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How to have the best virtual board game night!

Updated: Oct 25, 2020

Connect with friends all over the world while preserving your sanity!


Let's be real for a second, being stuck in quarantine can really affect you mentally. Once you've finished Netflix you're faced with very difficult realities like the knowledge that having more time to finally clean your apartment turned out to not to be the reason it wasn't done. And now that you've had the chance to really look at yourself in the mirror of isolation, it's time to do something about it and make some real changes!

Still here? Yep. You weren't going to do that either. Those some were harsh realities you just went through and now your brain needs a break! How about a board game? It keeps your brain sharp while still allowing you to be social with friends. And best of all, you can connect with friends you haven't seen or heard from in years! The downside, of course, is that the ones you don't invite will now know you didn't really care for them. But let's not think about that. That's one of those hard brain things we're trying to avoid here.

Below is a list of the best virtual games to regain your sanity and preserve all those friendships so that when we're finally done with quarantine, you can feel confident in asking them to give you a ride to the airport!

1. Jackbox

Jackbox is a collection of fun party games that are easy to jump right into, with instructions provided as you go. It's a great warmup for any game night and perfect for that friend that tells you they're listening while they're typing a text to someone else. Even better, only the host has to purchase and download the actual game, so it's free for all participants! So if one of your friends says they can't join because they're broke, you'll finally know they just really don't like you. And isn't that the point of life... to learn?

But what game should you play and how many players??

Jackbox provided a list on their website but House of Darkly's spreadsheet provides descriptions and @ryne_ee created a whole page that shows available games based on player count!

Cost: Varies, paid by host only

Speed of Game: Fast

Player Counts: 1-100 (although most max at 8)

Method of Play: Screen Share, Phones are controllers

2. Catan

Catan Universe is the officially licensed version of virtual Catan but Colonist, the alternative to Catan, is more officially licensed for fun. Both are free, but not really. Catan Universe is optimized for three players but for either a one-time fee or an exchange of scrolls you can have a 4-player option. If "an exchange of scrolls" sounds weird, it is, and this is really why Colonist is better.

Colonist's first expansion is $20 (currently discounted to $10) but gives the opportunity to have a 6-player game and only has to be paid by the host, while Catan Universe maxes at 4-players and all expansions need to be paid by each player. You could also have 10-player game with Colonist, but why would you do that other than to say you did that?

Cost: Catan Universe: varies, paid by each player / Colonist: varies, paid by host only

Speed of Game: Medium-Long

Player Count: Catan Universe: 1-4 / Colonist: 1-10 (but 6 is really enough)

Method of Play: Screen Share or Phone

3. Codenames

Have a big group of people that may or may not always be paying attention? Codenames is your answer! Because it's a game about group guessing, it's the perfect game if you have participants with tiny bladders or for those friends that decide that now that you're playing a board game, it's a great time to start cooking dinner.

Since there is not yet an official online version of the game, use this alternative at From there you can create your own custom link which can be accessed from your phone or computer. You can even share the screen in Zoom since Peter can't pick up his phone while he's putting a dry rub on a steak.

Cost: Free!

Speed of Game: Medium

Player Counts: Unlimited

Method of Play: Phone or Computer (Screen Share optional)

4. Scattergories

Do you know a lot of words? Or maybe just words your friends don't? Scattergories is another fantastic party game that is also easy to jump right into. The officially licensed version is a free download on the iphone app store but I personally prefer the straight-forward interface of this knockoff version: This online site doesn't have all the bells and whistles of the app store, it doesn't require a download, or a phone. Instead, it harkens back to a simpler time of pens and paper, a bygone era when people actually got together in person for board game nights. Ah the memories.

Cost: Free!

Speed of Game: Medium

Player Counts: Unlimited

Method of Play: Phone or Screen Share

5. Trivia!

If you're the type of person that doesn't want to deal with boards and games and just wants to show off all that random knowledge, then trivia is for you (and it probably always was even before this whole quarantine thing). You can challenge your friends one-on-one in QuizUp, available from the Apple app store, or if you have a big group, you can make it a simple trivia night with:

Cost: Free!

Speed of Game: As long or fast as you want!

Player Counts: QuizUp: 1-2 / Random Trivia Generator: Unlimited

Method of Play: Phone / Screen Share

6. Monopoly

Let's be real here, Monopoly can be annoying to set up. Not only that, but sometimes you just want to relax and don't want to deal with auctions or 10% of mortgages. For that, there's online Monopoly. It takes care of the bank, the moving of the tokens, and just lets you focus on making great deals and ruining great friendships. This one is a paid version from the Apple app store, but if you're into Monopoly it's totally worth it. The downside is it maxes at 4 players, but if you have 5 friends that want to play Monopoly, maybe it's time for them to learn Catan ;)

Cost: $3.99 per player (or $8.99 if bundled with Clue, Battleship, and Life)

Speed of Game: Medium

Player Counts: 1-4

Method of Play: Phone, Zoom for chat

7. Clue

The classic whodunnit murder mystery game where you compete with your friends to be the first one to completely get the facts wrong. To help you, this online version of the classic game available from the Apple app store tracks notes for you allowing you to focus on the real questions like: Why did Hasbro needs to make all the characters so attractive? What was wrong with the way they looked before?

As with Monopoly this game isn't free, but if you think it's too cheap, you can always buy more characters that increasingly feel like the developers are just throwing ideas at the wall.

Cost: $3.99 per player (or $8.99 if bundled with Monopoly, Battleship, and Life)

Speed of Game: Medium

Player Counts: 1-6

Method of Play: Phone, Zoom for chat