Board Games Gathering Dust? Try These Creative Ways to Play Them Long-Distance

Here's how to host an epic virtual game night (no purchase required).

You probably have a stack of board games sitting in your closet, waiting for in-person get-togethers. But even if most of your socializing comes over a screen, you can modify a lot of your board game favorites to make for some virtual fun, without requiring someone to sit there and diligently move pieces or manage multiple card decks. (It's no fun if you're the one trying to track who owns what in Monopoly or Catan.)

Fortunately, there are plenty of board games that'll translate pretty easily to a virtual game night with minimal pregame prep on your part. So if you're looking to gather your gang for some virtual fun, you can adapt a few of your favorites (or invest in a pandemic-friendly game or two) to add to your repertoire. The best part? Splurging on a new board game or two now will provide entertainment even after the pandemic is over.

virtual-board-games: colorful dice for Yahtzee
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Trivia Round Robin

Pretty much every person on the planet has at least one trivia-related game stashed in their closet. So have all of your fellow gamers bring a deck of trivia cards (any trivia cards!) from the stash in their house (Star Wars Trivial Pursuit? Sure!) and see who reigns supreme. First person to rack up 10 correct answers wins the round.

Related: 8 Fresh Ideas to Upgrade Your Virtual Parties

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Most people have this classic game at home, or can at least scrounge up their own set of five dice from various board game sets. Everyone can print out their own score cards and roll the dice in their own homes.

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This wordy classic, where you fill in answers based on a series of arbitrary categories and a beginning letter (i.e., types of candy starting with S), easily translates to a virtual environment. You can do a little bit of pre-game prep by typing out a set of potential categories for everyone to use, then roll your own letter die—or use this free online Scattergories generator someone created that gives you a letter and a built-in timer along with the categories.

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This trivia game about you and your friends and family only contains questions—you supply the answers during the game. One person on your Zoom needs to have a set of cards, and you’ll take turns being the person supplying the answer to questions like “Do I trust doctors?” and “What body part do I wash first in the shower?"

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Split your virtual party crew into two teams for this draw-and-guess game. The designated drawers can use Pictionary decks or an online Pictionary generator to get the word they’re trying to get their team to guess in the allotted time. Drawers can aim their cameras at their artwork as they draw with pen and paper, or draw online using their favorite drawing app and sharing their screen. The real game uses a board, but instead, just aim for a certain point score to declare the winner.

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Hygge Game

There’s no real winner to this game, where the fun is in the playing. You ask your players thought-provoking questions like, “What would you do if you won the lottery?” or “What’s the most annoying sound?”

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Mixtape Game

Have everyone keep their Spotify accounts at the ready for this game, where players come up with the perfect song to soundtrack their lives (i.e., "What is the most epic summer song ever?" or "Play the hip-hop song that best describes your first year of college.") Only one player needs to own the card deck for this game to happen.

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It's not a large party game, but as long as you and a friend each have a set, you can play this classic game of military hide and seek.

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Dungeons & Dragons

The classic role-playing game works remarkably well in an online environment. As long as your dungeon master has the gear, everyone just needs their own 20-sided die—or you can use an online roll generator instead. If you want to really get a virtual tabletop going, Roll20 lets you create maps, roll the die, and track the gameplay.

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Game of Phones

You'll need two screens for this one—a computer or tablet for the chat with the rest of the players, and a smartphone to maneuver so you can seek out the last picture you received in a group chat or take the ugliest selfie ever for judging.

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