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Best of 2013 Awards - Game of the Year

Brad Cummings
United States
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The iOS Board Games Best of 2013 Awards are meant to recognize excellent board game apps in several categories. For more details see our summary post.

In this post: Game of the Year
- iOS Board Game of the Year
- Android Game of the Year

iOS Board Game of the Year

Gold Award:
From gallery of thequietpunk

Sitting in my basement somewhere is a massive box of cardboard called Agricola. Playdek managed to take this monstrosity and turn it into a great app that fulfills my expectations as fan while remaining highly accessible. As Dave mentioned, many design choices in the app are highly polarizing, but it is hard to argue with success. Agricola gets my vote because it attempts to bring a game we all love to a wider audience, something I feel strongly about. Of course, accessibility could be a negative word, if it leaves fans in the lurch. Happily, Agricola still presents the full game with a clear interface.
The main debate of Agricola aside, I do not think there is a better example of digital board game implementation in 2013. It’s clear, vibrant, and enjoyable on many levels. I questioned how Playdek would handle a eurogame and it arrived with the excellent polish and online features we have come to expect. I cannot recommend this one highly enough. This is what board gaming can be on iOS. - Brad

Perhaps no other game of 2013 split our readers more than Playdek’s take on Uwe Rosenberg’s seminal masterpiece, Agricola. It seems like half of you loved the very un-cardboard-like interface, whereas the other half thought it an abomination. I’m clearly on the former side, as I find the interface brings the farming theme to the fore and makes Agricola not just a masterpiece from a mechanical point-of-view, but from a thematic point of view as well. I find the Agricola interface to be the next step in the “pimping out” of Agricola which was happening even before the game was released. Animeeples, vegimeeples, entire farming families made from Fimo clay. Go look at the images for Agricola, and you’ll see countless variations of people making their cardboard version more thematic. Playdek merely took it up a notch, and made Agricola one of the most thematic games of 2013.

Of course, regardless of interface, the reason that Agricola is the best game of the year is its foundation. You can’t go wrong with building your game on one of the greatest eurogames ever designed. The game feels like Agricola, plays like Agricola, and gives you the option to play a series of solitaire games, play solo against decent AI, or play other people via real-time or asynchronous online. Playdek has outdone themselves with Agricola, making one of the greatest eurogames ever into the best iOS game of 2013, and one of the best iOS board games ever developed. - Dave

Developer: Playdek Games
Purchase Link: App Store
Our Review

Silver Award
From gallery of thequietpunk

I’ll admit I was little worried about Pandemic for iPad. Here was the granddaddy of cooperative games, and it was being handled by a newcomer on the iOS scene, F2Z Digital Media. Well, my worry was unfounded as Pandemic ended up being not just one of the best games of 2013, but one of the best board game ports available for iOS. Here are Pandemic’s feelings of hopelessness and despair juxtaposed with great moments of triumph as you accomplish the seemingly impossible. The app, smartly, adds a layer of cinematic tension as well. As diseases spread, the camera whisks across the globe. Drums pound and sirens blare, and you learn to dread the explosion as outbreaks, inevitably, occur.

F2Z Digital Media also showed us that Pandemic will not be a forgotten app, as it already has been updated with new characters and events from the On the Brink expansion, with more from that expansion due this year.

Pandemic is one of the best apps to be released in 2013-a year full of great board game apps-and one that I’ll be playing for a long time coming. - Dave

After the public reveal of a half completed version of Pandemic, Zman had some huge expectations to fill. They succeeded. Pandemic on iOS is one an excellent adaptation, enhancing the experience of the tabletop game in nearly every way. The app design is perfect for solo or pass and play making it great for playing on a commute or playing with friends or family while on the go. As I said in my review, Pandemic is cinematic, using sound and animation to elicit emotional reactions. The tension is palatable as you fail again and again to save the world. This is rare praise for a digital board game.

Pandemic has raised hopes for future Zman titles and is full of potential. I hope to see it grow with online play and more. Pandemic is a great example of turning a game into an experience using the benefits of a digital platform. I hope we see many companies follow this example in 2014. - Brad

Developer: FZ2 Digital Media
Purchase Link: App Store
Our Review

Android Board Game of the Year

Gold Award:
From gallery of wwwebb

The game that pioneered bringing board games to iPad received a face-lift this year, and with it, a debut on Android as well. The graphics are beautifully illustrated, as Days of Wonder games usually are, and look as if they are straight from the tabletop. The app offers play modes for any way you want to play, whether online, solo against bots, pass and play, or locally via WiFi. This app has it all. There where no "I with it had..." with Small World. - Mark

Developer: Days of Wonder
Purchase Links: Google Play
Kindle Fire

Silver Award
From gallery of wwwebb

Come, Watson. The game is afoot. Mr Jack Pocket is a deduction game where you play Sherlock Homes, and his associates in the search for Jack the Ripper on the streets of Whitechapel. Or you can flip the tables on the great detective and play Jack himself. What really sets this game apart is the atmosphere it portrays. The menu screens look as parchment stationary. As you play you see shadowy figures on cards, and a deep color palette. You hear the suspenseful background music of pianos and violins, and the bong of Big Ben between rounds. It pulls you in. - Mark

Developer: Meepletouch
Purchase Link: Google Play
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