Boite a Jeux is my second favourite online board game playing website. It falls slightly behind Yucata because it has a smaller selection of games (and games I’m interested in). That said, it does include some of my absolute favourites. It’s another fantastic website on which to play some classic hobby board game for free.
Account creation is, once again, incredibly simple – sign up with your email address and a few basic details for a free account. Starting a game is as simple as, well, clicking ‘start a new game’. Drop down menus then let you pick your poison, number of players and any variants. Then simply add guest names (if you want to play with friends who have made accounts) and away you go. There are no downloads – it all works in your internet browser.
You don’t need to start your own game though – and it’s often best not to. Instead, try going to the ‘invitations’ list. You’ll probably find people waiting for more players in the game you want to play – especially with the more popular titles. There’s also the option to jump into a game that someone else has quit from, to make up the numbers. This can be good fun, picking up the random challenge of a situation a stranger has left you in.
The online playing experience
As with Yucata, this is a turn-based platform. There is no time limit to your turns and you’ll often have to refresh the screen to see that it’s your turn. This can be annoying if playing with strangers, who you have no control over. But it does mean you can play over a week if you want to.
There’s a text area for in-game messages, but you’re much better off using Skype or similar of you want to chat while playing live. During the game you can access the official rules, look at stats and rating of players and refresh the board (including mid-turn, as long as you haven’t seen anything you can’t take back – like a flipped card). Making notes is a premium feature (which seems odd as you can just use something like Notepad anyway). As are extra bonuses such as no limit on the number of simultaneous games you have going.
Five of my picks I own and were in my last top 50 games, so are simply firm favourites. Three more should probably be in my collection and are all brilliant, top level euro games. There’s also a couple of family games, a racing game – even a creative game. Two are playable solo, while several go to six or seven players. So there should be something for everyone. Links go to full reviews, where I’ve done them.
Play board games online: My Boite a Jeux Top 10
- Concordia (2-5 players). One of my favourite euro games, beautifully implemented here. It has a tiny but hugely significant bit of deck-building added to a great action selection and route building game. Choose from six maps, as well as having the option of adding salt and/or forum tiles.
- Deus (2-4 players). Sadly no expansion options, but this is still a solid implementation of the base game. Another of my favourite euros, it ticks a lot of the same boxes as Concordia. Expanding your territory and clever card play will win the day.
- Agricola (1-5 players). While I prefer Caverna, this is a great way to play Agricola. You can do huge parts of your turn before committing, letting you explore all the outcomes in this complex euro. It has family, advanced and tournament modes. Plus several draft variants and three card decks (beginner, interactive and complex).
- Dixit (4-6 players). It’s great to see different types of game on these sites – and the classic game of imagination, Dixit, works well. The game has a large deck of gorgeous cards, each containing an original piece of abstract art, which players try to interpret. If playing with random people you can choose one of eight languages.
- Vanuatu (3-5 players). Boy, is this game mean. It has a lot of standard euro game tropes, but the way action selection works is guaranteed to see some people get screwed over. So it’s probably best played in isolation! In terms of variants, you can choose to play with or without characters.
- Alhambra (3-6 players). This classic tile-laying family game is well implemented here, although sadly there are no options for adding any of the expansions. But the base game still sells well more than 15 years after its release and for good reason. It’s a great heads-down puzzle cleverly meshed with a very interactive scoring system.
- Fearsome Floors (2-7 players). This is a great option for some tense and competitive but daft fun. This race game sees players trying to escape a monster in a house – while throwing their competitors under the bus. Play standard or advanced rules (with the ‘3 hits’ variant available too).
- Trajan (2-4 players). Another top 10, another Stefan Feld-designed euro game. This has a lot of his typical ‘point salad’ traits on show, but stands out thanks to its clever use of the class mancala mechanism for action selection.
- Rallyman (1-5 players). There are lots of variants available here for this dice-rolling race game. As well as setting up your own custom track, you can choose to throw in the dirt expansion. As well as opting for a time trail, you can also opt to play the Shakedown variant. And after a race, you can save the data to try the same track.
- Tzolk’in (2-4 players). You can play the base game of this classic euro, or throw in the Tribes and Prophecies expansion. There is also an ‘official’ market variant available from designer Daniele Tascini. Experienced fans of the game should check it out, as it’s designed to combat the ‘big resources’ dominant strategy.
There are around 60 games on Boite a Jeux at time of writing, including some more recent titles of note. Well regarded modern euros such as Kanban and Bruxelles 1893 didn’t make my list as I’ve not learnt them, while popular family game Alchemists is also available. As for other euro favourites of mine, Castles of Burgundy and Dungeon Lords (and Pets) just missed out but have great playable versions here.
Finally, if you like two-player abstract games, the Gipf Project is well represented. As well as Gipf itself, you can find online versions of Yinsh, Tzaar and Zertz. And I should probably mention Dungeon Twister, Shazamm, Romans Go Home… Yeah, you get the picture! And, as always, feel free to hit me up for a game. You’ll find me on Boite a Jeux (as in most online places) as ‘hairyarsenal’. Let’s do this!