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I don’t know about you, but we have been self-quarantined for at least a week now, and it seems like this might stretch on for a few months. So we’ve been trying to answer the question – what are the best board games to play over Zoom with friends and family around the world.
With the quarantine in place, playing games with people other than the people in your household can be challenging. We are here to give you the best board games to play remotely or by video streaming, and some best practices for ensuring that your remote game night is fun and not peppered with awkward pauses or one person having to move everybody’s markers.
Playing games remotely is not a new concept – chess by mail, and even by messenger, has been around forever – but when you add a video stream to the mix, it can be great and exhilarating, but also a little weird. The stream can go in and out, and it’s easy to get distracted in ways that don’t serve anyone, least of all the game.
Some games do not lend themselves to playing remotely. A laying down cards game like Uno, or a trick winning game like Hearts, would be difficult to play remotely because everyone would need to be playing from of the same deck of cards. Likewise, Monopoly or Risk could be fun, but both take a long time, and there are too many small pieces that would need to be moved around by someone on one end of the video stream.
Here’s a list of a few of the best board games to play over Zoom that we’ve played remotely recently – and we’ve really had a lot of fun playing them.
Battleship is a great two-player game to play via streaming videoconference.
Each person needs to have their own set, but because it’s an old favorite, you may already have it in your home (and if you don’t, they are super reasonable). It’s inherently based on the idea of separateness, so it’s easy and very fun to play via Zoom. (And of course, you could play it without a board if you must, using graph paper to locate your ships – this is the way one of our moms did it when she was a kid!)
This is a game for only two people, so it might not be the right thing as a video party game, but for a one on one between two friends, we highly recommend Battleship.
This classic dice game is a great game to play via Zoom, especially if you have several families who want to join in. Each family needs 5 dice, a pencil, and a scorecard. (See this link for a Yahtzee scorecard as a PDF that you can print out.)
We recently played with two other families (total of 8 players); it worked out very well and was a lot of fun.
One suggestion that I would make is to keep the game moving along is to have each family roll their rounds at the same time.
The first couple of rounds we had each person do it live in turn, and it got a little tedious. If all the video screens/family groups take their turns at the same time, then they can announce how they scored that turn at the end of each turn, which could be followed by social chit chat for a couple of minutes, followed by another turn.
There are 13 turns of Yahtzee, so expect it to take some time. It took us about 45 minutes to get through a full game, with chatting and snacks in between each round.
Boggle is another game that is easy to play using Zoom or another videoconference service.
It’s ideal if the person with the board (the boardmaster) has a tripod and a smartphone when they are playing (either as an extra account or as their own account.)
After the boardmaster shakes up the cubes, it’s important that they focus the camera on the board while the players are doing the discovery period. That person should also set the timer, and for online play, I recommend a digital timer rather than the classic sandglass timer, as it will make it much easier for people to see. The boardmaster can call out time notifications as they see fit. On Zoom (and most videoconference platforms), players can make an individual screen full-size, which will give everybody the opportunity to view the board during the timed play.
Also, you may not know that Boggle comes in a number of different varieties, including Big Boggle, which is five across, and Super Big Boggle, whose grid is six across. Those are a lot harder (and typically, 4 letter words or above are the only ones that score on the larger games). There’s also Boggle Jr. for the younger kids and a really nice vintage version of Boggle with a wooden box.
Pictionary is a fun game to play remotely, but you have to adapt the game to get the best use out of it.
If each video screen represents a family of two or more, I recommend that each screen have their own Pictionary deck and board. Each screen is a team, and that all of the screens play their round simultaneously. When you’ve finished playing, let the boardmaster know how far your team was able to get. If you don’t have the board in your house, you can roll a 6 sided dice to choose the categories (1 for D-Difficult, 2 for A-Actions, 3 for P-People or Places, 4 for O-Objects, and 5 and 6 for AP (any word). You could also just choose that this round would always be Objects or Actions, and then each round rotates the category.
If each video screen is an individual, it’s best to use the screen-sharing feature of Zoom, and do the drawing on the screen (Zoom has a whiteboard feature), and everyone can guess at the drawing. It makes it a little harder, as the drawing is harder to do on the computer, but this way everyone is seeing it directly.
By the way, if you are primarily playing with adults, you might prefer this R-rated adult-only version of Pictionary called Drawing Without Dignity. Be careful though, this is definitely not for the weak of heart or the prudish. The words and ideas are pretty uncensored and might have you blushing a little.
And if you are still all adults (or at least over 12) but don’t want the swearing, they have a PG game that’s pretty good called Artsy-Fartsy. It’s an irreverent take on Pictionary where you might be called upon to draw a dog fart or dragon breath. There are some additions as well, including stealing, that might have to be adapted for the video screen format as well.
Tenzi is a great game for playing remotely because it is so simple and so fast. Each family (or video screen unit) needs to roll a set of ten dice as fast as possible to get all of their dice to land on the same number. This is another game where it’s best if each round is played simultaneously at each home or video location.
If you don’t yet have Tenzi, it’s might be a great game to order and have delivered, because it’s so flexible. The game comes with rules for eight different games, and there are another 77 variations available by purchasing a deck of cards. I haven’t used that deck, but I’m sure that the additional rules could make for some interesting remote play.
Whatever games you decide to play during your remote game night, the most important thing is to have fun! A remote game night without fun isn’t very fun at all!
If you’ve got other suggestions for the best board games to play over Zoom, please post them in the comments! We’d love to hear from you.
Now go wash your hands!
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Best Board Games For Adults