Board games are social experiences, and they can galvanize groups of people together. But many personal collections, squirreled away inside the coat closets of the average American home, are filled with dated titles that no one wants to play. Luckily there are dozens of fresh options available online.
The last decade has seen an explosion of digital adaptations of excellent tabletop games, including options for mobile devices and modern consoles. Here’s a selection of introductory games that will work well regardless of your audience. Best of all, they all have options for online multiplayer.
Love Letter is a light game that goes great with cocktails. In the fiction you’re trying to win the heart of a young princess, and the art is themed to match with flowing dresses and dapper noblemen. The game skillfully blends strategy and social deduction into a very non-intimidating package. Best of all, it plays very quickly, so it’s easy to get a few rounds in.
You can get Love Letter on Steam, the Apple App Store, and on Google Play.
Mysterium is another extremely social game, but also one that works surprisingly well online. Players take on the role of mediums sent to discover the secrets of a murder inside a mysterious mansion. One player takes on the role of a ghost, sharing cards that represent visions that the mediums all experience at the same time. Using these visual clues alone, players must then solve the case before time runs out.
This version of the game includes online multiplayer of course, but it also has a “pass and play” mode so that you can simulate the experience of the tabletop game itself at home. There’s also a story mode, including solo play with AI partners.
You can find Mysterium on Steam, the Apple App Store, and on Google Play.
Sentinels of the Multiverse
In today’s trying political climate, we know how difficult it can be during the holidays and stressful situations, like we find ourselves in now. Sometimes the DC and the Marvel fans get into it, and there’s simply no way to calm them down. That’s why we’re recommending Sentinels of the Multiverse. Sentinels is a card game based in a comic-book hero universe of its own creation. It’s a tremendously well-regarded system, and the digital version does a great job at introducing new players. It also features pass-and-play as well as split-screen action, and multiplayer even works across platforms.
Sentinels of the Multiverse is available on Steam, via the Apple App Store, on Amazon, and through Google Play.
Talisman: Digital Edition
Talisman is an old game, first published in 1983, known for being ponderously long and at times boring. The latest version of the tabletop game is far superior to the original, and most of its best features are included in Talisman: Digital Edition. There’s plenty of strategy and tactics, but by-and-large it’s Candyland for RPG geeks. It also helps that it’s compatible with modern consoles. There are also multiple versions, including the Warhammer 40,000-themed Talisman: The Horus Heresy.
You can get Talisman: Digital Edition on Steam, the Apple App Store, on Google Play, the Nintendo eShop for the Nintendo Switch, and on PlayStation 4.
Ticket to Ride
One of the oldest digital board games on this list, Ticket to Ride is a also among the most robust. While it might look like a game about railway barons at the turn of the last century, it’s actually about taking trips across the United States. There are also additional expansions that change the setting to Europe, Switzerland, Asia, India, and more.
But I mentioned robust, above. That’s because Ticket to Ride is a truly cross-platform title, allowing people to play together on many different devices. The game is available on the Apple App Store, Steam, Google Play, Xbox Live (where it’s available via Game Pass), and for the Amazon Kindle Fire. There’s also a web version. You can also play against — and with — your Alexa device.