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Apps for family gaming

The iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad are some of the best mobile gaming platforms out there. Sometimes they make board games more fun. Other times, they make it easier to understand classic board games with their built-in tutorials. In this list we show you some of our favorite games to play with family.


by Playdek, Inc.

The classic card game, Fluxx, is a wonderful way to start your game session. It is one of the simpler games, but the rules are constantly changing so this game never gets boring. The game consists of goals, keepers, rules, and actions cards. In order to win, you must have the keepers needed on the goal card in play, but a new rule or action can quickly change that. The app is universal and transitions nicely from the physical game to iOS. You can either invite friends and family by email address for an online game or choose "pass and play" to physically pass the iDevice around for each turn. Games can be quick or long. You never know how a game will turn out, but it sure is fun.

Ticket to Ride

by Days Of Wonder, Inc.

Surely your competitive side is going strong by now. Why not immerse yourself in a game of Ticket To Ride? This version is only available for the iPad, but there is a separate version for the iPhone. The object of the game is to collect colored train cards in order to build routes from one city to another. Each ticket card displays a starting city, ending city, and how many points that route is worth. If you complete the route, you gain the points. If you fail to, the points are deducted from what you have already earned. Play the game with your family through local mode or pass and play. Local mode is ideal when everyone has an iPad of their own, but isn't necessary to enjoy this game. Pass and play provides the same amount of fun without hindering the experience one bit. Besides, it's already a plus being able to enjoy this game without having to lug around all the little pieces with you on vacation.

Catan HD

by USM

Speaking of games with an abundance of little pieces, Settlers of Catan is available for the iPad and goes by the name Catan HD. In this game you are trying to progress from a tiny settlement to a flourishing empire. The game utilizes the rolling of dice for resource productions. Use these resources to build roads, settlements, cities, and to gain development cards for more Victory Points. The game focuses on the pass and play aspect and doesn't allow for games over the internet. This can be a slight disappointment when you want to play with others that aren't physically there with you. It allows up to four players, whether they are another person or the computer.

BANG! [HD] the Official Video Game

by SpinVector S.p.A.

If your family enjoys a little excitement mixed with their strategy then they may enjoy Bang! HD. The app is a card game with a Wild West theme. It is best played with five players, each taking on the role of a Lawful, Outlaw, or the Renegade. The Sheriff and the Deputy make up the Lawfuls. Their duty is to get rid of the Outlaws and the Renegade. The Renegade and the Outlaws want to get rid of everyone else. The only role that is revealed to everyone is the Sheriff. This is where the twist comes in. The Renegade has to get rid of the Sheriff last, which makes it confusing for the Sheriff because he or she doesn't know which player is the Deputy or the Renegade. The deck is made up of Bang!, Missed!, and a few other various cards. Play Bang! cards on a player to reduce their life points, but the result of that play depends on the cards your target has in hand. Your shot at them could very easily have been a miss. This game is great for all ages because it doesn't require any reading after the cards are explained. It is available for both iPhone and iPad, but both are separate apps. Gameplay is available in a variety of modes, such as pass and play, single player mode, and online mode.

Reiner Knizia's Medici HD

by Codito Development Inc.

Let's take a break from the Wild West and head to the merchant ports of Europe in Medici HD. In this game, you play a merchant. Your life consists of going to the market and bidding for goods against your fellow merchants. You leave port and sell those goods for profit and come back the following day to repeat. The rules for this game are so simple, yet the strategy is still very much refined. It is available for the iPhone and iPad; both are separate apps. There is no online option available. It is a pass and play game only. You can have up to six players in a game, competing against other people or the computer.


by Toboco

The art enthusiasts in your family don't have to feel left out during family game time anymore. This lovely concept art game that is similar to the Apples to Apples games. Every player is dealt six cards, each one is a beautiful painting. One player is dubbed the storyteller and recites either a sentence or word that reminds them of one of their cards. Other players choose a card from their hand that they think best fits with what the storyteller has just recited. The cards are then shuffled and everyone tries to guess which card is the storyteller's. The storyteller wants at least one other player to guess their card so they can earn points, but if everyone guesses their card, they don't earn any. The game is optimized for the iPhone only, but can still play on iPads. There is no pass and play option so everyone must have their own iDevice to play iDixit.

Forbidden Island

by Button Mash Games Inc.

Why don't we change the mood up a bit and work together to win a game? Forbidden Island is a breathtaking cooperative game that has transitioned beautifully from the physical tabletop game to iOS. The game can be played with 2-4 players. Everyone has to work together to collect four ancient treasures from an island that is constantly sinking at the end of everyone's turn. There are four different difficulty levels and two different ways to play, as a tabletop game or by passing the iPad around. Because this game is a cooperative game, the little ones in the family can enjoy strategizing with the older members. This game stays true to its original and is a must have for any family. If you enjoy thrills, then consider snagging this game for your collection.

Elder Sign: Omens HD

by Fantasy Flight Games

Another game full of thrills is Elder Sign Omens HD. If you're a fan of writer H.P. Lovecraft or the sub genre known as "weird fiction," then this game is right up your alley. You don't have to be a fan of either to enjoy or love this game. The app description says nothing about the amount of players in this game, but when you start a game, you are to choose 4 investigators, each with their own unique abilities, to make up your perfect team. This can be a solo game or a pass and play game because of the way it plays. Your investigators are on a mission to collect a certain amount of Elder Signs before the Ancient One gains the amount of Doom tokens they need to be awakened. Along the way you will collect useful items, clues, trophies, and even banish monsters with the roll of dice. The artwork and music add so much more depth to the experience of this game, it's as if you're watching a movie or reading a novel. This is a game that you or the family could play repeatedly for hours on end.

Pandemic: The Board Game

by F2Z Digital Media Inc.

Another fun family cooperative game is Pandemic. This game is natively for a capacity of four players, but there is an option to purchase the On the Brink expansion from within the game, which will allow for another player. In this game you are part of a disease-fighting team. Your objective is to keep four deadly diseases from spreading across the world by finding cures. In fact, the only way to win is to find a cure for each disease (they're categorized by color). Seems simple, right? Wrong. There are a ton more ways to lose. If a disease outbreaks so many times, you lose. If you run out of deck cards before you cure all diseases, you lose. If you run out of blocks for a certain disease, you lose. When playing as a family, you can pass and play on the iPad, but there is also a solo mode where you can play along with a computer generated team. This game is impressive and the soundtrack is fitting. Fans of the original board game will be pleased with this iOS conversion.

Zombies!!! ® Board Game

by babaroga, llc.

It's only fitting that we accommodate a zombie game of some sort after a game about global pandemic. In this game, you're going to want to escape the zombie horde, but the only way to do so is to make it to the helipad. Gameplay is really quite simple, yet very competitive. You are building the city as you go by placing tiles of roads and buildings. When you place a building down, you get to choose where in the building you'd like the zombies, hearts, and ammo to go. You are dealt cards that you can also play on yourself or other players (some are positive outcomes, some are negative). Roll the die to see how far you can move. If you land on a space with a zombie or if a zombie is in your path, you must fight it. Roll the die once more and get a 4 or higher to beat the zombie. Once you're done with your moves, you roll the die once more to move that many zombies. Ultimately you want the zombies to move towards your opponents. After all, first one to the helipad wins, right? The game's animations add a whole new feel and quite frankly is more fun on iOS than the actual board game is.

Food Fight iOS

by Playdek, Inc.

What better way to end your gaming session than with food? Food Fight iOS is a quirky game that will have the family in laughter from the moment it is started. In this game, two battle cards are drawn and revealed. They can be a combination of breakfast, lunch, or dinner battles. Sometimes they will be two battles for the same meal. Battle cards have numbers on them that represent the amount of Victory Points awarded to the winner of the battle. Players will start drafting cards to make up their army. These cards consist of breakfast, lunch, or dinner fighters and instant cards that can be played to aid combat. Each fighter has their own "yumminess" number and a unique ability that may sometimes only be played out depending on the meal they are battling for. Once you have drafted nine cards, you choose five fighters that will then be shuffled and played randomly against everyone else. The fighter with the highest yumminess wins a peppermint. After everyone plays all five of their fighters, the player with the most peppermints wins the battle. New battles are then revealed and the process continues. The player to gain ten Victory Points first is the winner. Food Fight iOS is easy to pick up and understand. It is not recommended for younger ones in the family that haven't started to read because the fighter cards require an understanding of what their special ability is. This game is universal and can be played by online with GameCenter friends or by simply passing the iDevice around.