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Top Ten iOS Board Games

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.

2. Agricola
Developer: Playdek

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 Europe.

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
Developer: Playdek

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 land.

[Next up: Cooperative island exploration, and the most popular card game ever on digital devices]

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