There was a time not too long ago when I would only play apps that were free to download, simply because an average of around £3-4 per app seemed a lot to pay in comparison to having the physical copy. This meant I was playing Blokus, Neuroshima Hex, Star Realms, Hearthstone and Hive.
However, when I started commuting in January I started to need a few more distractions and ones that I could play on my Android phone rather than carrying a tablet to work. This meant that I expanded to Ticket to Ride, Catan, Kingdom Builder, Suburbia, Carcassonne and Ingeneous. We’ve also had Smallworld and Talisman on the PC at various times, but never used them on a smaller device.
After 3 months of significant play-time. Here are the Yellow Meeples top 5 Android Apps for board gamers;
1. Hearthstone is the very popular card game implementation in the World of Warcraft universe. I have found this super addictive over time, playing ranked battles, obtaining gold through quests and getting really excited over buying card packs. The game has elements of deck building, like a CCG and it is possible that you’ll come up against someone who just has far better cards than you, however the game does try and pit you against players of similar ability.
I find it amazing that Hearthstone is free and have actually voluntarily spent money to purchase one of the adventures. My only negative is that you need to be online to play and so I don’t get to play it on train journeys.
2. Ticket to Ride is one of my newer additions. I really love this implementation of the game – it’s really smooth and condenses a whole game into just 5 or 10 minutes. I have bought the full set of maps which has allowed me to try out the map collections in the digital world and informed me which ones might be a candidate to buy the cardboard copy of. The difficulty seems to be set at exactly the right level for me and I’d say I win around 60% of games although there is a pattern of which maps I tend to win on more.
3. Star Realms is one of our favourite two player games because we love the deck-building mechanic. However once I started playing the app, the card game stopped getting a lot of table time. This is another really slick app. On a phone the card text is definitely very small, but you can zoom in to overcome this and when you’ve played as many times as I have you start to not need to read it. Sometimes I do think that the app takes some of the skill away from the game because it points out combos for you, but it also takes out fidliness of adding up money, hits and authority and so it becomes a really quick 5 minute game to play. I only play the free version and therefore the difficulty has got a little too easy, but it’s still a great way to pass the time.
4. Carcassonne is an app that I’ve only ever played on the tablet and I can imagine that on the phone it could be a little challenging to see the whole city. Nevertheless, the ability to play against CPU, with pass-and-play or online makes it quite versatile. I do find the CPU is a little too easy to beat and often misses easy opportunities to block or compromise you and I’ve also found that online play tends to end up in too much waiting around, but I think we’ve actually played this most in pass-and-play mode on train journeys where it is a complete exact replacement of the base game.
5. Neuroshima Hex is a game I would never consider owning a cardboard copy of. It’s a two player direct confrontation and is actually quite an abstract game which typically means Amy will be best at it and I’ll get annoyed when it feels like she’s being mean to me. From experience on the app I can also imagine that it is quite fiddly to determine the order and effects of a fight. The app however makes the play very intuitive and even in the easy mode the CPU provides a decent challenge. The app was my first experience of playing the game but I picked up the mechanics and rules really easily without relying on a tutorial.