The Best Tabletop Games with Great Android Apps

27 March 2015

There is no shortage of great tabletop games on the Google Play store. True, notable titles like Descent, Dominion, and Agricola may be missing, but there are plenty of other options. Whether your penchant be for turn-based strategy, deck-building, RPGs or even a good old fashion board game, there’s probably an app for you.

The cost of apps changes depending on what country you’re in, so giving a dollar cost is pretty unhelpful. One thing we’ve noticed in our travels is that coffee tends to follow a similar curve.

It’s not going to give you a perfect idea of price, but dividing the app cost in to cups of coffee seems like one of the better translation matrices we can come up with.

Remember, in most regions Google Play will give you a grace period in which you can return an app you don’t like (usually 2 hours, sometimes as low as 15 minutes). If you grab one of these titles and aren’t too happy with it, head back to the app page in Google Play and hit the return button.

All of these work on a phone as well as a tablet.

Carcassonne: $2 cups

The Carcassonne app is well designed and uses little battery life (for a game). The Two Rivers expansion is included in the base cost, but the rest are additional. Online play is available in beta and you can log in with Google, Facebook or via your email account. There are 12 different “characters” to choose from, although thankfully whichever you choose does not alter gameplay.

If you’re in to achievement points, this one gives you plenty of rewards if you sync it to your Google Play account.

  • Stability: great!
  • Phone overheating: mild warming. Not really a problem
  • Battery consumption: about average for a game
  • User interface: easy, fast and frustration-free

Settlers of Catan: $1.5 cups

Catan is an absolute staple whose app makers have more than done it justice. The basic game + Seafarers will cost you a little more than your average game, but won’t break the bank. For a tabletop game converted in to an app, it’s almost cheap.

If you want the Cities & Knights expansion then you’re pretty much be paying the full game cost over again.

You can play locally against AI or through campaign mode, or sign up to play online.

  • Stability: great!
  • Phone overheating: not really a problem. Warms things a little
  • Battery consumption: no more than your average game
  • User interface: easy, fast and frustration-free

Ascension: zero cups (free!)

Ascension is a deck building game that gets nowhere near enough love. That’s probably because the base game can get a little repetitive, but once you start adding expansions things get a lot more complex. In a good way.

The base version is free to download and give a try. If you like it, you can purchase expansions for a small fee. There’s also a bundle option to grab most of them at a discounted price.

You can play offline against up to 3 computers with 3 difficulty modes. There’s also the option for online play.

A word of warning: don’t load up Ascension if you’re low on battery. This game is one of the biggest power hogs we’ve ever encountered. You may also want to pop in to settings and increase the game speed once you get your bearings. The default settings are painfully slow.

  • Stability: good
  • Phone overheating: a noticeable raise in temperature, even on flagship devices
  • Battery consumption: huge. This game is a battery monster
  • User interface: easy, fast and frustration-free… once you adjust the game speed

Arcane Quest 2: zero cups (free!)

There are three Arcane Quest titles on Google Play: Arcane Quest, Arcane Quest 2 and Arcane Quest Ultimate Edition. Go for Arcane Quest 2, it’s the most rewarding.

I’d personally never played an Arcane Quest game before downloading this one. I have, however, played a lot of Descent and was pleased to find that AQ2 sports a familiar set of mechanics and play style for someone like me.

This app works really well. No crashes or problems with overheating.

You get four characters for free: Warrior, Wizard, Dwarf and Elf. If you want the Cleric, Ranger, Assassin and Evoker it’ll cost you extra as an in-app purchase. There are also extra missions that you can pay to unlock, but the basic free game will keep you going for tens of hours.

The in-app purchases can be grabbed separately, but buying the whole lot as a bundle is only a little over 1 cup of coffee, which is a pretty good deal once the free game has you hooked.

  • Stability: great!
  • Phone overheating: a raise in temperature, but nothing uncomfortable
  • Battery consumption: about average for a mobile game
  • User interface: easy, fast and frustration-free. A good double-tap system to complete actions

Star Realms: zero cups (free!)

Star Realms is another one I hadn’t played before downloading the app. For a deck building game, matches can be over surprisingly quickly, which is great for something you play on your phone.

The basic pack is free, but that won’t get you much. It’s more to let you tinker around in the easy campaign and against low-ranked AI.

Speaking of AI, the one here is great. There’s rarely any lag in its decision-making and its tactics change based on how the game is going.

If you want more you’ll need to pay. Just make sure that you sign up for online play immediately if you want to port your purchases to other devices.

If you don’t you may get a glitch, like we did, that not only prevents the port, but prevents you from signing up at all.

  • Stability: great!
  • Phone overheating: none
  • Battery consumption: smaller than average for a mobile game
  • User interface: easy, fast and frustration-free. One of the best

Small World 2: over $3 cups

Small World 2 is a bit of a misnomer: it’s actually just the original Small World boardgame in app form, so the “2” must refer to it being the second generation of the app.

If the developers decided to take another stab at it to get things just right then it was worth their time. This is by far the best user interface of any of these tabletop apps. Basically, if you’ve ever played Small World, you won’t even need a tutorial. I certainly didn’t.

The AI is appreciably good and you can even play against friends, either locally or online. There are three local modes: vs AI, head-to-head and pass’n’play. Head to head sits each of you at an opposite end of the device. It’s best used on a table and player 2 may have a little difficulty avoiding pulling down the notification tray at times. Pass’n’play works a lot better. Just have your go and pass it on when you’re done. Simple.

There’s also online play if that’s more up your alley.

  • Stability: great!
  • Phone overheating: lots
  • Battery consumption: quite the hog
  • User interface: the best on this list. No tutorial required (for players of the real world game)

Talisman: $3 cups

Talisman is a Games Workshop classic and its app developers have done it justice. It’s not beautiful or inventively animated: this is a straight-forward depiction of a boardgame without the bells and whistles, but one that still retains an aesthetic quality.

Thanks to this minimalism, battery and CPU taxation are minimal, meaning you can play for longer and there’s less overheating than you get from some other games.

The basic game will run you about 3 coffees. Expansions are around 1.5 coffees each.

  • Stability: great!
  • Phone overheating: some
  • Battery consumption: low
  • User interface: simple, non-fancy depiction of a boardgame. No complaints



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