Board Game Night is Back (Virtually)

I am somewhat of an introvert, but social distancing due to the COVID-19 pandemic has made me miss talking to people other than my family members. Unfortunately, I have a hard time talking on the phone, and, while Netflix Party can be enjoyable, I missed doing fun activities with more interaction. Thankfully, my boyfriend discovered that we can play one of our favorite board games online: Settlers of Catan.

Settlers of Catan is made by Mayfair Games, and they have an app available for virtual gameplay called Catan Universe, but we played a free knockoff web-browser version called Colonist that you don’t have to download. 

If you haven’t played Catan before, it is a strategy game where players collect resources, place settlements and cities on a buildable game board, and try to collect ten victory points to win. Gameplay can last anywhere from thirty minutes to three hours, depending on your experience level, indecisiveness, and the number of players. Online, it is a little bit faster, but if you haven’t played before, I recommend watching some instruction videos or doing the tutorial on the colonist.io version, since your turn in the online version has a two-minute time limit. The game only allows four players (unless you purchase an expansion pack), and if you have less than four players you can choose to let other people online play, or to have bots fill in. It is also beneficial to have a Zoom meeting at the same time as you play, since there is a trading aspect to the game, and it is a little hard to trade cards only through the online trade and chat features.

Playing Catan online has helped me reach out to friends I haven’t talked to in a while. Starting a game and catching each other up about recent events in our lives, while also trying to annihilate each other in a race for victory points truly has been an effective mood booster for me. I even convinced my younger brothers to join in! 

If you are experiencing some COVID-19 loneliness, I highly recommend having a virtual game night. Although Settlers of Catan is a game I highly recommend, there are many other popular board games available to play online. For fans of Scrabble, Scrabble Go is available in app form. Risk: Global Domination is a free app, and allows you to play Risk virtually, and is usually much faster than in-person gameplay. Uno is yet another multiplayer game also available as a free app. Other games like Clue, Monopoly, Ticket to Ride, or The Game of Life can also be found in app stores, but usually cost a few dollars. For those who do not want to spend more time on screens playing online board games, Scattergories and Battleship can be played from a distance using the physical board games and Zoom or FaceTime to communicate. For those that live close, these games can also be played by simply parking your cars next to each other with the windows open and playing in person, while still socially distanced. Whether you play online, over Zoom, or from (at least) six feet away, playing board games can help you feel less stressed and more connected to family and friends during these uncertain times.