The last three months have been an odd time for board games in our household. We have been taking social distancing very seriously, so I have only been around my husband. Unfortunately, my husband’s work picked up a lot due to the pandemic, so he has not really had time to play games with me. This has had a pretty big effect on my ability to review games and post new content, so I apologize for that!
One thing I have been doing a lot of though is playing board games via apps. I love that I am able to play solo against an AI or play with others without being in the same room as them. Today I figured I would share some of my favorite board game apps in case anyone else is in the same position as me! Here are ten of my favorites, in no particular order!
#1 Lords of Waterdeep
Lords of Waterdeep has been one of my favorite ports into an app for a long time. I enjoy the fact that the set up is quicker than the base game (especially when playing with the expansion). I feel like the AI is very well done, and I often play against the AI to kill time. When playing against others, I feel like the game play is very smooth, and I like that you can speed up the animations to make the game go very quickly between turns.
I would suggest Lords of Waterdeep if you are someone who enjoys lighter worker placement games. If you are not familiar with it, I would suggest trying it out if you enjoy games like Viticulture, Raiders of the North Sea or Agricola. Lords of Waterdeep is often a game that I suggest for first time worker placement players, and I feel the apps does a great job of reminding players of things they are able to do on each turn. If you enjoy light worker placement, a little asymmetric game play, and a fairly smooth online experience, I would suggest Lords of Waterdeep.
When I first saw that Mysterium had an app with AI capabilities, I was somewhat nervous to play it. Mysterium’s gameplay has so much to do with how an individual thinks, and the other players’ ability to connect with the ghost, and I thought that there would be no way an AI would be able to figure out what the ghost was seeing in a given clue. I was very pleasantly surprised that the game works very well with AI and with the online capabilities.
Mysterium is one of my absolute favorite games. I love the imagery and theme behind it. I would suggest it if you enjoy games like Dixit, Detective Club or Muse. The app is able to maintain what I love about the game, and it even adds in a short story mode that helps new players adjust to the different roles and teaches them how to navigate the app. It even adds some thematic elements like background music! I figured when I purchased this app it would be mostly used to play against other live humans online, but I honestly find myself playing against the AI a lot. They did a great job with it, and it makes for a very pleasant solo gaming experience…perfect for quarantine!
#3 Isle of Skye
Isle of Skye is another one of my all time favorite games. I will be honest in saying that I have very little experience with the AI in Isle of Skye. This is a game that I mostly play with my family, and it is one we enjoy the simplicity of set up and quick round resetting so much, that we often play on the app while sitting in the same room watching a movie or tv. This game becomes very cut-throat between my husband, my mom and I and is one of the few games that I almost always win.
Isle of Skye is primarily a tile placement game, but it does have an interesting system of player interaction by a bidding system each turn. Each round has variable goals for players, so there is a lot of thinking both about the present and the future. I find it to be one of the most enticing scoring systems in any game that I have played. The app does a great job of walking players through where their tiles can be placed, and reminding players of what is scoring each round. It also speeds up gameplay because of the quick set up and the automatic tile drawing for each player. I would suggest you check out Isle of Skye if you enjoy Carcassonne, Castles of the Mad King Ludwig or Swordcrafters.
Onirim is a game that I have only ever played digitally. I am not a huge solo gamer, but I do enjoy some solo game time when playing digitally. I enjoy using Onirim as a quick challenge, though a lot of it is based off of luck of the draw. I think what draws me into this app is the simplicity of game play, the vibrant artwork, and the fact that I can play through an entire game of it within fifteen minutes or so.
I often use Onirim as a time killer when I am waiting at a doctors office or when I have just a few minutes at work. It is a simple card game where players are trying to collect sets before the deck runs out. While there is some strategy to what cards players hold in their hands and when they take certain actions, there is some luck based on the order of what cards are drawn. I would suggest Onirim to players who are looking for a quick solo gameplay experience, and enjoy games such as Solitaire, Fluxx, or Love Letter.
Patchwork is a game that I only own digitally. I don’t have any experience playing Patchwork against other players digitally, but I do enjoy playing against the AI. I love how challenging Patchwork is! There is a great tension between trying to fill your quilt and managing your button supply to purchase quilt pieces.
I would suggest the app for anyone looking for a quick tile placement game, who would like to play against a challenging AI. There are different levels of difficulty for the AI, which was great for me as a beginner. Even the easy level though will give a challenge to someone who has never played the game. I like that this app has quick set up, and the automatic tile drawing keeps the game flowing at a great pace. It also manages scoring which helps at the end of the game. The app also does a great job of teaching the game to new players. I would suggest Patchwork to those who enjoy Cottage Garden, Azul or Isle of Cats.
My usual gaming group is not a huge fan of deck building games. The Ascension app has been how I get my fill of deck building for a long time now. There is a lot that I like about the app, but one of the major things is the constant reminders of different abilities that trigger based on cards that are played. Sometimes when playing card games, it is easy to miss an ability that would trigger, especially during more complicated combinations.
I also really enjoy the fact that Ascension has a good variety of expansions that can be added to the game relatively cheaply, which keeps the game fresh and allows for a lot of variety when playing. I mostly play against the AI, but the online play is also very smooth! I would suggest Ascension to anyone who enjoys deck building games or living card games.
You may have noticed by now, but I really enjoy tile placement games, and I love the ease of set up that comes with playing them in app form. Carcassonne is a classic game that we really enjoy playing in person as well. This is a great choice for players who are new to gaming, because the tutorial in the beginning does a great job of explaining not only how the app works, but also the rules of the game.
There are a good variety of expansions that can also be added into game play. It helps keep games interesting and allows for both engaging play against the AI and online. I also find that playing on the app is quicker, because it clearly shows what options players have available to them. I would suggest Carcassonne to anyone who enjoys tile placement games, or has enjoyed other classic games like Catan or Ticket to Ride.
#8 Potion Explosion
Potion Explosion is always my first suggestion to people who enjoy phone games like Candy Crush or similar block breaking games. It has a very similar feel, but also gives the enjoyment of playing with others. This is a game that I consistently play against my mother online when we can’t see each other. It is simple to understand, and because players can switch what potions are available each round, there is some variety to each game.
If you are looking for a relatively quick time filler to play solo, the AI on Potion Explosion is also really good. I was surprised how much I enjoyed this in the app form, because the table presence in the base game is so great and tactile, but the app is vibrant and does give a strong sense of satisfaction!
#9 On Tour
On Tour is one of my favorite Roll and Write games because it is such a challenge. While I do not often play games solo, On Tour is one of the games I will occasionally bust out to play by myself in my free time. I was so excited when the app port came out so that those solo gaming sessions would be a little quicker. The app is a great port too! Easy to navigate, and user friendly controls.
There is a lot to love about the app version of this game, especially if you are planning on playing multiplayer. First, there is no account that players have to sign up for. Simply create a game, and share a code with the people you want to play with. There is no need to send friend requests or sign in. Then, players are able to play with the same cards and dice on their own time. Once everyone is done, they can share their scores. For players who want some competition, but their schedules may not line up with their friends, this is a great addition. It is a nice balance between real time, and non-synchronized play, where players do not have to wait between turns. I would definitely suggest checking it out if you are someone who struggles with being able to play games at a given time and enjoy roll and writes!
#10 Raiders of the North Sea
Raiders of the North Sea is one of my favorite worker placement games. The rules are pretty simple to explain, but the mechanic featuring the different colored meeples adds some complexity that makes the game have some deeper strategy.
The port is truly beautiful and really brings the game to life. There was a lot of detail put into making the game more engaging. I enjoy the AI on the game, and I mostly play it solo. However, I do enjoy playing it online as well. I find that it is easy to navigate and the game mimics it’s physical counterpart very well! I would suggest it if you enjoy any of the game released by Shem Phillips, or if you enjoy games like Lords of Waterdeep, Viticulture or Everdell.