Our favourite games to play online during the lockdown
By the Alley Cat Games team
This is a crazy time to say the least and when your favourite hobby revolves around meeting around a tabletop with your friends it’s easy to feel that this pandemic has hit us tabletop gamers pretty hard.
Thankfully, we live in a pretty remarkable age where we can continue to play our favourite games even if it’s not in the ideal setting. So here are our favourite games to play online, and scroll to the bottom to see some rule sheets for how to play our games remotely with some print and play components to help you do just that!
Because of the diversity of the new remote group in terms of knowledge of hobby games, we’ve gone for games which have been super easy to grasp which require very little technology overheads.
The game we’ve played the most and successfully is: Just One.
Why? Because it is super easy to grasp for maximum laugh out loud fun. Just One’s premise is that everyone in the group bar the guesser is trying to guide the guesser to correctly figure out a word. However, the main trick is that the clues given must not match one another when presenting the guesser. If they do, those clues are eliminated from the game and the guesser has fewer options to choose from. That means, that often, you will get quite leftfield clues which the guesser has to piece together to guess the clue. Simple and fantastic.
It works perfectly remotely, as only one person needs to have a copy with the word cards to present to most of the group per round, while everyone else just needs a pen and paper to present their clues silently to the camera.
I have two regular groups who I ‘meet’ with regularly. One that loves to play mid-weight euro games and one that plays lightweight games.
For the lighter game group, I’ve found Board Game Arena (www.boardgamearena.com) to be a fantastic tool. We’re usually in a big group of 7 players so our choices are limited but our favourites on the site include Sushi Go, 6 Nimmt!, and 7 Wonders. Board Game Arena has a very simple user interface so anyone can play!
For the mid-weight Euro group, we’ve struggled a lot with trying to find a game that scratches the same itch without significantly added playtime. We tried a few games on Tabletop Simulator with some limited success - the fiddly nature of it usually doubles playtime, especially when not everyone is experienced in using it. Board Game Arena’s versions of Troyes and Puerto Rico have been the smoothest games we’ve played so far so I think we’ll try to stick to Board Game Arena in the future too.
I have never really been a solo gamer, with most of my plays usually coming from the weekly game night I host at my house, my local board game cafe The Dice Cup and conventions. It’s clear to say that the current situation has changed that but it’s also given me a chance to reassess my own collection and look at it in new ways.
Recently I’ve found that party guessing games such as Monikers, Linkee, or Articulate can work surprisingly well via Zoom or Skype. One person may need to own the game, but they can privately send files, or you can often substitute clue cards from different games as a stand in for the official ones. My general advice would be to have a games master of sorts, to teach everyone else the game and kind of ‘stage manage’ proceedings to stop it getting too messy, however, maybe that is where your fun and laughter come from.
For the lovers of storytelling out there I have been exploring games with a narrative element that can be played via webcam, like Legacy of Dragonholt, Escape the Dark Castle and Choose Your Own Adventure House of Danger. This does require someone to be the narrator, but it means the rest of the group can focus on decisions, theories and just enjoying the tale which I think could be great for families of all ages. Another narrative game I’ll be playing with my family very soon via skype is Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective and publisher Space Cowboys have uploaded all the supporting files in the game (such as newspapers/directory/etc) to their website so only one person needs a copy to play as a group.
Moving away from storytelling I’ve been playing a lot of Azul and Cartographers on Tabletop Simulator and Tabletopia as these are both really well implemented and fast to play. Finally I can’t forget the apps on my phone, and I have played countless games of Ganz Schon Clever, Dragon Castle, and Onitama.
Download Alley Cat Games files for remote play!
We’ve already started to see people playing our games remotely and we want as many people as possible to be able to enjoy our games, even when socially distancing. So without further ado, follow the links below for our suggestions on how to play our games remotely:
Suitable for remote play
Welcome to DinoWorld [link]
Cat Café [link]
Dice Hospital [link]
Chocolate Factory [link]
Has Online Adaptation:
Dice Hospital [Tabletopia Link]
Chocolate Factory - Coming very soon!
Ruthless [Tabletopia Link]
Online prototype available as part of our playtesting program:
Eternal Palace - Request via facebook
Dice Hospital Digital App (standalone game)
Dice Theme Park (prototype for playtesting) - sshh this is top secret....