The lights are on
Amid the many excellent tower defense, endless runner, and
puzzle games available on iOS, a lesser known breed of mobile game is gaining
steam. Even as actual tabletop gaming popularity continues to soar, some of the
same games have made the transition to digital devices. Many of these games
make for fantastic strategic gaming experiences that you can take with you on
the go, while others provide a great turn-based multiplayer experience to
share with family and friends.
We've gathered ten of the best mobile board (and card) game adaptations
for you to choose between. In every case, we've chosen games that have been
adapted from actual physical tabletop games. We've also left off some games
because of their similarities in gameplay or theme to other games on the list.
Maybe one or more of
these great games can enliven a long summer vacation trip?
1. Eclipse: New Dawn for the Galaxy
Developer: Big Daddy's Creations
For truly deep and rewarding strategy gameplay, it's hard to
beat the excellence on display in Eclipse. This grand and complex 4X space sim
tasks players with controlling an outer space empire as it reaches across the
stars, colonizing and doing battle with opposing races. An excellent tutorial
helps get you started, but be warned that Eclipse is not built for casual play
- expect a steady but challenging learning curve before you fully grasp its
many intricacies. Up to six players, mixed between real people and AI, can all
play together to explore this awesome outer space adventure.
Few board games have garnered as much praise from dedicated
board game enthusiasts as Agricola. Up to five players (or their AI
equivalents) can compete together in this stellar digital adaptation. You
control a lone farmer and his spouse as they try to turn their empty lot into a
thriving farm. Each turn, your family members disperse across town to work the
fields and gather resources, and you need to balance growing your family with
how well you can feed and support all its members. What at first seems like it
might be a boring concept grows compelling through the variety of choices you
face in any given game round. Gorgeous art and a smartly designed interface
make Agricola an ideal pick, while the family-friendly concept makes this an easy
choice for all player groups.
3. Ticket To Ride
Developer: Days of Wonder
Fantastic interface can carry you a long way, and it's one
big reason that the already excellent Ticket To Ride works so well on iOS. Up
to five players (including AIs) control competing railroad tycoons as each
spreads their track across the burgeoning United States. Ticket To Ride is
perfect for player groups without experienced board gamers, since the rules are
simple and it's easy to get up and playing in a matter of minutes. The
excellent game mechanics were enough to garner the original tabletop version
the highly sought Spiel des Jahres award back in 2004, and those same rules
transition seamlessly onto mobile devices. If you can't get enough, in-game
purchases let you try out new maps, like the sprawling railroad competition for
4. Elder Sign: Omens
Developer: Fantasy Flight Games
A terrible ancient evil is about to breach into the world
through the exhibits at a local museum, and only your team of intrepid adventurers
can stop them. Fantasy Flight's chilling Lovecraftian fiction transitions
surprisingly well to the digital space thanks to this thoughtfully constructed adaptation.
Elder Sign: Omens can be played with up to four players passing a device back
and forth, but this is also my favorite digital board game adaptation to play
solo, since the game has all four investigators cooperating together to
succeed. Atmospheric music, gorgeous art, and high challenge combine to make
Elder Sign: Omens thoroughly addicting.
5. Ascension: Chronicle of the Godslayer
Whether you're already a fan of deck building games, or
you're new to the genre, Ascension provides hours of fun. Up to four players or
AIs compete in this richly illustrated fantasy card game. Each turn, a new hand
of cards lets players buy new heroes and constructs. In turn, those cards
recycle back through the deck to let players confront and defeat the many
monster cards that emerge into play. As your deck grows, the strategic options
for any given hand grow more elaborate. A thoughtfully crafted interface
handles all the card shuffling and card placement without your input, allowing
you to focus on building your deck and becoming the most legendary hero of the
[Next up: Cooperative island exploration, and the most popular card game ever on digital devices]
Email the author Matt Miller, or follow on Game Informer.
I would suggest Stone Age as well. Really tough AI, but a fun game.
Magic 2014 is a lot better than 2013, but I don't have it for ipad. There seems to be some interesting games in this list, though. Might just have to get an ipad for some of these! Thanks for the suggestions, Matt!
Agricola is so great. As a long time fan, I can honestly say I have no preference between playing the actual board game and the digital version.
I belong to a table top gaming club that meets every other week in the back of a bar. I've played a ton of different table top games and out of this list I own 2 of these on iOS. I'm an old school Talisman fan and have been playing it since the 80's and the Prologue version is a really excellent solo version of the game and Elder Sign: Omen is actually better than the table-top game because it has several interesting expansions. I might check out a few more of these though, forbidden islnad looks interesting.
Le Havre is also a really great board game port for ios
Some very good picks you've got there.
I created an account here just to agree with some of the other comments. Carcassonne is probably the best implementation of any board game on iOS. In fact, it's probably the #1 game/app that introduced me to board games. The tutorial is top-notch and the game itself offers endless variety. (The expansions are worth the purchase as well.)
Other than that, I would also agree that Stone Age probably should have made the list. The mechanics are a bit simpler than Agricola, and the support from the devs has been some of the best I've ever known.
Still, a pretty solid top-10...and up to date as well, as Eclipse and Agricola are pretty recent releases. Well done.
Elder Sign is one of my favorite table top games. The tablet version is great, the only problem it's considerably more difficult than the table top version.
Ive played a few of these, wish there was a good dnd clone