Your Turn: Digital Board Games

Posted by Andrew L {Avid Gamer} | 19-Mar-14 | 46 comments

Your Turn - A BoardGaming.com Discussion

Hey there, I’m Andrew; game industry professional, reviewer, gamer, fellow Boardgaming.com member and the host of BoardGaming.com’s discussion series called “Your Turn.”

This is your chance to let us know what YOU think about a variety of topics related to hobby gaming. I’ll start the conversation and then it’s “your turn” to chime in and add to the discussion. Each Your Turn discussion will have a new topic, and we may even have some special guests make a surprise visit down the road. In the meantime…

Digital Board Games

I have played a lot of video games. Being the age that I am, I worked up from the very early beginnings when folks used the word “baud” to describe how fast a “modem” was. I went through Commodore, Atari, Sega, Nintendo, Xbox, Playstion(s), Wii… you name it. Still love ‘em.

I also love board games… and I have been playing them only a little bit longer. It’s where board games meet video gaming that I’m torn.

Back in the day, computer chess was one of the first electronic (video game) implementations of a “board” game that I can remember – mainly because of the opportunity to play against an “A.I.”

Around the same time that home systems went online, online board game sites started to pop up.

One that did recreate board games very accurately is a site called BrettspielWelt. On there, I actually learned to pay Dominion with my brother. Then, I went out and bought the card game. Now there are several of these sites.

Which leads me to digital versions of board games. Not sure what the first one was – but it hit my radar when Days of Wonder reported a sales spike in the analog version of Small World when the iOS app came out. I am new to digital board game apps. I currently have two: Summoner Wars and Lords of Waterdeep. They are great! But I seem to have twice the fun when playing “IRL.” Plus I have a feeling that when I play Lords of Waterdeep again, it won’t be quite the same. I can blow through a game in minutes on iOS. What will this do to my patience level when playing with my friends of family? It has helped me learn better strategies through frequent play… and these apps do offer accessibility to play when players cannot be found. But I can’t see my opponents… ARGH see what I mean?

I don’t know. I am torn. I like the digital games, but I also love the instantaneous creativity of live people in a room – where emotions can wash over the players and the environment. I like to know what my fellow gamers are doing out there.

Questions: Do you play digital board games? If so, which ones? What device(s) do you play them on? Do you have the analog version of these games? Do they affect the way you enjoy the real board game? Or do you think these games should be played the way they were designed originally – as live board games?

Your Turn…

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Comments (46)

Gamer Avatar
5
AEG fan
Tasty Minstrel Games Fan

I own a few digital board games, and play them more often than I would like to admit. However, they will never replace my hard copies. Part of what makes this hobby so amazing is the interaction with other humans and the components in the games. I think that digital versions are a good training tool to learn new games or try out strategies, but I have a console to play video games if I wish. I pray we never lose the feel of a good die or meeple in our hands.

Gamer Avatar
2
My First Heart

I will play digital versions of games, and own several free ones, mostly card games (such as Star Realms, Ascension, etc) but I prefer to play them with a live person. What I HAVE found out with the digital versions of games is that they generally make learning the game a snap, at least for me. Many times, when I’m thinking of buying a game, I’ll look and see if there is a digital version of it, so that I can try it out and learn the game.

Gamer Avatar
7
I'm Completely Obsessed
Book Lover
Canada
Advanced Reviewer

I play Small World and Talisman: Digital Edition on Steam. I own the tabletop version of Small World, and a friend of mine has Talisman, but Talisman takes a lot of table space and time to play, and one member of our regular group isn’t a big fan of war games so I haven’t yet convinced them to try Small World.

I enjoy playing both versions, digital and analog, though given the choice my preference is always to get together with friends and play in person at the game table. The digital editions have the advantage of being much less expensive than the physical ones, and in both these games cases they do a good job of replicating the game. I find that usually playing the digital version is a nice way to pass the time when I’m at home on my own, and afterwards it makes me want to get people over to play the tabletop version (or at least to come over and play something).

Gamer Avatar
9
Grand Master Grader
Movie Lover
Book Lover
I play blue

I too will choose a physical board game over an electronic version of a game. The value of the social interaction that occurs when playing with other persons cannot be overstated. But, the convenience of being able to play a game solo and play anywhere can’t be overlooked. I have played more than 100 games of Carcassonne on my Kindle Fire, and I will likely keep playing. The electronic version is no substitute for the cardboard and wood of the original, but I can’t always play the original. Another advantage of an electronic game is that there is no setup or cleanup time with an app.
I will keep buying and playing physical board and card games. The more I play them, the more I want to explore new titles. But I love having the option to play games on my electronic device(s) whenever and wherever I choose.

Gamer Avatar
4
Gamer - Level 4
Treasure Map

For the record, I love physical board games. I think that opening a new game box is one of my favorite things in life. I like the feel of rollings dice (even though they hardly ever come up in my favor). I like moving pieces around the board, or table as the case may be. That being said, I think that digital board games can be great two. Here are a few reasons why. First of all, it isn’t always possible or convenient to get a group together to play a game. While digital counterparts to to real players are not nearly as fun, they still provide a good experience (though not always). Secondly, many board games are expensive. A player may wish to try a game out before shelling out the 50 to 100 bucks that these games cost. A Digital version of the game comes in at a fraction of the cost. Recently, I bought the iOS version of Lords of Waterdeep because I wasn’t sure that it was a game that I would want to purchase (it was). Thirdly, digital board games provide players with a chance to try a new idea while playing a game without having to waste other players’ time. Long story short, while there are many good reasons to play a game digitally, it isn’t ever as good as playing around a table with a group of friends, but it could come close.

Gamer Avatar
7
USA
Dragon Clan - Legend of the Five Rings

I am an avid gamer and like all types of games.
Those people I play games with are not always available when I want to play a game so board games on the PC are a good substitute and also a good way to learn the basics of a game. Although not a replacement for someone who knows the game and can teach you how to play.
Many board games are available for the PC that are not listed on this site and I wish were. Some of them are: Talisman, Settlers of Catan, Small World, and Ticket to Ride. Most of these games are one player versions of the board game but many have online play capability.
I Hope this will help.

Gamer Avatar
8
Canada
El Dorado
Professional Advisor
Senior

Nothing replaces the pleasure of feeling the components in your hands; rolling the dice, shuffling the cards, moving the miniatures…it feel so great…I have no interest in digital boardgames. when I want to play a game and I’m alone…I play video games.

Gamer Avatar
5
Gamer - Level 5
Sophomore
Bard

I do play digital board games, but not because I really love them, but more out of necessity. It is not always easy to find opponents where I live, so the solitaire capabilities are important. Also, I don’t have to worry about setting up a game and not being able to finish. With a digital game, I can save and get back to it later. Lastly, it is always with me, so even when traveling, I can just pull out my KIndle or iPad and play.
With that said, I prefer playing board games. The small screen often makes it difficult to get a good sense of what is happening on the board as a whole. Plus, playing face-to-face is what playing games is all about.
Bottom line, digital games will never replace face-to-face, tabletop playing. Never.

Gamer Avatar
2
Reporter Intern

I really enjoy Ticket to Ride and Pandemic on my iPad. The best part though, for me personally, about digital games is that I can pay less money to see if I like something before I purchase the more expensive physical version, especially if my FLGS or one of their regulars doesn’t have an open copy I can try out. I always prefer the digital games that do a walk-through of the rules and action options- it helps me learn the game much more quickly and easily.

Gamer Avatar
6
Hockey Fan
My First Game Tip
Detective

We have several tabletop games on my iPad. The ones like T2R and Puerto Rico I actually prefer to play digitally in part because there are so many small pieces. Actually, same goes for Carsassone. The benefit of not loosing pieces plus computer keeping accurate score are nice. Sometimes when it’s just me or me and my husband we play the digital ones simply passing the iPad back and forth. And now having several games on my iPad, when we travel- it’s a lot easier to simply take the iPad then a carload/suitcase full of games. That being said, any time we can play physical board games we love to do so as well!

Gamer Avatar
5
Book Lover
Video Game Fan

The only digital board games I’ve played have been Scrabble and Life. Since it is rare that I can coax anyone into playing those with me, I liked them a fair bit. Scrabble is pretty effective in feeling a lot like the board game minus the social aspects. Life is less so but is still somewhat fun.

I have yet to try any of the more complex games like Small World or Carcassonne or anything, but I would love to give them a go.

Gamer Avatar
8
El Dorado
I'm a Gamin' Fiend!
Rated 100 Games
Paladin

I haven’t really gotten into digital versions of boardgames (I’ve tried Dominion online) because, even though I like a lot of video games, the digital versions of Tabletop games always seem useless to me. The games were often developed with face-to-face interaction and tactile components in mind. Without those I find them severely lacking. Just as most video games were meant for me to spend time alone on the couch (which I also love) I want that human touch of tabletop games.

Gamer Avatar
6
The Gold Heart
Plaid Hat Games fan
Sentinels of the Multiverse fan
Bronze Supporter

@5Crows
Whoah! TMI.. but quite funny.

@all the rest o’ yas

Elder sign is one that looked particularly appealing. UPDATE: I did play LOW analog and wow! I was worried about being bored – but the many plays on the digital version really allowed me to compete. Came in second. Whoot!

Any more recommendations besides TTR and Elder Sign?

Gamer Avatar
3
Zealot

Hey there!
I do play digital versions of games. I find there are three benefits to having digital versions:

1. Test a game before purchasing the physical copy.

I love games, I love collecting games. Sometimes this can get me into trouble when I will purchase a physical game on impulse, or because I love the idea/thought behind it, without really figuring out if I will enjoy the game, or have lots of opportunities to play it. This is where the electronic version comes in handy; I can try it out and if I discover I don’t like it, I don’t have to buy the full game. Often times, if I like the digital version, I will still buy the physical copy (Summoner Wars being a prime example).

2. Quick games

The opportunities for me to assemble a group of people to play a game, and also ensure that the game appeals to each person is not a quick thing. By playing the e version, I can play the games quickly and have fun. It’s not a substitute for the actual “game night” but sometimes its the best I can get.

3. You can play nekkid

Hey! How many times do you want to play your favorite game when your naked? Now I can play Lords of Waterdeep the way it was meant to be played, all natural, without hearing my friends gag! Also, you can play a good game in the bathroom… that’s a gift. 😛

I play on the iPad, and sometimes on my xbox.

Gamer Avatar
4
Rated 50 Games

For me Elder Sign is the most fun to play on my pad. Some of the great board games that transition to apps loose the appeal a bit.

Gamer Avatar
8
Professional Reviewer
Canada
I play black
Silver Supporter

While I also love Lords of Waterdeep, my favourite is the Elder Signs app that does a great job of simulating the game and is very good fit for times when you need to stop abruptly and come back to later. I have also downloaded Puerto Rico recently to teach myself that game.

I think digital board games are good for special cases – e.g. travel or solo play, but they do not come close to the social aspect of playing in good company.

Gamer Avatar

I play elder scrolls on my phone and think it is just great. I wish there were more digital versions so that when there is no one to play a board game with in person, I could still scratch that itch. I also play BoneLands which is an original digital board game I made inspired by Chess and BattleLore 2nd Edition. It is really good for getting my strategy fix and needing to sit down for hours at a time since it is correspondence turn based.

Gamer Avatar
7
USA
Norway
Finland
I play black

Board games are much better unplugged, but nothing beats Carcassonne on the iPad for keeping the family happy on long card trips. Or keeping Gamer Bling happy while flying.

Gamer Avatar
9
Miniature Painter
Rosetta Stone
Advanced Reviewer
BoardGaming.com Beta 1.0 Tester

I like Can’t Stop and Elder Signs on the mobile devices. Generally, if I am made aware of a free board game on mobile, I will get it, but am rarely willing to shell out money for a mobile game. This is mostly because I don’t spend a great deal of time with them.

Gamer Avatar
8
Legend of the Five Rings Fan
Advanced Reviewer
Tactician
Guardian Angel

I love playing tabletop games socially, but with a large number of gamers and a vast game library, occasionally I want to play specific games that the group isn’t interested in, and digital board games give me that fix. Pandemic is a good example — we’ve only played that on game nights a couple of times in recent memory, but if I want to challenge myself against rampant plague, the app is just fine, and has zero setup time. It lets me hone strategies with different roles, and get to know the cadences of the game. Plus it can be done on my lunch hour!

General point? There’s a place for both in the gaming world. App versions make good tutorials and time-fillers when you aren’t actually able to gather for in-person gaming, and if by their existence they draw more people into the gaming world, more power to them.

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