Game On, Part III: Unplugged

Board Games

As you can see, most of these boardgames are available online for free. While playing online can be fun – the best memories I have are playing with friends sitting around a kitchen table or on a rug together.

Settlers of Catan

Designed by Klaus Teuber, Setllers of Catan is a game that has infinite variations. Not only because there are different versions of the game but also because the original game board changes each time you play. It’s also dependent on dice and on human nature. We like to think we are logical creatures but playing Catan has a way of getting under people’s skin. The basic idea is that you are settlers of a new area and you need to produce resources in order to build settlements and cities, which are worth points. The first to a certain number of points, wins. It’s a game of strategy but in order to complete your own tasks you must trade with other players so it becomes a bit of a collaborative game, too.

Recently, I heard about the 2012 documentary, Going Cardboard, about the making of Catan and the revolution in game design that its popularity has sparked. Learn more about the documentary here.

I’ve also shared in the past this short film about a regular Catan game amongst friends.

Get your Catan game on here for free.


Pandemic is different than most board games because it requires players to collaborate in order to rid the world of diseases. The winner isn’t one person, it’s all of humanity! Make sure you read the directions carefully before playing – Paul skimmed the directions the first time we played and it turned out that what he understood is actually a very difficult variation of the game.

Read more about Pandemic here.

Get your Pandemic 2 game on here for free.


I remember one of the first times I played this game with a friend from camp. We were maybe 9 years old sitting in her room, on the rug, and she wiped the floor with me. I barely understood how to play and to be honest, I was intimidated by her – not just because she went to private school but because she had a TV in her room and her own bathroom. These things were impressive to me at the time. Needless to say, I didn’t play much more Boggle for the rest of my childhood. I only really got into the game in college.

I really learned how to play the game with two friends from one of my art classes at Brown. One of those friends was an incredible player and playing with her not only motivated us because we wanted to beat her (just once!) but it challenged us to become better players so we could be closer to her level. Now, Paul won’t play Boggle with me unless I give him twice as much time to look at the board. I like that games themselves can be challenging but that playing against other people is really what pushes us to excel.

Get your Boggle game on here for free.


Oh, Monopoly! The granddaddy of board games. The hours I spent with friends at sleepovers playing this game…one friend from junior high and I in particular loved to play this game. We held epic tournaments at her house. Really, it was an excuse to sit together for several hours without the TV on and talk…about school, our friends, boys, whatever. I hadn’t played Monopoly much since then until coming to Ecuador. It doesn’t seem to be one of the more popular party games for 20 and 30-somethings. Now, I’m getting to relive the thrill of the game as I teach my students how to play our version of Palmar-polio!

You can buy the Photo-opoly version of the game here.

Get your Monopoly game on here for free.


I was introduced to this game playing on a computer…alone…which was good practice but not as much fun as playing with someone else. Paul and I liked playing this before we came to Peace Corps so we brought the dice, which is all you really need, and we found the scoresheet on the internet and can print it whenever we want. You can also play for free online, too.

Get your Yahtzee game on here for free.


I learned how to play this game in Colombia with a colleague of my mother. She taught me at her home in Bogotá and I have always loved playing it. You can actually play it with a deck of cards, too, and is very much like playing Rummy or like other forms of Gin with points like Rummy 500. The best part is stealing other people’s tiles to add to your own combinations…this is also why Paul doesn’t like to play this game!

Get your Rummikub game on here for free.


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