Games for async play?

So I’ve been playing games with several people who only have time sporadically which makes async play great. Also, my partner seems to enjoy playing a turn or two between meetings (we were up to three different parallel games at one point).

But as we learned from trying out Abyss not all games are suited to this mode of play.

So I’d like to make a list of games that work and one of games that definitely need to be played with everyone present at the same time.

Here are those that work:

  • Tash Kalar
  • Splendor
  • Hardback
  • Rallyman GT
  • Pax Pamir 2
  • Beyond the Sun

Here are some that I think do not:

  • Abyss (offering cards from exploring to your Mitspieler is tedious)

Terra Mystica
Welcome to

Don’t work:
6 nimmt
Probably most quick card games

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El Grande
Race For the Galaxy
Quantum works, I just didn’t like it

Work if you stay in the round
Keyflower - log on. Pass. Repeat!

Don’t work
Nidavellir (I think it would, but I think it would be rubbish because the turns are so fast)
Lost Ruins of Arnak (tbf I attempted to learn this on the fly. It was miserable)
City of the Big Shoulders - the stock round involves lots of passing

I think if you know a game async play is much more viable. Learning medium/ heavy stuff async is a pain


So one of the parameters is how interruptible your turn is – i.e. do you start your turn, do all your things, then do nothing until your next turn, or is there stuff within your turn that requires other players’ input? Ideally, you have quite a long turn in which you do several things, and then there’s a gap while other players do their things.


  • Onitama (though it’s short enough that it’s usually more fun to play live)
  • Automobiles (sort of; yucata makes some changes, and even then there’s one card that requires each other player to take a mini-turn when you finish yours)
  • VOLT (especially if you have a substrate that can handle non-choice turns automatically, yucata again)
  • Most roll and writes, NMBR 9, etc.

Doesn’t work:

  • Firefly (Most of the time it’s fine, and you can house-rule round it a bit, but by the book many things that happen to you depend on the “player to your right” making a decision.)
  • A Touch of Evil (similarly, there are times when you really want the other players to be available)

More to add to the Work list:
Kingdom Builder
Through the Ages
Twilight Struggle
Mage Knight
Food Chain Magnate
The Great Zimbabwe
Res Arcana

Kind of work, but mainly suited to async only because they take too long to play normally. Arguably too much back and forth to be ideal:
Napoleon’s Triumph
Roads & Boats

Don’t work
John Company
Galaxy Trucker


I’m interested in why you don’t think Root works asynchronously. I had been thinking about trying to run a game on here.

I’ve given this a lot of thought, as well. Here is the rubric I’ve come up with for what makes a game work:

  • Open information (so you don’t have to remember over a week or two what you did or what they did)
  • More tactical than strategic - meaning you are reacting to the current board state and what just happened, executing plans over a turn or two, rather than trying to track and keep to a single plan over a long period of time
  • Roughly 15-25 turns per player. Fewer, more complex turns work great. Lots of microturns extend the game out uncomfortably long.

Here’s my list of what has worked best:

  • Troyes
  • Race for the Galaxy (more like 40 actions, but the simultaneous nature and queuing theory make it manageable)
  • Roll for the Galaxy (same)
  • Innovation
  • Dice Forge
  • Welcome To
  • Railroad Ink
  • Castles of Burgundy (Yucata)
  • Grand Austria Hotel (Yucata)
  • Beyond the Sun

Things that work pretty well

  • Tzolk’in (a bit beefy and strategic)
  • Keyflower (violates my rubric at all three steps but is so good that it works out in the end)
  • Puerto Rico
  • 7 Wonders

Games that really needed to be synchronous:

  • Res Arcana
  • A Few Acres of Snow (Yucata)
  • Machi Koro
  • Jaipur
  • The Crew
  • Tichu
  • Libertalia
  • Quantum
  • Hanabi

It works or doesn’t work depending on what technology cards you pick up. If you get a “re-roll every attack” tech, then the changes in initiative drive exponential turn count growth.

I liked it but by the end of one game we decided never to do asynch again.

I think that was what impaired our Keyflower game experience for me – most of the things I’ve played asynchronously on BGA have been matters of reading the board and making one’s decision fairly quickly.

I’d argue with you on Machi Koro, though – I’ve played it a few times on Yucata and I find it pretty easy to see what’s going on when I come back to a game.

Machi Koro, for me, falters on the turn count test. If people are active you can bang it out, but you have a high turn count and do relatively little, so the game can stretch on well past the point of interest (especially if playing across timezones or some such). My two cents/pence.


I find it quite a dull game anyway, to be fair. :slight_smile:


Space base! Machi Koro for gamers.

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I definitely have to take notes if I’m playing Tzolk’in asynchronously. Teotihuacan, on the other hand, is fine.

Base game only, mainly because of Ambush, Sappers, and the like, and the Marquise’s field hospital. It’s also a game that benefits from active negotiation (i.e., not just when your turn rolls around).

Consider ambush: to play it properly, you should wait on every attack for a defending player with an unknown card to say whether or not they ambush. That’s a pretty big drag.


I find both points unimportant in whether a game works async for me. Either the game has a log, and/or the async game is designed to provide you with the info you already know in an easy to access way (BGA is terrible at this, but apps and Vassal modules tend to be good). At worst, I may have to take some notes. I also tend to prefer games that reward long-term planning.

I agree with the points you and RogerBW made about turn structure.

As a “doesn’t do it for me” point, I don’t enjoy short async games! They have to get past a certain meatiness threshold to be worth playing async. I did not factor this into my works/doesn’t work lists, because it’s just a personal preference.