The best iPad casual games

by Simon Sage

Ever want to play something without needing to give it your full attention? Maybe you’re not into 'hardcore' gaming, and just want something you can fiddle with, check in on every now and then, and not have to be some twitchy-fingered ubergamer to enjoy. Well, we’ve got a few titles for you. These casual games for iPad generally reward you just for opening the game and making few taps to collect resources, which you can then spend on expanding your own little realm. More often than not, you’ll find social elements so you can scope out what your friends are up to so you can help them out, and the usual freemium tropes.

Even if you’re a "serious" gamer, you’d be surprised how much strategic depth can be found at the higher tiers of so-called "casual" gaming. If you can’t get enough of these kinds of games, try juggling a couple of them at once - odds are as one timer kicks in, another one is just wrapping up.

Sit back, relax, and get downloading these highly polished casual games for iPad.

Battle Nations

Battle Nations is a great mix of real-time strategy with lots of resource gathering and turn-based military combat. The goofy graphic style and hilarious dialog keep things fresh between firefights, and since resources are produced over the hours between sessions, you'll be checking in on your camp often. Battle Nations hosts player-versus-player combat with select friends. You'll probably want to sink a reasonable amount of time into the single player campaign first so you can level up and unlock the advanced structures and units to reduce your buddies to piles of virtual ash.

Battle Nations strikes an excellent mix with outstanding writing and a dash of strategic combat.

Clash of Clans

Clash of Clans is the grand-daddy of casual games. Players control a fantasy-style encampment where they mine gold and elixir, which are used to round up troops, research upgrades, and build new structures. Though there are plenty of single-player stages available, the real test is joining up with a clan and attempting to raid the camps of other players online. Even though you’re vulnerable too, don’t worry - none of your structures are actually destroyed in the raid, though you may lose a few trophies, along with your rank in the online leaderboards.

The rich competitive landscape and colorful charm of Clash of Clans have made it a classic that will be endure for years to come.

Galaxy on Fire: Alliances

Galaxy on Fire: Alliances brings casual gaming to the galactic scale. Players colonize planets as members of one of three races, and join other player groups to claim vast swathes of space. Resources must be plumbed from planets and transported to where fleets and troops can be trained, while research facilities produce new technologies that can turn the tide of battle in your favor. What’s most impressive here are the graphics; casual games aren’t exactly known for being amazing on this front, but you’ll find rich 3D graphics used throughout this one.

Galaxy on Fire: Alliances is an extremely polished take on large-scale, sci-fi empire-building.

Hay Day

Hay Day is colorful farm simulator which includes the whole process of raising livestock, harvesting fields, processing foodstuffs, and selling the final products. Players can provide for incoming orders, as well as offer their crops for sale at a stand at the end of the virtual road. Gems are acquired to help you get through tasks more quickly.

All in all, Hay Day is a charming little country sim that has it all.

Pixel People

Pixel People is a futuristic city builder, where players create a tiny utopia for its block inhabitants. By mixing genes of those in existing professions, players discover new skills to exploit, and clone the workers to execute them. These clones inhabit the appropriate buildings, which often offer unique bonuses and mini-games all their own for your town. Real estate is at a premium though, so make sure you know which buildings you want next. There’s a whole mission structure in place plus a variety of collectible pets to find and fill your town with.

Pixel People has a unique look and play style to it - give it a shot if you’re looking for something new.

Pocket Trains

Pocket Trains is a commercial empire builder, where players construct trains, expand rail networks, and transport goods cross-country. Before long, the game turns into a fairly involved game of maximizing limited cargo space, and figuring out which goods to drop off where for which line. You’ll earn premium bux over time which can be used to speed up progress and open valuable crates.

The creators have perfected the 8-bit look, and combined with an easygoing commerce mechanic, Pocket Trains is a keeper.

Simpsons Tapped Out

The Simpsons Tapped Out puts players in charge of their very own incarnation of Springfield. As you drop new buildings, you get to take missions from beloved characters from the long-standing cartoon series. Throughout you’ll find plenty of tongue-in-cheek self-referential humor and enjoy seasonal events and regular expansions. Donuts are the premium currency, which can be used to buy exclusive buildings.

The Simpsons Tapped Out brings a classic, unmistakable sense of humor to mobile.

Sims FreePlay

The Sims FreePlay brings players a casual, fun sim game where they can build a home, relationships, and careers with a highly-customizable avatar. Players have to tend to their Sim’s needs, such as hunger and fun, and in the process earn Lifestyle Points which can be spent on various items. You can also buy Lifestyle Points outright, if you’re the impatient type. The possibilities are extensive, including starting new romantic relationships, having pets, and eventually having kids. You can build up your own little community of Sims, and visit those of your friends.

For those looking for a laid-back, constructive, and long-term game, the Sim FreePlay will have you covered.

Township

Township takes Hay Day’s agricultural resource chain management system and expands it to an entire city. Over time players build up their own tiny metropolis complete with shopping malls, theatres, airports, amusement parks, and lots more. The graphic style tosses in a few tasteful 3D effects without losing its cartoonish charm. Orders for various goods around town will keep you on your toes, while the social elements will keep you connected with and helping out your friends.

Township is a great city building game with a wide spectrum of possibilities.

The Tribez

The Tribez puts you in the shoes of a hapless time traveller who suddenly finds himself as the undisputed leader of a primitive tribe. Players clear through dense jungle, uncover mysterious treasures, and gather enough resources to build a functional economy. Smooth animations and rich textures make The Tribez a joy to look at, plus regular promotions make it easy to fast-track your way through the game.

The Tribez is a long-standing, beautiful social game that will definitely keep you busy.

Honorable Mentions

So those are our favorite free casual and social games for iPad, but be sure to leave your faves below - we’ll be updating this post regularly with the best stuff as it comes out.

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