6 Classic Board Games To Play Online

As much as we love a good board game night, it can be tricky to make one happen. Friends work late or struggle to find babysitters. Long story short, getting together in person can be tough.

Thankfully, there’s another way to play. You can find just about every classic board game online. You don’t need to be in the same room. Instead, just get on the same website or app! Check out some of the big ones—many are absolutely free to play!

1. Chess

The most popular place to play is Chess.com. It started as a website, but now also offers an excellent (and free!) app. Either way, the platform makes it easy to play with friends, strangers or AI opponents of varying abilities. You can find an opponent and play a game of bullet chess within a minute or two. And if you sign up for an account, you can track your score to see if you improve over time.

2. Monopoly

The official Monopoly app is priced pretty low, and it’s probably worth it for the integrated video chat alone. Ad-free and filled with graphics and animations, this is a well-designed experience with plenty of online player modes. You can even play with your own favorite house rules and exceptions.

If you don’t want to shell out the money for the official app, check out the Rento version, a free browser-based alternative. By running Zoom at the same time, you can still chat with the people you’re playing with.

3. Clue

Want to play something a little less intense? Try the classic game of deductive reasoning, Clue. It’s not too complicated for kids to have a chance to win, but not so simple that adults will be bored. And the format works well online.

The official Clue app is available for Apple and Android platforms. That gets you access to the ad-free digital board game with the option to play against bots, strangers or friends.

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4. Scrabble

If the success of Wordle has taught us anything, it’s that people really, really like online word games. Why not try the online version of the classic competitive word game, Scrabble?

There are several ways to play Scrabble online. Scrabble Go, the official app, is available for free on your mobile device. You can also play it in your browser through Facebook and Pogo.

Fun, unofficial options are available, too. Most popular is Words with Friends, which also offers a free mobile app and Facebook-based browser option.

5. Risk

Risk is arguably the most popular war game ever. It has stood the test of time for a reason. It’s simple enough for anyone to learn and has plenty of room to strategize and make it more complex. It can also be very, very long.

Thankfully, the online version lets you skip to the good part. Risk: Global Domination keeps most of the original features of the game but automates dice rolling. More domination, less waiting for your friend to finish her turn.

The game is available to download to your computer or your mobile device for free. You can play against bots, strangers or friends. There’s even a cooperative mode for the days you aren’t feeling competitive!

6. Catan

Has Risk given you a taste for strategy? Try the Risk-inspired Catan (formerly known as Settlers of Catan).

With its blend of luck, strategy and trading, Catan is the gateway to true board game geekery. Still, its relatively simple rules make it a good choice for casual players.

There are several options for online play. First, Catan Classic is available to download to your smartphone or computer. This faithful re-creation of the original game features multiplayer play against humans or AI.

Catan Universe is the other official app. It has lots more features, from forming guilds with other players to exploring multiple expansions of the base game. However, it’s a freemium app: The basics are free, but most of the good stuff costs money.  

Colonist is a free browser-based clone of Catan. You can join public games, host private games or just play by yourself against bots. It was so successful during the pandemic that it made headlines!

What to play next

With so many online board games to explore, it would be a shame to leave out two more favorites.

If you love the pure strategy of chess, check out Go, another ancient strategy game with a thriving virtual community available on many different sites. You’ll find a lot of players actively gaming, and you can join in.

For fans of Risk and Catan, Ticket to Ride is a must-play. This time, global domination takes the form of a railroad.

Fast fiber internet amps up your play

No matter what online game you play next, make sure you have the internet connection to enjoy it. Nobody likes getting disconnected in the middle of game time! Fiber internet service, if you can get it, is a great choice for great streaming and video conferencing.

Game features and availability may have changed and are subject to change.

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