Play board games online for free: Top 10 games on Yucata

There are loads of ways to play board games online, but the one I use most is Yucata. It looks primitive, but don’t let that fool you. It’s a great place to play board games online. Yes, others are available and I plan to talk about them in the coming weeks. But this has been my go-to for years.

Creating an account is as simple as you’d expect for an online portal. You can dig into more advanced features (listing favourites, adding friends etc) but none of those are necessary. However, each player joining in will need their own account and to be playing from their own screen. I’d also say this is largely a laptop/computer platform. It doesn’t translate well to touchscreens, being better controlled with a mouse/keyboard.

It is also turn-based, with email prompts being sent to the next player if they’re not online. There are no time limits between turns, so no pressure. But it does mean the best way to play together is to have everyone arranging to be online at once. And I only has simple text chat within each game. But simply get together on the chat platform of your choice (Skype, Messenger etc) for that critical tabletop banter. Can it be a little frustrating? Sure. But it’s better than no games at all!

Getting a game going

Go to the ‘games’ drop-down menu and select ‘game information’. Here you’ll see the full list of 150+ games. Click the game you want to check out, then from its page click ‘create invitation’. Once on the create invitation page, to play with friends, remember to click ‘personal invitation’. Then add each player by their account name.

While playing, the game will open up in a new browser window. Each game has a menu to access chat, game info and the instructions (including changes with the online version). However, remember this is a largely primitive platform: don’t expect AI players, or any kind of tutorial. This is also not the ideal place to learn new games, so try and pick ones you’re all familiar with. Or at least the simpler ones if not! That said, I learned many of the games below on Yucata – and now own them.

The games I’ve chosen are picked on how much I love playing the games here, as well as offline. Some games do lend themselves more to this kind of play than others. You don’t want to be remembering a huge amount of information between turns. Or take loads of tiny actions that rely on reactions from other players. But all the games below I’ve loved playing on Yucata.

Play board games online: My Yucata Top 10

  1. Oracle of Delphi (2-4 players). A fantastic implementation of one of my favourite euro games. It includes several variants, such as simple/advanced map setups and number of Zeus tiles used. Nice touches include showing where things need to be delivered etc by hovering over them.
  2. Pompeii (2-4 players). In ‘real life’, the only thing I don’t like about this brilliant family game is the setup. Thankfully all that fiddliness is taken away here as the computer sets the deck of cards up for you. Slightly mean, but hey – everyone is being mean to everyone so it feels OK!
  3. Can’t Stop (2-4 players). This version uses the cute rock climbing art, which is cuter than the stop sign board I have. It also includes the full array of variants for the classic Sid Sackson dice push-your-luck dice game. Choose between 3-5 columns to win, and between the original, jumping or forced-play versions.
  4. Egizia (2-4 players). Only the original version is available, but that’s fine by me. You have the option to tick off (play without) two cards some people think are overpowered. Nile card ‘draw 2 sphinx cards’ and sphinx card ‘score 1 extra point for each 10 points scored’.
  5. The Rose King (2 players). A brilliant two player abstract game, with just enough random elements to keep me interested. Not much in the way of options, which isn’t a surprise. But you can opt to be able to see what’s left in the draw deck. And it keeps the score as you go along, which is nice in a tight game.
  6. Thurn and Taxis (2-4 players). This includes expansions, including the option to play a standard game on the Power and Glory map. You can add Princess Messenger and/or Offices of Honor too. Which pretty much covers everything you can get for this fantastic family board and card game.
  7. Stone Age (2-4 players). The first game on the list I don’t own. But I used to and still love to play it. No options or expansions available, just the vanilla original. But everything works smoothly and clearly and there’s no room for ‘accidental’ cheating! It’s also nice to have the computer working out those big old scores.
  8. Balloon Cup (2 players). This is such a fiendish little two player card and cubes game. You’re trying to claim trophies, but it;s so hard to balance which cards to play when. I enjoyed it so much I tracked down a secondhand copy while on holiday in Germany, as it was so hard to find elsewhere.
  9. Campaign Manager 2008 (2 players). The only one here I’ve never owned. Relive Obama becoming president – does that sound worth doing right now! Battle over key states, gaining influence to swing things your way. You can choose or randomise sides and decide whether to draft or have set campaign decks.
  10. Yspahan (2-4 players). A fantastic dice-for-actions game in classic euro form. You can opt to skip the caravan veto (pay a camel to avoid having goods sent to the caravan), but I don’t know why you would choose that. It may speed up the game a little, but taking it away could really spoil someone’s game.

I could easily do a Top 20. Founding Fathers, Richelieu, Finca, Snowdonia, Navegador, Targi, Maori, Ulm, Macao, Vikings. Easy. And that’s without mentioning Terra Mystica, which I haven’t played on there yet. Even beyond that, the list goes on and on. Do yourself a favour and dive into this fantastic free resource. And if you fancy a game of any of the above, ping me an invite (user: HairyArsenal).

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