Board Game Arena (BGA) is a famous community-based website created in 2010 by Grégory Isabelli and Emmanuel Colin.
This platform allows you to play your favourite board games directly from your web browser, without downloading anything, and on all your devices, such as Playstation or smartphones.
With an incredible base of about 6 million players, spread over +340 board games, you will always find someone ready to be challenged.
And if English is not your native language, don’t you worry because most of the games are translated in over 40 languages.
Number of board games: +340.
Some of the games you can play: Splendor, Carcassonne, Terra Mystica, 7 Wonders Duel, Hanabi, Colt Express, Stone Age, Puerto Rico, Seasons.
Price: Free! There’s a Premium option that gives you more benefits, but technically you could play all the games for free.
Link: Bring me there
How to join the Arena
The sign-in procedure is very easy: you just have to choose a username, email and password and you are set and ready to play.
The first time you access to BGA you’ll be asked to select up to 5 games that you already know, to help the platform customize the selection of games recommended for you.
There are plenty of games, such as Splendor, Carcassonne, Kingdomino and Chess. I’m pretty sure you’ll find something!
At this point, the website will carry you through some preferences in order to start playing some games.
You will be asked for 3 things:
- Game mode
Let’s quickly see what they are, shall we?
Here you can choose between 3 types of game:
The simplest way of playing on the platform. Recommend to anyone that just wanna have some fun!
This is the competitive mode, in which you can play against opponents and try to become the new BGA world champion. You need to reach a score of 100 ELO in order to unlock this mode (you can read here for further info about it).
Recommend to strong players who want to challenge others for a title.
With this mode, players can create tournaments of their favourite games choosing various options, such as the number of participants or the tournament type.
You need to reach a score of 100 ELO to unlock this mode and you have to be a Premium member to create tournaments.
This is the second choice you’ll be asked to make, and the options are two:
A classic mode where all the players are connected to the platform until the end of the game, as if you were playing in the traditional way around a table.
With this mode you are expected to stay connected and play the entire game. If you leave while the game is still running, you will take a reputation hit.
Be also aware that each player has a limited amount of time for their turn, so don’t let the timer reach 0 otherwise someone else could kick you out of the game.
This is a mode where the game is played over the course of days or weeks and the players don’t need to be connected all the time.
You make your move and then wait for the opponents to complete their ones; when it’s your turn again you’ll be notified either by email or when you next connect to the platform.
This game speed is perfect for those who want to play several board games at the same time and want to have more time to think about the winning strategy.
The final preference, let you choose which players you want to play with, between 3 options:
Pretty much self-explanatory, you can add friends to your BGA profile and invite them to play at the table you have created.
To create a table for certain games you must be a Premium member, so if no one in your group of friends is a Premium member your choice of games is a bit limited.
Probably the fastest way to jump right into a game. With this option, the platform finds the best opponents for you, based on the personal preferences you have chosen for each game (number of players, game speed, character selection and hand management).
To access these preferences just click on the little cog icon next to the game you want to play.
Here you have the freedom of choosing every detail of the game before playing it.
And that is it! Now you’re ready to play at your favourite games!
Board Game Arena – Game interface
When you start a game you’ll be brought to the game interface webpage, which is where the fun happens.
The developers have done an amazing job designing an interface simple to use and full of useful information.
On the top right corner of the screen, you can see all the player’s info, such as the name, the player’s game elements/resources (like the number of meeple in Carcassonne) and the ELO rank.
Below that info tab, there’s a section showing a running report of each player’s action; this is very useful to remember which player made which move, as it can sometimes be difficult to recall what happened few turns earlier.
At the bottom of the screen there’s also a chat, thanks to which you can interact with the other players.
If you have a free BGA account you are limited to the chat, but it’s worth mentioning that the Premium account has the video/voice chat feature, for deeper interaction.
Last but not least, if you hover the mouse over some elements of the game, such as cards, a little window pops up explaining you what that element does. Top notch feature!
Board Game Arena – FAQ
What is Board Game Arena ELO?
A player’s ELO on BGA is a score that evaluates the player’s level, following the popular ELO rating system.
At the end of a match, each player receives a number of points calculated considering different aspects, such as the result of the game, the probability of victory and the difference of ELO between you and opponents, and the number of games you have played.
What games are on Board Game Arena?
There are +340 board games on this platform, with a wide variety of genre.
Some of the most popular are: Carcassonne, 7Wonders, Splendor, Stone Age, Lost Ruins of Arnak, Seasons, 7Wonders Duel, Hanabi, Terra Mystica, Yahtzee and Sushi Go.
Can you plate Board Game Arena with friends?
Yes, you can and there are 2 ways to play with friends: remote (each player from their houses) or hotseat (all the players from the same computer or device).
For both options, the only requirement is that at least one person of your group of friends has the Premium membership, so that player can create a table without restrictions and invite everyone.
You can read the full Board Game Arena FAQ here.
The first thing I have noticed is the huge number of players available to play at almost any time of the day.
While I’m writing this post I’m setting up a table for Colt Express and there are more than 700 players available to play!
There are +340 different board games (some of them are in beta phase though) with a wide variety of genre, perfect for everyone’s taste.
Most of these games are translated in over 40 languages, and if you have enough reputation (gained by playing) you could even help the team to translate those games in your language!
And if you don’t know a game, don’t you worry. When you click on a board game you’ll be brought to a page in which you can watch a video explanation, download the official rules and see the game either by viewing turn by turn a finished game or watching a game played in real-time by someone else.
Another really good pro of this website is the game research feature; there are a bunch of filters that help you find the right game for you, such as the number of players, play time, complexity, theme and category.
Despite the admiration to what the community has created with BGA, there are a couple of things I would like to mention.
First off is the stability of the server: at peak hours the website could stop working due to the huge amount of people connected. If you want to play every day at every time, is probably a good idea to pay for the Premium membership (approx. 23£ yearly), to make your experience on BGA more stable.
The second thing I wish they could improve in the near future (and this is just a personal desire) is the number of solo games, as currently there are only about 20 of them.
To sum everything up, I consider Board Game Arena a really good place to spend few hours of fun.
The look is simple and clean, with a chromatic palette designed to not tire the players’ eyes.
But don’t let the clean looking-site fools you, under the hood there’s a world of fun to discover!!