Best Digital/PC Board Games on Steam – Ranked & Reviewed

In the ever-expanding digital world, no one is safe… not even board games. Ever since the first computers were built, some of the earliest programs were digital versions of tabletop games, like chess. One of the defining moments in the advancement of technology was when a computer program was able to beat the World Chess Champion and the World Go champion at their respective games. These are our picks for best digital/PC board games on Steam!

🏆 Our Top Picks

In a hurry? Check out our favorites below.

Best Budget

Star Realms
Star Realms is one of my favorite dueling card games. You won’t need to buy a pallet of booster packs, either. Everything you need is in the box for under $20. The best part about the Steam version is that it’s free to play offline.

Best Cooperative

Elder Sign
Elder Sign is Cthulhu-themed dice game. Collect elder signs and work together to stop the Ancient One from awakening and destroying the world. I particularly like the digital version of Cthulhu games for their quick rules tutorials and easy setup.

Best Overall

Istanbul
Istanbul is one of the best Steam ports online. The rules, mechanics, and coding are amazing. Everything works fluidly, unlike a lot of other analog to digital ports. The best part about the digital version of Istanbul is the quick setup and easy plug-and-play interface it offers.

The Digital Advantage

Skynet and our inevitable computer overlords aside, this cyber-takeover isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Digital/PC board games have some distinct advantages.

  • The rules are programmed in and you can’t cheat or play the game incorrectly.
  • A game that would be impossible to travel with can now fit on a laptop or phone.
  • You can play with friends and family around the world.
  • Graphics, soundtracks, and animation can add to the experience.

The Digital Downside

Digital board games come with their own issues, however. They can have shoddy programming that runs inefficiently, crashes, or irritating animations and sounds. Just as all board games aren’t created equal, the same can be said for their digital counterparts. I don’t think the digital versions will ever push the physical versions out of existence, but I definitely think they have a place in today’s world, and should be on any gamer’s radar.

#1. Istanbul

Istanbul Board Game

Digital Version | Mobo Studio | 2018 

Istanbul is a worker placement game where you’ll play as a merchant you are in charge of a bunch of workers (who would’ve thought?). Your workers are not the brightest crayons in the box, however, and you need to take them to their locations and come back to pick them up if you want them to do something else.

Istanbul
  • Highest quality components with wooden bits and beautiful red...
  • Created by famed game designer Rudiger Dorn
  • Gorgeous artwork by Andreas Resch

How does it stack up on Steam?

This is probably one of the best board-game-to-digital-recreations on the market. It has online multiplayer, single-player, and the AI isn’t half bad. The system keeps track of all your workers, resources, and points. It’s very easy to learn and tons of fun to play.

If you’ve played Istanbul and liked it then you’ll appreciate the lengths the developers went to in order to ensure that it still feels like the tabletop game.

If you’ve never played Istanbul and are interested in the game, then you’ll also definitely appreciate the game.

#2. Lords of Waterdeep

Lords of Waterdeep Board Game

Digital Version | Playdek, Inc. | 2017

Step into the shoes of one of the Lords of Waterdeep and use your influence and power to gain control. Lords of Waterdeep is set in the fictional Dungeons & Dragons town of Waterdeep, from the setting of the Forgotten Realms campaign. As a D&D game, it has all of the usual elements. As a resource management and worker placement game, you’ll hire fighters, clerics, rogues, and wizards to complete quests for victory points.

Lords of Waterdeep is one of my favorite worker placement games. Being a longtime D&D nerd, I love the theme of the game. Be sure to check out our in-depth review of the physical board game too!

Lords of Waterdeep
  • An exciting Euro-style board game set in Waterdeep, the greatest...
  • This immersive game casts players as Lords of Waterdeep who hire...
  • Game play: 1 hour

How does it stack up on Steam?

The PC version has some distinct advantages over some of the other games on this list. There is an online multiplayer as well as local multiplayer. The game is very polished and looks excellent. The only issue you’ll really find is that there’s a timer for the game built into online multiplayer that ends the game whether you’re done or not, so make sure you check your settings.

The mobile version is just as good, but I’d rather play it on a larger screen like a tablet over a phone, just so that you can really see everything.

#3. Boss Monster

Boss Monster Header

Digital Version | Plain Concepts Corp. | 2016

Become a boss, build a dungeon, and destroy puny heroes.

Boss Monster is the perfect candidate to be digitized. In Boss Monster, you take on the role of the boss of a dungeon and build rooms to murder adventurers who are trying to steal your stuff. The reason why it works so well as a video game is that it’s based on retro video game bosses. The card artwork is pixel art and reminds me of playing Castlevania on Super Nintendo.

Each card represents a room in a dungeon that has different abilities to kill off intruders. It’s a bit complicated and therefore easy to lose track of everything. The digital version keeps track of all the cards, victory points, and health in an easy-to-see way, and the art and soundtrack all add to the experience.

Boss Monster
  • For 2-4 players
  • Takes around 20 minutes to play
  • Dungeon building card game

How does it stack up on Steam?

Boss Monster is one of the few games I actually prefer the PC version over the physical one. My brother was one of the first to get a physical copy by backing it on Kickstarter, and it’s really fun. However, with some games, I’m just lazy and the digital version takes care of all the tedious bits that I don’t feel like dealing with.

Can’t get enough Boss Monster? Check out our full review on the physical version here.

#4. Ticket to Ride

Ticket to Ride Header

Digital Version | Days of Wonder, Asmodee Digital | 2012

Ticket to Ride is one of the modern-day classics. It’s seemingly simplistic mechanics of “build a train line” veils a very strategy-heavy game.

When do you pick up a new goal?

What colors are you going for?

Is an opponent going to block you out?

Should I go for longest route?

There’s a ton of strategy to be had with this fantastic game. The simplicity of rules combined with heavy strategy makes it a lot of fun on a digital platform. It really shines digitally, however, because you don’t have to keep track of all the tiny train pieces! If not for the PC version, this game would be impossible to play on the go. Even when I’m playing at home I always knock someone’s train route off the board by accident (I’m not graceful).

Ticket to Ride
  • A fast-paced, award-winning board game
  • Connect iconic North American cities and build your train routes...
  • Players must compete to grab the best train cards and routes...

How does it stack up on Steam?

Ticket to Ride is one of the more successful PC adaptations. The rules are simplified and it’s very easy to travel with, especially on a smartphone. I used to ride the subway into work and always got a game in on my commute.

Ready to ride the train? Get the lowdown with our full review of the physical version here plus all of the other versions and expansions!

#5. Elder Sign

Elder Sign Board Game

Elder Sign: Omens | Digital Version | Fantasy Flight Publishing Inc. | 2011

Step into madness (again) with Elder Sign. There’s a ton of Cthulhu and Lovecraft-based board games and video games, most of them coming from Fantasy Flight Games. If you like cooperative board games, Arkham Horror and Eldritch Horror are great places to start.

In Elder Sign, you take on the role of an investigator and go searching for clues to bring down the Ancient Ones before everyone is devoured or lost in time and space.

Elder Sign
  • Designed by Richard Launius and Kevin Wilson
  • Set in a world of Lovecraftian horror
  • Cooperative game for 1-8 players

How does it stack up on Steam?

Elder Sign: Omens is a very faithful recreation of the board game. The game mechanics and artwork are all pulled directly from the game. The biggest advantage of the digital version is that it teaches you how to play. I’ve found that with games like Arkham Horror, Mansions of Madness, and Elder Sign, the instruction booklet is more of a tome. It can be a pain to read through everything, and even more of a pain to teach other players the rules. The Steam game distills all of that down and makes it very simple to learn.

I’d almost suggest playing the PC version first before you play the physical version, just to learn the ins and outs of the game. That being said, Elder Sign: Omens does not have an online multiplayer, so if you want to play with others you’ll have to sit around a shared screen or pass your phone back and forth.

#6. Pathfinder Adventure Card Game: Rise of the Runelords

Pathfinder Adventure Card Game Rise of the Runelords RPG Board Game

Digital Version | Asmodee Digital | 2017

Pathfinder Adventures is another game that works really well as a digital version.

If you’re not familiar with Pathfinder, it was an alternate version of Dungeons & Dragons when they split from the 3.5 rule set to 4th edition. Since nobody liked the 4th edition, Pathfinder as a tabletop RPG became wildly popular and actually outsold D&D for several years. It’s since spawned its own lore, novels, cult following, and board games.

Pathfinder Adventures is best described as a deck-building RPG. It’s an interesting twist on the whole genre. In the physical game when you buy the box it comes with everything you need… for one adventure. Granted, that’s about 10 playthroughs, but to move forward you’ll need to find the correct expansion for that adventure set. It gets expensive, and it gets difficult to keep track of your character’s cards.

Pathfinder Adventure Card Game: Rise of the Runelords
  • Launch a campaign to strike back against the evils plaguing...
  • English (Publication Language)

How does it stack up on Steam?

The PC version is much easier to handle. The setup, which usually took quite a bit, is now instant and completely mobile. You can play it on your desktop/laptop or on a phone/tablet with the mobile version. They’re both pretty identical.

I loved the physical version of the game, but it is a complete pain in the butt to set up and keep organized. It was easy to find the first few expansions to the adventure, but the further along you go, the harder it is to find the last 1-2 expansions.

To complete the entire questline with a physical board, you have to buy the base game and 6 expansions to complete one adventure. Each expansion adds about 10-15 playthroughs. It’s a lot to keep track of, which is why I prefer the digital version of the game.

#7. Small World

Small World Board Game

Digital Version | Days of Wonder, Asmodee Digital | 2013

Kendra got Small World for her birthday a few years ago and it’s one of her favorites. She’s a huge fantasy nerd (and nerd in general) and Small World mixes up the generic fantasy tropes in such a fun way.

In Small World, you’ll pick a race, mixed with a random ability, and begin to conquer the map. You’ll quickly find out that the map doesn’t have enough space for everyone to live peacefully; it is a small world after all. You gain points for controlling territories, and for special abilities mixed in randomly with your race cards.

Small World
  • High quality European components
  • For 2-5 players
  • Takes 45-60 minutes to play

Small World has tons of exciting expansions for the tabletop version that really spice things up if you’ve been playing the original for a while.

How does it stack up on Steam?

I love the artwork for this game. It’s so goofy and fun, and they recreated the artwork faithfully in the digital version. There are no fancy 3D effects or reworkings for the PC version. They went with a simple recreation that works really well.

I had a lot of fun and was able to hop online and play with some friends who live in a different state. We got onto Discord (a free VoIP) and were talking trash and slinging insults to each other as if we were in the same room.

I tried playing some solo games and random matchmaking games, but it didn’t have that same feeling I was looking for from a board game. However, playing with people I knew online was absolutely a blast.

There were some people online who had issues with bugs in the online version, but I was perfectly fine and didn’t run into any issues.

#8. Pandemic

Pandemic Board Game Featured Image

Digital Version | Asmodee Digital, Z-Man Games | 2018

Pandemic is one of my favorite games. It’s cooperative, has an incredible theme, and has enough challenge and variety in playing styles that I always find myself drawn back to it. You can check out our full review of the tabletop version here.

In Pandemic, you take on the role of an emergency response team. Each character has a different ability and you’ll have to work together with your team to cure all the viruses threatening the extinction of the world.

Pandemic
  • For 2-4 Players
  • 60 minute playing time
  • Updated version of the popular co-operative game

How does it stack up on Steam?

As a board game, Pandemic is one of the greats. As a PC game, it has a few issues. There is no online multiplayer and no AI. So, if you wanted to play on your laptop or desktop, then you’re either playing alone, or you’ll want to hook it up to a TV so that everyone can see at once.

If you do want a digital copy, I highly suggest a mobile option. It’s much easier to pass it around in between turns, and it’s a fantastic way to play on the go, especially while traveling.

Ready for some tabletop Pandemic? Check out our in-depth review of the Pandemic board game and the best Pandemic expansions before you dive in.

#9. Ogre

Ogre Board Game

Digital Version | Auroch Digital | 2017

Steve Jackson is one of the big names in board games. Before he created the spoof-filled Munchkin games he created a tabletop game called Ogre. It was simple to learn and fun to play tabletop wargame where you would control the massive hover tank known as an Ogre and blast away your enemies to bits.

Ogre has solidified its place in tabletop history, and there have been several reprints of the game, but it’s also been very difficult (for me anyway) to find a workable copy of the game. One of the great parts about digital games is that they’re never out of stock. A new copy can always be made.

Ogre
  • An exciting, fast-playing war-game for two players.
  • In this head-to-head experience, one person commands a...
  • For ages 14 and up. Takes half an hour to play. Compatible with...

How does it stack up on Steam?

The PC version of Ogre uses all of the original rules of the physical edition and the models and textures are based on the classic artwork from the game. If you weren’t around in 1977 when it was first released, then the digital copy will always be available to find so you can relive or discover the classic.

#10. Ascension

Ascension Deck-Building Board Game

Digital Version | Asmodee Digital | 2014

Ascension is an interesting take on a deck-building game. It was actually designed by Magic: The Gathering champions as an alternative to the very high entry-cost of Magic.

I really like PC deck-building games. Having deck-builders digitally rendered makes the setup incredibly quick and easy. Also, they’re still a lot of fun even when you end up playing single player against the AI.

Ascension
  • The hit deckbuilding game with over 50,000 copies sold worldwide
  • Designed by Magic: the Gathering Pro Tour Champions Justin Gary,...
  • Combines with any other Ascension sets for unlimited...

How does it stack up on Steam?

Ascension worked well online and I was able to play with friends without any issue. Having the decks auto-shuffle and set-up is really nice. You can get quite a few games in within a short amount of time.

#11. Star Realms

Star Realms Deck-Building Game

Digital Version | White Wizard Games | 2016

Star Realms is an inexpensive Sci-Fi deck-building game and one you should absolutely go and add to your Steam library right now. It’s an incredibly fun game, has the rare Sci-Fi theme in a deck-builder, and most importantly, it’s free.

Star Realms
  • Fun Amazingly rich yet easy to learn game play
  • Portable The whole game comes in a deck box that can fit in...
  • Expandable One copy supports 2 players Add additional copies...

How does it stack up on Steam?

The Steam version was actually my first encounter with the game and, as mentioned, it’s free. There’s no reason not to download it. With the free version you get access to the base game and single player AI fights. You can’t go on to multiplayer unless you actually purchase the game, but it’s a great way to test run the game and see if it’s your cup of tea.

The game is very user-friendly, and they do a really good job of teaching the game. I actually didn’t mind playing single-player and put quite a few hours into the game with just the free version, so it definitely is worth the entry cost.

#12. Splendor

Splendor 3-Player Board Game

Digital Version | Days of Wonder, Asmodee Digital | 2015

In Splendor, you take on the role of a gem merchant during the Renaissance. You’ll draft resources, take control of mines, shipping, and craftsman to create gems and win influence with the nobles.

Splendor is a relatively lightweight game that is very fun to play. It’s easy to learn and has enough strategy to keep me entertained. I’ve always liked the physical game because I think the gem tokens included are really well done and have the feel of solid poker chips.

Splendor
  • Ages 10 and up
  • Number of Players: 2 to 4
  • Game Time: 30 minutes

How does it stack up on Steam?

The Steam version just recently updated the game to include online multiplayer capability, which was one of the major complaints about the game previously.

Just recently, Kendra and I were traveling for a wedding and spent quite a lot of time playing Splendor on a tablet while waiting for one of our fights (40 hours total of travel time). It was the perfect way to pass the time as we listened to our flight being delayed.

#13. Carcassonne

Carcassonne Board Game

Digital Version | Asmodee Digital | 2017

Carcassonne is one of those games that looks really complicated until you play it once. The first time it was described to me, I had no idea how I was going to keep the different ways of scoring straight. After about 5 minutes into the game, however, you’ll have it all figured out.

Carcassonne is a tile-placement game in which players slowly build out the map and placing meeples on specific locations that score when that section of the map is completed. It’s much easier than it sounds, I promise.

Carcassonne
  • Completely redesigned rulebook to make learning the game easier
  • Introduces the Abbot mini-expansion and a new version of the...
  • Game and expansions have sold over 10 million copies worldwide

How does it stack up on Steam?

Steam has a re-released 3D version of the game with updated graphics and features, giving the game an overall fresher and more modern look. Instead of a user interface like most other games, the game has you looking down on a virtual tabletop, which gives it a fun feeling of still being a tabletop game.

If you love the original and need more, be sure to check out our rundown of best Carcassonne expansions!

#14. Catan

Catan Expansions Featured Image

Digital Version | United Soft Media | 2017

Catan is one of my favorite games. If you’ve never played it then stop reading this right now and go play it. It’s that much fun. When I first played it on Christmas Day years ago, I was hooked. I literally spent the next 3 days at the table playing one game after another with friends that would drop in and out as the days went on. I got a little carried away.

Catan
  • The incredibly popular, multi-award winning civilization-building...
  • Players control their own civilization and look to spread across...
  • Beware the robber’s nefarious plans as he steals resources and...

How does it stack up on Steam?

The Steam version plays just like the physical board game, and it’s free… kinda.

The base game is free to a point and then has microtransactions to purchase the full game and expansions. The 3D models of the players aren’t the fanciest I’ve ever seen, but I really like the board, which is more important.

Players have ridiculed the game for being very buggy. There are a lot of complaints about crashes and dice rolls not being random. I’ve also heard that the odds of each dice roll change depending on the board setup. I’ve experienced the dice rolling, but without looking at the code of the game, I can’t be certain if they really did mess with it or not.

With all of the issues, you have to keep in mind that it is free so you can get a feel for the game before you decide if you can ignore the bugs for the sake of Catan or if you’d rather stick with rolling the dice yourself in-person.

Virtual Reality Catan

If you do decide that this version isn’t for you, there is another option to play online. Catan has a VR version developed by a different company. I’ve played quite a few VR games and they are way more fun than you think they’d be. Catan VR is very polished. The graphics are great and the motion controls are very fluid.

There is only one downside. If you had all your friends in a room and asked everyone with a VR headset to raise their hands you’d probably only see one… maybe two. VR is still a new technology and is getting cheaper, but the user base for any VR game is still limited.

#15. Dungeons & Dragons: Tomb of Annihilation

Dungeons & Dragons: Tomb of Annihilation Board Game

Digital Version | BKOM Studios | 2017

Dungeons & Dragons probably benefits most from being a digital board game. The game is based on the physical tabletop game of the same name.

Dungeons & Dragons: Tomb of Annihilation
  • For 2-5 players
  • 60 minute playing time
  • Features multiple scenarios, challenging quests and game play...

How does it stack up on Steam?

With the Steam version, you get the advantage of not having to read a massive rulebook or set up a huge dungeon by hand, and you get really cool animations for spells, monsters, and attacks.

It plays very faithfully to the actual board game and looks fantastic. There are some drawbacks, however. There is no multiplayer… at all. Without multiplayer, it does seem to cross into the realm of a pure video game as opposed to a digital board game.

I feel torn about this game. I really like Dungeons & Dragons, but it’s so hard to get everyone together to play. This version fulfills my D&D fix and is a great game. However, it doesn’t act like a board game and I sometimes feel like I’m just playing a computer game.

#16. Love Letter

Love Letter Board Game

Digital Version | Asmodee Games | 2018

Yes, there’s even a digital version of Love Letter. The 16-card game that you can fit into your wallet, has gotten even smaller.

I absolutely love Love letter. It’s simple, fun, and very portable. It’s a great 2-player card game and cheap to boot. In the game, you are a potential suitor of the princess and the cards in your hand represent who currently is holding your love letter for her. The object is to be the last player standing or to have the highest-numbered card at the end of the game. It’s an easy time-killer if you’re heading out and want something fun to play.

Love Letter
  • A game of risk; deduction and luck
  • For 2 to 4 player game
  • Takes 15 minutes playtime

How does it stack up on Steam?

Because the original game is so small already, I don’t necessarily see the need for a digital copy of it, but the PC version is very nice. It uses all of the artwork from the game and the interface is both lovely and user-friendly.

It’s a great port of the game, but maybe I’m just lucky and always have Kendra to play Love Letter when the fancy strikes, so a digital version just doesn’t make sense to me.

#17. Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small

Agricola All Creatures Big and Small Board Game

Digital Version | Asmodee Digital | 2017

In Agricola, you’re in charge of growing your farm from an empty field into a thriving agricultural center. As you may imagine from our website name, Kendra and I like animals. The first time we played Agricola, Kendra went a little nutty and tried to have all of the animals on her farm. Did I mention she really likes animals?

Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small
  • First expansion for best selling Agricola
  • New Mechanics and options

How does it stack up on Steam?

The Steam version of Agricola is not the full version of the game. It’s only the two-player version and isn’t as heavy as the original. I like the game, but I found myself drifting away from it after only a few plays. One of the big drawbacks to playing board games online is that you tend to lose a lot of the social interaction that makes the games so compelling.

Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small is only a two-player version so you feel as if you’re in a duel with a robot and miss out on all the fun animal noises Kendra likes to make whenever she gets a new one.

Honorable Mention: Through the Ages

Through the Ages Review

Digital Version | CGE Digital | 2017

Sometimes there’s a game that’s just incredibly deep, but requires a lot of pieces and components to keep track of. 

Through the Ages is one of those games that is full of strategy and depth, but absolutely intimidating to get to the table. However, CGE (Czech Games Edition) has made a pretty amazing port of the game. 

Sometimes when a game is ported over it gets convoluted when the original game is forced into a digital format, kinda like forcing the square peg through a round hole. The exact same game you get from the boardgame is exactly what you’re going to play on the digital version. That’s a pretty big achievement in its own right. 

The best part is you can play a well balanced A.I. to refine your skills anywhere you want. 

CGE was nice enough to send us a digital key to try it out on Steam, but I enjoyed it so much I bought a copy for my phone too. 

Through the Ages: A New Story of Civilization
  • The classic civilization-building game is now even better
  • In addition to outstanding new art, this version includes subtle...
  • 2-4 players

Conclusion

There’s no escape. Plug in or get out.

Making this list was much more difficult than I thought it would be. I like board games, and I like playing video games. You’d think that it would be a pretty easy match finding board games that work well as video games. Right?

Wrong.

That’s not always the case. Part of what I love about board games is the social interaction and the shared storytelling you get when a group of people comes together. There are surprisingly few game developers that make those aspects a priority when they adapt a game for the computer screen. Their priorities are usually to make the rules flow easily and to enhance the games with graphics and soundtracks.

I do think that some games really shine in their digital forms. The rule-heavy, long setup, and deck-building games, in particular, make fantastic PC versions.

Luckily for us, I don’t think video games will ever be able to truly push out board games. There’s something magical that happens when a group of friends get together and roll some dice, but it’s also really nice to be able to catch up with old friends and be able to play the same game with someone on the other side of the world.  

What are your favorite Steam board games? Did we miss any that you think we should have covered? We’d love to hear your thoughts. Drop us a comment below and school us with your digital expertise.