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This is a community maintained list of online resources to play boardgames with.

Does anyone know of more resources for online play?

Answers that address the following points would be much appreciated:

  1. What game or games are supported? If the answer "many", please consider a link to the list.
  2. What are the operating system requirements, or is it web-based?
  3. Does it support "live" play, where players are connected at the same time, as if playing together at a table?
  4. Does it support asynchronous play - like play by email or any other mechanism that allows each player to make his moves in turn.
  5. Does it have an active community?
  6. Is it easy to use? Or does it at least have good documentation?
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17 Answers 17

up vote 38 down vote accepted

Specific sites hosting one game

Game agnostic toolsets

These tools are generally used for Play-by-email games.

Portal sites hosting many games

  • BrettspielWelt (40 games, a sample is given here)
    • A Castle for All Seasons
    • Carcassonne
    • Caylus
    • Dominion (very limited card set available; see above for a site with all the cards)
    • Imperial
    • Pandemic
    • Power Grid
    • Puerto Rico
    • Stone Age
    • 7 Wonders
  • Pogo (21 boardgames, 29 cardgames)
    • Monopoly
    • Risk
    • Spades
    • Canasta
    • Bridge
    • Chess
    • Battleship
  • Boite à jeux (18 boardgames)
    • Alhambra
    • Shazamm
    • Torres
    • Cities
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To expand on this answer, Memoir '44 is also now available to play on Steam. –  Michael Nov 2 '11 at 14:48

yucata.de - lots of players, asynchronous (can be live if both players keep making turns), you can play multiple games. Here is the current list of game available (more than hundred):

  • A Few Acres of Snow
  • Alchemist
  • Antike Duellum
  • Arkadia
  • Arktia
  • Aronda
  • At the Gates of Loyang
  • Atantida
  • Atoll
  • Atta Ants
  • Awale
  • Balloon Cup
  • Bangkok Klongs
  • Black Friday
  • Call to Glory
  • Campaign Manager 2008
  • Can't Stop
  • Capt'n W. Kidd
  • Carcassonne H&G
  • Carolus Magnus
  • Carson City
  • Chinagold
  • City Blocks
  • ConHex
  • Down Under
  • Dragonheart
  • Drako
  • Egizia
  • El Grande
  • Era of Inventions
  • Famiglia
  • Fantasy Dice Battles
  • Fearsome Floors
  • Finca
  • Firenze
  • Founding Fathers
  • Four in a row
  • Glen More
  • Gobang & Gomoku
  • Hacienda
  • Hawaii
  • Hexxagon
  • Hey, that's my fish
  • Industrial Waste
  • Jaipur
  • Just 4 Fun
  • Just 4 Fun Colours
  • Kahuna
  • Kamisado
  • Kanaloa
  • King of Siam
  • Luna
  • Maori
  • Masons
  • Morris
  • Mount Drago
  • Nauticus
  • One-Eye
  • Oregon
  • Othello
  • Pergamon
  • Pompeii
  • Ponte del Diavolo
  • Port Royal
  • Rapa Nui
  • Rattus
  • R-Eco
  • Richelieu
  • Roll through the Ages
  • Russian Railroads
  • Saint Petersburg
  • Santa Cruz
  • Santiago de Cuba
  • Schweinebande
  • Shanghaien
  • Six
  • Skyline
  • Sobek
  • Space Mission
  • Sticky Fingers
  • Stone Age
  • Sudoku Moyo
  • Tally Ho!
  • Targi
  • The Castles of Burgundy
  • The Hanging Gardens
  • The Palaces of Carrara
  • The Speicherstadt
  • Thunderstone
  • Thurn and Taxis
  • To Court the King
  • Torres
  • Trias
  • Twin Tin Bots
  • Two by Two
  • Tyrus
  • Vikings
  • Vinci
  • Völuspá
  • War of the Roses (Rosenkonig)
  • Way of the Dragon
  • Yspahan
  • Yucata
  • Zooloretto the dice game

Also, yucata is expected to release a new game about every 3-4 weeks. If you like Euro-type games, this is the place to play them

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HAPPY MEEPLE - Beginner-friendly platform

Happy Meeple is the only beginner-friendly platform targeting players who don't necessarily know anything about modern games. It has great 2-player quick-playing gateway games. If you want your friends to get into the board game hobby, this is where you should send them.

Games

  • Lost Cities
  • Finito
  • Level X
  • Siberia Card
  • Keltis Card
  • Keltis Ór

Operating system

Browser-based (=works everywhere).

Play mode

Real-time

Ease of use

Very easy. The whole platform is intended for a casual audience. All games come with a tutorial in 5 languages (English, German, French, Spanish, Turkish).

The interface is simple, uncluttered. Starting to play is 2 clicks away.

Other features

  • All games come with strong AI (and not so strong for beginners).
  • All games come with sound FX and music.
  • All games come with animations.
  • All games come with a help page (and tutorial see above).
  • Auto-match system, no waiting time. Play in 10 seconds max.
  • Meta-game: build your world, collect meeples
  • Main chat and game chat.

Play card and dice games on Happy Meeple

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For Chess play there's no better website than Chess.com

Supports Chess and Chess960, including live (OTB), correspondence (turn-based over time, permits up to 10 days per turn, determined pre-game), vote-based and tournament play. You can play rated or unrated with the worlds biggest online chess community.

It's web based and also offers apps for iOS and Android. It's incredibly easy to use and features written and video tutorials, tactics puzzles and Q&A discussions.

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Playtou.com is a portal that hosts tournaments (both paid for financial prizes and free). You can play chess, checkers, gomoku, reversi (othello) and roshambo there. You have to register in order to play but the registration is free. There is no client software you need only web browser. You play in a real time. The site also has a rank system.

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You should definitely check out

BoardGameArena (aka BGA)

Why, you ask?

1. Games

Supported games (as of October 2012, each month there is a new game introduced. Even cooler, soon authors of the BGA will allow other member of community to design their own games with BGA Studio!):

 1. Coloretto
 2. Kahuna
 3. Dominion
 4. Race for the Galaxy
 5. Can't Stop
 6. Stone Age
 7. Puerto Rico
 8. Amyitis
 9. Haggis
 10. Gosu
 11. Tobago
 12. Uncle Chestnut's Table Gype
 13. Troyes
 14. Diam's
 15. Hawaii
 16. Dragonheart
 17. Saboteur
 18. China Gold
 19. In The Year of the Dragon
 20. Color Pop
 21. Caylus
 22. Seasons
 23. United Square
 24. Gyges
 25. The Boss

2. Technology - web based

The whole thing is web based, no Flash, just HTML/CSS/JavaScript/AJAX/PHP. I can even play games on BGA from my Android device!

3. Live play

It's all "live" play as you described it. There is time limit that each player has. After going over that time player might be kicked out of the game. This gives him bad reputation. You can always see how often other players leave the game (frustrating) or take too much time to think about their moves. You can give someone +1 reputaion or -1 if you don't recommend playing with that person.

4. Asynchronous play

However if you like, in uncommon situations you might want to host a game without a time limit, and it's also possible (this way you can play a game for a week). So that's for asynchronous play.

5. Tables

And as for tables - the whole system is build around setting a table, players joining it, and accepting table rules. You can join table and be a spectator. You can replay game that took place at certain table and view it from player perspective of your choosing. Great feature for learning what mistakes you made and improving your skills. You can as well watch games between best players.

6. Community

You asked about active community - oh yes. BGA is being constantly translated by users to 24 languages (including in-game text, instructions and the site itself). I myself did translate a few lines to my native language and improved what already has been translated. Anyone can do it! How about if you play with someone not speaking English or your language? You got translate button next to each sentence they write in the chat - it takes their words directly to google translate!

Reputation

As i said earlier, there is a reputation system. Something you might be familiar from StackExchange. Works great, and what's important - most players are nice to each other. Want to try a new game? just ask before playing if your opponent is willing to help you get a better understanding of the game.

Feedback

Feedback from site administrators is also great. Users are reporting found bugs and they are giving suggestion how to improve gameplay or site's interface. That's what BGA Forum is for. I myself have reported bug found in Saboteur, and it got fixed not long after that. You can vote for games to be introduced to the platform. Do you know game called Haggis? You can play with Sean Ross (designer of Haggis) on BGA.

7. Ease of use

I guess you have to find out for yourself. And remember that there is a good chance the site is (at least partially) already translated to your language. And if not - you can help make it so! I found BGA extremely easy to use and very much centered on great gamimg experience. Need help? Go to the BGA Help section.

8. Authors

This is what authors say about themselves:

First, we should say that we are gamers. Real, complete boardgames addicts.

We designed Board Game Arena for players who can't play for real because of time, geographic or social constraints. We would like to provide a new game experience with the best of two worlds: video games and board games.

Although we aim to provide high quality online games, we are still convinced that the best way to enjoy board games is around a real table with friends. This is one of the reason we strongly recommend you to buy physical copies of the games you discover on BGA. The other reason is simple to understand: each game sale is also a revenue for an author and an editor (... we've come full circle).

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Online Go Servers: A much more detailed list is available, but here is a brief overview of 3 popular Go servers with good English support.

  • KGS, very popular, has players from all over the world, accessible on computers (anything with Java) or through an Android app (iOS not available nor likely to be anytime soon).

  • Internet Go Server (IGS), very popular, lots of clients for all sorts of OS-es, including iOS and Android. Best for English or Japanese.

  • Dragon Go Server (DGS), popular turn-based server. Lots of languages and clients supported (including iOS and Android). Games are timed, but usually start with several months on the clock for each player.

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There is also this list over at BGG of computer versions of boardgames with a built in AI.

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/6483/computer-versions-of-board-games

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http://games.asobrain.com/

  • Settlers of Catan clone (Xplorers)
  • Carcasonne clone (Toulouse)

The community is pretty active, there's almost always someone to play.

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Note that asobrain currently has a registration stop, so it's not a practical place to play right now. –  warbaker May 4 '11 at 17:50
    
Since registration was deactivated in March 2010, I think it's safe to say it won't reopen. This one isn't really an option unless you were already familiar with the site. –  Johno Nov 23 '12 at 16:26

A third option along the lines of Vassal and Cyberboard is ZunTzu, and a fourth is Battlegrounds. Games available for the first three highly favor wargames, though there are certainly decent eurogames on the lists. Battlegrounds, cautious about getting in trouble for copyright violation due to scans of game parts, doesn't have a list of games but there are quite a few out there, Google being your pal.

I've only played actual games through Vassal, and found the interface to be clunky, but we were certainly able to play.

I've tried to create new games in the Vassal, Cyberboard, and ZunTzu systems and, despite being a programmer, gamer, and generally smart dude, found them to be some combination of impenetrable and too limited.

Mind you, plenty of people enjoy them, and there's not reason to think you won't, but they didn't turn out to be what I was hoping for.

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Your description, "...some combination of impenetrable and too limited" is exactly the impression I was getting from VASSAL and BSW. Thanks for the new contenders! So - does that mean that Battlegrounds gets your approval? Or is it just another failed contender? –  gomad Dec 2 '10 at 17:28
    
I haven't touched Battlegrounds so can't say either way, unfortunately. –  Matthew Frederick Dec 2 '10 at 17:35

Race for the Galaxy - you have to download but you can play online and single player

http://www.keldon.net/rftg/

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Another I use fairly regularly is the Brass online game.

http://brass.orderofthehammer.com/

It is slightly different to most of the others, because it allows you to play turn by turn, and will notify you via email when it is your go. Therefore, you do not all need to be in session to play. I have played a game over a week before now. If you are all online however, you can play it in a few hours.

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Although in beta, the quality of Memoir '44 online feels like a quality shrinkwrap product. You can plenty of games for free before having to fork over money:

http://www.daysofwonder.com/memoir44-online/en/download/

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I just signed up for that beta, but haven't played yet. I never played M44, but I like BattleLore, so I figured I would catch on. –  gomad Dec 1 '10 at 16:34

If you are looking to play Risk, Axis & Allies, Diplomacy, or a variety of other games online, check out GamesByEmail.com. It's a pretty simple, easy to use site. Also, the guy who runs the site, Scott Nesin, happily let's others create/enhance games using the JavaScript library he created. If you are a programmer you can create your own games (or enhance existing ones) and get them up on the site! See the Developers Page for more details.

The games are all JavaScript-based so there's no program you have to download or Java applet you have to run and you can create games by inviting certain players or by playing against other random users.

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Ok, that site is insanely cool! Not just the games, but the development tools. I've been dragging my feet on learning JavaScript - I looked at it in 1999 and said, OK...why? Obviously, I'm behind the curve! But this looks like a great opportunity and motivation to step up! –  gomad Dec 1 '10 at 16:37
    
@gomad: The site owner/creator, Scott Nesin, is also very nice and easy to talk to and is a valuable resource as you start developing. I added some features to the WWII game on the site (which is an Axis and Allies clone) and Scott was very attentive and patient with my learning and bugs! :-) –  Scott Mitchell Dec 1 '10 at 23:03

Another portal for lesser known games is SuperDuperGames.org. I haven't played anything on there in forever, it is turn based, but can go pretty fast if you happen to be online at the same time.

And yet another board game portal is Game Table Online. And yet again, haven't played there forever, I know that most of the games cost money to play, but there are some free ones.

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Ticket to Ride can be played at the Days of Wonder site, and is a very authentic play experience. Unfortunately, you can only play a few trial games before they expect you to fork over some cash to carry on, but it's a pretty nominal fee and if you really liked Ticket to Ride I'm sure it'd be worth it. Anyway, the first few games do cost nothing, so I think this is a valid answer to your question!

http://www.daysofwonder.com/en/play/

I know people will recommend the play-agricola site and the like, but I personally find having to manually manage all your tokens, and other fiddly aspects of the turn, removes much of the joy from the experience. I think I would happily pay a small subscription fee for a really good implementation of Agricola (my favourite boardgame!) online that removes the spadework. If you'll forgive that farming-related pun...

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EyePlay Games has an online version of Robo Rally that allows for both live play and extended "play by mail" style games where people may only complete a turn or two each day.

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Thanks. I take it that site supports only a single game? I've never played Robo Rally, and I'm not really interested in single-game solutions. –  gomad Nov 30 '10 at 23:11
    
It supports three different games, all based around similar Robo Rally mechanics, but with different goals & strategies. Still, it does not sound like what you are looking for. –  Gundabad Dec 1 '10 at 3:24

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