Things of No Interest: 50 iOS Boardgames - 5 at a Time (20-16)
There are a lot of app conversions of boardgames out there - believe me, that was the sole reason I got an iPad back in the day and why I upgraded to a new iPad last year. While I do more than just play boardgame apps on my iPad, playing boardgame conversions was the main reason for my getting one. This series will do a countdown of my top 50 boardgame apps - five at a time. I took 50 of the best and dropped them into Pub Meeple's Ranking Engine so I could sort them and here is what I got...
** Note: There are a ton of boardgame apps I never purchased, and a huge number that I have, but that are currently not playable on iOS 11 - I'm only covering those that I can play and still have installed on my iPad. I also am apparently bad at counting and numbering (sigh).
As I noted last time, the following list is pretty interchangeable as far as rankings go. I might pick any of these over the others depending on my mood and the amount of time I have to dedicate to playing. Interestingly, these are all card games of one sort or another...
Tichu is one of my favorite games of all time. Probably because I grew up in a family that played a fair amount of cards and trick taking games. Tichu was one of the first climbing games I ever played and I really love the pre-playing Tichu declaration.
When this was released for iOS (all devices) it was a no-brainer to purchase. I didn't expect to play online at all, rather just solo practice with bots. And that would be all well in good if it weren't for that damn Becky. If you have played this game with the AI bot Becky, you already know. If not - beware. She will make your blood boil. She will call Tichu over you (when she is your partner) and do other very very dumb things. Despite the poor AI play, it is still Tichu and I like it a lot and the app is quite playable otherwise.
I was turned onto this game by a friend that is a big baseball fan (which I'm really not). I was semi-interested as I am a fan of deck building games that are not Dominion, so when this was released, I grabbed it and learned the game. The game itself is really pretty good and gives you a decent feel for managing a set of games (as the manager of a club) through the deck building mechanism. It is unique as far as I know and it is well done. I don't jones to play this all the time, but it is different enough that it still sees action from time to time.
The app itself is also top notch - decent enough tutorial and it plays smoothly and doesn't seem to have a lot of those "accidentally touched the wrong thing and now I'm annoyed" moments that for some reason a lot of games have. What it doesn't have is online play so that I can play against my friends (the ones that would be fans are all in the midwest, many thousands of miles away).
Despite being a big Star Realms fan, I had not heard that a variation of the game had been done with a Lovecraftian theme. A buddy brought it over and we played it a couple times, and I enjoyed it, but at the time I was in the midst of spending all my time playing Star Realms on my iPad. Fast forward a while and the app for CR is released. At that point, I had burnt myself out on Star Realms. I recalled liking this game so I grabbed the app. I burnt out on this a little faster than Star Realms which I think might just be because there doesn't feel like there is as much depth to this game. It is still fun, especially with the lighthearted art that is somehow goofy and creepy.
The app is really well done - this was/is a good example of what a conversion of this kind of game should be - building off what Star Realms had brought us before. There is a decent little campaign game and good online play, including an indicator of others that are around online and might be available to play.
I have played a lot more games two-player this year than in the past and in looking around, kept hearing about Jaipur. This was supposed to be a gem of a game though I never had a chance to try it. When the app was released, I snapped it up and was pleasantly surprised to find a decent little game. The game is fairly simple really - collect cards of the same type and turn in the sets. The more you have the better off you are. The rub is - your hand size is limited. Normally you take a single card, but using camel cards, you can take more cards if they are the same type. There is a bunch of tough choices - do I turn in two cards right away to grab the early points, or wait and grab points and a bonus for more than 2 cards? Do I grab the camels so that I can grab bunches of cards, knowing that I'm about to give the other player a lot of new card choices? It is a clever game.
The app itself is pleasant enough that I'm not sure I will ever get the physical game - having the cards and coins managed by the game is very nice - the movement of the cards is quite quick and of course, I need no physical table space for everything. The game supports solo, online and pass and play modes, which is fantastic. Even better, the solo mode is really good. It is something of a campaign with stops on your routes having slight variations to each game that keep things interesting. The AI is decent (or I'm really below average at the game), which is also nice.
I'm going to start by saying - I cannot say enough good things about the game of Star Realms. It is a fantastically well done game that I have really enjoyed for years. I helped host a weekly league (if you want to call it that) at a local game store for a while, and enjoyed playing this with my friends many times. When the app was released, I was in heaven. I played game after game solo and against my buddies online. Where I really found a groove with the app was when I found an online league for Star Realms on BGG. Then I REALLY started playing a lot. I played for a long time - at least ten seasons of games. I fell out of the top bracket and fought my way back and was near the top of the leaderboard at least a couple times. But... playing as many matches in a demanding short time frame began to wear on me and when life got busy, it was hard to keep up and I realized I was simply burnt out and so I dropped from the league and really haven't played a lot since.
All of which has nothing to do with the fact that Star Realms might be one of the best implementation of a game of all time. It only falls this far on my list because of pure burn out (remember, I ranked these games based on my desire to play them vs playing something else loaded on my iPad). There is almost nothing about the app that I don't like. The AI is decent enough (though not nearly as good as a top tier player) and there is a campaign to keep the solo games from being stale. Online is easy to play, including async play. Added benefit - there are versions of the game on PC/Mac/Android/iOS and you can hop between any of the platforms to play your online games. If you have never tried this game, you are missing out on a fantastic game and a fantastic app. Go load this up now.
Next time we head into the top 15! Stay tuned, there are some great games coming.