Many board game makers are taking advantage of the rise of mobile gaming and bringing their creations to the palm of your hand. Some of these games are fantastic to scratch the itch and play some of your favorite board games when you cannot get your gaming buddies together. This might be hard to believe, but some are even better than their board game counterparts.
Here is a list of games that I actually find more enjoyable when playing on my phone or tablet than hitting the table.
Ticket To Ride
This is a great train-themed game widely considered to be one of the best “gateway” games for showing someone that board games are more than just Monopoly, chess, and checkers.
Their mobile game is an amazing replica of the board game. What makes the mobile game better is it quickly tallies up the score at the end, which if you ever played the board game, you know can be a bit of a chore.
Even better than that though is the cleanup and setup for a new game. With the board game, if you want to play more than once, the cleanup and setup for your second and third games can be tedious.
With the mobile game, you can have a new game ready to go in 30-45 seconds. You can get through 3-4 complete games in an hour.
Most importantly, the mobile game still feels every bit like the board game.
I’ll be honest. This one barely made the list, and not because there is anything wrong with the mobile game. The mobile version is an excellent recreation of the tabletop deck-building card game.
The reason it barely made the list is because the tabletop version is just so simple and easy to play. The mobile version doesn’t really gain a lot over the physical game, but the one area where it does make things a lot easier is counting up all the bonuses when cards chain together. It makes playing a game even faster than the normal game, which is already pretty quick.
The other advantage to the mobile game is online play. Don’t have someone you can play with right now, no problem. You can find endless opponents online.
This is one of my favorite board games, but the mobile app is fantastic. You can play the AI or jump online for battles against 1, 2, or 3 friends. You can also find random opponents online, so you always have someone to play.
It’s turn based play, which makes it great when you only have time to play a few turns. Get in a turn or 2, and then get on with your day until you are free again.
The best thing about this app though is when the battles break out. You do not have to worry about figuring out all the initiatives and bonuses and who can attack what. It’s all done for you automatically. Neuroshima Hex can sometimes get pretty complicated with all the bonuses and abilities working or counteracting one another. With the mobile game, you will never make a mistake again.
Small World is another one of those great “gateway” games for getting new gamers into the hobby. It is kind of like Risk, but with Elves, Dwarves, Goblins, Trolls, Orcs, and more. Also, no dice. All the luck of the roll is removed, something I have long loved about this game.
Unfortunately, this is only available on iPads. No iPhone support or Android device of any kind. It’s unfortunate because I think it would be one of the most popular mobile games available. The smaller screens of phones would make this tough, but with bigger screens on the iPhone now, and especially on the Plus versions, I really hope they think about bringing this to iPhones some day.
What makes the mobile game so great is there are a lot of counters to deal with in this game. You also will be bringing in a lot of new counters you need to have organized when a player chooses a new race, something that happens several times per game. And like other games on this list, you really notice the difference when it comes time to cleanup or setup for another game.
I saved the best for last. I have been playing this game hard for over 3 years now. I have completed over 1,200 games online. Yes, you read that correctly. I hardly am anywhere near the lead. I have played players with over 3,000 games played.
You might be thinking, “How in the world do you find the time to play that many games?” That is part of the beauty of the app. It is a turn-based game, and rather than playing “live” each player has a pool of time to complete their moves.
It is kind of like those chess matches you see where the players make their moves and then hit the timer. That is what happens here. You can choose to have as little as 15 minutes (in which case you need to be playing live) and as long as 14 days.
When your opponent makes their move, your pool of time starts to dwindle down. If you are busy, you can choose games with the max of 14 days. Then you won’t feel rushed to get your moves in before time runs out.
As you get familiar with the game and factions, each turn really takes maybe a minute to play, so it is easy to get in your moves.
You also can play against multiple players at once. I often have 6-8 different games going at the same time. At one point, me and an opponent had 4 different games going against one another.
Summoner Wars does allow deck-building, but it is not a heavy deck-builder like Magic The Gathering. What is great about the mobile app is that you can create and store decks. You don’t have to pull out the cards each time you play and create your deck. I currently have about 12 decks stored and can choose one with a simple press of a button.
The accuracy of the game is amazing too. This is really just like the popular board game.
If there is one negative to the Summoner Wars mobile game is that its servers sometimes go down, and sometimes for a few days at a time. The developer rarely communicates about these problems.
If I could get them to make one change in this game, it would be to add an in-game chat feature. I have one opponent I have played over 250 games against. I have no idea where they are from, what they do, or anything at all about them. I have never even been able to say, “Hey, gg.”
Have a board game with a mobile version that you love to play? Let me know about it in the comments.