The Obligatory Socially-Distanced Gaming Post

I remember the Before Times. Before the plague. Before the chaos, the ruined dreams, this wasteland. In those days, people gathered in groups, dice in hand, to while away an afternoon, carefree and content. Those days seem like a myth now, a story told the the younglings to give them hope that some day–

*Record scratch* Wait. That was only FIVE MONTHS AGO?!?

OK. So…boardgaming. It’s an intrinsically social hobby, isn’t it? Most people, it’s safe to say, play board games in part because they bring friends together for a group activity where no one has to feel left out and where we’re all doing something we enjoy. Heck, I’m one of the most asocial people I know, and I enjoy this aspect of the hobby. However, the Great Global Pandemic of 2020-20?? has pretty much put the kibosh on our gaming group gatherings for the foreseeable future.

What’s a gamer to do?

Luckily, there are options. Lots of options, actually, and, even though I haven’t tried them all and even though not all of the ones I’ve tried have worked out for me personally, I think that it is still important to know that a global pandemic doesn’t have to be the end of your gaming hobby.

Browser-Based Board Gaming

First up, there are several websites where you can go just to play boardgames via your browser! Board Game Arena and Yucata are a couple of popular sites where you can play a multitude of games. You can play against friends or get matched up with strangers. A good thing about these sites is that they usually enforce rules automatically, so you can’t accidentally make an illegal move.

The only downside I can see with these sites is that they can be a bit overwhelming. Luckily, they often have a lobby for beginners, so people know to be patient with someone who may just be learning the interface of the site.

Yucata has a great selection.

Virtual Tabletops

First up, there are various computer virtual tabletops, such as Tabletop Simulator or Tabletopia. These are computer programs that are basically physics engines. They don’t enforce rules ore play as AI opponents, but they are literally a virtual table space where you can buy virtual boards and pieces to play a game online. You have to download the individual games as well so that you have the components, but at least on Tabletop Simulator, many of those are free. (I have no experience with Tabletopia, so I can’t speak for that.) They’re good alternatives to face-to-face meeting because you can play online with friends or with strangers.

However, my computer can’t handle these programs very well and tends to lag when I try to play anything on Tabletop Simulator. So your tech, like mine, may prevent you from having the optimal experience when using these programs.

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