Pocket Predictions: 13 Board Games We Think Will Come to Mobile25 Jan 2018 3
It is generally agreed that 2017 was something of a golden year for tabletop gaming. With this in mind, I have dusted off my crystal ball and set about using my paranormal powers to predict thirteen mysterious titles that my supernatural senses suggest will receive digital versions. I have tried to keep my list as realistic and practical as possible, hence behemoths such as Gloomhaven will be conspicuous by their absence.
Race for the Galaxy was one of most impressive digital releases of 2017, winning the Pocket Tactics award for the best board game of the year. Unfortunately, the complex iconography and steep learning curve may have deterred many from taking the plunge.
Thankfully, Jump Drive features the same tableau-building gameplay but in a simpler and faster playing format – sounds like a winner to me.
Two of Uwe Rosenberg's Tetris-inspired puzzle games have already been converted to digital format. So, the signs are good that Indian Summer will follow in the polyomino-shaped footsteps of both Patchwork and Cottage Garden. This time the shapes have holes that you line up with icons printed on the board to acquire various bonuses.
Do not be misled by this pretty but rather twee themed puzzler as the game is actually aimed at more experienced players. In fact, Indian Summer is a tense race to cover your patch of forest floor, which even allows for the stealing of tiles from your opponents.
Quest for El Dorado
Many of prolific designer Reiner Knizia’s games have made their way over to touchscreen so it would be reasonable to assume that his latest release might follow. More of a gamers’ game than many of his recent releases, El Dorado is a race game with deckbuilding mechanics, in which players attempt to be the first to discover the legendary city.
This is another Tetris-style puzzler. This time you build enclosures for various types of bear, alongside more prosaic necessities such as toilets. Cover up bonus spaces to gain access to more valuable tiles and aim to be first to reach the various bonus goals.
Bear parks are notorious for the terrible treatment of animals, which makes the theme of this family-focused game rather odd. However, this is a solid and entertaining game, and a digital version would remove the hassle of sorting the various different stacks of tiles, not to mention calculating final scores.
Ticket to Ride Map Collection: Volume 6 – France & Old West
Since most of the other Ticket to Ride expansions are available for the impressive Ticket to Ride app, it seems to be a fair bet that we will soon see a digital conversion of the latest expansion.
On the map of France, most of the routes are initially blank and the players place tiles to determine each route’s card colour requirement. In the Old West, players have cities to place that must connect to their rail network.
Both maps Introduce interesting new concepts – Ticket to Ride shows no sign of slowing down anytime soon.
With a digital version of the original Codenames still in the works, chances seem good that at some point we will see this two-player version go digital. Duet keeps the same basic elements, in that both players work together giving one-word clues to flush out the agents, whilst avoiding the assassin.
Since its release, Azul has proved to be an extremely popular abstract puzzler. A tile-laying game in the most literal sense, the idea of the game is to draft different coloured ceramic tiles and then queue them up so that they can eventually be used to decorate the palace. Be warned, despite sounding laidback the game can get nasty as you try and lumber your opponents with useless tiles that lead to negative points.
A digital version may miss out on the lovely tactile feel of the original board game but otherwise should work fine.
Fancy a tile-laying, kingdom building game with domino-style placement rules? Queendomino is the follow-up to the award-winning Kingdomino and offers more complex challenges.
Unfortunately, there has been no mention of a digital version of the original - maybe we will be luckier this time around.
Century: Spice Road
Spice trading is a much-overused theme in tabletop gaming, but Spice Road offers something a little different. It is the first in a planned trilogy of “Century” entitled games; the grand idea being that all three games will eventually combine into one tasty dish.
The game has been described as a more advanced version of the popular Splendour. A digital version may not enjoy the same lavish production values as the board game, but if an app could be produced to match the impressive Splendour then I am sure that it would be a success.
Medici the Card Game
This is the second Reiner Knizia game on my list. The game replaces the clever auction mechanism of the original Medici with a new push your luck approach, and it all works very nicely.
Many years ago the original Medici received a decent digital version courtesy of the sadly missed Codito. Here’s hoping that this sequel makes its way over to mobile devices.
This game has nothing to do with "welsh rarebit wearing some brown underpants,” or other obscure Beatles lyrics, but is a game of stacking number-shaped tiles. The golden rule is that each number placed must either touch another on the same level or it can be placed atop two or more numbers as long as no part of it is overhanging. Multiply the number by its level to determine how many points are scored.
It might not sound overly exciting, but NMBR 9 is actually a quick-playing and engaging abstract puzzle game.
An intriguing sounding game in which players plant seeds, which then soak up the rays as they grow into towering trees. As trees grow larger they cast ever-longer shadows that will hopefully prevent your opponents’ trees from reaching their full potential.
This sounds like it would make an ideal digital conversion: representing the shadows graphically as the sun shifts around the board would make the game much easier to visualise.
The Palace of Mad King Ludwig
Although on the surface this sequel shares many similarities to Castles of Mad King Ludwig, there are still enough changes to make it sound interesting. Instead of beavering away individually, all of the players are now working on the construction of a single palace. However, don’t for one moment think that this fosters an air of harmony. Things soon get very cutthroat with the potential for some nasty blocking manoeuvres.
The original received an excellent digital conversion that included a well-implemented story mode. Fingers crossed that a digital version of Palace will be announced soon.
Got any other suggestions for board games you'd like to see come to mobile in 2018? Let us know in the comments!