While digital board games aren’t quite the same as their tabletop counterparts, playing board games on mobile and PC can have major advantages over their cardboard cousins. After all, the social element of tabletop gaming is a major reason as to why people enjoy it so much. Getting together with friends in a room filled to the brim with drinks, snacks, music and more gives tabletop gaming a major edge over the likes of video games. Board games in person are perfect for this, but digital board games can make enjoying the hobby that bit easier when a room full of people isn’t at your disposal.
One big benefit that digital board games have over traditional tabletop games is that online functionality enables players to play board games online with friends regardless of location or circumstance. Often the biggest obstacle that board game fans find themselves facing is gathering enough players in a single place for however long it takes to finish a game. Whether it’s having enough friends who are interested in tabletop gaming, choosing a time and place that suits everyone or having players back out last minute, there are a multitude of issues preventing tabletop gamers from doing what they love that digital board games help overcome.
Best digital board games
- Paperback: Scrabble meets Dominion. A deckbuilding card game where you try to create the highest-scoring words using a hand of letter cards.
- 7 Wonders: One of the best board games of recent years, a card-drafting title that sees players attempting to build the greatest civilisation by acquiring wonders, developing science and forming a military.
- Ticket to Ride: Hop on a train and see how many routes you can form across the map in this beloved family board game.
- Splendor: Live the life of a gem merchant and amass a fortune with the sparkling beginner board game.
- Magic: The Gathering Arena: The original trading card game goes digital in this free-to-play app.
- Flash Point: Fire Rescue: The co-op board game about fighting fires turns up the heat as players rescue civilians and extinguish flames.
- Sagrada: A beautiful set-collection game where players roll and pick dice to construct stained-glass windows and score the most points.
- Gloomhaven: The epic legacy board game gets a digital spin-off that features all the action and adventure of the tabletop fantasy adventure.
- Through the Ages: A historical-themed board game about beating your opponents in a contest of tribes - and eventually - entire civilisations.
- Twilight Struggle: This two-player board game focusing on the events of the Cold War is considered to be a modern classic by many players.
- Mysterium: A horror board game turned Rorschach test where one player is a ghost and the others are mediums trying to solve their murder.
- Hive: Chess with bugs. A two-player board game that sees opponents attempting outwit each other in a test of strategy and tile placement.
- Raiders of the North Sea: Pack your longboat and embrace your inner Viking in this recent strategy board game that has players squaring off to pillage the most victory points.
- Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Links: The shorter, sweeter version of the trading card game where two players compete to become masters of the cards in a series of quick-fire rounds.
Worry not tabletop gamers! There is a solution to your organisational woes, as there are a bucketload of fantastic digital board games available to play on mobile and PC. These digital board games allow you to play from the comfort of your own home, implementing the gameplay and themes of the tabletop originals into a format that feels a little more flexible and as close as you can get to the real thing. From co-op board games to intense competitive trading card games, this is a list of the best digital board games to play on PC and mobile - wherever the players may be.
The word-spelling of Scrabble meets Dominion’s deckbuilding
Everyone knows Scrabble, but they don’t necessarily love it. It’s a classic family board game that seems to exist in a cupboard or wardrobe of every house, and will occasionally be brought out on a Sunday afternoon when everyone is full of roast dinner and trifle. The problem is that it’s not especially exciting; games can go on forever and not having the letter tiles you need is infuriating. Instead, try Paperback - the perfect digital board game for you and your relatives to play instead.
Paperback combines the elements of deckbuilding - which sees players grow and customise their personal deck by acquiring new cards - and word-building. It’s a game that provides its players with options to be creative and think carefully about the letters they purchase for future turns. Each round, players draw a hand of letter cards that they can use to create a word, which scores them points. These points can then be used to purchase new letters for their deck, as well as cards worth victory points. As in Scrabble, there are wild cards players can use to take the place of any letter - enabling them to create even more complex and higher-scoring words.
The digital board game version of Paperback allows for online play for up to four people, as well as three different levels of AI opponent difficulty - meaning that you don’t need to have human friends to play - and visuals to match the board game’s slick pulpy novel artwork.
Play time: 45 mins
Best for: A lunchtime diversion
2. 7 Wonders
Build a civilisation in your pocket
7 Wonders has been a staple of the tabletop community for over a decade now. Despite not being the simplest beginner board game out there due to its multiple paths to victory and scoring methods, 7 Wonders’ tight card-drafting gameplay has carved itself a sizeable place in the hearts of many players. The epic theme of 7 Wonders doesn’t just come across in its presentation and theming, but also in the choices players can make and the ways in which they can dominate the card game.
7 Wonders is a civilisation game that offers its players a variety of ways in which to gather victory points - whether they choose to grow their military, collect resources or construct their city - that help shape their decisions and make every single playthrough feel different. Player choices will likely be influenced by what they receive in each hand of cards being passed around, as 7 Wonders is a card-drafting game that sees players taking and playing one card before handing the rest of their cards to their neighbour. These cards could be precious resources needed to build an ancient wonder, development cards to advance their technological progress or another possible bonus capable of boosting their hoard of victory points. It’s this drafting element that elevates 7 Wonders, forcing players to choose wisely and providing plenty of opportunities for competitive strategies.
The digital board game of 7 Wonders allows for up to seven players online and contains AI opponents for when friends just aren’t around. The grand presentation translates well onto a screen and doesn’t require all that fiddly card passing, as the app will do it for you.
Play time: 30 mins
Best for: Hashing out any rivalries
3. Ticket to Ride
A train game ideal to play on the go
A family board game institution, Ticket to Ride is the perfect excuse to get your loved ones together for an afternoon of riding the rails and travelling the world. If the feat of getting people in the same room to play Ticket to Ride is proving a little too difficult, the excellent digital board game version should get you back on track.
Simple enough to be learned in a matter of minutes, Ticket to Ride is a beginner board game in which players take turns to claim different train routes across North America (or one of the game’s many other maps, in several expansions and spin-offs) by collecting cards matching those routes. Players can gain points by connecting different locations on their secret ticket cards and forming the longest continuous train route. The simplicity of Ticket to Ride makes it the perfect choice for a relaxed gaming session, suitable for players of any experience or age to hop in and enjoy.
Ticket to Ride’s digital board game is easily one of the best board games on mobile and PC, with wonderful sound effects (poot poot!) and presentation - as well as a very straightforward interface that doesn’t overcomplicate things.
Play time: 60 mins
Best for: Cozy afternoons in
A gem of a card game
Sometimes travelling the world isn’t something we can do in real life, but board games enable players to explore entirely new places to their heart’s content - without any repercussions or difficulties. In beginner board game Splendor, you play an up-and-coming merchant of the Renaissance era who crosses the globe in search of priceless gems to sell to nobles in order to amass a fortune. All this glitz and glamour is just as attainable in the digital board game of Splendor, enabling players to be transported to lands afar from their own homes.
Each round of Splendor has players performing one of three actions: either collecting gems, buying a card, or reserving a card from the shared grid on the table. Each action offers new opportunities for point scoring. Should a player choose to take gems, they must either take three different colours or take two gems of the same colour. Those gems can be used to purchase cards that provide permanent gem bonuses to help with buying cards later on, alongside the essential prestige points that win the game. Reserving cards ensures that opponents don’t get their hands on them before you can afford the asking price, and grants a wild gem that can be used in place of any colour. As players continue to acquire more gems and purchase more cards, more options are made available to them and the opportunity for prestige points lays there for the taking.
Splendor’s digital board game gilds the lily in terms of presentation. The app features perfect recreations of the original board game’s cards and tokens, atmospheric music, a solo game mode and exclusive challenges. Capable of supporting up to four players online, the digital board game also offers several difficulty levels of AI to play against.
Play time: 15 mins
Best for: Getting rich quick
5. Magic: The Gathering Arena
The digital version of the world’s biggest trading card game
Magic: The Gathering may be the most popular trading card game in the world, however, it’s still not a piece of cake to find people to play it with. There are plenty of MTG organised play events held by Wizards of the Coast every year, but getting to those may be another matter entirely for some players. Otherwise, finding people to play MTG with in your local circle might not be the easiest thing either - as the investment required to play on a regular basis might be a bit much for people who just want to approach the game on a casual level.
There is another option to suit budding and advanced players alike: Magic: The Gathering Arena, a digital board game version of the classic trading card game that you can use to play with people from across the world. Available to download for free on PC, Magic Arena recreates the intense gameplay of the physical card game with snazzy animations and an atmospheric environment. As with original MTG, the goal is to whittle your opponent’s health down to zero by playing creatures and unleashing spells - with endless variation in deciding how to build a Magic: The Gathering deck to claim victory.
The MTG digital board game provides the added benefit of offering free starter packs for new players to use from the very beginning, with the opportunity to unlock more as you keep playing. There are even tutorials for players who aren’t quite familiar with how to play Magic: The Gathering yet, alongside the option to play against AI if you’re not confident enough to face-off against the world at large yet. If you are, then you’ll find online play that will enable you to improve your rank, as well as weekly events such as the Wednesday Brawl.
Play time: 20 mins
Available on: PC
Best for: Getting into the original competitive card game
6. Flash Point: Fire Rescue
A co-op board game that turns up the heat
As David Bowie once sang: “We can be heroes, just for one day.” Flash Point: Fire Rescue enables players to do just that from the comfort of their own homes. Ever dreamed of being a firefighter? Flash Point: Fire Rescue fulfills those ambitions by having its players storm a number of burning buildings in an effort to rescue the victims inside. An exciting and incredibly tense co-op board game, Flash Point has been translated into a digital board game, providing all the thrills of the theme and engaging gameplay of the tabletop original.
In Flash Point: Fire Rescue, players must work together to explore a building in search of the victims trapped inside, all whilst attempting to smother the fires raging within. Each player has access to an amount of action points that they can use to do a number of things per turn - extinguish fires, move further through the building and lead out victims - with the aim to prioritise the most important objectives to save all the victims before the building collapses. There are several special actions that players can perform depending upon which character role they’re playing. For example, the paramedic can revive people who have passed out and the rescue specialist can destroy walls blocking victims. These different roles, along with the limited amount of action points available each turn, are what drive the excitement of Flash Point as the ever-ticking clock counts down.
Flash Point ramps up the excitement as a digital board game with some fantastic presentation and a striking art style that’s entirely unique from the original. With both single-player modes and local multiplayer, as well as online play, don’t expect your fun to be extinguished any time soon.
Play time: 45 mins
Available on: PC
Best for: Working together as your favourite emergency crew
Pick dice to craft colourful stained glass windows
We’re always talking about how we’re going to take up some sort of creative hobby - knitting, croche, baking, piano playing - but actually finding the motivation to do them can be tough, especially if you have no-one to encourage you. Why not indulge these desires in a more accessible (and much cheaper) way by playing Sagrada?
A fantastic beginner board game for arty individuals, Sagrada is all about building the most beautiful stained glass window by combining coloured dice in a grid.
Sagrada takes the sweet concept of gently arranging glass and turns it into a brutal contest of backstabbing and general meanness. Each player has their own grid that they need to fill with different colours of dice, as well as various die results, with restrictions on what kind of dice can be placed where. Players take turns to select dice from a shared pool; this is where the competitive elements come in as every die that’s taken means fewer and fewer options for the other players, inevitably leading to some players missing out on opportunities for high scores. As the rounds go on and fewer and fewer spaces remain, the tension builds and players must think carefully about what dice they should take.
You can experience all this tension in the digital board game version Sagrada, which includes some lovely animations showing the gradual process of building a stained glass window and some pretty gorgeous lighting effects. On top of this, the PC app includes options to play both a single-player mode and online with people from around the globe, allowing the whole world to appreciate your craftsmanship.
Play time: 45 mins
Available on: PC
Best for: Doing something creative
Epic fantasy adventure ventures off of the tabletop
If you follow tabletop gaming in any sort of capacity you’ve undoubtedly heard of Gloomhaven. It’s one of the best board games released in the last few years, and its popularity is unprecedented. Whether it’s the eye-catchingly grim art style, campaign-based structure or crunchy card-driven gameplay, Gloomhaven has cemented itself in the hearts and minds of players everywhere. It should come as no surprise then, that there is a digital board game based on Gloomhaven and it happens to be rather good. Considering how expensive - not to mention enormous - the original Gloomhaven is, the digital board game may well be preferable to many people wanting to play it.
A co-op board game, Gloomhaven sees players assuming the roles of wandering adventures brought together in a dark quest filled to the brim with vicious monsters and none-too-nice folk out for blood. Using their unique skills and abilities, players explore mysterious locations and encounter various enemies on the hunt for precious loot. Each dungeon offers a variety of different challenges, with players needing to be careful with which cards to play and what decisions to make - or otherwise risk having to retreat from exhaustion. As players gain more experience and equipment, they’ll be able to grow their character and improve their abilities over time. The roleplaying elements of Gloomhaven - which see the world evolve over time, similar to a legacy board game - are perhaps its most unique parts and help to shape the board game into a more epic and memorable experience.
The digital board game version of Gloomhaven builds on its massive scope by providing 3D animated environments and characters, indulging in the original’s dark and pulpy art-style. The video game is currently in Early Access, meaning that currently the only way to play is through an adventure mode and not a complete campaign. However, the full version is on its way - and adventure mode is still a very fun way to play Gloomhaven.
Play time: 2 hours
Available on: PC
Best for: Getting started with a massive board game you’ve always wanted to play
9. Through the Ages
Grow an entire empire in your pocket with this civilisation game
If exploring deep dungeons and fighting monsters isn’t epic enough for you, why not try leading an entire civilisation to glory over thousands of years? Charting the rise of an entire people from seemingly humble beginnings to a glorious age of prosperity, card game Through the Ages enables players to pull the strings and decide the fates of millions.
Much like 7 Wonders - also a civilisation-building game, albeit smaller in scope - Through the Ages is all about player choice and deciding which areas of your empire to invest in. Unlike 7 Wonders, Through the Ages expands on this by forcing players to think carefully about all the different aspects of their civilisation - as they can become a weakness if left unchecked.
In Through the Ages, players are not only working towards advancing their scientific knowledge and military power, but also obtaining the resources they need to feed their people. Across the space of three ages each player needs to steadily grow their cities by building new housing, feeding their people and researching new scientific discoveries, as well as ensuring that their military is strong enough to prevent their opponents from stealing from them. Gaining the resources you need to carry out your plans comes from drafting and playing cards, with certain technologies or wonders helping players gain more of the cards they need. Once the last age has come to an end, the player with the most advanced civilisation becomes the winner of the game.
Through the Ages works very well as a digital board game in that players can witness the growth of their civilisation on-screen, seeing their tiny settlements turn into modern-day cities of technology and wonder. The digital board game also handles the game’s many, many cards, making the usually epic board game much quicker to play overall. There’s a tutorial for newer players to help get to grips with the complex tabletop game, as well as AI opponents to practise against before facing off against other players online.
Play time: 45 minutes
Best for: Feeling like a legendary leader
10. Twilight Struggle
This tense Cold War board game lets you rewrite history in an afternoon
The tabletop gaming world is a haven for history buffs, with countless board games based on seminal events that have taken place throughout human existence. From ancient history to the modern era, designers have long been fascinated by the passage of time - with many board games enabling you to actively branch away from what happened and create an alternative history of your own.
Perhaps most beloved of these is the iconic two-player board game Twilight Struggle, which attempts to recreate the complex Cold War conflict between the US and Soviet Russia. Featuring cards based on the real-life events of the period, Twilight Struggle has players search for confidential information, enemy spies and anything that will help them gain more worldwide influence than their opponent.
This might sound overwhelming but Twilight Struggle is actually a rather straightforward board game that offers tough decisions without being hard to play. You choose how to respond to world events and the actions of your opponent; how and where you decide to exert pressure is your primary interaction. As either the US or Russia, players apply their resources and brains to outwit their opponent. At points, important events - from the Cuban Missile Crisis to the heating up of the Space Race - will occur and the player in question will have to choose what option they’re going to take. Sometimes this will involve handing an unavoidable advantage to your opponent - or even pushing the world to the brink of nuclear war.
This is the really exciting thing about playing Twilight Struggle: the potential to create your own version of history. This translates well into the digital board game version with the inclusion of graphical and musical pizzaz. Play against the AI, a friend or online, and experience what it’s like to see history rewritten.
Play time: 45 mins
Best for: History buffs
Explore a haunted house in this spooky co-op horror board game
Imagine it, you’re alone in your house at night. It’s all dark and some tree branches are scraping against the window or a hedgehog is snuffling about in your bins outside. There might be a tap dripping somewhere, but you’re too spooked to get up and investigate. It’s scary stuff. Why not make it even scarier by playing Mysterium? A co-op board game about interacting with a ghost, Mysterium is sure to intensify any already spooky situation into an even creepier - but decidedly fun - one.
All joking aside, Mysterium is a fantastic board game beyond just its spooky factor - which isn’t actually that high to begin with - because of its great premise and how it forces players to interact with one another. In Mysterium everyone, except for one poor soul, is a medium whose job is to attempt to interpret the ghost player’s cards and find the correct killer. The spectre was brutally murdered, and it’s the other players’ job to accuse the right suspect, identify what weapon they used and where the terrible act took place - imagine Cluedo, but a little more mystical, and you’re partway there. The players do this by deciphering which of the available options the ghost player’s card is pointing them towards, with each card showing an abstract image that might contain a hint, not unlike beginner board game Dixit. Meanwhile, the ghost player will need to think carefully about which cards to give to each of the players in order to offer the right clues.
Mysterium’s digital board game adaptation plays into the atmosphere of the original by including all the beautiful artwork as well as suitably spooky effects and a haunting soundtrack to boot. What’s more, besides the standard solo, local and online multiplayer modes, the app features a new story mode for players not found in the original board game.
Play time: 30 mins
Best for: A fright night in
When chess gets old, whip out this thinky tactical board game
Sometimes you just want something quick and simple to kill a bit of time - nothing too heavy on rules but fast and, most importantly, fun. Two-player board game Hive ticks every single one of these boxes and offers a highly strategic competition, which is why it’s such a great game to crack into if you’re not able to commit to anything significant but still want to experience the best board games have to offer.
The objective of Hive is incredibly simple: surround your opponent’s queen bee with insects before they do the same to you. Hive is entirely made up of tiles showing different kinds of insects, with each player taking turns to add and move the bugs around a connected chain of all the tiles.
Each bug has a unique ability, from moving a set number of spaces as the spider to the ability to crawl on top of other tiles as a beetle or even leap over them as a grasshopper. Tiles can be used to block the opponent’s movements, forcing them to find another route in order to actually reach the other queen. A quick board game to play but full of tactical potential, Hive is easy to play over and over again to master your strategy.
Playing Hive as a digital board game is just as simple as playing it on the tabletop. There are options to play with someone locally or online, plus an AI opponent capable of playing on five different difficulties for solo play. However you choose to play Hive, it’s sure to leave you buzzing.
Play time: 10 mins
Best for: Something easy to learn that’ll keep you learning new strategies
13. Raiders of the North Sea
Manage a village of Vikings as they go in search of riches to plunder
Who doesn’t love a good Viking? They’re travellers, excellent craftspeople and can grow some pretty impressive facial hair. Of course, they’re not so fun when you’re minding your own business only to find yourself at the receiving end of spears and axes - as quite a few European countries found out a while back. But if you’re the one commanding them to do the sailing and fighting, then turns out it can actually be quite a lot of fun, like an interactive episode of Horrible Histories. This is what Raiders of the North Sea offers its players: the chance to control an clan of Vikings as they sail across the Atlantic in search of stuff to steal.
It’s not all about the spectacle, as Raiders of the North Sea contains quite a intricate gameplay system of choice and efficiency, with players needing to be pragmatic about how they want to use their Viking warriors. Raiding isn’t as simple as just hopping on a boat with a couple of swords and a big swag bag, as it requires preparation and resources. Each turn players can choose to either work or raid - assigning the required units for either action - with work taking place in the village and raiding happening at an enemy settlement. In order to commence a raid the player needs to have a large enough crew, sufficient supplies to cover the trip and the right people for the job. To get these, players need to construct the right buildings, attract clanspeople and gather enough provisions from their village. It’s certainly worth it, because raiding is the only way players can collect those all-important victory points needed to impress the chieftain and win the game.
Raiders of the North Sea’s accessible but engaging gameplay and characteristic art style is very much present and accounted for in the digital board game’s graphics and animations. There’s online multiplayer and the option to play against AI, plus a 10-game long campaign mode for anyone looking to spend plenty of time at sea.
Play time: 30 mins
Best for: Fans of Vikings and Horrible Histories
14. Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Links
Play the popular TCG in a flash with this digital board game
Maybe you’re not interested in the depth of Magic: The Gathering, learning how to play the Pokemon TCG or getting started with Keyforge. Perhaps your card game of choice is something old-school, but in a new modern form. In that case, Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Links might be exactly what you’re after.
One of the most popular trading card games still being played today, the Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG shares similarities with fellow nineties card games MTG and the Pokemon TCG in that it’s primarily about summoning creatures to attack your opponent. However, there’s plenty different here that makes Yu-Gi-Oh! stand out from the pack.
Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Links is actually based on a new simplified version of the standard Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG called Speed Duel. This makes Duel Links/Speed Duel a great entry point for TCG newbies, as it’s easier to learn, cheaper to get started with (Duel Links is actually free to download) and faster to play full matches.
Players summon monsters onto the board, decimating their opponents’ defences and dealing crushing blows to their life point pool. Players are free to play as many cards as they have space for and want to, with slots for ongoing magic spells and active monsters. As long as there are monsters on the board, a player cannot be attacked directly - with the option to lay monsters in defensive or attacking positions for strategic plays. Of course, players can also set hidden trap cards that activate to stop and hinder their opponent in many different ways. (And give you the satisfaction of shouting “You’ve activated my trap card.”)
The simplified version of standard Yu-Gi-Oh! in Duel Links removes a lot of the trading card game’s more complicated mechanics, providing a more straightforward way to learn how to play. As with most TCGs you’ll be able to build your own deck with any cards you acquire, as well as unlock starting decks based on iconic characters from the Yu-Gi-Oh! anime and manga series such as Yugi and Kaiba.
Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Links is almost identical to its tabletop equivalent Speed Duel, featuring the same snappy card-battling gameplay rules and trimmed-down decks. Unique to Duel Links are solo stage missions that can be completed to unlock new rewards, with an online multiplayer mode to challenge other players as well. Whatever way you choose to approach Duel Links, it’s a great introduction to one of the oldest and most beloved TCGs out there.
Play time: 5 mins
Best for: Aspiring trading card game players