Saturday, March 14, 2020

10 Board Games to Play Using Video Conferencing


Photo by Kevin Freyer/Getty Images
This is a challenging time for board gamers. Government mandated quarantines and social distancing doesn’t mix well with sitting at the table with your weekly gaming group. While there are plenty of virtual tabletop software solutions (https://tabletopia.com/, https://store.steampowered.com/app/286160/Tabletop_Simulator/, https://en.boardgamearena.com) nothing beats playing an opponent that you can see.

However, thanks to software such as Skype and Zoom, tabletop gamers can get-together "live". Here are a few titles that I would work best via video conferencing. Keep in mind, it helps if everyone has access to the rules and at least one player has a copy of the game.

The best games are one where either information is public knowledge or, if there is secret information, it is either easily tracked or only in the hands of one player. Here are my suggestions for 10 games that work well over video conferencing:

Qwixx (Gamewright) - One player can roll the dice for the other players. The play sheet can be printed out by other players which you can find here: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Qwixx_scorecard_nofonts.svg  A digital version of the score sheet can be found here: http://www.mikkosaari.fi/qwixx/

Zombie/Martian Dice (Steve Jackson Games) - One player rolls the dice while the other players decide whether to push their luck or not. If anyone wants to be "more engaged" they can keep score.

Farkle/Bupkiss (Various) - Another game where one player "handles" the dice while the other players decide to press their luck. You don't even need to buy this game, you just need five dice - but why not support a game publisher during this hard times?

King of Tokyo (IELLO) - as with the other dice games above, one player rolls the dice and moves the monsters while the other players tell them their moves. You will have to let the other players see the "market" of cards and track their energy cubes on their own but it is easily managed by the "lead" player.

Space Base (AEG) - Space Base might get a little more complicated, what with the market of cards, but as long a player can see them as well as track their own base and the upgrades, this game should be do-able over a video conference system. A "lead" player can manage the dice rolls for all of the other players (or you can "roll your own" at home) Some of the game's files (and the rules) are available as printable files at BGG.com (https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/242302/space-base/files)

Codenames (CZE) As long as all of the other players can see the cards, Codenames is a perfectly fine game to play using video conferencing. I suggest using chat or sending a scan of the code card to the two players that are the "choosers" for each team.

Pandemic (Z-Man) - No, I'm not being ironic here, Pandemic's cooperative play mechanics makes this actually a pretty easy game to moderate. One player sets up the board and handles the card draws. As long as the other players can see what their special abilities are, it's pretty easy to give the "lead" player orders on their turn.

Formula D (Asmodee) - Another game that requires the "lead" player to set up the board, manipulate the pieces and roll the dice (remember the dice in Formula D have customized numbers on them, you can't just use standard polyhedral dice) but as long as the other players can see where they are, the game moves pretty quickly. Just remember to track damage as you blow through a turn.

Santorini (Roxley) - Playing Santorini over video conferencing is like playing Chess by mail. The decisions are simple enough that one player can control the board while the other player offers moves. Or, you could each have the game set up at home and replicate moves with each other.

Pantone the Game (Cryptozoic Entertainment) - Full disclosure, this is a game I designed but hear me out, it's one of the more perfect games for playing over a video conferencing system. The "lead" player makes their character and then all of the other players get their turn to guess it. I've even played Pantone over Facebook and Text Messaging with pretty good results. Just make sure everyone playing buys a copy (rather than pilfering paint swatches from the hardware store) - I'd appreciate it. :D

Honorary mentions: These are a few other games that work well with video conferencing and even have a pretty healthy community that are already playing them: Chess, Yahtzee, Werewolf/Mafia, Mastermind, Dungeon and Dragons (or any Role Playing Game)

The good news is social distancing doesn't have to mean distancing yourself from having fun and playing a great game! Stay smart, safe and healthy!


3 comments:

Unknown said...

We are going to give Splendor a whirl. Everyone sees the board, no hidden cards or anything like that, do it might work.
Scattergories worked, we just sent everyone a photo of the clue cards.

Gamegran said...

Scattergories

Unknown said...

I'm thinking of doing this right now, you forgot connect 4.