Whenever you have family and friends gathered around, it's usually for holidays, special occasions, or just for fun. And one of the best ways to pass the time together is to settle in with a good board game. But in this day and age, keeping track of game pieces and setting up physical board games can be a hassle! That's why we've rounded up some of the best board game experiences that you can enjoy on your iPhone or iPad, without any mess to clean up.

Catan Universe

Catan is a popular board game, and it's even available digitally on your iPhone and iPad. In Catan, you must race against others to settle on the island of Catan and become the Lord or Lady of the island first!

It's a game of resources, and you'll want to own as much land and have as many materials as possible if you want to beat the others who are competing for the same title as you. Build your own settlements and take over the regions owned by others. The one who has the most victory points by the end of the game wins.

With Catan Universe, players get the experience of both the board game and card game, so this is a 2-for-1. Catan Universe allows you to create custom pass-and-play matches with up to four people, or you can go with AI opponents or even online. Just sign in to your Catan account, and play from anywhere.

Free - Download Now

Carcassonne

Another highly popular board game is Carcassonne, and it's been around for ages but has retained a loyal fanbase.

For the uninitiated, Carcassonne is a tile-placement game where you must create a town by placing the "Meeples" on the tiles, thus becoming the ruler of a kingdom once everything is said and done. Points are earned by completing roads, creating entire kingdoms, and protecting the Abbeys. Whoever has the most points once all tiles are laid down wins the game.

It sounds easy, but the game requires a lot of planning ahead and strategy. You can play locally with others in a pass-and-play style, go head-to-head against the AI, or even online. There's also a solitaire game that's more based on luck and chance, rather than strategy.

$10 - Download Now

Exploding Kittens

Exploding Kittens is one of the most-funded game on Kickstarter, and now it's even available digitally.

The game of Exploding Kittens can be played with 2-5 people, and it works with multiple phones in the same room, or just online. And if you are alone, there's a single player mode too.

The goal of the game is simple and similar to Russian Roulette. Everyone draws cards, hoping that they don't draw an Exploding Kitten. When this happens, they are "dead" and get kicked from the game. That is, unless they have a Defuse card, which can prevent the kitten from exploding through the powers of belly rubs, laser pointers, and other things cats like. All other cards in the deck are used to move, mitigate, or avoid the Exploding Kitten entirely.

Exploding Kittens is a game that is sure to get everyone laughing, and all art is drawn by The Oatmeal himself.

$2 - Download Now

Tokaido

If you're looking for a game about discovery, then Tokaido is it. This is definitely one that everyone in the family can enjoy, and it looks beautiful to boot!

On this gorgeous adventure, everyone takes turns and tries new experiences on their journey in Japan. These experiences include trying different, new things like sampling new foods, collecting souvenirs, visiting temples, bathe in hot springs, and more. The goal, though, is to make sure you balance your coins (you need to pay for those experiences) with the activities that you do, and some experiences cannot be shared with other players while someone is occupying that space, so tread carefully!

Tokaido can be played with up to four people in a pass-and-play style, or you can go up against some computer AI opponents too. There is online multiplayer as well if that's more your thing.

$2 - Download Now

Potion Explosion

Potion Explosion is a great game for the entire family to enjoy, especially if anyone loves a good puzzle.

In Potion Explosion, players will cause a myriad of magical ingredients to explode, create chain reactions, and make unique and powerful potions in a cauldron. Everyone is given a specific potion to create at the start of their turn, and you'll need to figure out which ones they are and how to remove them from the stacks.

Two ingredients of the same nature will be added to your collection if they collide with each other, and then you'll be able to create your potion with your chosen ingredients. You only have so much tank space to hold ingredients, so make sure you pick them carefully, make the potion, and move on to the next one.

Every potion gets points based on potency and effect. The wizard with the most points wins the game.

This is definitely a fun and challenging one that everyone will get a kick out of.

$4 - Download Now

Tsuro - The Game of the Path

It's time to choose your own path in Tsuro, a game that's friendly enough for the entire family to enjoy, even though it's all about strategy.

In Tsuro - The Game of the Path, players must place tiles on the board to form a path that their stone can slide on. However, since everyone is making use of the same board, you'll need to be careful. The paths of other players can steer your stone in the wrong direction or even entirely off the board. All of the paths created will start to cross and connect with each other, and the goal is to create the longest path while still remaining on the board.

Tsuro has support for up to eight players in one game, either on one device or even online. There are also computer AI opponents to face off against too.

$4 - Download Now

Ticket to Ride

Another classic is Ticket to Ride, and this is sure to be a hit with group gatherings.

If you've played empire building games, then Ticket to Ride is similar. Players are building and claiming railroad routes, earning points by connecting them to cities, and creating longer routes means extra bonus points.

Ticket to Ride has a huge selection of maps, as there are seven in the base game, and every expansion has its own set of maps too. You can play with others locally in pass-and-play style, or go online to compete with others who have the game. And if you just want to play on your own, you can do so with computer AI opponents.

$5 - Download Now

Sushi Go

Whether you like sushi in real life or not, Sushi Go! is a fun addition to your digital board game collection.

In Sushi Go!, players must try to get the best combination of sushi dishes as they pass by on the conveyor belt. Each piece of sushi has a different point value, and some must have a complete set in order to get you points (otherwise you get nothing). Some cards increase the value of certain pieces of sushi and make sure to save room for dessert. Otherwise, you'll lose points! The player with the most points and pudding desserts after three rounds is the winner.

Sushi Go! is an interesting new game that came out recently, and it's great fun for all, even if you don't eat sushi in real life.

$5 - Download Now

What are your favorites?

There are a ton of great board games that have been adopted digitally for the iPhone and iPad, but these are just a few of our favorites. What are you planning on busting out for gatherings with friends and family? Let us know in the comments!

We may earn a commission for purchases using our links. Learn more.