Impressions of iPad iOS Board and Card Games
Jeff M
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There's a small explosion of board and card games emerging for the iPad, many of which would be of interest to BGG'ers. I'd like to offer my impressions of some that I've tried out.

Please feel free to comment, tell me I'm wrong, or add games you've tried.
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1. Board Game: Medici [Average Rating:7.15 Overall Rank:455]
Jeff M
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I bought this game somewhat on a whim, having only played it once in person, and ended up being very pleasantly surprised by it. I've probably played it the most of the iPad games I own. It's a clean, simple, attractive implementation of a finely honed auction game. It takes 5-10 minutes to play on the computer, so it's perfect to pull out in a spare moment. And it has an array of quick, interesting decisions to make.

But what really makes this implementation shine are the AI players. The developers must have spent quite some time on the AIs, which are well-crafted and (increasingly) challenging to play against. Although the game lacks online play, the AIs are so good, I don’t feel any particular desire for that feature at this point. I can play against live players or AIs, and I’m happy.

One really nice improvement on the board version of the game is how the developers handled the goods tracks. The board game implementations all focused on these tracks, and ended up with ugly, dull boards. In the iOS version, the goods tracks are condensed into a single attractive ring. This moves the visual focus of the game to the goods themselves, enhancing the appearance of the game immeasurably. The tracks are really important, though, and if I were designing the interface, I’d have increased the size of the ring by about a centimeter.
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2. Board Game: Through the Desert [Average Rating:7.06 Overall Rank:443]
Jeff M
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This is a nice implementation of a game I really like in person. The developers have put some effort into giving this a middle eastern feel, the interface is uncluttered, and the AIs are now adequate.

It has some cons, however, which I hope will be remedied in future updates. First, some of the player carpets rise over the field of play, requiring awkward zooming and scrolling to reach some hexes. Second, the interface requires you to drag chosen pieces from the player carpet to individual hexes. Why can’t we simply click on the camel we want and the space we want? Not only does this drag-and-drop requirement slow the game down, it strains my index finger. Third, waiting for the AIs to drag and drop their pieces seems to take an eternity. To get my highest rating, the game needs to add options for quick click placement and quick AI placement.
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3. Board Game: Keltis: Das Orakel [Average Rating:6.94 Overall Rank:2122]
Jeff M
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I have more mixed feelings about this game. On the one hand, I like the fact that the computer sets up the board instantaneously, making for a quick game. I like the way the developers have indicated all the relevant information right where you need it. I think the tutorial is very well designed. And, so far as I can tell, the AI seems fine.

Most of my concerns stem from my ambivalence towards the underlying game itself, which I find somewhat overcluttered for a Lost Cities design. Moreover, the interface is harder to work with than it needs to be. Player tiles are really tiny (7mm wide) and too close each other. And the touch sensitivity seems a little, well, touchy, making clicking the right tile a task. Considering clicking those tiles is your main input into the game, a better setup would have been appreciated. A quick movement option would also be welcome.
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4. Board Game: Kingdoms [Average Rating:6.64 Overall Rank:1082]
Jeff M
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I liked this game more than I thought I would. The game itself is more interesting that the straight numbers design it appears to be. And the presentation, while very spare, is functional and easy to use. In contrast to Through the Desert, I like how you can choose to drag or click tiles for placement.

I do have an issue with the AI. I think it’s good, but – and maybe this is my imagination – it seems a bit unfair in teaming up on the human. If I’m in last place, and the leader has left an exposed castle tile, I should be able to take a risk with my placement without having the other two AIs both use their starting negative value tiles to screw me. But they ALWAYS do.
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5. Board Game: Zooloretto [Average Rating:6.86 Overall Rank:627] [Average Rating:6.86 Unranked]
Jeff M
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This implementation is really deluxe. The design is bright, 3D, and cartoonishly colorful. The animals are animated and have their own sounds. The game even includes notes on the animals and three unlockables (4-5 players and the polar bear). Plus, the AI seems competent, and the interface is solid overall.

But the game is designed for the iPhone alone. So, for an iPad player, you get slightly blurry visuals and you can’t see the other players’ boards at a glance (you have to pull down another screen). So this game is screaming (hooting? growling?) for a universal version.
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6. Board Game: Money! [Average Rating:6.55 Overall Rank:1472]
Jeff M
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Ok, this is odd. I own two iOS card games named after valuables with an exclamation point. But they’re both worth having.

For starters, I just fell in love with Money! What a brilliant little design. I’ve owned a hardcopy for years, but never been able to play it, and now I can see why many consider it a classic. It’s quick, it’s fun, and it’s really engaging.

The iOS version is quite well-done. Like other productions from this developer, the implementation is very spare, but also clean and easy-to-use. I like the few options provided. I like the crisp graphics (though maybe not the big gold bars at the top and bottom). It’s just a great game, competently and unobtrusively presented.
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7. Board Game: Gold! [Average Rating:6.42 Overall Rank:3790]
Jeff M
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This game intrigued me by the fact that it was being released at the same time as the real-world version. As a hardcopy card-game, it would never have risen to a likely buy for me, but its virtual companion – which takes up no space at all – has become a friend.

The underlying game is a perfect quick filler – it requires some light decisions and contains quite a bit of randomness. And it’s pretty fun. Moreover, the implementation is as functional and usable as Money! and Kingdoms. I recommend getting all three.
 
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8. Board Game: Tichu [Average Rating:7.59 Overall Rank:126]
Jeff M
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There’s nothing to be said about Tichu that hasn’t been said a thousand times across BGG. But, before buying the iOS version, it was a game new to me.

I haven’t really absorbed this game yet, but here are the initial impressions of a Tichu newbie. First, the implementation is superb for someone learning the game. It contains an interactive tutorial, a hint button, and extensive instructions. Second, the design fully takes advantage of the iPad’s screen real estate, including a scorepage and lots of space for cards, while keeping the cards a sufficient size to be easily playable. And third, the presentation is very solid, including asian flavor and lots of options.
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9. Board Game: Drive [Average Rating:6.51 Overall Rank:3296]
Jeff M
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This is a reasonable implementation of an ok game. It’s a solid, quick, two-player filler against an AI. I know there are some who love this game, and I play it on occasion, but I find myself turning to some of the above games more frequently. Partly, this is just because I like the underlying games more. And partly, it’s because the presentation is iPhone only, the graphics are blurrier than other similar games, and the AI is okayish.

It’s still a recommendable game, but maybe a later purchase than others.
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10. Board Game: Scene It? Harry Potter [Average Rating:5.23 Overall Rank:15400]
Jeff M
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I also bought this mainstream game to play with my wife, a Harry Potter fan. It’s been perfect for that. It’s mostly a Harry Potter trivia game, mixed with some “watch carefully” questions. Although it’s decent for what it is, I find myself disappointed that it does not take better advantage of the iPad with more video clips and extras.
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11. Board Game: The Magic Labyrinth [Average Rating:6.88 Overall Rank:858]
Jeff M
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This implementation is a serious disappointment. Take a multiplayer kids’ game that is highly successful because of its highly tactile, 3D elements. Now remove the tactile elements, remove the 3D elements, and remove the multiplayer element (?!?). What’s left in this stripped-down non-game is a dull, mechanical, memory puzzle that even kids are likely to find unappealing. What were the developers thinking? And why are they charging $10 for it?

They should have spent the effort they took in making the opening cutscenes to: (1) make a multiplayer game, rather than a single-player puzzle; (2) replicate the magnetic nature of the game through animations and other tools; and (3) re-tool the visuals so that there are variations in play, actual objects rather than symbols, and some 3D aspects. Then, the game might have been worth buying. Until then, avoid.
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12. Board Game: BANG! [Average Rating:6.54 Overall Rank:1055]
Marcus Alyn

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It's OK for $1. The play seems to take too long and half the fun of the game to me is the personal interaction.
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13. Board Game: Chicago Express [Average Rating:7.23 Overall Rank:370]
Marcus Alyn

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So it's actually Chicago Express but either way, the game is great and cheap when I bought it (free or $1, I don't remember). I really enjoy it and I want to buy the actual game now.
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14. Board Game: Sid Meier's Civilization: The Board Game [Average Rating:7.46 Overall Rank:184]
Marcus Alyn

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THIS IS NOT ON iOS, but the video game version is and it is still the best game on here by far and can be very very challenging on Deity. Highly recommend it.
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15. Board Game: Catan [Average Rating:7.21 Overall Rank:293] [Average Rating:7.21 Unranked]
Marcus Alyn

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I played it but don't own it. It was rather quick but the AI's didn't always make the wisest trades... which is nice unless you want to be challenged. That being said, the game looked phenomenal and played rather smooth! Great implementation. I don't know if you can play others online yet or not but that would revolutionize a few of these games!
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16. Board Game: Bohnanza [Average Rating:7.05 Overall Rank:379]
Kevin Rutledge
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Springfield
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I just got this for Ipad. I have only played single player and I believe that the programmers did a pretty decent job of making the AI make rational decisions for trading. It didn't take long to figure out how the trade mechanism worked, and once I did, the game was quite enjoyable. My wife and I are expecting our first child in the coming week or two and I wanted a few games to play on my ipad so we wouldn't have to take games into the hospital. I am glad this came out just in time.
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