If you haven’t got around to buying an iPad yet – don’t worry, I know you will eventually – but until then Nancy has you covered with 8 iPhone games you won’t believe are free. Tim wrote about free board game alternatives that you can play online in your browser, and Mark showed you the top 5 games for the Android users among you.
Let’s see what I found.
Game Room is actually 8 classic board games in one handy little app, and it takes an absolutely no nonsense approach to games. What’s included?
I’ve linked a couple of the more obscure ones to Wikipedia, but the app also helpfully includes a complete set of rules for every game.
If that wasn’t enough, there’s the option to create a custom iPad board game type too, in which you can choose the board size, as well as customize visual aspects of the board (checkered, leather, wood, stone, etc). In this mode, the app doesn’t restrict where you play pieces, but does give you a handy little shortcut of double-tapping a piece in order to flip the color.
The Game Room app is strictly for 1-device-for-2-player gaming though – there is no single player vs AI or internet play options. Still, as a straight abstract board game replacement app, you really couldn’t ask for more.
Download GameRoom – Metaversal Studios [iTunes link]
Words with Friends Free (Scrabble clone)
Words With Friends adds one incredible feature that takes it above and beyond the officially licensed version – the ability to play not just one but multiple online games simultaneously. Switching between games is incredibly easy thanks to the quick-change menu that’s always one tap away, showing all your games and which require your attention.
Unfortunately, though this version is free, it’s also riddled with ads. If you’re fundamentally against in-game advertising and thought pop-ups were evil, you probably ought to move right along. After every few turns, a 2-second advertisement pops up and fills the screen demanding your attention. If you can handle that though, and you’re a fan of Scrabble and word games in general, the ability to play in multiple games is a feature for the hardcore Scrabbler not to be missed.
Download Words With Friends HD Free – Newtoy Inc. [iTunes link]
Not exactly a difficult game, Ludo’s attraction has always been that it can be played by anyone, regardless of age or ability. While I normally wouldn’t advocate these kind of games, I did give it a few test runs with my wife and found myself genuinely having a lot of fun. I certainly don’t remember Ludo being so absolutely vicious though…
The game is 100% free, but does include in-app purchases for different board designs (the one pictured above is the default) and 3D dice. The multiplayer options are limited to local play only, but there are AI players to fill in if you wish.
Download LUDO board game – SIS software [iTunes link]
Blood and Honour Lite (Risk clone)
This game is deceptively addictive – or maybe I just have latent desires for world domination. The only limitation of the ‘lite’ edition is allowing up to 3 total players (as opposed to 6), either human or AI. You can join online games too, but the game host will need a full version. The game adds the element of special cards you can play to give a little more strategic decision making and depth – bonus defense or attack die this turn, or nuclear bombs, for instance – and I have to say this adds a lot of value compared to the original. I was never a big Risk fan, but I’m certainly going to keep this on my iPad for a while yet.
Download Blood & Honor Lite – Sandstorm Interactive [iTunes link]
Of course, I’m not suggesting the iPad can fully replace all those board games you have – the size constraint is perhaps the most limiting factor, making table-top play possible for a maximum of 2 players. I own a number of euro-games that simply have far too many physical bits to ever be replicable on the tiny iPad screen – an iPad per player, maybe. I am happy to say that “travel versions” of board games can now officially be killed off though – and anyone who has tried to play with weak magnetic pieces in a bouncy car with fat fingers should be as delighted as I am.
What do you think about the iPad as a board gaming device? Do you see sales of chess and checkers sets declining, or do you prefer the feel of real pieces? Got any other free iPad-optimized board games you think I missed? Tell us in the comments!
Note: I tested all of these free apps with iOS 4.2, but if you’re a fan of jailbreaking your iPad I urge you not to upgrade yet as the only jailbreak currently available is tethered at the time of writing, meaning you have to re-jailbreak when the battery dies or on a hard reset. Stay tuned and I promise a full tutorial when a better solution is out.