What are the best PC board games? Modern board games can get very complex, but many of them are well worth playing. Some are so good that you might want to play them repeatedly, even if it’s to master its somewhat difficult mechanics. What if we told you that you can play some of the best board games with zero setup time and far less impact on your wallet?
With these PC conversions of the best board games, you can play solo against AI opponents, which boasts the added benefit of letting you end the game whenever you want. Of course, you can also play many PC versions of these board games with friends, so there are still plenty of opportunities to work together, or lose out to your backstabbing best bud.
Best PC board games
Here are the best PC board games you can play right now:
If there’s a popular board game you want to play, chances are that there’s a tabletop simulator mod that mimics it. Shockingly, many of them are made using official assets with the tabletop game publisher and designer’s permission and nearly or fully simulate the base game.
Sure, you have to read the rulebook because a tutorial isn’t going to teach you, and you can mess up the rules. Still, as of yet, Tabletop Simulator is the only game that can really mimic the experience of playing a tabletop game with your friends. Oh, and you’ll need some friends – ain’t no native AI in a physics simulation game.
Mysterium is a cooperative board game that combines the classic whodunit mystery of Cluedo (or Clue if you’re American) and the abstract art of the ever-popular Dixit to create a spooky board game about sussing out a murderer. Most players assume the role of a psychic detective who must identify potential culprits, murder weapons, and murder locations from the clues given by one of the other players. As the ghost of the victim, this final player can’t talk, but they can use abstract art to try and steer the psychics towards the solution. Unfortunately, they only have so many rounds before they disappear forever, causing all players to lose.
It’s already tense enough, but by the time the psychics narrow down enough clues, they get one final mystery that combines the murderer with their weapon and murder location. If a player guesses this correctly, everyone wins. The PC version does much of the admin work, even if every player needs to buy a copy of the game. That said, it’s reasonably cheap, and given how confusing it can be to be the ghost, this might be a worthwhile alternative to the board game equivalent.
Perhaps PC gaming’s crowning addition to the world of board games, Armello is a delicious feast of strategy game and RPG concepts blended into a digital-only board game. Each player assumes the role of a character with a unique special ability, and they each want to take the throne of Armello.
There are more than a few ways to do it, but it’s a classic adventure board game where you explore a world, boost your character, and then push your luck too far and get screwed over so your friend wins. The random elements tend to tick off more deeply strategic players, but Armello is one of those games that even keen tacticians keep coming back to. Armello has aged like a fine wine. The cinematics, animation, and music are superb, the multiplayer is moreish, and the mechanics are pretty good to boot.
Twilight Struggle is one of the all-time great board games, and the digital adaptation is so good it’s one of the best PC board games on Steam. It’s a two-player duel, with one side as the United States and the other as the USSR, both engaging in the geopolitical tug-of-war of the post-World War 2 era.
Twilight Struggle is also a card game that blends warfare and diplomatic events into a global fight for influence and global supremacy. Plus, if you make the war go too hot, the nukes start flying, and everyone loses! The only downside is that it requires a weird outside account with Playdek to do multiplayer, but it’s a small price to pay.
Scythe: Digital Edition
A great combination of territory-taking war games and Euro-style economics, Scythe is a pleasing strategy game that caters to every kind of board game player in some way. The digital adaptation of Scythe is a great way to get into the game because it skips setup time in favor of fast resolution.
You can learn the game much more quickly, figuring out what resources do, how the game economy works, and more by playing over the course of a few hours – rather than the entire day it’d take to play four or five games in person. If your game group regularly plays Scythe, well, test strategies against online opponents and show up to game night with all manner of new ways to win.
Spirit Island is one of the better co-op games out there, or at one with board game roots, and its digital port is quite good despite some limitations. Each player in Spirit Island is a powerful spirit trying to save the inhabitants of their island from destructive colonial invaders, and each spirit has its own set of unique powers and abilities. For example, a wildfire spirit plays very differently from a mountain spirit. The real advantage of playing digitally is that it’s a complicated game with a lot of manual “AI” resolution, and the digital version cuts all of that out by doing it for you.
Playing a round of this digitally takes half as much time or less than it might otherwise. The only downside of the digital version is that the only online multiplayer, for now, is through Remote Play Together.
Through the Ages
Civilization-building game Through the Ages has been massively popular since its release over a decade ago, and the digital version is an impressive feat. In it, you build a civilization from the Stone Age to the Industrial Era using a variety of currencies and cards.
Through the Ages is a hugely complex game, and making it work on a computer comprehensibly, where you don’t have cards on the table and in your hand, could not have been simple. Thankfully, the UI is great, and the multiplayer is smooth. You can take your time against the AI to learn, then go all out in fast and intense multiplayer games. It’s also quite well supported and even received the New Leaders & Wonders expansion before it came out on tabletop. An absolute must for fans of tabletop strategy games.
Have you ever wanted to try Gloomhaven, but the thought of splashing out a small mortgage over a box the size of most people’s shelves fills you with dread? Instead, you can experience the full RPG game in digital form for a fraction of the price as you recruit mercenaries to navigate dungeons filled to the brim with treasure and monsters.
While other players need a copy of the game to play alongside you, this at least splits the cost between a group, making it far more economical than the board game, and you don’t have to fret about setting up beforehand. You can simply get on with beating all of the many included scenarios.
Should you ever run out of adventures, expansion packs allow you to continue your journey into ever darker caves with more gruesome beasties lurking in the shadows. It’s as close to playing a tabletop Dungeons and Dragons game without splashing out on all the books.
Far and away, one of the best board games released in the last decade, Wingspan’s new digital adaptation is superb and faithful to the experience of the tabletop game. Wingspan is a game where you build a wildlife preserve by chaining combinations of different birds, each with its own powers and effects.
It’s elegantly designed and brilliant in motion. Rather than being stuck on how the tabletop game looks, the digital Wingspan focuses on how it feels. It’s chock full of lovely animated bird art, music, and recordings of birdsong. It’s not just a fun strategic game but one of the most relaxing games you can experience on PC.
And that’s your lot. We also list the best online board games to play with friends if your thirst for digitized board goodness hasn’t been slaked. For those looking for something a little more casual in nature, we’ve got an up-to-date list of the latest Monopoly Go dice links for handy freebies to get you started.
Additional entries by Jon Bolding.