REVIEW: Board Games Arena – Play Hundreds of Board Games Online Against Others for FREE

By Todd Russell Jan2,2024

Just a small selection of the 700+ board games you can play online at BGA

We don’t just cover videogames and pinball here at PGM, all different types/genres of games are welcome. This article covers how to play licensed board games for free — or, optionally, a small monthly or yearly fee — online against others.

Have not been a huge board games player as an adult, but when younger and especially when our kids were younger, we played quite a few different board games together. I might play a board game once or twice a year on average these days. Am interested in playing more, however.

Ever since Arcade1UP released their Infinity Games Table (pictured above, 32″ $999 USD, they sell smaller board for $499), which I thought both were too expensive, I’ve been thinking here and there about playing board games online.

On New Year’s Eve 2023 via a targeted search, I located what appears to be the board games mecca, a website called Board Games Arena (BGA – https://boardgamearena.com/)

This website lets you play in the browser for free an advertised hundreds of licensed board games online. I didn’t do a count to verify the number of games is into the hundreds, but from the names and icons, there are a bunch.

It did not ask me to pay anything during registration and advertised having millions of potential players to play against.

Can I play for free?

You can play board games and enjoy most of the functionalities on Board Game Arena for free. Some extra features are only available to our Premium members.

F.A.Q. • Board Game Arena

A premium membership seems reasonably priced for those that want one: $36/year or $5/month. Not sure the video/voice chat is necessary with Discord available to use.

The biggest draw appears to be the additional games that only premium players can access and play. Good news, friendly readers, there are a deep selection of games that can be played for free, as I would learn shortly.

After registration, which didn’t even confirm my email address, a few settings were required, including whether or not we want to play in a tournament, against other players via a “simple game” or an Arena, where Arena points are staked.

The one with the most Arena points becomes the World Champion. Based on my board games experience and skill level, just had to go SIMPLE.

The next option to choose is REALTIME or TURN-BASED. The latter gives you an option to play without faster reaction times.

I chose REALTIME and then was off to find a game. The only game by name that I’ve actually played before was Yahtzee, the dice game where you to try to match up various dice combinations and score the highest.

Yahtzee can be played fairly quickly, so figured that was a good one to test against a random other player in the world.

My first matchup against a random player happened almost as soon as I clicked to play.

Was offered to play against a person in Japan. Right on, accepted. The two of us took turns rolling the dice and playing Yahtzee. Noticed there was around 2 1/2 minutes timer for each of us to complete our dice rolls. My opponent was much faster than me, but that’s way more time than needed.

Each Yahtzee turn is more like 10-30 seconds. The complete game was finished in less than 10 minutes and I lost pretty badly. Should have gone for the harder combinations below first like my opponent chose. Anyway, I received two achievements:: “Realtime Gamer” and “First game played.”

Interestingly, I noticed that some features on the site are restricted until a certain amount of time and games played. For example, to post anything in the BGA forums you need to wait 24 hours after registration and play at least 1 game. To change/customize your avatar you need to play 20 games. Creating your own private group to invite friends requires playing at least two games.

Smart way to deal with potential new user spam and bots, dig it.

As for the variety of games offered to play? No, they don’t have Monopoly, Life, Risk, some of the more well-known, common family-type board games. Arcade1Up does have that Hasbro license for their Infinity Game Table, but I did notice several familiar games like Ticket To Ride and Catan. And, well, of course who doesn’t know Yahtzee, that I played. And it played great.

Overall, I really like this site. Well laid out, clean, intuitive design, not burdened with ads like many free game sites. You can play in the browser, no additional programs to download. The optional premium subscription is reasonably priced and not required for the essential functionality to actually play games and check out the site. They don’t heavily promote — put popups or other intrusive ad nonsense in your face — their premium subscription either. This is how to do a gaming site with/for other gamers. Applause.

Bookmarked, and will return and play more.

In fact, am planning and would like to reach out to other PGM members and see if there is any interest in a scheduled board game session? See if there is interest among our group, anyway. PGM members, let me know in the comments and/or Discord if you’d be interested in some kind of “board game day” or “board game night” periodically. Maybe once a month or quarter, more or less frequently depending on member interest/involvement.

If you’re reading this and love board games, you’ve probably already found and know about BGA. Am surprised myself, I haven’t thought to seek out a website like this before. A new place to play board games, score!

Spread the love

Related Post

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *