Your Turn: Digital Board Games

Posted by Andrew L {Avid Gamer} | 19-Mar-14 | 47 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 (47)

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.

Gamer Avatar
5
Petroglyph
Arrowhead

Suppose I’m going to buy a physical board game but decide to buy the app version instead. Who gets the money? Are the app developers actually associated in any way with the physical-game designers/publishers? (Game mechanics aren’t copyright-able, after all.) That is, in my hypothetical situation are the physical-game folks actually seeing any of the money?

Also, +1 to “board games are better unplugged.”

Gamer Avatar
7
Cooperative Game Explorer
Novice Grader
Knight-errant

For me, the digital versions of board and card games serve two purposes.
The first is to let me actually play the games. Because of a weird work schedule, my two days off do not coincide with any other gamers’ days off. This makes it incredibly difficult for me to get a group together to play a game. With the digital versions, I can at least play the game even if I can’t play against other people
The other reason is that for many of these games, the rules match the actual board games. The digital versions become tutorials for if and when I ever get a chance to play the real game.

Gamer Avatar
6
PC Game Fan
Indie Board & Cards fan

I’m enjoying digital Carcassonne and now want the analogue version. I just started playing digital Catan and Ticket to Ride and am playing those as often as I can in order to better familiarize myself with rules and strategies that I can execute at a later time when I anticipate playing as a board game with friends and family. I appreciate how quickly I can play the digital versions without worrying about game pieces or replenishing the bean dip. Of course, nothing beats true human interaction and variant gameplay that you just can’t get from a digital version of a board game.

Gamer Avatar
8
Norway
Book Lover
I play blue
Paladin

I probably should start with digital boardgames, as it saves physical space in my small appartment, but I guess I never could have gotten myself to play on a computer, iPad or anything like that. For me the whole charm of playing the game, is actually PLAYING the game. Picking up the meeples with my bare hands, counting coins, and all. For me boardgames belong on the table right in front of you to see, with other people sitting down with you to play it, which you can talk to in real time.

But that`s me…..

Gamer Avatar
1

I think digital board games are great addition to any gamers collection. I have often used digital versions of games that have tutorials to learn how to play a game rather than or in addition to reading the rulebook. I tend to learn more from doing rather than reading. I also have many friends out of state that enjoy playing board games. This gives us the ability to play while are in different locations around the country. I also may be up for playing games when none of my gamer groups or friends are available. I can jump on my iPad or a site like boardgamearena.com and play a quick game.

Gamer Avatar
4
United Kingdom

Hi all.
I’ve got carcassonne,Tigris and Euphrates,Through the Desert,Elder Sign,Small World 2,Mr Jack pocket,1941 Axis & Allies,Talisman Prologue,Ingenious,Catan,Catan Dice,Ticket to Ride….
Also got Androminium,which is the Android version of Dominium
And Condado which is Android’s clone of San Juan…both play well,but lack the graphical polish of the originals…
I rate and play a lot…Carcassonne,Catan,Elder Sign…
I find ticket to ride is good as is Talisman Prologue…

I have got the analogue versions of Carcassonne, Dominium,San Juan,Ingenious and Talisman…

I feel that none of the digital games can compare to the analogue versions…they just lack the interaction…some games you AI plays so quick that you tend to loose the flow of the game…well I do anyway 🙂

I enjoy playing my digital games as they are always there when I want to play…don’t need to set up…and don’t get the hump when they loose…

All my games are on the Android platform..

Cheers Mic(Jammerdad)

Gamer Avatar
6
Denmark
Paladin

Like so many others in here I prefer the analogue board game to the digital. When I have friends and family around me and play a board game there always comes a cosy atmosphere that I don’t get in any other situation. The social aspect to the old fashion analogue board game will for me always win over the digital quasi-social life. But I use the digital board game to practise a game or get to know the rules and mechanics better.
But in this way the digital is the secondary chose and the analogue my first.

Gamer Avatar
6
Miniature Painter
Novice Reviewer
Knight-errant

I’ve played a few digital board games. For me it just isn’t worth it. I don’t see the difference between playing a digital board game, and any other video game. Board games are really about the social interaction. If I’m going to sit in front of a screen, there are much better games to sit in front of.

If I play Terra Mystica online, I get a mild “yay” when I win. If I play the board game, I get a big “yay” from playing, win or lose, and a really big “yay” from winning. The two experiences don’t compare.

Gamer Avatar
6
Comic Book Fan
Movie Lover

Half the reason I play board games is to take a break from the screens. I’ve tried them, but digital board games just aren’t for me.

Gamer Avatar
8
Norway
Plaid Hat Games fan
AEG fan
Tasty Minstrel Games Fan

I’ve tried Hive, Neuroshima hex – those I uninstalled after a short while. The ones I’ve kept are Ticket to ride (fun to try to get as many tickets as possible), Le Havre (you dont have to deal with all the tokens and bits) and Kingdom builder (same reason as Le Havre). I dont have any of those in print version. Downloaded em to see if I wanted to buy a hard copy of them, but I think I’ll not:)

Gamer Avatar
8
Intermediate Reviewer
Copper Supporter
Viscount / Viscountess

I tried a few digital games: Dominion (base game), Hive, Neuroshima Hex, Quarriors ant Ticket to Ride. I enjoyed only Dominion and Hive. Why? Because these are games with low interaction. Of those five, I think Ticket to Ride is the best implementation (art, sound, design, usability, etc) but I think it lacks the interaction between players. I also played some local games of digital TTR, so I can interact with the other players but it is not the same thing. You can’t see the board all the time and I miss the pieces. For me, the worse experience was Quarriors. The game is not well implemented and it suffers a lot from the lack of interaction.

Gamer Avatar
3
Filth - Summoner Wars

I have to say, even if Digital Boardgames look really good and some of them are really nicely done, they remove the exact purpose of boardgaming: human interactions.
Another thing: nothing compares with the moment when you buy a boardgame, arrive home and open the box. With Digital there is no such thing(yes, they are way cheaper, but still)

Gamer Avatar
10
Jungle Elves - Summoner Wars
BoardGaming.com Beta 2.0 Tester
Summoner Wars Fan
Unicorn Clan - Legend of the Five Rings

I’m definitely a fan of digital board games, although I’d always prefer to play physical copies when I can. In my case, I don’t have a regular gaming group, so it’s sometimes difficult to find the opportunity to play. Playing solo games will scratch the itch some, but they don’t compare to competing with another opponent. Digital versions of board games are excellent because they provide the chance to play a game against others when I might not have that chance normally. Of course, it’s not as fun as the real thing, but it’s sometimes the closest I can get.

In addition, I always have 6 or 8 games of Ascension and Summoner Wars running, and it’s hard to beat the convenience of pulling out my phone or iPad and making a few moves while I’m otherwise doing nothing.

Gamer Avatar
10
Canada
Sentinels of the Multiverse fan
Plaid Hat Games fan
Platinum Supporter

Nope – I avoid them, then again I’m also one of those people who are holding out by reading books of paper.

Like @Account Deletion – I spend hours staring at a screen typing away the majority of most days (and sometimes nights), then I pop on here and poke around. I’m screened out.

Games are best unplugged. A time of friends, the occasional adult beverage, laughter and table flips. How am I supposed to curse the dice if I can’t hold them in my hand?

Gamer Avatar
9
I play black
Guardian Angel
Platinum Supporter
Marquis / Marchioness

I’m with @Granny and @Jay – digital board games go against my very purpose for playing board games. But even if I wasn’t worried about losing the interaction and group experience of physical games, I’d likely never pick up a digital game… I get paid to sit in front of a backlit screen for 50 hours a week, so sitting in front of a backlit screen during my leisure time is the last thing I want to do.

Then again, I’m typing this on my iPad during my few free evening hours before bed then back to the grind… I’m just a big ball of hypocrisy.

Gamer Avatar
7
Knight-errant
Old Bones
The Silver Heart

I have both digital and physical versions of Summoner Wars. I prefer the physical game, but the digital has some things going for it. Deck customization with the digital version is nice. I don’t have to worry about keeping track of how the deck came off the printers. It is also an easy way to get a game in without having to set things up, and pass and play is pretty close to a physical game.

Gamer Avatar
6
Spread the Word
Zealot

I’ve started playing some of the digital versions of board games (Neuroshima Hex, Elder Sign) just because I can’t get enough gaming. But I far, far prefer plying IRL. The banter is better in person, and so much can be communicated in an expression; you can’t get that digitally.

Gamer Avatar
4
The Gold Heart

The only digital board game I play is Risk. I have a version on Sega Genesis, Xbox 360, and a board game copy. I like playing risk on xbox because steps are clear and never missed or wrong. The only other version of Risk I played was my first experience ever with the board game, and we played with a house rules mod (which I added on the Risk Tips page) called Zombie Risk.

These digital versions allow for little (if any) allowance for house rules, which is a major participatory flaw.

I’m not drawn to any digital board games except classics like Chess, Checkers, and Risk. Risk is the only one I favor digitally. Nobody has to worry whether they grabbed the right kind of miniature to keep track of their armies, less room for doubt, more space to have snacks (which is essential for how long some conquests can last).

I don’t do online games ever though. Only local digital games. I would not download an app even if I did have a smartphone. I need player interaction for these kind of games.

Gamer Avatar
8
Rosetta Stone
Football Fan
Explorer - Level 5
Junior

Digital board games are great. The only gripe I have is that the current state of business means I rarely get copies of games I can play.

Most games come out on iPad, or at least on iOS, which means my Android phone and I don’t get to play them.

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