Top Ten Best Board Game Apps 2019

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Meeple Like Us Best Board Game Apps – Closing Remarks

Honourable Mention: Splendor (Asmodee Digital)

[ our review of the board game | publisher website ]

Splendor app

 

I include Splendor here not because it almost made the cut, although it did. It was on the shortlist at about #13. Mrs Meeple would undoubtedly rate this as #1 if this were her writeup, but it’s not. Instead, I include Splendor because in many ways it is an ideal exemplar for the way it lets people choose how to experience the game. Its settings menu is extraordinary. It lets you change the size of avatars, the size of components, how much of the screen to use, where the screen is located, and the size of the elements that represent your hand of gems. This is on top of options that let you change not just the difficult of opponents but their style of play.

Splendor options

It also has colour blindness settings, shrinking of elements that shouldn’t be a game focus, a set of options for those on smaller screens, memory aids for play and more. It’s a bit of a shame that the text on the buttons is so difficult to read, but I wholeheartedly support the intention behind each of these options.

More splendor options

The splendour app is genuinely great in its own rights, but what makes it worthy of some of your attention is the approach it takes to giving players the options (and thus in many ways the direct accessibility support) they need to decide for themselves what is comfortable to play.

And now, on with the real list.

The Ones That Nearly Made the Best Board Game Apps List

Making a list of ten apps, given the huge number of great ones out there, was always going to be difficult. There were a few that were credible candidates for a while but in the end just didn’t quite make the cut. Splendor I have already spoken about, but I would also likely direct your attention towards:

Essentially with these we get a ‘top sixteen best board game apps’ list. Jaipur is a great implementation of a great game, but it missed the list because in the end it’s not majorly more convenient than the physical game. Jaipur plays quickly, supports only two players, and as such it represents something of an opportunity cost. If I play the Jaipur app – a game i can regularly play if I want – I’m not playing apps of games that are more difficult to get to the table. Onitama has a similar issue – it’s quick and easy enough to arrange an actual game so it feels a little like a waste to play the app all that often. Patchwork was the one that came closest to making its way onto the list but I am refusing it that honour until I beat the viciously difficult Uwe level of the AI. Sorry Patchwork, but I’m a petty man.

Screenshot of Jaipur

Ganz Schon Clever pulled me in deep for quite some time, and you’ll see that’s obvious from our review of the game. The implementation is… functional. The game is extraordinarily addictive until you work out the trick, and even then it still has the ongoing psychological pull of a loot-box. It’s just not quite so polished as some of the other games here though and so it didn’t quite manage to get past the incredibly selective bouncers that police this list.

Stockpile is an app I enjoy an awful lot, and it comes packaged up in a very effective implementation. However, one thing you can say about all the other games on this list is that if you want to play the physical game it’s still an option. You can buy them all. Stockpile isn’t, as far as I can tell, a game you can purchase in physical form any more except as exorbitant markups. It’s not that it’s an app only game, which would put it outside the scope of this special feature. It’s just that it’s effectively an app only game for those of us that didn’t back the Kickstarter. I appreciate it’s a weird objection, but hey – you can write your own top ten if it’s that big a deal to you.

Stockpile screenshot

There are other great apps out there, but none that I have played that would make serious candidates for inclusion on a list like this. Your mileage, as ever, will vary.

That Table of the Top ten Best Board Games Apps in Full

Here’s the full rundown, with Amazon affiliate links to take you to each game should you be interested in picking it up.

 

PositionGame
10Perudo
9Among the Stars
8Terra Mystica
7Race for the Galaxy
6Star Realms
5Castles of Burgundy
4Galaxy Trucker
3Twilight Struggle
2Lords of Waterdeep
1Through the Ages

 

So that’s it for our top ten board game apps list – it’s a new kind of thing for us because we don’t usually talk about digital representations of board games here. We floated an earlier test balloon with our review of Zombicide: Tactics and Shotguns and I’m keen to know if this is something that people like. Is it a direction you’d like to see us taking? There are a lot of apps out there, and usually they’re not really given a lot of critical attention outside of video game outlets. Would you like us to do more of that kind of thing? I’m willing to write if you’re willing to read. Let us know!

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