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German-style board games that anyone can enjoy

by Larry Sullivan

Over the last year or two, I have really come to like many of the "German style" board games that are available offline.

German-style board games are a broad class of tabletop games that generally have simple rules, short to medium playing times, indirect player interaction…emphasize strategy, [and] lean towards economic. (source)

These games are great family friendly games and ones even the young kids can learn and play. On all of our extended family trips, we make sure to bring Catan with us. Within the last year or so, developers have began porting these games over to Android. I have found these are just as fun online as they are offline.

Catan ($3.99)

You are one of (up to) four settlers on the island of Catan. Your goal is to dominate the island via road and settlement building, trade and resource gathering. There is only so much space on the island so you have to plan your moves carefully. This is an excellent version of the existing board game, so those familiar with the board game should have no problem picking it up.

This is not a fast game, but you can easily save the game at any point. Two play options are available: Custom - where you can set a number of different options within the game, or Campaign - where you go through a "story"; a set of 16 scenarios with various board styles. Seafarers is an expansion module that can be purchased in-game. Please note that the campaign mode is only available if you purchase the Seafarers campaign.

Catan provides the player with many customizable options and game variations, great graphics, multiple profiles, and plenty of replay value.

Carcassonne ($4.99)

You are one of (up to) four builders and your job is to score the most points based on the medieval landscape you create.  Each player places one tile per turn and the location of that tile will depends on the features next to it, roads must connect to roads, fields to fields, and cities to cities.

The key to winning is being smart in where you lay your tiles so that they help you but not your opponents. The game is very fun but took me some time to understand the rules and actually win a game! Overall this is fast game. Yes you can save your progress, but I found I could play one game in a sitting. The app will show you where tiles can be placed thus speeding up the game.

You get two versions of the game, Carcassonne and Carcassonne River II. In River II, a number of tiles with a river section are placed first and then the remaining tiles are played, adding some variety to the game. There is an achievement section, so you can work on some additional goals while playing. Carcassonne is a fast, fun strategy game with super graphics and easy to use interface.

Knizia's Through the Desert ($2.99)

You are one of (up to) four Bedouin tribes with a set of five color camels. On the initial turn, each player places one camel of each color with a caravan leader of their color on the board. On subsequent turns, a player places two additional camels of any color on the board. The camels must be played adjacent to a camel of the same color. The game is over when the supply of any one of the colored camels (for any player) is used up, and the player with the most points wins.

You earn points by building caravans to an oasis, having the largest caravan, occupying watering holes, and enclosing desert areas. The game comes with a nice rules section and tutorial play for new players. The pinch to zoom feature works well to help you see the board. The gameplay is smooth and you can play a game in one sitting. To succeed in Through the Desert, you need to do some planning on your caravan positioning and keep an eye on how many camels (and which colors) have been played.

Now these games are only the beginning. I have touched base with some developers online and more these types of games are scheduled to come to Android. So if you:

- have played any of these board games

- like turn-based strategy games

- games with great replay value

- want games with local multiplayer mode

- looking for quality, family friendly games

I recommend you try any or all of these German-style board games that have been ported to Android today.