A guide to online gaming (and communications)

The basics

Let’s explore different way you can play games online and keep being social.

Some admin, this is a draft (a dyslexics draft) and is a live document, we’ll edit it and update as we find out more and get more feedback. We’ll summarise links at the bottom. It is also written with some basic gaming knowledge, we’ll reference a few popular board games as example. I will try and create a shorter version.

There is  alot more to add this, including hyperlinks to the published of all the games i list and more importantly a lot more examples and links to other good guides. Please let me know any suggestions or improvements.

At this time board game online retailers are still posting so it’s a great time to grab some games, review our guides on games we recommend or ask us for advice.

Here is a short version! How to run a virtual or otherwise game night for free

Communicating

Here is a quick guide on how to game and stay social during these interesting time. Firstly lets ignore gaming for the moment.  ,  just keep communicating and make an extra effort to stay in touch with your friends and family both via text and voice. There are numerous apps and platforms to choose from, however use what the least technology comfortable person can cope with.

What works well for us is a mix of Whatsapp (for smaller groups), Facebook and Discord (for larger groups) and all are free. Discord supports webcams and screensharing, this will allow you share your screen be it a board game, video game or just some photos.

Second, once you have replaced your in person communications use them and stay in touch, check in to share a laugh and a joke as this really does help things seem ordinary. Remember you can always use voice chat on top of any of the other game systems detailed below to increase the social aspect.

Games

Now onto gaming, let’s split these categories to give you ideas of things to investigate, we’ll add some examples and links to each section and add further links as we can.

The Categories

1) Dedicated computer games 
2) Computer versions of board games.
3) Online game platforms system or website designed to simulate board games
4) Multiplayer games from the ground up
5) Games you can play by post on social media
6) Games you can play by voice only
7) Games you can play by webcam
 8) Role play games.
9) Solo games
10) Print and play!

1) Dedicated computer games

Many support multiplayer. Review your game library to see what you have avliable and in common. Many games support mutliplayer or coop. Some can support Asynchronous play which means you can take your turn when you are ready and don’t need to be online at the same time. Do consider cooperative games where varied skill levels aren’t going to cause as much conflict.

Do check all of the different platforms, for example Steam, EPIC, GOG. There are far too many game and platforms to list all, but most will have an option to search for coop and multiplayer games.

First person shooters like Left for Dead, Fortnite, Mech Warrior.
Strategy games like Civilization
Coop games, Dawn of War series (older game)
This may be a great chance to review and buy older and therefore cheaper games

20 great games on steam.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qJV_RXM2D64

2) Computer versions of board games

Lots of great games have been made into digital versions, Lots of the Asomdee, FFG and Chezh Edition Games plus others have great implementationd in some case they have both the base rules and a modified version for app use which can actually be better. There are numerous phone / table app implementations, not all support multiplayer.

Some examples. . Roll through the Ages, Evolution, Galaxy Trucker. Lots of these support multiplayers. This includes both computer and phone games. Blood Bowl is another example of a table top port to computer which supports league play

3) Online game platforms system or website designed to simulate board games

Using a browser or an APP. Some include opponents to play against as well as playing against other humans. We are currently testing and research into what works best.

Tabletopia – there are over 800 board games available to play here including many, many AAA titles (including Champions of Midgard and Villagers). The interface is intuitive and all games are official. A few are ‘premium’, but not many…plus if you have a friend who is premium, they can invite you to play in premium games!
Best played on PC, you can download the app in Steam for free or play in a web browser. It is available on app stores as well, but we don’t know how easy it would be to play on mobile. https://tabletopia.com/

https://www.yucata.de/en

https://en.boardgamearena.com/ and Free and Premium this is currently under heavy load and may be unavailable at times

A list of BGG games cross referenced to each online platform https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1pY80Cy9Zu4ed5HSa60LsHQGFau5LSkM5tZuvXv3qgFQ/edit?fbclid=IwAR1hd026Pzkt__iQVDJpc3MfaGa7AMHUJoxEYmtynoVOG4VF9qus1jjvszc#gid=934568838

4) Multiplayer games from the ground up.

Jackbox.TV is a great system where everyone plays on their own devices phone or computer and only needs to view a centre screen which can be shared digitally via systems like discord. This also allows voice, which though isn’t required to play, does make it more fun.  Jackbox plays on various systems from Phones, switches, PCs to game consoles only the host needs to own a paid for copy.

These work really well for a social games night with work colleagues as there is a minimal barrier to entry and you can chat easily whilst playing.

5) Games you can play by post on social media.

Good old fashioned played by post, also allows spectators . These work nicely as they don’t require everyone to be together at the same time and also are less technology demanding. Games with lot of open information and simple rules work well.

Examples Codenames, Just one, Wavelength can easily be played using a forum or page like Facebook. You may need a moderator to run it and to pass tasks or objectives out but this isnt’ too onerous.

A very clever gamer Fiona Dickinson (with the publishers permision) have made Powerpoints versions of Codenames and Wavelenght this can make playing online a lot easier

Wavelenght for skype (Requires BGG account)
Codenames for Skype (Requires BGG account)

Games you can play by voice only.. not sure yet!

Using voice only I’m sure there are some games which work here. Roll and Write games may work here. likewise games where you have you own copy.  Similar to the other channels with the limitation you can share a visual

Roll and writes games include NMBR 9, Take it Easy,Roll through the ages..
Faybell/Phrasell would probably work if the folk have not-terrible memories.

7) Games you can play by webcam

Games which don’t require too many components per play or where each player has their own copy and mirrors the master copy works well here. Similar to play by post, where people can voice their comments but type instead, requires more people and technology but games will resolve much quicker.

Social games like codenames, and wavelength work perfectly.
Games like the estates or deep sea adventure, Jaws where no one needs to really touch the board also work.
Any game where there is mostly public information could work as well, either player mirrors the cards and board placement locally if required. Or the poor sod running it has to move all the players pieces and components, this can work extremely well in reality.
Traditional party games like charades would work fine if you can all broadcase
Roll and Write games would work well, even if one player has to roll the dice for everyone. Roll and writes games include NMBR 9, Take it Easy,Roll through the ages..
Story telling or games like Paranormal Detectives (Coop mode) or Chronicles of crime could well, as the game is a lot more about discussion than token moving.

Note: I am using OBS studio to stream to camera. It was relatively painfree to set up and then stream the studio in studio over discord.

https://boardgamegeek.com/blogpost/102225/quick-thoughts-some-games-work-well-video-chat?

https://bigpotato.com/blog/how-to-stream-board-games/

8) Role play games.

It’s not the same as meeting in person but using voice alone (discord is great for this) you’ll also have text and direct messaging. Or use a system Like fantasy groups or roll20 to run a map, For free you can do quite a lot on roll 20 if you pay for the system and or adventures you get more facilities like dynamic lighting as well pre done maps and tokens.

Online Virtual Tabletops:
Roll20: https://roll20.net/ Free to play, but $10/month for full features, though only the DM need buy it. Officially licensed, with purchasable modules.
Fantasy Grounds: https://www.fantasygrounds.com/home/home.php Officially licensed, lifetime purchase or monthly sub. Ultimate license means no need for players to purchase license.
Tabletop Simulator: https://store.steampowered.com/app/286160/Tabletop_Simulator/ Costs $20, very powerful, if a bit of a learning curve. Much more flexible than just ttrpgs.
Astral Tabletop: https://www.astraltabletop.com/ Free level available.
D20Pro: https://d20pro.com/ Free trial, built in marketplace with material.
Maptool: https://github.com/RPTools/maptool/releases Free, in beta, steep learning curve, more options than roll20.
FoundryVTT: https://www.patreon.com/foundryvtt In Beta. Talespire:https://www.facebook.com/talespire Beta releasing soon.

Voice/Video:

Discord: https://discordapp.com/ Voice chats, live screen, and real time messaging. Browser or app based.
Skype: https://www.skype.com/en/ Easy video conferencing, app based only.
Google hangouts: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/google-hangouts/nckgahadagoaajjgafhacjanaoiihapd?hl=en Browser extension, handling messaging and video conferencing.
Teamspeak: https://teamspeak.com/ Can host locally.

Text based:
Avrae bot over Discord: https://avrae.io/ With character sheet integration with Dicecloud, DND Beyond, and GSheet, as well as rule and monster lookup, combat tracking, and more, this is a very powerful solution, but most of the features are only implemented with 5e in mind.
Free. Facebook Messenger: No link needed, but a dicebot such as this one may be useful: https://www.facebook.com/thedicebot/
Mythweavers: https://www.myth-weavers.com/ A forum based solution, with built in dice rolling and other options. Free to use.
RPG Crossing: www.rpgcrossing.com another forum based solution with dice rolling and other options,
also free Gamers Plane: https://gamersplane.com/ Fear
The Boot forum https://www.feartheboot.com/forum/ Has a play by post section. Online Maps: Arkenforge: https://arkenforge.com Online dynamic map tool.

Links and resoucrces taken from here https://www.facebook.com/groups/DungeonMastersOnly/permalink/1656761411141028

9) Solo games,

Lots of games can be played solo either straight out of the box or with a supporting application. You are either aimed to be a target score or there is a script for one or mor enemy players. It’s not idea for socialising but as a change of pace and get away from the screen. Stonemaier games have great solo modes, look for automato factory.

http://dailyworkerplacement.com/2020/03/23/an-introverts-dozen-twelve-recent-games-that-play-great-solo/
https://boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/264253/2019-peoples-choice-top-200-solo-games-200-1
https://thebests.kotaku.com/the-best-solo-board-games-1842384537

10) Print and play

For free or cheap you can get rules for games and make your own. There has been a rush of amazing games which use less than 20 cards. No always cheap to make and print, this is almost a hobby itself.

Useful Links
https://boooored.com/printandplay/101-free-print-play-games
https://www.pnparcade.com/

Summary

 What would be ideal is some of the lessons learned about online gaming we could continue after this is all sorted to be able to game more freely when our busy lives don’t allow us to be together.

Even an hour of light gaming over webcam is awesome anytime. Finally to leave some time to set up the technology and do a practice run

Useful links

Here are a collection of useful links These don’t quite how a home yet.

https://bigbossbattle.com/board-games-self-isolation-pandemics-and-mental-health/

Codenames bot for discord
A Discord Bot which runs online games of Codenames! To try https://bit.ly/2UlcdTf
. It will ask you which Discord server you want to add the Codenames Bot into, and from there you can use the commands to play games of Codenames online!
(Note: you must have admin permissions on that Discord server)
. Then just send a message in that channel to learn how to use it: !cn help

Wavelength powerpoint mod
https://drive.google.com/open?id=1Y7QlR5QyzllwaYTNTqcByVeDJSafa6ii

Games you can play with a deck of cards
40 plus traditional games
Skull  https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/92415/skull

Top 10 remote games https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bha7SW3AWkI&feature=youtu.be&fbclid=IwAR1N4Q-Cq5ys53RDY6wnXxUB2_J_WzGAGsoMiGkdRghJUHJ5NR9UcuQXgMU

Some other sites to play games online
https://girlsgameshelf.com/2020/03/online-play-six-sites-for-playing-boardgames-through-the-web

Stonemaire take on online communication platforms.
https://stonemaiergames.com/kinship-in-a-time-of-self-isolation/