The best online board games 2021: Play with your friends in virtual space
Boardgames are an absolute stalwart for so many people - while people might go mad for the likes of Animal Crossing: New Horizons, or sink hours and hours into Call of Duty: Warzone, many people still have some old favourites in their cupboards.
We love a good tabletop game, but it's fair to say that even the most cordial households might get a little tired of playing with each other, especially if there's a limited selection of games at hand. That's where the internet comes in, though. It's easier than ever to play board games of all types and genres online, whether through fully released game versions, or via useful websites and servers.
We've dug out some of the very best board games you can play online, and where you can do it, to help widen your horizons a bit.
The best online board games to play today
Settlers of Catan
Settlers of Catan is like the grandfather of board games at this point, a titanic success that's never really slowed down, and is a staple in living rooms and lounges around the world. It's no surprise that it's had a series of swish apps for those who want to play it remotely, with the Catan Universe version being the most recent.
It's a great way to get online and play with friends, and is quick and responsive to play. Plus, it's available on both iOS and Android as well as PC. While it won't integrate with Catan Universe, there's even a version of Catan available now on the Nintendo Switch.
Ticket to Ride
Ticket to Ride is another venerable board game, a really fun track-laying competition that has great replayability thanks to randomised goals each time you play. It's also soothingly simple and colourful.
The game version is as impressive as Catan's, with lovely sound and animations to complement the action, and again is available across a range of platforms to help you find one that will work for your group.
A Game of Thrones: The Board Game - Digital Edition
This has long been one of our favourite board games in the flesh, based far more on the original books than the TV show, but nonetheless replicating the subterfuge, military brutality and careful strategy of both. You play as one of Westeros' great houses, and must forge alliances and plan betrayals to grab the Iron Throne for yourself.
All the while, external threats will harry you and all players. It's terrific fun, and the new digital edition of the game makes it easy to play with friends remotely. It's a pretty lengthy game, but this could become a staple in your friendship group once you've tried it.
If you're feeling a bit more ambitious, though, you might want access to a platform that carries loads of different licensed games, which makes Tabletopia a great pick. It lets you buy digital versions of seriously popular games, to sit at a virtual table and play in 3D with friends.
The games are all lushly realised, and because it's all officially licensed you've got nothing to worry about in terms of legality or indeed features. That's why we've left its main competitor, Tabletop Simulator, off this list - it's simply hardle to wrangle for most people. Tabletopia offers up a world of options and great presentation.
Of course, some people might favour simplicity, and it doesn't get much easier to play than Uno, which has a whole heap of games available on different platforms that you can play with friends and family.
While it might not be the most involved game, it's stood the test of time admirably, and we think that it's almost guaranteed that, if you offer it, people you know will choose it over more complex options that they're not familiar with.
Speaking of complexity, why not take the chance to get into full-on tabletop roleplaying? Dungeons and Dragons is just one of countless rulesets you can use on Roll20's open platform, including the option of creating your own games and campaigns from scratch.
It's an insanely versatile system, and we recommend buying a module to play at least at first, so that you can get used to its slightly dizzying array of options and interfaces, but once you're in the swing of things you'll find that Roll20 could become one of your absolute favourite gaming tools.