Playing Board Games Online

Whether you're looking for a way to have fun with friends while social distancing, you want a way to stay in touch with friends who live far away, or you just are looking for something to pass the time, board games are available online through various websites and applications.

Below are listed some currently popular ways to play board games you love or find some new ones.

Board Game Arena

Board Game Arena is a free website that allows users to play a collection of real board games with friends or strangers online. It has dozens of games ranging from popular strategy games like Carcassonne and 7 Wonders to classics like Connect Four and Yahtzee. The collection of games is constantly being expanded and has a broad range of genres.

The website offers ranked play so players who want a challenge can be matched up with players of similar skill levels, but it also has casual options for players who want to casually play with friends. Creating an account is free, though there is also a Premium level that has a small subscription fee. Premium members can initiate voice chat so players at the table can all talk via microphones and only one player in a game needs a Premium account to use this feature. All accounts have free access to text chat.

Additionally to note, some games require a Premium account for the player who sets up the game, but any player can join the game regardless of their account level. Board Game Arena is a great option for anyone looking to play board games online! An computer should be able to play on Board Game Arena through a web browser.

Tabletop Simulator

Tabletop Simulator is an app that provides access to thousands of real board games and card games, downloadable through Steam. Steam is an app store available on computers that lets you purchase games and content.

Tabletop Simulator itself comes with a small selection of games and you can buy several more games for it, but the real bulk of the available games are through Steam Workshop. Steam Workshop lets users scan real board games into Tabletop Simulator and make them available to others. By going to Tabletop Workshop, players can download, for free, most games they find on store shelves. Note that Tabletop Simulator's interface is in 3D and some low end computers might have trouble running it, though the requirements are fairly low, so it's recommended you look at the system requirements in the Steam store before purchasing it.

The interface of Tabletop Simulator might take some getting used to, as it's open ended, but this lets it simulate almost any board game. It also supports both text chat and voice chat (provided you have a microphone), and allows you to play with friends and strangers. Tabletop Simulator costs $19.99, though it sometimes goes on sale for as low as $9.99, so if you're on the fence you could always wait for a sale. There are no subscription fees. It's a one time purchase, but all players must buy the app to use it. Tabletop Simulator supports both Windows and Mac.

Tabletop Simulator can be downloaded in the Steam Store. Note that you may have to download the Steam Client first, which is essentially an app store and is free. Once you have Tabletop Simulator installed, you can download games for it freely through Tabletop Workshop. Just browse or search for a game you want, click on it, and click on the "Subscribe" button to add it to your library. Upon booting up the app, you should be able to find all downloaded games when you set up a new game. If you're joining someone else's game, you do not need to download the game first.

Jackbox Games

Jackbox games technically aren't board games, but they are great for playing with friends over long distances as well as in person. While there are dozens of Jackbox games at this point, how they're played is the same. The person hosting the games does need to purchase any games being played, but none of the players need to. The games can be bought on most computers and gaming consoles, though if you're planning to play over a distance then it would be best to get them on your computer. The computer versions are easiest to purchase through Steam, and you likely will need the Steam client to download them, which is free. All players, including the host, need access to a device with a web browser, whether it's a phone, a tablet, or a computer.

Once you have them downloaded, start a call with your friends through Zoom, Skype, or any other video messaging service that allows you to share screens. Whoever owns the game should share their screen and open the game they want to play. If the game has an options menu, it's recommended to click the box to extend the timers, as there might be a bit of lag over screen sharing. Otherwise, once you start the game, there should be a four letter code displayed on the screen. All players now need to go to in a web browser. A phone or tablet tends to work best, though computers can work. The host may need to use a separate device to do this rather than the computer that's sharing the screen. All players now should see a field to enter the four letter code that is displayed in the game, as well as a field to enter a name or nickname. Whoever joins the game first will have a button on their device to start the game, which they should not press until all players have joined. From this point on, players will be using their device to play the game, which may involve answering questions, drawing pictures, reading prompts, or more.

Most Jackbox games can be bought in Jackbox Party Packs, which each contain 5 games for $24.99, though individual games can be bought for prices ranging from $6.99 to $29.99. The party packs tend to be the best value. All the packs and individual games go on sale often, sometimes for as much as 50% off. They range from party games to trivia games, but most do require 3-8 players. Also note that a few of them don't work well over long distance, but most of them have been created with long distance play in mind.


Steam is a digital store that sells various games and apps. Among the tens of thousands of games, there's hundreds of board games, ranging from mainstream games like Uno and Monopoly to more strategic games like Ticket to Ride and Catan. They even have more hardcore games like Terraforming Mars and Lords of Waterdeep. While there is a few free games, most cost money to download and each player has to purchase the game, though the Steam store constantly has sales so it's worth keeping an eye out for good deals. Any games downloaded are standalone games, though, and usually they're the most user-friendly option out there.

To download games through Steam, you likely will need to download the Steam client, which functions as an app store. Navigating the store is easy, as there are options to browse and to search for specific titles. You can add games to you wish list if you want to be alerted when it goes on sale and you can purchase games for friends, sending the download code to them via email. Remember that any purchased games must be downloaded and installed before they can be played, so don't waste until the last minute if you're planning to play with friends!