We're spending a lot of time inside the house these days, and while it's for the betterment of everyone, we get it — you get bored being surrounded by the same walls all day. But one of the best ways to pass the time, especially if there are others stuck at home with you, 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!
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're going 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.
Race against others to establish your settlement on the island of Catan first. Can you manage your resources wisely?
Exploding Kittens is one of the most-funded games 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.
Despite the unique name and concept, no actual kittens are harmed in the making and playing of this game.
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.
Tokaido is all about balance. Experience as much as you can while keeping your money in check. Sounds like real life, without the quarantine.
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.
Magic, potions, concoctions — oh my! This unique game is a hybrid puzzle board game where players must compete to get the most points.
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.
This strategy game is all about creating a path to victory. Compete against up to eight people, and see who can create the longest path.
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 extrabonus 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.
Build and claim railroad routes, connect them to cities for points, and see who can rack up the most points!
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 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.
Combine sushi dishes as they pass you by on the conveyor belt for points. Who can get the most points? Oh, and try not to get hungry while playing if you can.
If there's any classic family board game, it's definitely Monopoly, and now you can play it right on your iPhone or iPad at home.
With Monopoly, you can watch the board come to life as a beautifully animated 3D city — you can't get that with a physical board game! This version of Monopoly also comes with the basic house rules that you are already familiar with, but you can also change it up too. There are also a few different modes: Quick Mode, single-player against the AI, or even go online or offline multiplayer. You can even explore different cities with different local editions of Monopoly boards in the app.
This is the original board game with a premium experience, so no annoying ads or in-app purchases, and it also supports cross-platform play on mobile and tablet devices.
This timeless classic is better than ever in this iOS app. Watch the game come to life as a 3D city, and choose from different rule sets and modes.
Technically this is a card game, but hey, you play it with a group of people like a board game, so we're including it here. Plus, who doesn't appreciate a good game of UNO!?
UNO! is one of the classic family card games, and now you can experience it all digitally. You can play classic UNO! here, or go for one of many popular house rules. Team up with a friend in 2v2 mode, participate in tournaments for rewards, and climb the leaderboards. There is also a voice chat feature in the app, so you can even yell "UNO!" into your device's microphone when you're about to win.
The UNO! app lets you play standard UNO! or with a fun set of house rules. Play normally or in 2v2 mode, compete in tournaments, win prizes, and climb the leaderboards.
One Deck Dungeon
For board game fans looking to add a dash of roguelike action to their game should check out One Deck Dungeon. In One Deck Dungeon, the game promises to boil down a full roguelike experience into a single deck of cards and delivers. Choose from a roster of six heroes and venture through five different challenges.
Handelabra does an excellent job at distilling The physical version of One Deck Dungeon into a surprisingly deep roguelike. It comes with the trial and error gameplay, progression, and luck of your favorite RPG crawler with any of the pen and paper RPG mechanics.
One Deck Dungeon is a rich roguelike game full of depth and replayability.
Reiner Knizia Yellow & Yangtze
If you're craving conflict and the strong inclination to build a civilization in the warring states of ancient China, well we've got a game for you. Reiner Knizia Yellow & Yangtze is the digital adaptation of the acclaimed strategy board game, where you wage war, build your civilization, and conquer your foes.
There's a single-player campaign divided into nine stages, each with their own unique rules and victory conditions, and the menus and design are clean and easy to understand. Fans of Civilization games should take note of this excellent digital board game.
Reiner Knizia Yellow & Yangtze is an excellent adaptation of the critically acclaimed game.
More games on Apple Arcade
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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. If board games aren't your thing, be sure to check the Apple Arcade for a slew of unique games of all genres — just make sure you have a great game controller to keep you one step ahead of the competition.
Updated April 2022: These are still our favorite board game apps for iPad.
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Luke Filipowicz has been a writer at iMore, covering Apple for nearly a decade now. He writes a lot about Apple Watch and iPad but covers the iPhone and Mac as well. He often describes himself as an "Apple user on a budget" and firmly believes that great technology can be affordable if you know where to look. Luke also heads up the iMore Show — a weekly podcast focusing on Apple news, rumors, and products but likes to have some fun along the way.
Luke knows he spends more time on Twitter than he probably should, so feel free to follow him or give him a shout on social media @LukeFilipowicz.