Smart phones have injected new life into board games. While adding graphic enhancements and online multiplayer features to classics, the genre has also been redefined with new concepts offering addictive gameplay and varying formats including co-operative games.
Otherwise known as tabletop gaming, the genre has gained popularity across the world - varying degree of gameplay from quick pick-up-and-plays to involved strategy games means there’s something for everyone. This has also been fuelled by new, more innovative games generating hype on crowdfunding websites like kickstarter and indiegogo.
Here are our top board game apps that you can try out yourself.
Alhambra ($2.99 iOS and Android)
Alhambra is designed as a tile laying game, where you buy building tiles based on the currency cards in your hand. It is set in the Spanish Middle Ages to build your alhambra, more commonly known as a villa. One of the beautiful things about this game is that it is language independent - there is no text on the tiles so people of different languages can play together, meaning a huge scope for online multiplayer.
It has won numerous awards, including Game of the Year, and there are a few expansions for you to invest in if you choose.
You can play single player, online or pass and play. The single player can be quite challenging, so be prepared to lose against even easy or medium level AI players.
Carcassonne ($9.99 iOS, $4.99 Android)
Carcassonne has been described as a game that traps people into gaming. It seems simple on its face - placing tiles in order to maximize territory and advantage for each individual player. However, the strategy behind each card and its placement creates intensive strategy and the scoring mechanism once all tiles are placed means that players are invested in the game throughout.
It is based around the small French fortified town, and has been immensely popular. Many expansions have been published for the game, both the tabletop version and its various electronic versions.
The game is easy to understand, but strategy is essential. The tutorial makes sense and the fundamental idea behind scoring is quick to grasp. More nuanced strategy takes more time, and it is one of the best supported tabletop games on electronic marketplaces.
Exploding Kittens ($1.99 iOS and Android)
Made by the creators of the Oatmeal, this game is deceptively simple. Avoid having a kitten that explodes in your hand of cards. Players can remove as many cards from their hands as they want until they draw from the center, but there is always a risk of drawing an exploding kitten. There are always ways to defuse an exploding kitten, but that specific resource is highly limited. The small number of cards in the deck means that as the game progresses, the risk and tension gradually increases.
While not ranked on BoardGameGeek, this card game currently sits 7th on the all time most successful Kickstarter projects, being overfunded by a crazy 87,825%. The card game version came out first, both in a safe for work and NSFW version, before the app version was released 6 months later.
Pandemic ($4.99 iOS, $6.99 Android)
Pandemic is the only co-operative game on this list. You are working in a team to save the world from four deadly diseases. The objectives are clearly set out and each character has a distinct role. This means that teamwork is essential and makes sure that players work well to try and cure the diseases.
Currently ranked 61st on BoardGameGeek’s list of games, it’s a game that has inspired numerous other co-operative games. In addition, a number of expansions have been released for both the tabletop and electronic versions.
Settlers of Catan ($4.99 iOS, $6.99 Android)
Settlers of Catan, or Catan for short, is a trading strategy game on the face of it. In its original tabletop form, it was described as the Monopoly killer by Wired, in that it was the first European-style board game to be popular outside of Europe. When it was first released in 1995, the copies sold out so fast that the original creator doesn’t even have a first edition. The simplicity of the trading element sees the inconsistency of resources makes wheeling and dealing an important part of the game.
There have been many expansions to both tabletop and electronic versions, which have continued to drive fans to the franchise. It is a simple game to learn, but challenging to master.
Ticket to Ride ($4.99 iOS, $6.99 Android)
Ticket to Ride has been described by some as a vector for playing tabletop games. It is incredibly simple to play, and it is quick for people to understand. The fundamental idea behind the game is simple – build a rail network across the country (or in some cases, countries or state) to earn points. The most points win. There are bonus points for the longest route and for each ticket completed. This game has many expansions on offer for players, in both its tabletop and electronic form, which have also proved popular.
Ticket to Ride: Europe has become the most popular version of the game with consumers, ranking 84th on BoardGameGeek, with its new twists on the original version of the game, that have seen it implemented in other versions of the game.
The app version is easy to understand, and instead of taking 45 minutes to play the traditional tabletop version, a single player game can be done in as little as 10 minutes.
Twilight Struggle ($9.99 iOS, $6.99 Android)
This is one of the highest ranked games of all time, sitting 3rd on BoardGameGeek’s list and is a two player game, in which you play as either side of the Cold War. It’s incredibly detailed and the fan community of this game is amazing detailed. Rumor has it that even Cold War enthusiasts can struggle with this game at times, so the learning curve can be steep. However, the various win conditions give options for either side to develop different strategies.
It’s definitely worth spending the money on this game, particularly if you’re a history buff.