I love board games and video games, but I've never had a desire to combine the two. I've always been a firm believer that board games belong on a table (or the floor if there is an ample supply of pillows). But when I got my iPad, I decided I'd give e-board games a try. I was pleasantly surprised by the results.
The iPad still provides the tactile experience of the cardboard games, but it eliminates the set up and cleanup. The iPad also serves as a built-in score keeper and allows you play alone (because let's face it; board game fanatics don't always have a lot of friends). Here is a list of my top five favorite board games on the iPad. Note that most of these games are also available on the iPhone and iPod touch.
1. Ticket to Ride
Hi, my name is David and I'm addicted to Ticket to Ride. I can't stop playing it! In Ticket to Ride, players collect and play matching train cards to claim railway routes connecting cities throughout North America. Believe me, it's much more exciting than it sounds. The first step to creating a fun iPad board game is to start with a great game.
In addition to having great gameplay, the iPad adaptation of Ticket to Ride has a lot of sleek features. My favorite feature is the online play. Surprisingly few iPad board games offer online play, and the ones that do, often don't do it well. Let's face it; there are only so many times you can play against the computer before you start to get bored. Ticket to Ride also has great graphics and a great user interface.
2. Catan HD
Settlers of Catan is quickly becoming one of the most popular board games in the world. My favorite part of Catan is that there is very little luck involved. Everything is based on probabilities. The iPad adaptation of Catan lives up to the high standards of the real-life board game. It has beautiful graphics and a very intuitive interface.
My roommates and I had to stop playing it because by the end of a game none of us were on speaking terms. The iPad version allows me to play by myself and protect my relationship with my roommates. Unfortunately, there is no online mode, and the Artificial Intelligence (AI) could be better.
I love the board game Risk, but I almost never play it. It takes too long to set up and too long to finish a whole game. Conquest, an iPad adaptation of the classic game Risk, solves both of those problems. Conquest makes set up and gameplay quick and easy. A 100-man army versus a 90-man army can be fought at the push of a button. No need to roll the dice for an hour. In addition to the classic world map and game settings, Conquest has many different map options and game variables. The graphics could definitely use an upgrade, and there is no online mode. But all in all, Conquest is very enjoyable.
4. Words with Friends HD
Words with Friends is a word game similar to Scrabble. Oppositely (yes, that is a word) of most iPad board games, Words with Friends is primarily for online play. The easy-to-use navigation allows you to find your Facebook and Twitter friends and invite them to a game.
While most board games are designed to be played in one sitting, Words with Friends is played one move at a time at each player's convenience. The iPad simply notifies you every time your opponent makes his/her move. The result is that games can go on for days and even weeks. This is actually a really nice idea because you can play your turn whenever you have a few minutes to spare, and you don't have to set aside a couple of hours to play. My one complaint about Words with Friends is that unlike scrabble, there is no penalty for entering a word that doesn't exist. This means that you can keep trying words until you find one that fits.
5. Monopoly for iPad
No list of board games would be complete without Monopoly. Monopoly has been a family favorite in the US since 1935, and the iPad version brings the fun to a whole new generation. While the iPad app definitely has room for improvement (no online mode and poor AI), the game is still as enjoyable as always.
The games above are my favorites not only because the iPad adaptations are well done, but also because I happen to like the original board games as well. While I don't often play these, I'd be remiss if I didn't recommend a chess and a backgammon app. For serious chess players, Chess Pro ($7.99; app2.me/4061) is one of the best chess apps available. It has a great AI and very nice user interface. Backgammon NJ HD ($6.99; app2.me/4064) is one of the most well respected Backgammon apps on the market. The most entertaining trivia app out there has to be You Don't Know Jack ($4.99; app2.me/4065). Finally, EA has done an excellent job remaking many of the classic board games for the iPad and iPhone including, The Game of Life ($6.99; app2.me/4066), and Scrabble ($9.99; app2.me/2418).