The 5 best strategy board games for long distance play


Don’t let the distance keep you from grabbing board games off the shelf to play with family and friends. Try these five games via video calls.

Remote games are great for family and friends who can’t play together in person or aren’t interested in the digital board game format. Dice games or guessing games can be a must-have during video calls, but don’t feel confined to games that lack many components. As fun as Yahtzee Where Pictorial maybe they don’t have very complex mechanisms.

Playing strategy board games via video calls may not seem intuitive, but many lend themselves well to the format with minimal sacrifice for gameplay. As long as each participating household has a physical copy of the game, everyone can play almost as if they were together in person. This article highlights five of the best strategy games that play well on video calls. Many are considered collection staples and could likely be found at a local library that offers board games. The games are listed in order of complexity, starting with those suitable for children and ending with the more hardcore games ideal for adults.

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Display of Kingdomino components.

Kingdomino is the winner of the Spiehl des Jahres 2017 by designer Bruno Cathala and artist Cyril Bouquet. This tile laying game is ideal for the whole family and can accommodate two to four players. Everyone takes turns choosing tiles and places them in their realm according to the type of tile. These tiles are drawn at the end of each turn of a random game. When playing long distance, only one household should have a random game. This household announces the tile numbers drawn for each new turn. The other households should keep their tile sets in numerical order so that they can easily find the next tiles.

Kingdomino is a fast-paced game and shouldn’t take longer than 30 minutes. If players are feeling adventurous, the expansion Age of Giants also works well on video calls. Age of Giants includes new tiles and giants that prevent someone from earning points.

Machi Koro

Presentation of the box and the components of the game Machi Koro.

Masao Suganuma’s Dice-Throwing Card Collector Machi Koro is another great family game. Each card represents an aspect of a city and corresponds to a dice roll. When a card number is obtained, players earn money to buy new cards or develop landmarks. The object of the game is to first develop all the monuments in the city.

If you are playing with the base game, households simply have to remove the cards which the other players in turn take from the appropriate stacks of cards. Only one household must randomize the deck if it plays with one of the expansions and uses a game variant. That household then announces which cards are put into play.

Machi Koro is designed for two to four players, although more players can join a long distance game. Machi Koro can take an hour or two depending on the number of participants, the extensions used and the quality of the dice.

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Configuration and components of the Catan board.

Klaus Teuber’s classic resource management game Catania requires coordination in its setup and play as it has a good number of components. Players can either use the default island setup or randomize the board. If the table is random, a household should determine the layout of the table so that everyone else can copy it. During the game, players simply recount the action they are taking. Terrain hexes in Catania are numbered and correspond to a specific resource; this creates a grid that makes it easy to replicate the placement of roads or settlements on all game boards.

CataniaThe various extensions also work remotely. Based Catania simply offers the easiest setup and play due to fewer board-changing components or game mechanics. Catania is ideal for older children and adults, and two to six people can play. Expect to spend an hour or two to complete a game.

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Display of components of viticulture.

Viticulture is a delicious euro worker placement game where players tend their vineyards and fill wine orders to earn points. Ideal for older children and adults, Viticulture is for one to six people and takes most of an afternoon to play.

While each player has many components for their board, players only need to keep track of the workers, rooster, and point marker for other households. If you play the Tuscany expansion, also include the stars. Players can recount their turn, indicating the action on the board that their workers will take. Viticulture includes cards that offer special actions, so the trade-off for long distance play is that potential duplicates can be drawn in different households. In some cases, players are asked to swap cards, in which case pulling from the top of the appropriate deck is the best solution.


Display of the Scythe map and components.

Engine manufacturer False May have the steepest learning curve of any game on this list, but it’s worth it. False is a great worker placement and resource management game for one to five players. Towers consist of workers producing resources, which are then used to unlock skills on a player’s faction board. False takes a lot of management, so expect to spend a few hours per game.

False works on video calls as most of the action happens on each player’s faction board. Households only need to follow Progress Tokens, Workers, and Characters on the main game board. Players don’t need to track production supplies. If someone loses resources during the game, that player can simply tell which resources are being given up. False also relies on drawing cards, but duplicates do not spoil the gaming experience.

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