iPhone and iPad

Top Down and Turn Based: Questing for Glory on the iPad [iOS]

James Bruce 07-06-2013

turn based gamesEpic adventures. Loot. Hordes of kobolds and even the occasional owlbear. If those mean something to you, then we’re kindred spirits. I understand what it is you seek friend, and I offer thee temporary shelter in the MakeUseOf Inn.


Tell tales of fair-haired maidens as you order your poison of choice, and let me admire your war-battered full plate armour +1. Remind me about the time you took an arrow to the knee as we check out these three iPad adventure board games.

From classic Warhammer and a HeroQuest remake, to something altogether more modern, I’ve got your flank covered.

Warhammer Quest ($4.99)

Those of you who find yourself middle aged and slightly balding may have fond memories of Warhammer – shuffling little plastic figurines around a table and rolling bundle of die before referring to hit rate tables. While the game never quite had the same complexity as Dungeons and Dragons, the epic battles were darned good fun. Warhammer Quest is a spin off board game released in 1995 – a successor to the DnD-like HeroQuest set in the world of Warhammer Fantasy, and it transfers admirably to the iPad.

turn based games

Rendered and animated beautifully in retina-quality 3D, the top down dungeon view can be zoomed and rotated to your hearts content. Uniquely, switching to portrait mode opens up your inventory, so landscape mode is always reserved for dungeon view.


Game play is simple for anyone familiar with RPG or dungeon crawl mechanics: there’s a move phase, then an attack phase. Some characters have magic, determined randomly each turn (the “windows of magic”), while some have ranged attacks. Monsters are also encountered somewhat randomly, true to the original game where they would be drawn from a stack of cards. Levelling up is achieved according to how many monsters or support actions each party member performs, so if someone is hanging back and not doing much, they will level at a slower pace. It is nice to see things like healing others being rewarded, though.

turn based strategy games

If I had to complain, I’d say the adventures are too linear – the dungeons don’t fork, so no mini-map is required and there is no element of exploration, just linear progression.

On the map screen, you’re given a variety of quests to choose from, and visiting a town opens up options to train, pray, or do the usual bartering of loot. Random encounters and dialog choices break up the monotony of looting with just the right balance. You can also purchase additional character types (about $3 each) if you’re bored of the four provided with the basic game; but your party can only consist of 4 at one time. Warhammer Quest is mired slightly by the ability to purchase gold, but is now commonplace in low cost games, and I certainly can’t argue with the base price of $4.99 for such a stunning game.


Warhammer Quest has that ever elusive “just one more turn!” factor – don’t blame me if you lose yourself in this wonderful world of orcs and axes.

Talisman Prologue ($4.99)

Talisman is a light hearted RPG board game, for those days when a DnD session is just too much: this iPad conversion is single player only, a “prologue” to what’s coming. Played out on an actual Monopoly-style board, the gameplay mechanics aren’t far off Monopoly either. A dice roll determines your movement around the board each turn, and in this digital single player version each game assigns a specific goal. These can be as mundane as visiting a forest and defeating some rogues, or collecting particular items.

A weak concept of collecting Talismans between missions is provided, whereby the number of turns with which you complete the goal determines your score from 1 to 3 (with 3 being the best). At first glance, it appears this mechanic is merely tacked-on in order to make a little more sense of of having “skip a turn” cards in a single player game. Yes, even when you’re playing alone the game will still instruct you to “skip a turn”, which merely adds a number to your turn count rather than having a manifest punishment of having to wait while your friends continue on their quest. Battles consist of rolling die and adding your base score.

turn based strategy games


Characters start each level afresh, and you choice of character opens a different set of missions, providing a good deal of variety over the base game. Throughout a single game, you can collect items, power-ups, and allies (all represented as physical cards), but these are lost after each goal is completed, so there is no sense of a continuing RPG.

However, the game is lovingly recreated with lots of detail on the character models; it’s certainly nice to look at and bound to please any hardcore fans of the original. As someone coming at the game from a fresh angle, I just don’t think the single player aspect works all that well, but I’m looking forward to the final multiplayer edition later this year. If you have fond memories of this game, you’re probably going to like it.

RAD Soldiers (Free) [No Longer Available]

A departure from our fantasy theme perhaps, but I think you’ll like RAD Soldiers; a free to play turn-based squad combat game. Apart from the beautiful price tag of rock bottom zero, the game is gorgeous with its 3D rotating, tilting, zoomable battlefield. The graphical style is cartoon-like and rather comical – a top down and turn-based Team Fortress, if you will.

turn based strategy games


Similar to Warhammer army creation, you’re given a set number of points with which to build a squad – so either 3 low powered guys, or 2 higher powered ones – with different weaponry costing more or less. This keeps online matches fair, which is really one of the strengths of this game – asyncronous play means you keep up an unlimited number of turn based matches, and finding an opponent takes a matter of seconds.

turn based games

The game is of course supported by IAPs, with which you can buy all manner of weaponry, costumes and more squad members.

If you enjoyed this article then you’ll probably also want to check out our Best iPad Apps and Best iPhone Games, and Matt’s choice of 5 great iPad strategy games 5 Must-Have Strategy Games for iPad [iOS] Touch controls are great for games that require thought rather than quick, twitch movement. You can plot moves, activate abilities and direct units all with the touch of…well, your touch. You’d expect that to mean... Read More while you’re at it, too.

Have you got any more recommendations for us? Leave a comment, below.

Related topics: Adventure Game, Board Game.

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  1. David Albee
    June 7, 2013 at 7:35 pm

    For the Talisman fans: Talisman Prologue is available for the PC, too: http://www.talismanonline.com/