Video Games You Can Play with Your Friends and Kids While Deployed

U.S. Navy sailor plays a video game aboard the USNS Spearhead
Information Systems Technician 2nd Class Emmanuel Velazquez, from Carolina, Puerto Rico, plays a video game aboard the expeditionary fast transport vessel USNS Spearhead, Aug. 22, 2018. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Maria I. Alvarez)

I remember the old-timers in my military unit talking about how they used to play games, such as "Chess," "Checkers" or "Battleship," via letters on their first deployments. But some folks on my first and second deployments played "World of Warcraft" while we were overseas.

Tech advances have made it possible to play pretty high-end games in real time if you and the other players can agree on a time to do so. In fact, if you can bring a Starlink system on deployment and coordinate the time difference with your friends and family, you don't need this list. Play literally anything with online multiplayer.

But if your connection to home might be spotty, you're relying on base Wi-Fi or the time difference is too vast for your other players, you might try some games from this list instead.

“Civilization” Series

The popular “Civilization” series is turn-based. That makes it great for players on rough connections. And it usually goes a few months between updates, so deployed players won't need to camp in the MWR -- which stands for Morale, Welfare and Recreation -- for hours to update their games. The most current game is "Civilization VI," though “V” is also a favorite. And “VII” is scheduled for release this year. (Just "sometime this year." No specifics.) Many of the games are available on Mac and PC, making it easy for players to match up regardless of platform.

"Fluxx" (and Other Card Games)

"Fluxx" is an "asynchronous turn-based card game," basically meaning that players can take their turn whenever they want. And it can be played on phones via WiFi. That's similar to most mobile card games, but we picked "Fluxx" to highlight because it's a game where each turn can change everything, so players famously take a long time to make their moves. But if you and your partner are separated by a few hours anyway, the long delay won't be such a big deal.

"Great Big War Game"

This turn-based strategy game got a BAFTA nomination for its hilarious take on military strategy. Your fancy FM 3-0 and 5-0 knowledge might help a bit, but your kids or friends will have a chance anyway and will enjoy themselves regardless. It's another turn-based asynchronous game, so no worries if everyone's schedules are far off one another.


Another mobile game, and this one is technically played in real-time. That may sound like a big problem for you as the deployed player, but the game lasts a week. So as long as everyone is awake when the game starts, the schedule won't give anyone too big an advantage. Players can form alliances, so being the only player out of sync could bite you there, but you can also invite a friend on your base to the game or maybe play the "I defend your freedom!" card to a couple of folks to back you, anyway.

"Star Realms"

Deck-building games see the player collect and choose cards to go into a game with. Then they use that deck against another player and their deck. "Star Realms" is similar to "Magic: The Gathering," "Hearthstone" and "Gwent," but it can be played asynchronously. You can play against multiple players at once, which is handy. And there's a Cthulhu version if you want to mix things up.

"Ticket to Ride" (and Other Board Games)

A lot of board games are available as phone apps or on computers. We're talking "Ticket to Ride" because it's popular and got an updated PC version last year with asynchronous play. On "Ticket to Ride," you compete with other players to create rail routes and travel the country (which country depends on which map you're using).

If you don't like "Ticket to Ride" (and some players don't like the update, which raised prices of a lot of downloadable content), you can play tons of games this way. Some, such as "Monopoly," are oddly hard to find asynchronous versions of. But others, such as "Scrabble," have multiple versions to choose from. ("Words with Friends 2" might be the most popular.)

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