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A Plethora of Android Boardgame Helper Apps: a new market

Walter OHara
United States
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Much attention has been given to the Ipad/Ipod platform for boardgame conversions; and with good reason. The IOS platform seems to have emerged as the primary platform of choice for boardgame conversions of all kinds, with the Android Market lagging behind the big releases by a period from six months to a year in some cases. For instance, Carcassonne, one of the biggest hits in the IoS Realm, has only recently been released for Android as a commercial product. There are other big titles, such as Through The Desert, Words with Friends, and Cataan, but for the most part releases continue to lag for full up game conversions with AI and/or multiplayer/internet gaming component. There’s plenty of reasons for this...the two installation bases are not equal. There is concern from developers about how they will get paid, and how quickly, whereas the Apple Itunes App Store is more stable and considered more secure.

This doesn’t mean that boardgames aren’t represented on Android. There have been a surprising amount of boardgame HELPER apps released in the last two years. For the most part these are deck shufflers and builders, dice rollers, and “toolbox” apps that do many things. Most, if not almost all, of them are free for the download. I suspect this is because the licensing issues are too complex and it’s just easier to release them for free. There are very few free (and very few commercial, come to think of it) boardgame apps that actually play the game WITH you, but there are many Android apps out there that will HELP you play a boardgame. Some of these are helpful, some are puzzling, but most of them are free, so you will have no problem trying them out and making up your own mind.

Here, then, is a list of some useful boardgame utilities out there on the Android market right now.

Droidippy: A DIPLOMACY adjudication/game play app not unlike JDip and RealPolitik, only it plays on an Android platform. Receives email turns and adjudicates Diplomacy games with multiple players; displays a map readout that updates on all the player’s phones/tablets.

Axis and Allies Combat Simulator: I never understood the reasons for having an Axis and Allies combat Simulator, but they were popular way back in the day on Windows platforms as shareware, and here’s on for about four dollars. Has a menu driven interface and figures out the probability of success on possible combats.

Assorted Magic: the Gathering Utilities: Frankly there are so many Magic: the Gathering utilities, life counters, card databases, toolboxes, ultimate apps, AIs and simulators out there on the market that one could write a very long blog post on that subject, and I’m not that big of a fan. Suffice to say, the apps in this collection either count life, catalog cards, manage your collection, and provide strategy tips. I’ve yet to find an app that actually plays the game.

Rattus Shuffle randomly selects for you with which cards you’re going to play the board game Rattus, which was reviewed on this blog a while ago. To use Rattus Shuffle: Before you’re going to play the game, choose from all the available expansions, select the number of players and Rattus Shuffle will determine with which combination of cards you’re going to play the game. The creator appears to have the cooperation of Goblin Games, as they are using the same artwork.
Rattus Shuffle

Dominion Shuffle: this is a helper app for the great card drafting game DOMINION. randomly select a set of kingdom cards for the card game Dominion. It has a flexible way of specifying the shuffle rules and choosing which cards to use. The card language can be chosen using the menu. Dominion Shuffle also includes support for Androminion (Dominion for Android, it actually allows game play) to play with your selected kingdom cards against the computer. Along the same vein are Dominion Card Picker, Dominion Randomizer, and Randominion, which are basically deck builders and shuffler apps.
Dominion Shuffle

Agricola Score Calculator is pretty much what it says, a scoring app for the hit board game AGRICOLA. The app and the interface are colorful and straightforward. Along the same lines: Agricola Score Sheet (Lite and Regular) and Agricola Buddy.
Agricola Score Calculator

Carcassonne Scoreboard: Since Carc is now a paid game app in the market, this is about all we’ll see freeware. Like many other boardgame support apps, this maintains a scoresheet for repeated games. Along the same lines are: Carcassonne Scorer and Scorer Lite.
Carcassonne Scoreboard

Lost Cities CCSKC: Another Reiner Knizia classic, Lost Cities is represented in the market by a Score Keeper app that maintains game score and tracks the cards left in the deck. Along the same lines is Lost Cities: Help, which essentially does the same thing.
Lost Cities CCSKC

RFTG Scorer is a straightforward, useful score sheet app for RACE FOR THE GALAXY.
RFTG Scorer

Munchlevel is a life counter/scorer type app from the hit card game MUNCHKIN, by Steve Jackson Games. Not much to be said here, the app is pretty straightforward and easy to use. Alon the same lines are: Munchkin Level Counter and Munchkimetro.

Thunderstone Shuffle app is a card shuffling app for the card drafting game THUNDERSTONE, similiar to others mentioned. This app lets you choose which cards can be selected and easily randomizes which cards will appear in your game. It understands the rules of the game and generates a legal layout, has a solo option and marks cards which were in the previous shuffle, making multiple games easier.
Thunderstone Shuffle

Descent Assistant is a sort of toolbox, monster manager for the Dungeon Crawling game DESCENT from Fantasy Flight Games. This app makes an Overlord’s job much easier by simplifying monster management tasks. Users can add monsters to manage their statistics. Descent Assistant contains all available monsters, including Road to Legend encounters and chiefs. Displays all capabilities of added monsters including descriptions of all abilities. The Interface doesn’t appear to have the same artwork. In the same vein, but different,are: The Descent Dice Roller and Dicent.
Descent Assistant

Doom Dice Simulator rolls: the dice for DOOM the boardgame.
Doom Dice Simulator rolls

Lastly is the Small World Pedia, which appears to be an unofficial encyclopedia of Small World games series involving all the races, powers, relics and legendary places, are displayed the informations on the amount of tokens collected and the rules concerning the powers of each items.
Small World Pedia
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