iOS Board Games

Among the best things in life is playing printed games in person with family and close friends. When those are not convenient we like iOS Board Games. News, reviews, previews, and opinions about board gaming on iPhones, iPads, iPods and even Android devices. (iPhone board games, iPad board games, iPod board games, Android board games)
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iOS News Bits: PicoGP Tactics • EveryGame Snag • UNO™ • Phase 10 • Ghost Stories Updates • GMT Update • Disc Drivin' • Bohnanza • Cities & Knights • Ramses II • Bruno Cathala • Playdek + Lookout = Agricola

Gabe Alvaro
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• Puerto Rico Update
• Dice Soccer Update
• PicoGP Tactics Released
• EveryGame Hits Snag
• Uno™ Updated
• Phase 10 Update
• Ghost Stories Updates
• GMT Update on Electronic Version Games
• Disc Drivin' Updates
• Bohnanza Update, Price Drop, and Tutorial Version
• Catan to Get Cities and Knights Expansion
• Ramses II Released
• New Bruno Cathala Game Coming
• Incinerator Announces Creation of Playdek and Partnership with Lookout

• Missed last time - Puerto Rico Updated - August 11
Ravensburger and Codito fixed some of the outstanding bugs from their much ballyhooed launch of Puerto Rico.

What's new

- Fixed a bug where the English language could not be selected anymore.
- Several minor bugfixes.

• Dice Soccer Update - August 16
I don't think we've ever seen such a highly detailed changelog as the one posted for version 1.1 of Dice Soccer. Color us impressed:

What's new



* NEW FEATURE: Enemy Preview - See who and what you're up against before choosing your team!
* NEW FEATURE: Bench - Faster, fewer, tactical substitutions
* NEW FEATURE: Refresh Achievements - Manual check for missed achievements or rewards!
* Bug Fixes, Minor Performance & Cosmetic Upgrades, and Balance Changes
* DELAY NO MORE: Faster animations!
* Stability improvements for iPad(1st Gen) and iPhone(3G)

Characters and Teams

- Minor lineup alterations made to teams Shinfield, Studley, Footchester (Season 1) and Armory (Season 3)
- Player 19: Bryan Nelson: Stats Updated from 111333 to 112333
- Player 22 Ray Beeze Stats Updated from 123334 to 111267
- Player 72 Dido Dropbear: Special Ability description now displays correctly

Gameplay & Cosmetics

- Match screen options now feature PREVIEW instead of MANAGE. Preview allows you to see the enemy team before going in to Manage your own
- MANAGE screen now features BENCH option. Visit the Bench to select up to 4 substitutes to take along with you into the game. In-game Substitution now only allows you to choose from the 4 players on your bench.
- Modified tutorial to incorporate Bench and Preview features.
- Minor Changes to card design to Enhance Game Performance
- Minor Changes to game field layout to Enhance Game Performance. Doodads now spawn randomly.
- NEW Female characters introduced. AI Teams only (for now). Available for hire in v1.2
- Player Uniforms edited on some card fronts to improve resemblances
- Animation time sped up for Transformations, Movement, Popups, and Powerups
- Cosmetic changes made to presentation of lineup in Substitution
- A Lock icon is now added to Tournaments that are still locked
- An option to check for missing achievements can now be triggered from the Trophy Room
- Added animations for Level Select screens to show unlocking of new League Matches
- Game Icon Updated


- Fixed a Bug that would cause gamedata to be lost upon deleting a new profile and force-quitting the app
- Fixed a Bug relating to striker respawning in front of goal after scoring.
- Fixed a Bug that allowed locked players to be fielded in play
- Fixed a Minor Bug that caused the number of stars to display incorrectly after beating Kismet 3-0
- Users can now play Music from their iPod while playing Dice Soccer
- Achievement icons removed for stability from in-game popups for iPad(1st gen) only.
- SFX and music removed from iPhone 3g for stability.
- After re-completing a match, users are brought to the summary screen for that same match rather than the latest available match.
- GameCenter related crashes fixed. Game is now fully compatible with iOS 3.0 and above
- Fixed a bug that prevented unlocking or caused incorrect unlocking of achievements pertaining to number of wins/losses/draws/gold in certain cases

• PicoGP Tactics Re-released - August 16
With so many true indie developers in the App Store, it can be easy to miss some neat apps like PicoGP Tactics by PaWaSoft. According to the PaWaSoft web site this app is apparently a re-release of an app originally called PicoGP that had been released by Mad Monkey Studios back in February 2010. It's amazing to me that I completely missed this app before since I really like the game mechanics.

So now its back in the App Store and priced at $0.99 after an initial launch promotion giving away the app for free for a few days. The game itself is what an experienced board gamer might call PitchCar meets Formula Dé. The developer calls it the "perfect mix between dexterity and strategy". What it means is that you flick your car like the discs in Pitchcar (but not with dice as in Formula De), but the distance the car travels is determined by using a transmission-like gear mechanic that you find in Formula De. The higher the gear, the further the flick. So there is a more complex decision cluster to resolve each turn than in a game of Disc Drivin'.

Unlike the three dimensional experience in Disc Drivin', this game is presented only in top-down 2d with an option to temporarily zoom as needed to glimpse a measure of the entire track before a flick. The gear box mechanic is the closest thing I've yet seen to Formula De and for that reason alone it's probably worth checking out if you are intrigued by that particular approach to strategy driving games.

• EveryGame Hits Apple Snag - August 16
Put this one in the bad news category. Nathaniel Dirksen has posted in the EveryGame VGG forums that their board game module-creating and playing app, EveryGame has hit a snag in that Apple is suddenly concerned that loading on game files via iTunes violates the App Store guidelines. In kind of a bummer post, Nathaniel lays it out:

EveryGame would be removed from the App store if we don't comply with their decision, so we have no choice but to do so. If you rely on this feature for game development (or have been considering picking up EveryGame and feel it's important), make sure to get version 2.0, and avoid updating temporarily.

You can still load games onto the iPad by creating a .zip file on your computer, and sending it to yourself via email or posting it online. You can also edit files on the iPad itself. We are going to redouble our efforts to implement a file loading solution that is even better than what was available before (likely Dropbox). Finally, we'll keep discussing the situation with Apple since I still don't believe that EveryGame violates their guidelines.

We really hope that EveryGame and Apple can work things out for the good of all iOS board gamers. It would be a shame for such an innovative app to lose any functionality.

• UNO™ Updated - August 18
First, Gameloft updated the app for the classic card game UNO™ to version 1.9.9. The new update brought online multiplayer and new leader boards, but as TouchArcade reported, it brought some other rather major problems like a bug that prevents the app from launching after the update and exclusive in-app-purchase special cards that the app was allowing to be used in multiplayer with other players who may or may not have also purchased them, essentially adding up to an app that allows cheats-for-money in multiplayer. That's kind of distasteful to most gamers and fans of fair play.

Needless to say the apps ratings started falling precipitously with a rash of one-star reviews which you can still read as of this blog post. Gameloft has posted a mea culpa of sorts in the app description, but it's been over a week and no fix yet. Here's the mea culpa:

Gameloft wrote:
An updated version will be available soon that resolves the stability issues that some users have experienced recently. We have taken all possible steps to ensure that this update is available as quickly as possible.
Thank you for your understanding.

And here's what the update was supposed to do for all players:

gameloft wrote:
What's new

UPDATE: Rediscover UNO™ with the all-new online multiplayer mode!
- Play with players from all over the world and improve your experience level by winning games or completing various challenges.
- Play in rooms reserved for players of your experience level (beginner, pro, champion, etc...).
- Track your ascension on the new online leaderboards. Choose international or national leaderboards, and pick a time period (yearly, monthly, or daily).
- Get exclusive bonuses and put them to good use in your games, such as replacing a card or quickly looking at your opponent's card!
- Increase your luck by gathering clover leaves. Don't leave anything to chance in your games!
- Personalize your games with new backgrounds exclusive to the online multiplayer mode!

• Phase 10 update - August 18
Here's another app that was released long before we started blogging. The popular Rummy-type card game Phase 10 was appified way back in January 2009 by mobile app developer Magmic Games. CaptainCosmic pointed out to us this week that it has been yet again updated and this time with Game Center support. Here's the good stuff:

What's new

- Game Center support is here! Achievements and your stats will now be tracked via your Game Center account.
- New graphics for iPhone 4 devices!
- Some game logic corner cases causing game play to hang have been found and addressed.

• Ghost Stories Updates - August 13, 19
Repos Production's co-op board game app Ghost Stories has received at least two updates since we last mentioned it. One that we missed on August 13 and another about a week after that on the 19th. In both cases, Repos was pretty circumspect saying merely:

What's new

- Bug fixes

That's it. Nuff' said?

• GMT Update on Electronic Version Games - August 19
GMT Games posted a long overdue and just plain long update in regards to electronic versions of their games. It would appear that just about everything is on the table for this excellent wargame publisher. Here's a list of what's currently in the pipeline:

Games with agreements are:
Twilight Struggle (PC)
Dominant Species (iOS)
Nightfighter (PC)
Dominant Species: The Card Game (iOS)
Winds of Plunder (iOS)
Pacific Typhoon (Android)
Space Empires (iOS and Android)

And here's what they've got to say about other games they publish:

They would "love to talk with any interested developers about either an iOS, Android, or PC version" and the "below is by no means an exclusive list, as we're open to talking about any of our games, but I for one would love to see and play electronic versions of:"
Commands & Colors Ancients and Commands & Colors Napoleonics
Combat Commander series
Conquest of Paradise
Fields of Fire
Leaping Lemmings
Empire of the Sun, For the People, Paths of Glory (actually, ANY of our CDGs)
Pax Romana
Santa Fe Rails
The Conquerors: Alexander
The Kaiser's Pirates
The Napoleonic Wars (and Wellington and Kutuzov)

All great stuff, but the closest to release is Dominant Species for iPad. They've got a playable game with a nice user interface and all new art. They're working the AI over at the time of this writing and new art is expected be dropped in and finished within a few weeks. At that time screenshots could be imminent, but no release date has yet been announced.

• Disc Drivin Updates - August 20, 25
Last weekend saw one of our all time favorite apps receive a colorful new update. You can now select the two of your own colors and purchase themed iconography sets to customize your disc. Stats on gold, silver, and bronze finishes (1st, 2nd, 3rd place) are also now displayed in Settings. Additionally, a new option to swap positions of the power buttons in the interface was added. Disc flickers rejoice!

iPhone -
iPad -

• Bohnanza Updated, Price Drop, and Tutorial Version - August 22
The great bean-trading game app designed by Uwe Rosenberg, published by Amigo, and developed by Aspirementhas received its first update, its first price drop (-$2.00 across the board) and the addition of free "tutorial" version. It's an odd but completely logical tactic.

What's new

-improved stability
-fixed a game loading problem

iPhone -
iPad -

• Catan to Get Cities and Knights Expansion - August 23
Hot on the heals of the latest "gamer games" like Puerto Rico and Ghost Stories, we learned this week that Exozet Games GmbH has told that a Cities & Knights expansion to Catan (2007) for iOS is in the works.

It's very good that we are seeing more complex "gamer games" coming to iOS. We knew they were coming, but seeing them start to happen is really going to help more fully define the experience of playing digital board games that go beyond the most popular "gateway" games for touch screen devices. I mean, this game here has got a TECH TREE, for cryin' out loud!

Needless to say, it could renew some interest among hardcore Catan fans. Unfortunately for some, it really does nothing to remove trading. You can still either love or hate that part of the most successful euro game franchise in history. Timeframe for release is said to be sometime this year which has, thankfully for this release, just over three months to go.

• Ramses II Released - August 24
If you've visited Ravensburger Digital's web site, you will see that the game publishing powerhouse has put quite a bit of effort into coming up with many apps for its games aimed at the younger set. Not sure why this might be. Is Ravensburger playing the long strategy of "hook 'em when they're young"? Are kids games just easier to develop? Does it make better business sense because they just plain sell more?

Regardless of Ravensburger's strategic business decisions, it would be hard to dispute the quality of their output. Their latest release, an iOS implementation of 1997's memory mechanic-based board game known as Ramses II, for both iPhone ($2.99) and iPad ($4.99), would appear to live up to the same high quality standards. As the parent of a one year old, I will be looking for children's board game apps in the coming years. Apps like this from respected companies like Ravensburger can begin to set the bar for the quality "screen-time" experiences for children and adults to enjoy together.

iPhone -
iPad -

• Bruno Cathala Game, Haru Ichiban, Coming to iOS - August 24
By way of Eric Martin, we've learned from the mighty French game web site Tric Trac that Bruno Cathala, designer of such BGG favorites as Cyclades, Mr. Jack, Shadows over Camelot, and dozens of others, will be bringing a new design exclusively to iOS in a conscious attempt to utilize the benefits of a touch screen interface to greatest advantages not available in print games. That's at least what we think we learned from our atrocious Google Translate reading of it.

The game will be called Haru Ichiban and would appear to be Asian-themed and about farming flowers from lily pads into grouped patterns ala Tic-Tac-Toe or Connect Four. We don't really think the game is that simple because there is some kind of coin value mechanism the complicates the decisions, but like we said, our French is weak. The game is in final development and will be available soon, so do have a look for yourself to see what Mr. Cathala has coming down the pipe soon!

• Incinerator Announces Creation of Playdek and Partnership with Lookout Games - August 24
If you had been playing Ascension: Chronicle of the Godslayer and occasionally wondering just who "Playdek" was and why they never get talked about, well wonder no more. George at Incinerator contacted us over email to officially let us know who and what Playdek is. Here's the press release:

San Diego, CA – AUGUST 24, 2011 – Incinerator Studios, a leading console video game developer, today announced the creation of Playdek™, a new company and brand that will reach into the expanding mobile games space for tablets and smartphones. Under the Playdek™ banner, Incinerator will transition into the premier source for mobile tabletop gaming. With several key partnerships already announced, Playdek™ will be working with leading content creators in this worldwide social game space.

“Digital tabletop gaming is an incredibly exciting space to be in”, said Joel Goodman, CEO of Playdek and Incinerator. “With the new Playdek brand, we will be able to deliver the highest quality and user experience to a vast community of players, by developing with world class partners and IP.”

The first title released under the Playdek™ brand is the Origin Awards™ nominated Ascension: Chronicle of the Godslayer from Gary Games, a fast-paced deck-building card game perfectly suited for mobile platforms. Ascension: Chronicle of the Godslayer, the first officially licensed deck-building game, was released on iOS in July 2011 and has received critical and fan acclaim.

Future Playdek™ projects include Cryptozoic’s Food Fight, Summoner Wars from Plaid Hat Games, and Alderac Entertainment Group’s Nightfall.

What I really like about Playdek, besides Ascension of course, is that they have come from the console video games specifically into the digital tabletop gaming space. Like Codito Development, Big Daddy's Creations, Shenandoah Studio, Ravensburger Digital, and others, there is a specific focus exclusively on tabletop video gaming. Gotta love it.

And not long after that we received a second announcement that Playdek would be working with Lookout Games, maker of great gamers games. Their first app will be none other than the farming darling of 2008, Agricola!

Playdek wrote:
San Diego, CA - August 24, 2011 - Playdek, a leading mobile video game developer, and Lookout Games, publishers of the renowned Agricola table-top game, today announced that they have entered into a strategic partnership to bring the best of Lookout Games to iOS and mobile platforms. Playdek is pleased to announce that Agricola will be the first game released under this partnership, and will be developed as a universal iOS application. Agricola will be released under the Playdek mobile brand, in Winter 2011.

"We are truly fortunate to add Lookout Games to our family of publishing partners," states Joel Goodman, CEO of Playdek. "Agricola has captured the hearts of the worldwide board game market, and we are very excited to bring it to a new community of players."

Hanno Girke, CEO/President of Lookout Games adds, "We're delighted to have found a dedicated partner to bring Agricola and our other great games to digital platforms."
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