The best iPad board games

by Simon Sage

Classic board games have a certain timeless charm to them, and they've evolved nicely in our digital age into some great adaptations for iPad. Getting a bunch of people together in the same place at the same time to enjoy the real thing isn’t always practical, but thanks to these outstanding iPad board games, you can still enjoy the strategic maneuvering that board games have to offer.

So forget about storing whole walls full of board games or stressing about set-up or clean-up - these board games for iPad are absolutely great, and are just as good as their tabletop counterparts… if not better.

Agricola

Agricola is an in-depth agricultural board game where players have to develop a farmyard and make sure everybody within the family stays fed. Players each earn victory points for creating varied crops and using all available farmland. The one with the most victory points after 14 turns wins. The number of upgrades and resources available is pretty staggering for a board game, especially for something so seemingly mundane as farming, but it’s easy to be consumed with keeping up productivity and efficiency.

For a family-friendly farming game with a lot more meat to it than Hay Day, try out Agricola.

Carcassonne

Carcassonne is a tile-based kingdom-building game in which players each take turns trying to complete roads, cities, and cloisters. Each turn, players also drop a limited number of their meeple onto those landmarks in an attempt to claim points once the feature has been completed. If you can’t fully enclose a city or finish a road by the end of the game, you can still get a few points. A handful of expansions are also available through in-app purchases.

Carcassonne is a polished adaptation of a classic board game. If you haven’t tried it yet, now is the time.

Catan

Catan is not just a classic settling board game; it is the classic settling board game. Players harvest resources and connect their villages by roads. It doesn’t sound like much, but between the inter-player trading (or scheming) and the cramped real estate, Catan can be a very tense game. Players also use their harvested resources to purchase cards which can provide them with victory points. Pass-and-play multiplayer is available, as well as many of the original game’s expansions

For a tense game of wheeling and dealing, check out Catan.

Lords of Waterdeep

Lords of Waterdeep brings classic Dungeons & Dragons RPG elements into a classic board game layout. Players employ agents across a city in an attempt to recruit heroes on various quests. Every player takes on a the role of a hero which confers victory point bonuses based on the kinds of quests they complete. The player with the most victory points by the end of eight turns wins. Between recruiting adventurers, hoarding gold, and engaging in political intrigue, things can get pretty hectic.

Lords of Waterdeep offers deep, complex gameplay with seasoned fantasy flair.

Magic 2014

Magic: The Gathering is a classic fantasy card game where players take on the roles of dueling wizards who use arcane artifacts, creatures summoned at their behest, and good old-fashioned fireballs to dominate the battlefield. Each player starts the game with 20 life points and uses spells aligned with each of five primal forces to diminish their opponents life and restore their own. Either side takes turns tapping mana from the lands under their control to power the spells in their hand. Players can work their way through a story-heavy single-player game and unlock new cards for their favorite decks and pick up a few new ones on the way, or have a go at online multiplayer matches. Additional decks can be purchased through in-app purchases, but keep in mind that the customizability is fairly limited..

Even in its digital iteration, Magic remains a dynamic game with lots of challenge and an exciting dash of chance.

Neuroshima Hex

Neuroshima Hex is a sharp, modern board game full of high technology and firefights. Players are each trying to take out one another's HQ units on a hex board using a variety of melee and ranged attack combatants. There are a variety of factions to pick from, each with their own play style and flavor. Every they can play up to two tiles which will either confer effects on adjacent tiles or have a single, one-time effect.

If you’re itching for a firefight with all of the tactical nuance of a board game, Neuroshima Hex is outstanding.

Scotland Yard

Scotland Yard hauls players all around London in an effort to track and capture the elusive Mr. X. By using road, rail, and ferry, players get occasional glimpses at Mr. X’s position, and must scramble to close the net on their quarry. The detectives have to be careful about how they get around town, though; they only have a limited number of movement tokens to use, and once they’re out, Mr. X wins. You can play locally or online over Game Center.

Scotland Yard is a devilishly clever game of cat and mouse with lots of British flavor.

Small World 2

Small World 2 is an absolutely charming board game where players claim territories as eccentric fantasy races. Coins are collected at the end of each turn, and the player with the most cash by a certain number of turns wins. Each race has its own particular bonuses and penalties for when, where, and how they gather coins and claim territory, but every race gets randomized descriptors, such as barbarian or merchant, which add even more rules and keep the selection fresh. You can regularly swap out races by voluntarily putting your current one in decline, which makes for a regularly-shifting battlefield.

Small World 2 is fresh, fast, and funny. Jump in!

Ticket to Ride

Ticket to Ride gets players to build sprawling rail empires by gathering colored cars to connect cities. Every turn, a player gets to either pick two cars, claim a line by spending cars, or take on a new ticket, which challenges players to connect two cities before the first player runs out of cars. The farther these two cities are, the more victory points they’re worth, plus the player with the longest line gets an additional victory point bonus.

On the whole, Ticket to Ride is a fine balance between competition and construction.

Your Move+

If you’re looking for something a little more traditional, Your Move+ has proven to be a fine collection of classic board games like chess, go, reversi, checkers, and others. There’s full online multiplayer support, and notifications so you can stay on top of multiple games at once. A rating system is in place to make sure you’re matched with other players that are around your skill level.

Your Move+ is perfect for casual gamers looking for a little bit of everything.

Honorable Mentions

  • 01

    Ascension

    Gods duking it out for supremacy.

  • 02

    Pandemic

    Stamp out world-shattering viruses.

  • 03

    Puerto Rico

    Play the role of conquistador and settle some islands.

  • 04

    Strategery

    A minimalist Risk-style game.

  • 05

    Summoner Wars

    Sorcerers wage war across a large-scale battlefield.

So that’s our move, but we’re eager to hear what you’re going to do next. What board games for iPad are you really digging on lately? We’ll be updating this post every now and then as great new titles hit the App Store, so sound off in the comments with your picks!

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