The 5 Best Phone Games, According To a Board Game Expert

updated Sep 30, 2020
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
woman looking at her cellphone sitting outside
Credit: Good Vibrations Images/Stocksy

Like many of us, Edward Garcia first came to love board games in childhood. But Garcia took his love a step further when he opened Philadelphia’s Queen & Rook Game Cafe, a full-service restaurant with more than 1,200 board and card games available to play and purchase.

“My parents had all the classic board games at home as a child, but it wasn’t until I learned Chess and Stratego and Risk at our local Boys and Girls Club that I really got into board games,” Garcia says, noting that his family now has a personal collection of vintage and new games now that they play often. 

Inspired by a love of games, Garcia and co-owner Jeannie Wong visited more than 20 different game cafes and bars in the U.S. and Canada before opening Queen & Rook in September 2019. Now, their cafe offers hundreds of games from the ‘70s, ‘80s, and ‘90s as well as the “latest and greatest games available from Kickstarter and distributors.” Oh, and they also have a full bar and tons of delicious plant-based cuisine, too. Though Garcia, like many business owners, has had to adjust operations due to COVID-19, one thing is for sure: He’s the person to talk to if you want to talk games.

For example, if you’re looking to transfer your love of traditional board games to the handheld convenience (and long-distance playability) of your phone, Garcia has a few suggestions to get you started. 

Credit: Apple App Store

“This very popular modern board game is a great app that lets you play with friends around the world in a very faithful representation of the board game,” Garcia shares. “The strategy is easy to learn for all ages, but is still challenging enough to keep the tension in the game, the art is great too.”

Credit: Apple App Store

“This adaptation of the Hasbro classic really makes the deduction game come to life. It has private multi-player games so you can just play with friends or family and the graphics and animations really add to the game,” Garcia shares. “It also comes with some additional themes available as add-ons with Sherlock Holmes and others to keep it interesting.”

Credit: Apple App Store

“This board game is a great educational tool to teach about adaptation as well as being really cool—you give your creatures new traits to help them adapt to changing conditions and to protect them from predators,” Garcia says. “The app version has some really great animation and actually looks like a native video game rather than a board game adaptation. Lots of family fun and some really great boss battles.”

Credit: Apple App Store

“This board game is arguably the one that started the modern board game era back in 1995, and the digital version gives you the opportunity to play with friends around the world and still have all the great action of building and trading that you have come to expect from Catan. I would definitely not trade this app in for any number of sheep or wood,” Garcia shares.

Credit: Apple App Store

“For those strategy gamers that are looking for more depth and miss the strategic board game experience, I would recommend Terraforming Mars,” Garcia says. “It has amazing graphics and science based play that really brings the game to life. Lots of challenges in building a civilization on Mars while avoiding the treachery of the other corporations, so much fun.”

Whether you’re craving the nostalgia of a classic mystery board game or looking for more of a challenge, Garcia’s suggestions are sure to provide you with hours of easy, interactive fun. But remember—there’s no better time than to invest in some physical games, too, especially as the weather gets colder and we’ll all be spending more and more time inside. So don’t hesitate to visit a local game shop like Queen & Rook to pick up a few board games to go along with those apps, too!