It was about this time last year that I joined iPadBoardGames as a reviewer. As James (the guy who started this site) will undoubtedly tell you, my passion for board games has helped catapault iPadBoardGames into one of the top websites for iOS games. I thought it was time to look over the games from 2011. If you like feel free to consider these the Angelus’ Choice Awards, but do so under the knowledge that these opinions are highly subjective. For me, this is an opportunity to show other designers what I think was done really well, as well as to give a shout out to a few of my favourite underdogs.
Trying to choose a highlight for gameplay from 2011 is a real challenge. There were a number of superlative games released last year and most of them had some excellent game going for them. However, if there is one game that definitely deserves your undivided attention for a great game, my pick would be:
This game is unbelievably challenging, with a steep learning curve. However, I have found that it is not beyond the reach of most people and once they have gotten past that tipping point the game is still challenging but incredibly rewarding. In my eyes, Ghost Stories has that rare balance of complexity and comprehensibility.
This is probably going to be a controversial choice for some, but for me it was a no brainer. While there were many games that had excellent user interface one game showed real innovation:
What makes this game deserve special notice is the manner in which codito took a game with a variety of different player mats and included them into the same space. Their design choice of lit buildings and animations shows how an implementation can be done inventively. Additionally, the accessibility towards game information is always at hand and very transparent. For me, the design was clever and innovative.
Graphics and Sound
There was no doubt in my mind that this game would have to feature somewhere in this retrospective. It could have easily won many of the categories I’ve outlined here. However, this game has managed to distinguish itself on this category:
It is probably no surprise that Ticket to Ride is held in high regard. I have said time and time again that Days of Wonder are setting the benchmark for how to do iPad board games. Where they really shine in this instance is the absolute polish they’ve given to this game. There are lavish graphics, sounds, and design everywhere: from the front of house to the set up menus behind.
What is meant by this category is how a game introduces itself to you. I have found over the course of this year of reviews that it is crucial to have a tutorial, especially for the more complex games. This notable mention goes to a game that I believe demonstrated excellent introduction to game. This one is probably no surprise to people either:
With possibly the longest tutorial I have yet seen, it is clear that Codito have gone the extra mile designed to walk you through a fairly complex strategic game. They effectively give you a step by step outline of how the game works and how to resolve the various challenges of the game. It was incredibly well done.
I would now like to take a moment to draw your attention to a number of games that I think deserve a chance to shine but have not managed to stay in the top 20 of our ranking system:
Hey, that’s my fish! is a surprising little game that is mostly for children but could readily entertain adults. It is suprising because there is emergent complexity, so while the rules are reasonably simple the strategy is deceptively deep.
Imperial might not look like much from the game menu, but that’s okay. It turns out to be a really excellent implementation of a classic strategy game done by an independent developer. Once you get past the menu screen you’ll encounter a really slick game screen.
Army of Frogs is the last game I wish to cite as worthy of your attention. It is cute, it’s simple to play, and not so easy to master. You should find a lovely diversion here.