An intro to digital boardgames: Recap

An Intro to Digital Boardgames, Part 5

That’s almost it for this current series about boardgames! We’ll add more articles about boardgames and online tools, because this has been fun. We hope you’ve enjoyed it too. In the meantime, let’s recap what we looked at so far and maybe add a few last bits of advice.

The advantages of playing boardgames online

Digital boardgames are often much cheaper and at least somewhat easier to play than their physical counterparts. You can’t lose or misplace any of the game components; you don’t need room where you live to store them; and when you’re done, you can simply close the interface, knowing that everything will be right where it needs to be the next time you play.

That addresses one of the more time-consuming parts of playing physical boardgames. For digital games, setup usually takes a few clicks rather than half an hour (or more, for some games), which means it’s easier to try out a game as many times as you like. That’s great for when you’re struggling to teach yourself a game. (Also, shuffling is so much faster , easier, and less likely to lead to arguments than physical games. Although you may sometimes feel that the computer-generated randomness isn’t quite as random as it’s supposed to be.)

If you struggle to learn new games or if you’re just getting started, I recommend investing in a couple of boardgames that have built-in tutorials. You can use these to teach yourself – and any friends you want to play with – how each game works. And since most of these games allow you to play online, you should be able to play with anyone regardless of how far away they are. That makes it a great way to hang out with people you haven’t seen in a long time.

Screenshots of: Elder Scrolls Legends; Hearthstone; Mysterium; Elder Sign: Omens.

The disadvantage is that, while the internet holds the promise of many things, cost and technical hassles don’t always make it easy. Also, although individual games are much cheaper, you can soon find yourself spending a lot more money than you wanted, expected, or planned to, at least if you don’t figure out a few technical details first.

So what kind of technical issues are we talking about?

Some of the issues you may run into

Basically, if you want to play boardgames with people you know, you need to figure out:

  • who you want to play with
  • which games you want to play
  • how you’re going to communicate/hang out
  • what devices you’re going to play on
  • which (and how many) services to invest time on

Unless you and your friends know of a specific game you’d like to play, you’ll need to decide which of these points is the most important for you.
Most of those don’t qualify as technical issues, necessarily, but we can cover them in a separate series if anyone leaves a comment about that. (Hint, hint!) But each of them comes with a bunch of technical issues you need to consider.

For example: everyone’s internet access is different. Sometimes it’s more expensive, sometimes it’s slower, and if you’re relying on mobile data in South Africa, it’s probably both. So it may be easier for some people to use text chat, or you may have to be a bit patient while someone else waits for a game to refresh. Either way, it’s something to keep in mind.

Also, unless everyone you want to play with has the same type of device, you’ll probably end up playing web-based games. (Unless you’re lucky enough to have enough friends to make up more than one group.) That means that you’ll probably have to teach yourself how the browser-based system works. In fact, you may need to prepare to give your friends a tour of the system or explain how it works. Don’t underestimate how hard it will be for some people to learn a new interface.

Screenshots of: Tabletop Simulator; Yucata; Vassal; Tabletopia; Boiteajeux; Table; Board Game Arena

A final note (AKA Don’t Be a Dick)

I’ve already got enough ideas and material for another series about boardgames, but that’s it for this one. One final thought, though. A key part of having fun playing games with friends, or anyone really, is that a good attitude goes a long way. That applies whether you’re playing boardgames, card games, roleplaying games, or anything else.

So to repeat my point from earlier: be patient with each other, and remain considerate while you’re playing – even if things get heated or competitive, you’re still supposed to end as friends. Don’t make people regret playing boardgames with you.

And that’s a wrap! Drop a comment below if there is anything else you’d like us to cover, or if you have any specific questions or suggestions.
In the meantime, stay safe, keeping gayming, and don’t take any shit from anyone who hasn’t earned the privilege.

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