then Through the Ages is the game to try. Everything is planned and the game rewards finding and building the most efficient engine to help your civilization modernize.
Looking for more games to play with friends? Try our list of the best games you can play on the phone with friends and the best online board game communities you should join.