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Your Turn: Digital Board Games

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

Your Turn - A Discussion

Hey there, I’m Andrew; game industry professional, reviewer, gamer, fellow member and the host of’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
Professional Reviewer Beta 1.0 Tester
Silver Supporter
Sentinels of the Multiverse fan

I don’t play much digital board games. For one, I have an Android device, so my options are more limited. Even though I do have a few, I usually opt for simple word games on my mobile device that plays quicker, and my smartphone screen is too small for most digital boardgames.

My wife has the iPad, and Ticket to Ride on it has ruined her from the cardboard version. She doesn’t like to play it as much. However, she would prefer to play San Juan in person than on iPad. Go figure.

But like Granny said, I like the social aspect of the board game over the digital. Usually if I’m playing a digital version of it, it makes me want to play the real thing.

However, I’ll pay for a digital version of the game if I haven’t played the real one for two reasons:

A. Figure out how to play it.
B. Figure out if I want to buy the real version after I learn it.

That way, I might be out $3 to $10 dollars if I don’t like it instead of $30-$60 for the boardgame. For instance, I’m glad I played digital versions of Le Havre and Caylus… they were snoozefests.

Gamer Avatar

Since a majority of my board gaming is solo (due to time/family, etc) playing digital board games is a natural extension. For some games, (Ascension, for example) its cheaper to pay 2.99 per expansion instead of 20 for one.

Gamer Avatar
Tasty Minstrel Games Fan
Eminent Domain Fan

I absolutely love digital board games. When I can’t play with my friends in person, I can play with them online. This counts double for friends who I can only have contact with online, such as folks that live in different states or countries. Sure, it’s not nearly as much fun as playing with a group of people all in the same room, but it’s SOMETHING, and I get to share my love of the hobby with folks I otherwise wouldnt be able. And, honestly, there’s no downside to being able to play a board game on, say, the train!

I also really like the sort of “try before you buy” aspect of digital board games. They’re significantly cheaper so I won’t feel so burnt paying only a few bucks for that instead of spending upwards of fifty for a game I end up not liking.

Gamer Avatar
Platinum Supporter
Petroglyph Beta 1.0 Tester

Digital board games go against the original reason I got back into board gaming… for the social aspect of it. However, I have found them to be great for several reasons:

1) To learn the game if I haven’t played before.
2) To play the game when no one is available.
3) To practice the game so I can crush that smug jackwagon at the next game night! (My personal favorite).

I don’t usually play digital board games with anyone else, but they have come in handy while waiting in line with my wife and kids.

I also think they might help prop up game publishers a bit… giving new life to a game through app sales.

Gamer Avatar
Jungle Elves - Summoner Wars
I play blue

I play a few digital board games and actually just purchased Ghost Stories and Yggdrasil today for my iPad. My favorite games to play digitally are Elder Sign, Ticket to Ride, and Pandemic. I tend to play digital games on the go or when no one else is around to play with me. I own the real Elder Sign and Pandemic but if it’s just me playing at home the digital version takes less time to set up. For some games, I find the digital version is easier to play because it remembers all the rules for me like turning the clock forward in Elder Sign.

I prefer the real board game to the digital versions, though I have found that the digital version of some games is a good way to get other people interested. While visiting my parents, I downloaded Ticket to Ride Europe on their iPad because I was tired of playing Ticket to Ride USA on my small iPhone screen. After I left, my mom discovered it and became addicted. She doesn’t have any desire to play the real board game of it but since then she’s been more open minded about playing the “new” type of board games.

Gamer Avatar
Mythic Kingdoms Backer 2020
Video Game Fan
Miniature Painter
The Gold Heart

What I really enjoy about digital board games is that they allow me to enjoy the hobby when I’m on the go and/or can’t find anyone else to play with. Also, they’re a great way to learn the game or “try before you buy” the physical version.

Here’s how I’d rank how I most enjoy playing:
1. Physical version
2. Digital version on a touch screen device
3. Digital version on PC/Mac
4. Digital version on Xbox/Playstation/Wii

You loose a lot of the “magic” of playing a board game when you have to use a mouse or controller.

Gamer Avatar
Mythic Kingdoms Backer 2020
Video Game Fan
Miniature Painter
The Gold Heart

Hey guys, I just signed up for reddit, and posted a link to this article on it. (click here for the reddit discussion)

Feel free to share your thoughts there as well!

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