I’ve always been a board game fan, so it makes sense that a large number of applications on my iPad are board games. I didn’t get to take many board games with me when I moved to California, so my iPad has really been serving as a replacement for a lot of those games. I enjoy playing the games on my own or with a friend or two. It’s a great device for these games and there are a lot of quality apps out there for playing board games.
I’ve put together a list of my 11 favorite board games. Some are just single games that stand on their own, others are collections of simpler but classic games. Stick with me after the jump to find out what my favorites are.
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Battleship is a classic board game that we all know and love. Battleship transfers beautifully to the iPad and the developers have taken care to add a few new twists to the game. There is the classic battleship game, of course, and it’s made better with updated graphics and animations. There are a few other, new ways to play. Salvo mode allows you to fire at will for an interesting gameplay. Super weapons mode incorporates all of the weapons that you are able to earn by playing the game so that you can use different weapon styles as power-ups.
Battleship does take care to incorporate two-player mode. You can play against another player on the same iPad, although that does get a bit tiresome. You can also try iPad v. iPad (or iPhone or iTouch) over a local wifi network for more exciting gameplay that doesn’t require looking away and sharing the iPad. All in all, it’s always a fun game to play and easily made my list.
If you are a fan of the “classic” board games and you’d like an all-in-one package then you should check out the Board Game Collection. The app is free and includes five games to start: nine men morris, reversi, tic tac toe, four in a row and American checkers. The app can be a bit laggy, but the games are high quality and all of the games can be played against a computer which is a pretty rare thing with iPad board game collections.
You can also play against another player in almost all of the games. If you’d like to play variations on the games that came with the application then you can purchase one of two add-ons. These add-ons generally aren’t necessary, but if you’re really into one of the games you’ll find the add-on worthwhile.
Price: Free, $0.99 per add-on
Requires: iOS 4.3 or later
Developer: Uwe Meier
Game Room is another collection of classic board games. I prefer the games in this collection to the prior collection. This application includes Checkers, Reversi, Halma, Go, Mancala, Tafl, Atari Go and Cups. The app is beautifully designed. The biggest downfall is that, sadly, there is no way to play against a computer player. If you have a friend with you to play the games, you’ll love the app. Just don’t download it if you only want to play the games on your own.
Life was, hands down, my favorite board game as a child and I believe that it makes a wonderful transition to the iPad. The Game of Life is a classic game about… living life. The interactions with the application mimic the actions of playing the real board game quite well. It looks like the classic, and the animations and the few things that the app adds on serve to enhance the playing experience rather than detract from it. All in all, a fantastic game and worth a download.
Mancala is a game that doesn’t really require a lot of extra flourishes. It’s meant to be enjoyed as a simple game without a lot of extra fanfare. Mancala! does a fantastic job of creating a fun and exciting mancala experience without too much extra business going on. You are able to play a game of mancala against a computer player or a friend. You can change a few options, like the number of stones in the cups, but other than that it’s just a traditional and well-designed mancala app, which I’ll take over a feature-filled mancala app any day.
Requires: iOS 4.2 or later
Developer: Paul Hudson
For those of you who have never heard of Mexican Train Dominoes, which is likely a fair amount, it’s essentially a variation on dominoes that requires a bit less strategy and a bit more luck. The classic, physical version is quite a game, with sounds, lights and tons of dominoes. The Mexican Train Dominoes app doesn’t quite capture the fun and light-hearted qualities of the physical version, but it certainly gives you a pretty decent way to play the game.
Mexican Train Dominoes is very different from most of the other games on the list, but I like it a lot because it gives me some great variety. You’ll quickly be drawn into the game, and before you know it the 12 rounds that you have to play will have flown by. If you’d like to try something new, this is worth checking out.
Playing board games on a tablet is definitely not the same experience as playing the game in real life, so I appreciate apps that try to emulate the experience as closely as possible. This version of Monopoly is almost as great as playing in real life. You can flick the dice, draw a card and then watch your piece move without having to count spaces. It’s the best of both worlds!
There are many ways to play. You can play a standard game against any computer player (beware that even on expert the computer still isn’t the greatest). You can play wirelessly with friends who also own the app, or play a table-top version with family and friends. Finally, a “teacher” mode was included where you learn tips and tricks to become a stronger Monopoly player.
I didn’t really get to play Risk growing up so playing Risk on my iPad has been my main exposure to the game and it’s fantastic. The game seems to be extremely close to the original board game, but with added animations and effects. There are three ways to play: against up to 6 computer opponents, against up to 6 local friends, or against a friend via local wifi or bluetooth.
If you’re a Risk fan, there’s no reason not to download. The app runs smoothly and looks great, plus you can work on your strategy against the computer players so that next time you play you’ll be way more prepared.
I debated for a while about whether to include mahjong as a “board game” application, but decided that it’s close enough and I love Shanghai Mahjong enough to include it in the round-up. Shanghai Mahjong is a simple but feature-filled mahjong application and definitely my top choice of mahjong apps.
The game offers tons of customization options. Choose from 50+ and expanding tilesets, various backgrounds and 200+ layouts. There are tons of options to choose from and over 30 achievements to work towards. Shanghai Mahjong is great for lovers of classic mahjong and will keep you entertained for hours upon hours.
Ticket to Ride is a strategy based board game where you must utilize different colored trains to complete as many routes between cities as possible. The iPad app offers many different ways to play, including over local wifi, wirelessly against players around the globe or against up to four computer players.
If you tire of the original map, there are many more available for purchase. You can further explore America or travel through European lands. Unfortunately, the biggest downside of the application in my opinion is that the app is already fairly pricey and then you have to purchase additional maps on top of that. It can get expensive very quickly, which is never good. Aside from that, it might very well be my most used application and I 100 percent recommend that you download it and give it a try yourself.
If you need more convincing, check out my review here!
Trivia is the name of our final application. Trivial Pursuit is a challenging at times but ultimately great application. It can be a bit crashy/laggy at times, but I’m also running it on an original iPad so that might possibly have something to do with it. I am constantly losing in this game, which I actually kind of like. Unlike in a lot of games where even the “hard” computer player is pretty easily beat, I’m constantly feeling challenged. The questions are challenging and plentiful, and if you ever run out of original questions, you can always pick up a few more sets as in-game purchases.
Board games are a fantastic way to spend your time, in my opinion. Whether you’re playing your favorite game on your own, competing online or socializing with local friends over a game, you’re sure to find a game that you like. There are a ton of board games out there for the iPad, so try one of my favorites or go and search for your own.
Once you’ve done that, come back and share your favorite. If you’re like me and already know what it is, come share it right now. I’d love to hear!