Through the wonders of modern technology, you no longer need to walk to the games shop, buy a game, then spend time persuading friends and family to play with you in order to enjoy a nice board game. You can play great games right now without getting up from the chair/sofa/bath/toilet, with people from all over the world, and often for free!
Our guide to playing classic board games online shows you where you can play classic board games both online and on apps for iPhone or iPad, to play on your own or against other players online. All the sites we list for playing games online are playable in your browser with no download needed and can be played on mobile devices. We show you what the sites and apps look like and give full details of what you need to jump straight in!
Real-time or turn-based?
Some of the online websites and apps provide single-player games only, pitting you against computer players. Others allow you to connect over the Internet to play with other players online around the world. When playing online against other players there are two main types of game: slower “turn-based games” that can take many weeks, in which you receive notification when it is your turn and have plenty of time to consider and make your response, or “real-time games” which take place in one sitting online where all players make their moves one after the other, and could all be done within half an hour. Choose the type of game that suits you best, and give online board-gaming a try!
Know a great online game site or app we are missing? Let us know by getting in touch.
You can read more about classic board games in our list of the best classic board games.
Play Acquire online
Play Boggle-like game online
Play Bridge online or on iPad
Play Can’t Stop online
Play Catan on iPhone or iPad
Play Chess online
Play Connect 4 on iPhone or iPad
Play Dominoes online
Play Draughts online
Play Hearts online
Play Perudo online
Play Risk on iPhone or iPad
Play Risk-like game online
Play Scrabble on iPhone or iPad
Play Xiangqi online
Board game arena
Board Game arena is a great website for playing classic board games online. It is well designed, easy to use, has lots of games, a friendly and welcoming community of players, and is completely free. Some classic board games that can be played on the site are:
The website provides full details on how to play each game from within the site, and new players can watch other games online as spectators to get the idea.
Getting involved is quick and easy. Go to boardgamearena.com, click on the ‘Start Playing Now’ link and enter your email where prompted. You will be sent an email with a link to complete your registration. Enter a username and password of your choice and you’re in!
To play a game click the PLAY NOW option at the top of the screen and select real-time or turn-based games depending on your preference. The site will filter out for you available games that you are interested in playing, so click the drop down menu “Add to My Games” to tell the site which games you’d like to play. Then the available games will appear on screen.
Click on what you’d like to play, then click Join Game and you’re there! (If there aren’t enough players yet you may need to wait for others to join).
If the game you’re interested in doesn’t appear, just click the play button next to the game to create your own game, and then you can suggest that other players join you by clicking their name from the handy list of other players online who like the game, found further down the page.
Game playing on Board Game Arena is fast, easy, friendly and awesome.
Classic board game apps for iPhone and iPad
Many board game apps are now available, giving the opportunity for board gaming on the move. Board game apps are available to play either for free or for a small proportion of the cost of buying the physical game, making this a great way to try out new games as well as to re-live old favourites.
The apps below are iPhone and iPad apps for Apple users, however similar if not identical apps can often be found on other platforms too. Some of the apps are single-player games only, pitting you against computer players. Others allow you to connect over the internet to play with other players online around the world.
We have tested all the apps below and recommend them, but it remains a good habit to be cautious when buying apps, to be sure that you are buying a good app and that you don’t end up paying more than expected. We suggest reading the description carefully, looking at a few reviews of the app, and checking the “in-app purchases” section to see what you may need to pay extra for after buying the app. If the in-app purchases are for features to enhance the game but are not required in order to play then they need not cause you any extra cost (depending on your ability to resist the extra features!), but sometimes the app will only be available in a restricted way until in-app purchases are made, and this is worth knowing in advance.
Please note that Apple provide us with commission on any paid apps you buy after clicking our links to the App Store from this site. There is no cost to you and no obligation to either click our links or buy anything after clicking them. However if you do choose to use our links we are very grateful for your support.
The Catan iPhone or iPad app faithfully recreates the classic Eurogame of Catan and enables you to play against either the computer or online opponents for a small proportion of the cost of the physical game. (But note that you need to pay separately for the app on each device, so choose whether you want the iPhone or iPad version before purchase.)
The app is well designed, easy to use with great graphics and tutorials on how to play if you’re new to the game or need a reminder. Expansions are available for an additional cost as in-app purchases, but there’s no need to buy as the classic base game is plenty of fun all on its own. If you haven’t tried Catan this is a great inexpensive way to try it out and find out why it has become so incredibly popular. If you have played it, the app experience will bring back all the fun of the board game you remember: strategic, exciting, trading, building brilliance.
This simple app is easy to use and allows you to play against the computer or find real life opponents online. A deceptively simple game with plenty of strategy under the surface. A great quick gaming fix.
Free version includes limited daily plays of the game. Premium version: £4.49
The official Risk app is a joy to play. The fun cartoony animation brings a smile to your face, the chunky buttons and colourful virtual game components are simple and intuitive to use. And of course the classic game is as ruthlessly brilliant as it ever was.
The game is free to play against computer opponents or with your friends online (as long as you know their game username or are friends with them on Facebook).
Scrabble or “Words with friends”
Both apps free
We slightly prefer the very popular Scrabble-like app “Words with Friends” over the official Scrabble app because it is slightly more user-friendly, and you can easily invite other players to a game using their email address without needing to sign in and connect with them through Facebook or EA’s Origen gaming account as the official app demands.
However in either app the game itself is as addictive as ever, and works beautifully as a quick phone gaming fix. If you haven’t discovered how much fun word games on your phone are these days, download some Scrabble right now!
Websites to play specific games online
In the classic strategy game of Acquire players invest money in hotel chains, grow and merge the hotel chains to earn their fortunes, and at the end, in pure capitalistic spirit, the player with the most money wins.
To play Acquire online for free, head over to the simple but ever so effective free site acquire.tlstyer.com and follow our tips below to get started:
Step 1: Enter a username (no password needed) and click Login, then you’re taken straight to the lobby. Look for a game listed as Singles and Starting in the list, click Join and you’re in the game!
Step 2: On your turn the screen layout will look something like this:
The first part of your turn is to lay a tile. Click on one of your tiles in the row on the right to place the one you want. The colour of the tiles help you to see what will happen to that tile on the board.
- Coloured tiles will form part of an existing hotel chain.
- White tiles will allow you to found a new chain (usually a good idea due to the free share you get for founding a chain).
- Checkered tiles will merge two chains together
- Grey tiles will just be sitting on their own and won’t form a chain yet
Step 3: The second part of your turn is to buy up to three shares of your choice. You can only buy shares in a live hotel chain on the board, and only if there are shares available. Look at the chart to see the seven columns representing each hotel chain, named by their initials: L,T,A,F,W,C and I. The table shows how many shares each player owns, how many are still available, the current size of the hotel chain and the current price of a share. Try to be first or second shareholder in hotel chains – you will only receive a bonus payout in a merger or at the end of the game if you own the most or second-most shares in a hotel – third place gets nothing!
Step 4: Continue taking turns as above until a merger happens. When a merger is caused by any player, then all players who own shares in the chain that is disappearing from the board need to decide how to dispose of their shares. If this applies to you then you will have three options: keep, trade or sell your shares. Click the up and down arrows or “max” in each option to choose your combination of these three options. If you trade you get one share in the surviving hotel chain for every two shares you trade – if the surviving chain is a big one this could be a very good deal as you are effectively buying expensive shares on the cheap.
Step 5: When the hotel chains get large the conditions are met for the game to end, and players have the option to end the game or continue playing if they hope to catch up to the winner. All shares are valued including bonuses for first and second shareholders and the player with the most money wins!
The games are usually quick on the site, lasting around 20 minutes. This is much shorter than a live game of Acquire which typically lasts an hour and a half. If you are starting out you may find yourself under pressure from other players on the site to play quickly, but don’t worry. Take your time until you learn the ropes.
If you’re new to Acquire, give it a try and find out why it is still loved by fans after over 50 years.
If you want to brush up your Boggle skills then check out this site, where you can play a single player Boggle-like game finding words in either a 4×4 or a 5×5 grid against the clock. At the end of your word slog you will be given stats on your efforts, grading the most unusual words you found and showing you the words you missed and how you fared against other players on the site who faced the same grid. Excellent training for your next Boggle encounter!
Bridge4free is the free part of the bridgeclublive online bridge club and provides a place for bridge fans to play other real players online. There is a free iPad app to use to join the games, or alternatively you can download the site software to play. With a huge community, tournaments, rankings and even coaching, the friendly and professional site offers many great features. Paid membership is available to access more benefits but the free membership alone provides much for bridge lovers to enjoy.
This very slick site provides a beautiful online dominoes experience. Elegant and intuitive drag and drop controls, a sleek modern design and functionality that allows you to select the version of dominoes you enjoy the most and play against virtual computer opponents or against other players online. A fantastic site for dominoes fans.
The Conquer club website provides an online battle game almost identical to Risk, and has a huge community of over 600,000 players. You can register and play for free, against different levels of computerised opponents or against other online players in short real time games or longer games where you only need to check in for a few minutes a day to play your turn.
There are many options available to customise the games, with over 200 different game maps available, and tournaments and team games for massive epic online dice-rolling war. The game is played in your browser with no download needed, and is easy to learn and use. Further premium options are available for a member fee but there is more than enough gaming available to keep you happy for hours and days and weeks and months, entirely for free.
Want more board games? To download our top 50 classic board games list and hear about future updates to our site enter your email below.