Boardgame Apps – Asynchronous Play Revisited

I’m a big fan of boardgame apps, either on mobile or on Steam. I love being able to play Ascension with buddies from all over the country and the world.

For the most part, to do that requires asynchronous online multiplayer because it is almost impossible to coordinate schedules with friends when time zones are involved. This is especially true with longer, more complicated games. (For those of you who don’t know, “asynchronous multiplayer” basically means that you log into the game, take your turn, and then leave again. Your opponent(s) can take their turn at their convenience, though most of the time there are timers involved to make sure they don’t disappear).

While my stance hasn’t changed on that requirement in a good boardgame app, it has become a bit more nuanced.

Morels - Night mushroom

I recently reviewed the great new card game app Morels by Mossbark Games and complimented them on including async multiplayer in the game.

After that, Dave over at the illustrious Stately Play site posted his review. (ha! First!)

In it, he said the following:

“I find that the game is far less rewarding when playing asynchronously than in real time. The short turns combined with long waits deadens a bit of the joy, but if you can manage to both log on together (with a friend at, I don’t know, your kid’s holiday concert) and play in real time, I guarantee you won’t only play once.”

A minor discussion ensued on the discussion board, and it made me think.

Should I adjust my thinking on asynchronous play?

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