Board Gamers assemble!
There are three types of people when it comes to board games:
 No board games people – my dad – i think we got him to play Trivial Pursuit once, but while my mom loves games of all kinds [although firmly in the #2 category which follows] he would literally rather mow the lawn or paint something than play with us.
 Old school board gamers – my mom – basically anything pre-Settlers of Catan here – all of the old school card games [Bridge, Rummy, Spades] and most games that had a single purpose to them such as Monopoly [get all the money/property], Risk [get all the land], Clue/Cluedo [discover who the murderer was] and Chess [defeat the king].
 Modern day board gamers – Settlers of Catan introduced a multi-strategy dynamic which meant that for most games created after it, while the end point was typically the same [most victory points wins] there were numerous ways you could choose to try to get there [Expand, largest army, victory point cards, city up].
A Fun Fact [well, for me] is that i competed in the National Settlers of Catan Championship in South Africa and was one dice roll away from being proclaimed the #1 player in the country [of the 30 or so who competed up in Joburg] and the only thing i needed to avoid throwing was a 7 and clearly we can guess where this story is going for the then #2 Catan player in South Africa.
Pandemic [not the game!]
So in 2020 when a worldwide pandemic [not the game!] forced us all indoors and kept us away from our gaming friends, it was the worst possible sentence for avid board gamers like myself. All board gamed up and no-one to play with.
This meant a lot of 2-player games [or more if you lived in a place with more people] and tbV and i came up with quite a creative expanding legacy version of Dominion using the three expansions we have which was a lot of fun for a while.
It meant experimentation with online games platforms like Tabletop Simulator which seems to have been the answer for a lot of people, but we downloaded it, tried it out once and ran for the hills screaming. The occasional online connection with friends over old computer game classics like Command and Conquer and Age of Empires.
Which was all a lot of fun, but something was still missing from my life, and it was board games.
Board Game Arena
A friend put me on to Board Game Arena and i have not looked back.
While there is a Pro option which requires you to pay a small monthly subscription in exhange for better access to games and special actions on the site, Board Game Arena can be played completely free as well. In fact, having one Pro member in your crew gives you access to most of the stuff you need.
Board Game Arena is basically a site where you can play a whole lot of the board and card games you may have been missing out on during Pandemic [not the game] although ironically not including the game Pandemic. But whether you are an old school gamer and want to play a huge number of card or board gamees such as Spades, Rage, Yahtzee, Backgammon and Chess; or a light game player who prefers Sushi Go, Splendour [which was just added today!], Carcassonne and Seven Wonders; or if you were someone who prefers a good two to three hour strategy fest such as Through the Ages, Tzolk’in, Lost Ruins of Arnak, or Terra Mystica, Board Game Arena has you covered.
Back to the [virtual] table!
i now have a regular weekly meet-up with a friend and his brothers for a big game and occasionally a smaller game if time permits. Plus at any given time i have about fifteen games going which happen over a number of days where random people from around the world jump on when they have a moment and make their next move. You can also choose to play a live game with strangers [or people you know or people who were strangers but now feel like people you know] so there really are a lot of options.
One of the highlights for me of being on Board Game Arena was the opportunity to learn a bunch of new games. Games tend to be super expensive and so my live game collection is nice but limited and so you tend to play the same games a lot. So having the opportunity to find a new game and watch the how-to-play video on the site and then try it out has been amazing. Also a good way of finding some new games you really like and some others you will probably never play again.
So regardless of who you are – unless you’re in the my-dad category – if you’re looking for a place to play games with friends while avoiding the Pandemic [not the game and the game] give BGA a visit. It is an easy-to-use site and the majority of the board games we know have been really well translated to the screen.
If you are someone who has already discovered Board Game Arena, i would love to hear what games you have been enjoying on there. For me some of the new finds were Through the Ages, Teotihuacan: City of Gods, La Granja, and Res Arcana while i rediscovered games like Terra Mystica, Lost Ruins of Arna, Marco Polo, Keyflower and even an old youth group and family favourite, Rage [the card game!]
Go and give Board Game Arena a look, and a try. It has kept me company and kept my sanity in check for many hours of lockdown!
To find some other thoughts on board games, card games and family game nights, check out this link on Must have board games for 2023.