Best Board Game Apps for iPad: TreasureHunter Review

Best Board Game Apps for iPad: TreasureHunter Review

TreasureHunter ($4.99) is a  iOS board game conversion of the identically named, mildly popular board game released in 2015. This card game was created by legendary game designer Richard Garfield (the creator of the wildly popular Magic the Gathering trading card game). The conversion to iPad board game app was done by the game's Germany-based publisher Queen Games, a company that has had a somewhat mediocre track record digitally converting its other physical board games such as Alhambra and Kingdom Builder to iOS board games. Does TreasureHunter rise above those previous efforts? Read on to find out.

TreasureHunter is a card game app where you and up to five other human or AI players draft a series of cards in five rounds to capture the highest number of coins (points) while minimizing the number of coins lost to goblins. You do this by selecting nine cards that offer the highest or lowest adventurer point value and color for each of the game's three regions (Frosty Mountain - Blue, Jungle - Green, and Lava Caves - Red) that contain a treasure card for both extremes. Once you choose your card per turn, the card stack moves to the next clockwise player. Repeat until all nine cards have been chosen. To keep the goblins from stealing your coins, you must also select dog cards that offer point values to negate the goblins' attempts. There are also several effect cards that double the point total, potion cards that reduce the number of cards in hand, and random cards as well. The tutorial takes only a few minutes to demonstrate everything players need to know to play and ultimately win the game.

TreasureHunter iPhone

TreasureHunter essentially boils down to a straightforward Min-Max game that is easy to learn and play. It's best with three players. The AI players are OK, but for people already used to these types of card drafting games, human opponents are always better than the AI opponents. Fortunately, local pass and play as well as online play via Queen's matchmaking service help broaden the game's reach to other real-life TreasureHunters. For players seeking to increase the level of difficulty and variability, the Band of Goblins and Goblin's Loot expansions are available via in-app purchases for $0.99 and $1.99 respectively.

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The digital implementation is competently designed and translates the flavor of the original physical card game rather well. The sound is rather sparse with a few clinks and swooshes representing the coins being collected or cards being drawn. There's also no music except for a trumpet fanfare signaling the end of each game. I actually don't mind the lack of background music since I turn it off in almost all of these board game translations (one can only tolerate the torture of a 30-second looping musical hook so many times before going mad).

TreasureHunter iPad

Animation and card management flow smoothly on screen, though I did have an occasional card that responded too quickly to my touch request and would be returned to my deck, forcing me to reissue the original command. I didn't have any issues with the game crashing on my iPhone or iPad as some early app store reviews have posted. And while the game can be played on an iPhone, the touch targets for card movements are very small. Like most card drafting games with decks larger than three facing cards on display at one time, this app is best on a tablet.

Overall, I'd say that TreasureHunter is one of Queen Games' best iPad board games. The vibrant artwork in the original is well preserved on screen, the layout is accessible and helps make the game's progress easy to follow. It's a playful little card game that will keep you entertained.

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Author Details

Mike Riley's picture

Author Details

Mike Riley

Mike Riley is a frequent contributor to several technical publications and specializes in emerging technologies and new development trends. Mike was previously employed by RR Donnelley as the company’s Chief Scientist, responsible for determining innovative technical approaches to improve the company’s internal and external content services. Mike also co-hosted Computer Connection, a technology enthusiast show broadcast on Tribune Media's CLTV.