Before travelling, always great to be prepared. Here is something to add to your checklist. Download boardgames which help for those long waits (airports, line-ups, keeping the kids busy). Many traditional boardgames have been brought over to phones and tablets. Due to the larger screen size, tablets are much better suited. Here is an alphabetical list of iPad apps to consider trying out.

Some terminology to be aware of below:

  • Pass and Play = Hot seat. Passing the ipad around to play the game live.
  • Asynchronous = Play online. You can leave the app and wait for your next turn.

 

Agricola

Agricola is a turn based strategy game based around medieval farming. You take the role of a European farmer in the 17th century. You must grow your 2-room hut and empty farmyard into a productive farm. A deceptively simple game that’s not too hard to learn.

  • Can play alone with AI support
  • Pass and play 2-5 players
  • Asynchronous 2-5 players

AppStore

 

 

 

Carcassonne

German-style board game played by placing tiles and game pieces on a table. While playing, a medieval world of towns, roads and fields unfolds on the table.

  • Can play alone with AI support
  • Pass and play 2-5 players
  • Asynchronous 2-5 players

AppStore

 

 

 

 

Catan HD

Assume the roles of settlers on the island of Catan. Attempt to build and develop holdings while trading and acquiring resources. Players are rewarded points as their settlements grow. The first to reach a set number of points wins.

  • Can play alone with AI support
  • Pass and play with 2-4 players

AppStore

 

 

 

 

Kingdom Builder

Create your own kingdom by skillfully building your settlements, aiming to earn the most gold at the end of the game. Use a random set of Kingdom Builder cards, special actions, and terrain sectors to build the map, ensuring you won’t play the same game twice!

  • Can play alone with AI support
  • Pass and play with 2-4 players
  • Asynchronous 2-4 players

AppStore

 

 

 

 

Medici

Become a member of the infamous Medici family and compete to see who can make the most money in a bidding war on commodities to load on your sailing ships. Get points for having the most of a given commodity and also the most valuable cargo. Fast game.

  • Can play alone with AI support
  • Pass and play with 2-6 players

AppStore

 

 

 

 

 

Puerto Rico HD

Travel back in time to the days of colonial Spain and become one of Puerto Rico’s island governors. Prospect for gold, plant crops, and build up your economy in an epic quest for island domination. Players will have to take on the roles of mayors, settlers, traders, captains, and craftsmen to beat out their opponents.

  • Can play alone with AI support
  • Pass and play 2-5 players
  • Asynchronous 2-5 players

AppStore

 

 

 

Ra

Compete to become the most famous ruler of all time as you wield god-like powers over the course of three major Epochs in Egyptian history. More complex.

  • Can play alone with AI support
  • Pass and play 2-5 players
  • Asynchronous 2-5 players

AppStore

 

 

 

 

Ticket to Ride

Railway-themed German-style board game. Collect matching colored train cards to lay down tracks and connect cities for points. Bonus points for secretly connecting destination cards. Very simple to learn.

  • Can play alone with AI support
  • Pass and play 2-5 players
  • Asynchronous 2-5 players

AppStore

 

 

 

Tigris & Euphrates

A game of territory dominance through tile placement and resource management. You play one of four civilisations. Each civilisation has four leaders, which reflects the different areas of civilisation.

  • Can play alone with AI support
  • Pass and play 2-4 players
  • Asynchronous 2-4 players

AppStore

 

 

 

Tikal

Uncover a tiled map in this turn based game where you have 10 action points per round. Send out your expedition members from base camp to discover buried treasure and uncover over-grown temples. Scoring rounds when volcanoes tiles appear.

  • Can play alone with AI support
  • Pass and play 2-4 players
  • Asynchronous 2-4 players

AppStore

 

46 Comments
  1. Any chance you could prepare a comparable list for your Android readers?

      • That’s great. Thanks so much. I am also an Android user and always on the lookout for entertaining games and apps.

        I’m so glad to see Ticket to Ride is available for Android. It looks especially enticing to me as I like trains quite a bit and do a lot of travel by train. My fascination with trains goes way back to childhood and memories of my first long-distance train ride. I think the game will be great fun, and most especially on my next train ride!

      • Appreciate the effort. Are you primarily an iOS user rather than Android? Will you be putting up Android columns in the future or will you mostly be sticking to the iOS platform?

        I’d be interested in seeing what the proportion of iOS to Android to “other” users among your readers are. Perhaps you could put up a poll in the future?

        • Same here. Android phones/tablets are very affordable here since we’re near China. >.> My nieces have an iPad and we worry more about them breaking it than our Android tablets.

          • Yes, that would be fantastic as it seems that many of us here are Android users.

            I tried Catan the other day, and it was a blast. Even as a solo game, it’s quite absorbing. It would be great for traveling as you can really get happily lost in that imaginary world.

  2. Heh, I thought this was a list of game you can give a kid so they’ll be distracted when travelling. When I read the descriptions, they look like they’re more suited to me. Thanks for the recommend. What I’ll do it just give the Android tablet to the kids then play this on iPad myself. >.>

    • Heh, yeah. The games are great for some pass and play fun on tablets. There is a lot of free time I have in my Uni so playing these with my friends has really come useful to pass the time!

      Definitely more fun for adults than children.

      • The kids seem to prefer much simpler games from my experience. I can definitely play this with my sister and/or cousin for when we have to travel for quite a while. Would definitely kill the boredom.

  3. This type of game usually are entertaining, especially when the travel extends beyond the normal limit of tolerance. At present, children (and adults) have higher levels of anxiety than years ago and always is practical to have this kind of alternatives to hand (or a click away).

    I see variety in this selection, there isn’t excuse to have a fun time. Kingdom Builder and Medici seems an interesting option. Since childhood I felt attracted to all games with historical content, I think it’s an interesting way to learn and have a fun time.

  4. Kingdom Builder and Tikal look the coolest. I’ll have to try them out on my ipad when I take my next trip. Thank you for the tips. I’m always looking for new games to play on my mobile devices. I am a total candy crush addict.

    • I would try Carcassone, it is real fun. Puerto Rico is also quite nice when you are with some more people but it is alsi kinda complex as well so you have to get into it first.

      • Carcassone sounds like a winner to me! I have actually had a few friends recommend it. I don’t know much about Puerto Rico. I don’t know why they chose that as the name. I tend to not gravitate towards complex games. Candy Crush is as complex as I nee a game to be.

  5. Wow, that are some real quality games. I mean, something like chess or cards is quite common but some of these are really complex games. With them a long train ride becomes more fun than the actual holiday.

  6. I thought when you said “boardgames”, you meant “bored-games” like Monopoly. These games actually look fun! I’ll have to take a look at them. This is perfect timing because I’m going on a long plane ride pretty soon.

    • Hey, Monopoly isn’t boring. It isn’t complex like more modern games and it surely is worn out if you have played it all the time but the concept itself is just timeless. Like chess or blackjack etc.

      • I too thought that these were going to be digital versions of board games. I would welcome such games though I do not know if they exist. I used to have Star Wars Monopoly back in the day. Anyways, I gave Carcassone a shot like the poster a few posts above mentioned and I am already addicted. That is my favorite one out of the three that I’ve tried from this list so far.

  7. Great list! I already had Catan but now I’m currently trying out Agricola and Tikal and so far they are super fun. Looking forward to trying them all out if this is the level of the whole list.

    • One of the best things about Settlers is being able to sit down with a few friends and playing with a few drinks. Even though it might be a little bit more awkward passing a tablet around, you can preserve the feel to an extent with the hotseat multiplayer. Not quite the same, but I’ll take it when setting up a board isn’t a possibility.

      • Ha-ha. I know what you mean. My friends and I tried out Settlers on my buddy’s tablet last week and we had a blast. You do get a little bit bored when the tablet isn’t in your hands but that’s why you make it into a drinking party with the television or radio/mps3’s playing in the background. I love to video game in social contexts.

  8. These sound like fun games – but where they really board games before moving to tablet?

    I’d love it if you did a similar list for Android, as that is my tablet of choice. Regardless, the selection of games here is bound to keep people engaged and prevent the need for “Boredgames”

  9. Thanks for the recommendations! I love boardgames and are a fun way to pass the time! Catan is especially fun.

  10. These all look like great suggestions, like other readers pointed out I was fully expecting a list that would be based around games for children. I’m already in the process of downloading a few of these. This will definitely help with days with lots of flying and layovers.

    • I recently started playing “Go”, also known as weichi in Chinese. It’s a fun game that’s easy to learn and extremely difficult to master. I’m not sure about iOS in particular, but I did get an Android version. Free, and allows for “hotseat” gameplay.

      • Yes! I also play Go as well. I didn’t know that it translated to weichi in Chinese though. I suck at it but I have fun while playing it. My sister got me into the game a few months ago. I’m surprised it hasn’t become more viral on the web. It doesn’t have a large following yet. I love how easy it is to pick up.

  11. Finally a great list of pass and play iPad games. I am always on the lookout for them since it’s real fun playing them with friends instead of playing normal games and taking turns.

    I had a few in my collection, but most of them were pretty lame. I never thought of downloading boardgames though! Thanks for this list! Kingdom Builders sounds like something me and my friends will love.

  12. Catan looks like a Miss Saigon poster. Hahahaha. I will surely check some of these out. I have been wanting to have activities that will help in bonding the family. We hardly do any activities together. We are together here at home but we usually do our own stuff. We are all online most of the time and we all have laptops, smartphones or tablets. My son attends to League of Legends, my small son plays Minecraft or Roblox, my husband watches series and I either read eBooks or play PVZ2. A game that many can play would be a good activity for us.

  13. Oh, yes! I love Carcassonne. It’s the right mix of minor complexity and simplicity. I own the physical version and play it every chance I get. I didn’t know they made an app of it, especially one with AI to fight against. Now I won’t ever have to stop playing! Muahaha!

    • Yes, I agree, Carcassonne as a board game is great fun. I really like the medieval setting. So much more fun to play around in that era than live in it, I think! And Carcassonne just so happens to be one of the three games that are also available in Android. I think I will give this one a try, too. I’m curious to see how it translates from the board to the touch screen. Should be quite the adventure!

  14. I could get lost in that Catan HD game. Especially in the sunrise, as an early settler. Life outdoors. That’s cool. I love being close to nature. After playing this game the kids might be looking to be outdoors for their vacation.

    I think that all these games add to kid’s imaginations, making getting there all that much more enjoyable.

  15. Catan and Ra are 2 board games both me and the wife enjoy alot, some of the other on here i have not heard of, but i beleive i will be testing out atleast tikal, sounds like it could be enjoyable. I also always love a good game of scrablle while travelling=)

  16. I cannot believe there is a Settlers of Catan game on this list! That is so amazing, I love that game. Now I just have to wait for the next road trip to pull out, and beat all my friends/family.

    • Yes, Catan is very enjoyable. I was so glad to see it was among those available for Android. It’s so convenient to be able to pass time playing Catan and other games on occasion. I find it very relaxing. I was never into video games on PC, but these games on mobile phones are so handy. Probably reminds me of childhood when I would play solitaire. But this is so much better. There’s so much more adventure in Catan than you’d ever find in a deck of cards!

  17. I can vouch for Kingdom Builder, it’s quite a long game and it is very fun. There are a lot of cool features and due to randomisation of the builders cards, you really never do play the same game twice.

  18. These games are addictive and can help you kill time. I find that IOS games are very interesting and can keep you entertained while you’re on a long wait. And the great thing about these games are even grown ups and kids will enjoy playing them.

  19. I haven’t seen these board games besides the Kingdom Builder. I have seen people play the Kingdom Builder on the IPad. They all say they like it a lot because it’s fun and addicting. I am not a gaming person, much less own an IPad. One of my friends has an IPad, and he played the Kingdom Builder. He says it’s the best board game he’s ever played.

  20. Wow! This is all the games I did not know before.
    Thank you for these new discoveries.

    I often boring, but I never take the time to install games on my phone. Now, with this list, I’ll try to find the treasures.

    Too bad they are all on IOS. I guess there also has Android version of all this.

  21. Yes, the iPad’s screen size and intuitive touch-screen interface makes it the perfect platform for digital board games. Although there are bite-sized travel versions of these board games, nothing beats a full digital implementation.

    I highly recommend Ticked to Ride and Cata for beginners. For those seeking a challenge, Puerto Rico might be more to your liking. You could also add Neuroshima Hex to your choices, it’s a tactical board game a lot like chess but with a science fiction twist.

  22. Thanks! When i’m on a road-trip with my family there are often no fun apps to play on my iPad. It often leads to the kids getting bored and asking, “Are we almost there?” every 5 minutes. I will get these apps and try ’em out!

  23. I’ve been playing Catan and will have to look at all the other here. Ticket to Ride seems to be very interesting from my point of view and I’ll probably start with this one right away.

    These games are going to make the time pass a lot faster when I’m away on business travels! Thanks for the list!

  24. Aw, after reading this I really wish I had a tablet. Being able to play Settlers of Catan and Ticket to Ride on a mobile device would be really nice. Its cheaper and you don’t have to keep track of a huge box with a bunch of pieces. Plus, you can play in a car!

  25. Tigris & Euphrates is my favorite. I really love that game. We have killed a lot of time playing that game at our hotel when waiting for the service to arrive.

  26. Wow I had no idea so many of my board game favorites were available as apps. I bet they are just as fun! I like playing games on my ipad to pass time when I’m in waiting rooms or watching a boring tv show. I’ll definitely have to look into the carcassonne app. I love that game.

  27. This is one of the best ideas to prepare for travel. Before visiting a new place I always spend some time choosing the best book to read on the way. I don’t always read novels, and I am considering getting myself a new Kindle and a Kindle app. To date, with the most recent iOS upgrade, I would not be cramming these games into my tablet, because the device appear to work slower and there has not been a newer update since iOS 8.2. These civilization games are pretty neat, though, and with travel planning aside, I would want to give them a try.

  28. Great list! I actually got Medici when a friend recommended that I watch Da Vinci’s Demons. After watching a few episodes, I started researching the Medici family and somewhere in the mix, I came across this game. I’m more of a word game person, but this game was surprisingly good. It’s quite a bit of fun!

  29. Thanks for sharing this, right now I’m downloading Agricola 🙂 I spend a lot time waiting at doctor’s offices lately, so it’s good to have a game I can play while waiting, because to be honest I’ m so sick of candy crush and the other games. I need something new and entertaining, as well as simple 🙂

    Carcassonne also sounds like an interesting game, but I’ll have to pass for now. I’ll check Agricola first 🙂

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