Comparing the best Board Games websites to play online

Board Games

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Comparing the best Board Games websites to play online

An analysis of the three most famous online Board Games platforms: Board Games Arena, Tabletopia and Tabletop Simulator, considering their advantages and disadvantages.

By Cesar Cusin, 11/02/21, translated by Romeu, with help from our readers

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Playing Board Games Online

Well, here I am, fanatical board gamer who shouted at every corner that board games can only be played in person. What is the fun of playing online? And the tokens? And chat during the game? And so on... well, I changed my mind! I was always bringing people to my house to teach board games and found myself online teaching Stone Age to a couple of friends. What made me change my mind, you can ask me: Pandemic, of course! My house emptied out, the weekends were no longer the same. So much so that I started in online RPG, I never played in person, but that's another conversation.

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Well, if I wanted to play board games, it would have to be online, but then the question came to me, which platform to use? Which one supports cell phones? Which is the cheapest? Which offers the most advantages? Which one can I log 2 devices or more on the same network? What and how many games does each offer? And so on. And it was thinking about that and to solve this problem that I wrote this article.

Board Game Arena

I've already reviewed the Board Game Arena with its 377 free games and add another 71 games if you choose Premium, which among other advantages allows you to connect multiple devices on the same network, the Hotseat option (multiple players on the same device by alternating turns), plus, of course, you can bring guests to your Premium games.
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Board Game Arena
As to gameplay I like the Board Game Arena a lot because you have control of everything by hand, pertinent information about everything, your scores, opponents, the overview, and the movements are the same as we commonly do with the mouse. This creates a security and ease (in terms of usability) to play.
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Stone Age on Board Game Arena
To become Premium, which I particularly think is necessary for Board Game Arena, it's not the cheapest, and its subscription is annual. It is between Tabletopia, more expensive, and Tabletop Simulator, which in addition to being cheaper, is for the lifetime.

Tabletopia

Tabletopia has a base of 1852 free games and for those who are Premium it offers over 70 games, it allows you to play 10 games simultaneously, you can bring your non-Premium friends to your tables, besides having a factor that I really liked: it has an app for mobiles.
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Tabletopia
Tabletopia has in its favor an excellent filter by age, number of players, by duration and by language, if that is an impediment. This is very useful when choosing what to play. Games are ranging from 5 minutes to 6 hours. Unfortunately, it is the most expensive Premium account among the 3 and offers the fewest advantages. I don't know why, honestly. I particularly wouldn't go Premium on Tabletopia, for its price and gameplay.
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Tabletopia's front page
Regarding gameplay, and this is very personal, I don't like simulating real life that much in virtual board games, for example, having to pick and drag objects, I could just click on them and where you want to take them, or type in a number and take “x” objects at once, but they chose to have to actually select each object, actually make the move, including moving opponents' pieces. The disadvantages of this I will comment further on. I didn't get lost in the environment, but I still prefer Board Game Arena.
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Stone Age on Tabletopia

Tabletop Simulator

Tabletop Simulator is a must-buy, simple as that. It's the platform for thousands of classic, modern and community-created games, paid or not. The advantage is that you buy it once in a lifetime. In Tabletop Simulator, you can even create your own games, use the available database, create scripts to automate your games, for the roleplayers on duty, you can configure your dungeons and use everything the environment offers. The possibilities are endless!
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Tabletop Simulator

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Tabletop Simulator includes 15 basic classic games like Backgammon, Cards, Chess, Checkers, Chinese Checkers, Custom Board, Dices, Dominoes, Go, Puzzles, Mahjong, Pachisi, Piecepack, Poker, Reversi, Solitaire, among others. Additionally, there are thousands of community-created content available. We're talking about the home of over 21,000 board games, over 15,500 card games, over 8,000 RPGs, and so on, it really has the most content, due to having game development tools available to on-call designers. It is by far the largest collection of online games.
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Tabletop Simulator's front page
Going back to RPG, the environment offers an RPG kit with place tiles, furniture, animated figures to assemble and place with your friends, among other available options. There's even an option for the DMs, so they can control the table. For game creation, if you are creative and like prototyping, you can easily create your own games by importing images and creating custom boards and tables, custom decks, importing 3D models, creating scripts and much more. You can even choose to contribute to the community and upload your creations or share them privately with your friends.
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Stone Age on Tabletop Simulator
The Tabletop Simulator informs you that for a multiplayer game, it supports up to

10 simultaneous players

. Another point they pride themselves on is playing exactly like you do in real life: pick up, spin, shake and throw any object, whether it's your game pieces, your board, your table, your card, etc. This is also achieved with Tabletopia, and personally that's what I don't like very much. It requires a lot of fine mouse control and thus loses some accessibility and usability. With that, I opt, in this regard, for the Board Game Arena, in which the movements are much more similar to the mouse movements as we use it daily. The environment also offers a team game system with voice and text chat. Just like Board Game Arena allows Hotseat mode, which allows more people to play locally on the same computer. It also features 360º panoramic backgrounds that change the lighting and atmosphere. Honestly, I found it very polluted and unintuitive, several times I was lost not knowing where to go and what to do. But that's just my impression.

Conclusion

I'll try to be rational now, although it's not that easy. Well, as I said at the beginning, I wasn't a fan of online board games and I started dealing with them recently. After all this analysis, let's go to the considerations.
VarietyQualityPricePlayability
Board Game Arena
Tabletopia
TableTop Simulator
If you are looking for

variety and quantity of games

, I recommend the TableTop Simulator (remember that it is paid, but it's the cheapest and its subscription is for a lifetime), as simple as that! If you are looking for

quality in games

(the newest ones, etc.), the best option is the Board Game Arena (and I suggest becoming Premium). Tabletopia is closer to the Board Game Arena in terms of quality, but it still loses to Board Game Arena.

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As far as

gameplay

is concerned, the Board Game Arena wins, followed by Tabletopia and then by Tabletop Simulator. I never really felt so lost in a game as I did in that environment. Nothing is intuitive, logical or usable. To get this result, I played the same game on 3 platforms, so the comparison was fair. Regarding

value

, the TableTop Simulator beats all of them, it's the cheapest and with thousands of free games. Obviously, they also have paid games, like the others, but they are few and offer a lot for the small amount you pay. The Board Game Arena takes second place with its annuity, but with many advantages. As for Tabletopia, I don't see any justification for being so expensive and offering almost the same thing as the Board Game Arena, I think it must be because they have an app, but I really don't know. Based on that, can you guess which one I signed? Well, Tabletopia obviously doesn't, for several reasons already listed. So, do you opt for Board Game Arena or TableTop Simulator? Well, right who said TableTop Simulator, for the price, although I'm very unhappy with the gameplay, which will lead me me to become Premium in Board Game Arena in the very near future. Here is the link to their respective websites, Board Game Arena, Tabletopia and Tabletop Simulator for you, based on what I wrote, to draw your own conclusions.
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Cesar Cusin

Board Game and RPG collector/player (Master). PHD in Information Science. Master in Computer Science. College professor. Researcher in the area of ​​Web Accessibility. Consultant in the area of ​​Information and Technology Management. I support the Chiefs (NFL), Lakers (NBA) and I'm a Ferrarista (F1).

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