Meeple Like Us Best Board Game Apps – Ten to Five
Number 10 – Perudo (Asmodee Digital)
The review of Perudo will be going up on Meeple Like Us at some point in the next few weeks, but suffice to say this was almost our third five-star game for the blog. I love Perudo, full as it is with bluffing, counter-bluffing and exciting moments of doubting and surprise agreement. The app version is very sharp – the game itself is well presented but it also comes with a campaign mode. This isn’t the height of fiction or narrative or anything but it does add an interesting context to everything you do. The graphical design is mostly excellent, and the AI is functional if not especially exciting to play against.
It also has an annoying tendency to keep spamming you about making an Asmodee account. I forgot whatever username and password I set for it and can’t be bothered to go hunt it out when I just sit down to play some dice. If you’re logged in it’s fine. Otherwise – back off Perudo. Don’t be so damn thirsty. Aside from that, it’s a fine entry onto our list of best board game apps.
Perudo unfortunately comes with very few options for settings – you can change the language, change volume of the music and sound, and go through the tutorial. Anything else, you’re out of luck.
Number 9 – Among the Stars (Cublo)
I will almost always buy an app implementation of a game I own. More rarely a game is so good it makes me want to buy the physical product as a result of playing a digital version. Among the Stars is one of the latter games. It’s a bit like a spatially explicit Race for the Galaxy where you’re focused on the construction of a space-station as opposed to a galactic empire. It’s Deep Space D9. It’s Babylon D5. It’s absolutely great, and the extra app fripperies and presentation make it especially good.
Its sole problem I would say is that the interface is a little slow – partially this is because of the AI crunching away in the background but partially it’s just a kind of ‘needy’ UX. It wants constant confirmations and reassurances of things that you really should just be able to switch off in the menu and never have to worry about them again.
Still, in a game this good I’m willing to put up with that. And it is good – that’s why it’s on our list of best board game apps. It has few settings though – the ability to change the sound and pick a language, but nothing else.
Number 8 – Terra Mystica (Digidiced)
This is an intimidating game. It’s so full of dense charts and complex interface elements that you spend a lot of your first exposure feeling overwhelmed rather than entertained. Terra Mystica though has a great tutorial that works by partitioning all the mechanisms into their own self-contained lessons and it soon makes you familiar with the intricacies of this wonderful game. It looks gorgeous too, although it might take a bit of time before you feel something less than alarm at the various menus hidden behind the game interface.
We haven’t yet got to Terra Mystica on the site, and that’s not because I haven’t played it – it’s just because the app is so much easier and convenient than the physical game that I haven’t actually played it non-digitally. Its time will come, because this is a tense and tight game of settlement building, cult domination, and ritual magic. I like it an awful lot. You can probably guess at that given it’s on our list of best board game apps.
Settings here are pretty much the same as we’ve already seen – language, the ability to switch music on and off, but there’s also an option to speed or slow-down the gameplay. You only get three settings here but it’s good to see it. It also has an option to send feedback directly to the developer, which is nice.
Number 7 – Race for the Galaxy (Temple Gates Games)
This is about as perfect an implementation of Race for the Galaxy that you could hope to encounter. It’s still complex, complicated and baffling in its iconography but explanations are embedded into each part of the interface. It’s thus much easier to learn here than it is with what you get in the physical box. More than this though, Race for the Galaxy has easily put up the stiffest AI competition in any game I have played. It will give you a real work-out to best your opponents and it feels like you’re actually playing with real people with evolving plans and strategies of their own.
We talked a lot about how difficult it is to find the right people with which to play Race for the Galaxy when we reviewed it – it’s a game people will enthusiastically play but not enthusiastically teach. It’s easy to love, not so easy to recommend. The app as a result bridges a major gap – I don’t need to teach the game to anyone to have a fun and interesting challenge right there on my own tablet. It’s an almost flawless implementation of a flawed, but excellent, game. And if you did fancy training up a new generation of meatspace opponents, you can start them off with the app to great effect. In a list of best board game apps, this is definitely one of the bestest.
Settings here are a little more granular than they are for the other games we’ve looked at – music and sound effect volumes can be changed independently, as can the animation speed and the quality of graphics used. Language settings are also provided.
Number 6 – Star Realms (White Wizard Games)
I don’t really care all that much about Star Realms as a game. It’s fine – perfectly enjoyable but not something I go out of my way to play. Not so the with app. It has the speed and aesthetical appeal to nudge Star Realms into a higher class of enjoyability. I sometimes play Star Realms just to explore the synergies available in the different styles – high blob/federation combos that stack on heals, damage and additional card draws. Machine and imperial fleets that are highly efficient and predictable, with the ability to lock down an opponent to the point of intense impotence. The rapid play of the app version makes this kind of experimentation enjoyable in its own right.
However, I think what makes the Star Realms app especially notable is that its multiplayer support is excellent and it has given the game a rich, vibrant life outside of the confines of your device. The app is the only exposure many people have to Star Realms and it’s a credit to the implementation that it should thrive when this is so. No prior affection for the real-world equivalent is necessary.
The settings here are reasonably granular – sound and music levels can be set individually, as can the speed of opponent animations. If the animations in the game make you feel a little queasy it lets you set a static camera, switch off the dynamic starfield, and also set the level of graphics quality from the fastest to the best looking. It also provides a bug-reporter icon that can be integrated into the game, and a way to directly contact the developers.