Thursday, November 3, 2011

Game at my Pad

(Originally posted 4/21/11, Updated 11/3/11)

Lately I’ve been getting a lot of requests for gaming recommendations on iOS devices, specifically board games and lately the focus has shifted from the iPhone to the iPad.

While love my iPhone I’m not the biggest iPad evangelist on the planet.  I received mine as a gift, and I’m still on a quest for the ultimate killer app that will turn my iPad from a neat techno-bauble into an indispensable tool.

That said, the iPad does make a great gaming aid, entertainment device, and my search for the practical side has not totally been without success.  So without further ado, here are some of my favorite apps:

iOS - Versions that work well on either iPad or iPhone
iPad - Only available on iPad
iPhone - Designed for iPhone.  Will work on iPad, but graphics suffer.
*New* - Added this update


DropBox (iOS)
I’ve used drop box for some time to keep files in sync between my various PC’s and laptops.  Imagine my suprise when I discovered it also exists for both my iPad and iPhone.  It works so well I almost never use the sync cable. Just drag a PDF or image into drop box and blamo it’s on all your computers and iOS devices.  

GoodReader (iOS)
The ultimate PDF reader for both your iPad and iPhone. Fantastic way to organize you PDF files.  Far superior to the built in iPad PDF reader, this is a must own for any gamer, as it makes organizing all your game rules PDF files a snap. It can even download PDF files directly from websites and from Dropbox.

Notes Plus (iPad)
This is dangerously close to “the iPad killer app” that I’ve been questing for low these many months.  Basically it is a notepad that allows you to write with your finger, but it does a very good job of resolving the issue that you can’t write fine letters with the tip of your finger.  Great for taking notes at a meeting, and has a handy feature to upload documents directly to GoogleDocs.

Flipboard (iPad)
If your are into social media you’ll probably enjoy Flipboard.  It’s a great way browse your favorite curated content.  It turns any Twitter, Facebook, or RSS feed into a newspaper like browsing experience.

bing (iPad)
Microsoft? On the iPad? I know right?  The bing iPhone app is no big shakes, but the new bing iPad app is very impressive.  Much more than just a search app it actually presents top news, entertainment, and trending topics visually in a wonderfully easy to consume way.  If you’d like to sit back and use your iPad as a newspaper, this is the ultimate app.

Battle Map (iOS)
The most expensive app I own, but love it.  Battle Map is a VERY easy to use RPG map editor.  Create new maps for your favorite RPG.  Works very well in conjunction with online play tools like Fantasy Grounds.  

iBodger (iOS)
Works on both iPad and iPhone, iBodger is a fantastic list building tool for Warmachine.  ‘nuff said.

GarageBand (iPad)
If you like to make and mix your own music, GarageBand is a great iPad app. Also handy for a Podcaster who needs to make his own bumper music.

Gamer Games

SteamBirds (iOS)
Crimson Skies? Wings of War?  Ok, well this game isn’t those, but it’s LIKE those.  Steampunk turn based air combat.  Good fun.  It is a bit short, but worth playing if air combat is your thing.  Note: Check out the new version Steam Birds: Survival HD for a great new version on the iPad.

Galaxy On Fire 2 (iOS)
Remember Wing Commander? Privateer?  X-wing vs Tie Fighter?  Well, this game isn’t those either, but it’s like them.  Great looking 3-D space combat game with all the fun ship upgrades and missions that made the games I mentioned great.

Viking Lords (iPad)
Remember Battlelore? Well this game is it!!  Battlelore the board game without the license.  Plays great either single or pass ‘n play with a friend.

Roll Through The Ages (iPhone)
Great for you iPhone (but also works on iPad) this is the Roll Through the Ages dice game. Fantastic with friends while you’re on a plane, in line for the movies, etc.

Neuroshima Hex (iOS)
Neuroshima Hex the board game.  A very faithful rendition of the board game.  Features both solo and pass ‘n play.

Zombie Dice (iOS)
Yep, the Steve Jackson game on your iOS device.  Perfect on your iPhone with pass ‘n play while waiting with friends.

Bang! (iOS)
An official translation of the card game. Not bad, but a little tricky to use in pass and play.

Small World (iPad)
Great execution on the Days of Wonder board game.  Too bad it’s only 2 player.

Kingsburg Serving the Crown (iPhone)
Descent execution of the Kingsburg board game.  A bit rough in spots and has had stability issues.  Hopefully will get better in future upgrades.  But a must get for Kingsburg fans.

Zooloretto (iPhone)
My girls love this game, and it’s our go-to pass and play iPhone game.  Very accurately recreates the board game, but not much extra bling.

Great Little War Game (iOS)
Turn based, unit based war game.  Fun 3-D cartoon style graphics.  Game plays in the spirit of X-com or Advanced Wars style games.  Land, sea, and air units make this a really full experience.

Starbase Orion (iOS) *New*
Masters of Orion is a classic PC game that took 4X gaming to the stars.  Starbase Orion brings that turn based gameplay to the iPad and iPhone.  Choose from the many races or create your own.  Best of all you can play massive, turn based games with your friends whenever you have a moment by submitting moves via Game Center.

Crimson Sea Pirates (iPad) *New*
What if the creator of Crimson Skies got together with the studio that made Halo and created a turn based, steam punk, ship combat game?  You'd get this fantastic game. Be sure to double tap your ships and check out the detail.  There is more depth to this game than immediately meets the eye.

Sid Meier's Pirates (iPad) *New*
Another PC and console classic that has migrated flawlessly to the iPad.  Live the life of a pirate and/or merchant while wooing governer's daughter's and avenging your family.  Fans of the board game Merchants and Marauders... look no further.  This is the game that inspired the board game.

[That’s it for now, I’ll try to update this list from time to time]


  1. How I wish that someone would port a game like the old "Panzer General" to IOS. That game seems like a homerun for mobile devices. I even had a version on my Palm device years ago. What's with the lack of hex and chit games?

  2. Did you saw the Black Library App for the iPad? Quite an impressive list that they have already online.

  3. How does one get his hands on VIKING LORDS these days???

  4. Great article Russ. Especially for us noobs to Ipads & the like. Please keep us updated on any more good apps you come across.