Board Game Arena
I have had many dalliances with online board games in the past. One would assume, given that I have released my own online board game.
I used to play on BrettSpielWelt a lot with my wife and friends, but the interface is admittedly wonky, everything is in German (usually including random people you decide to play with), and there were really only 2 games that I wanted to play on there. Also, it was hard to learn new games since, as I said, everything is in German. Once Dominion was removed from the site (this was quite a while ago) and all my wife wanted to play on there was Stone Age, it was eventually left by the wayside.
More recently I got kind of obsessed with BoiteaJeux, as they have a really nice implementation of Agricola, and I love a good, challenging game of Agricola (or 50). However, the play-by-mail aspect of it (as opposed to live play) quickly became an issue by way of how goddamned slow everyone who uses that site is. You get a random game going and you're looking at maybe a move a day. I once played a game that lasted for over 6 months. Even if you only play with the fastest 20% of the people, you're still looking at maybe 2 or 3 moves a day. Try to create a game with a title like "Live Play" and nobody joins.
So then what happens is that you really want to play Agricola, but this one move a day garbage isn't scratching that itch, so you sign up for 20 different games at once, and then you get to make lots of moves, but they are all for different games, so it takes a lot more brain power switching from one game state to the next, and it becomes super-mentally exhausting and time-consuming, and you start making mistakes and losing and it's just not as much fun as you'd hoped.
So I stopped playing on BoiteaJeux. For a while. I recently started back up again to try out Dungeon Pets(z), but my investment is minimal.
All this, judging by the title of this post, is to lead up to saying that I've recently started getting into BoardGameArena, and it is pretty great. The interface for joining games and playing games is very nice and intuitive and they have a slew of really great games that I love to play, like Seasons, Spyrium and Tzolk'in. Pretty much everything I could ever want...
Except Agricola. No Agricola, but that's probably for the best. If I could live-play Agricola with a nice interface, you may never hear from me again.
One thing I've noticed with live online games, though, is that I tend to really mess up in the deeper ones (Spyrium, Tzolk'in) the first time I play. I know how to play the games, and I usually do well with a real board, but it's some combination becoming familiar with the online interface (not so much on a mechanical level, but just, like, on a psychological level), social anxiety of not taking too long with my moves, and having to make a lot of non-obvious decisions - it just fries my brain and I end up doing pretty terribly.
If I go back and play again, though, that first-time social anxiety has subsided a bit, I'm used to the interface, and I can do just fine. Which is good because I like winning board games almost as much as I like playing them.
And speaking of enjoyment, I just cannot get enough of Seasons on BoardGameArena, and I'm not even sure what it is. It's like the perfect level of thought required for making decisions for that online interface, so that, like, the decisions are still meaningful, but don't take too long to parse. You have to think ahead, but not so far ahead that the AP kicks in. It's just a nice, solid flow and the game itself is super-fun. It is definitely climbing in my personal rankings.
Anyway, so if you want to lose a few days of your life, you should go check out the site. I would recommend Seasons and especially Spyrium. I need more people to play Spyrium with.
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