Board Game App

Board Game App

To build off of the hot topic of the moment, which is social distancing, one thing, if you’re a board gamer, that you can consider to get your board game fix, assuming you don’t play games solo, is board game apps. And there are a lot of them out there. You can play them on an iPhone, iPad, Android device, some of Amazon Fire, and even some on your other systems such as a computer with Steam, Switch, or other consoles.

Image Source: CMON

The reason that this came up is because I just downloaded a new one onto my phone and I was thinking about the various apps that I have where I can play board games. Just quickly listing off some, I have Onirim, Onitama, Ascension, XenoShyft, On Tour, Small World 2, Suburbia, and Silver. And you can get more, there is Scythe, Carcassone, Catan, and really so many others out there as well, some of them better than others. And generally, they are getting better overall.

Now, in the case of a few of those games, Ascension, Onirim, and XenoShyft, you can play the physical game solo, so you really don’t need the app, but for two of those, you can get through a game way faster on the app than in person and it’s a good experience. The last one, not so much. And some people are going to look at games this way and say, why bother if I’m just going to play against the computer, aren’t there always strategies that are going to beat them. Sure, maybe you’ll get to them eventually, but even though I win 90% of the games of Ascension that I play against the computer, it isn’t just a cakewalk always.

But let’s talk a little bit about what makes a good app.

Image Source: BoardGameGeek

1 – It Needs to Feel Like the Game
The mechanics should be the same, but you don’t need to show me all the upkeep. Small World is an offender of this, where it certainly feels like the game and there’s enough challenge there that it makes me stick with it, though. You want it to feel like you’re playing the game, that means that the visuals are going to remind you of the board game. What you have to do to make it work should feel some like the board game, though hopefully a little bit easier. A good example of this is Ascension where you are pulling cards into your discard and playing cards out in front of you, it’s how you’d actually use them in real life. Compare that to XenoShyft which is a mess of an app and a whole lot of work to get cards to go where you want or to know how to back out of something.

2 – It Should Be Intuitive
I don’t have all the games I have as apps as physical copies. That means, I need the app to teach me the game well. Games like Onirim, Ascension, Small World, and On Tour had good walkthroughs for their games, though, I already knew how to play Small World. But make it so that if I only kind of pay attention to the tutorial, I can understand the basics of what I’m doing. Suburbia is a more complex game, for example, so when I’ve tried to pick it up, it’s been harder to do so. Even going through the tutorial, there’s just more going on than some of the other ones. And because of that complexity, it should walk you through it better. Now, this isn’t something you can see without buying/downloading the game, but if it’s really bad, someone will comment on it, like XenoShyft.

Image Source: Board Game Geek

Now, with all of this said, I don’t think app gaming will ever take away from face to face gaming. It’s just more fun to do it face to face for me. But it’s a good thing when social distancing, and you want to play some games that can’t be played solo. Some of these are just solo on your machine, OnTour and Silver are solo only. But others you can do as pass and play but if you can do that you can play a physical copy, and some like Ascension and Small World, you can do online play. That might be a little bit slower, but staying connected through an app to play a game isn’t the end of the world.

What are some of the board games apps that you love? Have you tried many of them, or does it seem taboo? I know that there are some out there, Through the Ages for example, that some people prefer the app because it makes a several hour game versus a much faster game.

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