Top 5 Tabletop Gaming Accesory Apps
There are a lot of great board game apps nowadays. Great ports of board games to digital. Fantastic companion apps that help enhance or manage games. And quite a growing number of apps that actually drive games, that have become crucial to those games (I’m looking at you Mansions of Madness). I am not going to talk about any of those here though. Well, I may mention them, I can’t promise that I won’t. But those are not my focus.
Instead, I would like to talk about peripheral apps. The ones that help us play or navigate the world of board games. The ones that help me most anyway. The apps that I use almost every day either while playing games or between games while thinking about other games.
There is a lot in this periphery category and many are specific to niches. There is an amazing amount of accessory apps for tabletop RPG. From digital dice to character development. I have known one person who felt so cursed by her dice that she swore off the physical dice and relied solely on her phone app. The app was fantastic. You could sort your dice to your weapons or skills and just the flick of a button you would be rolling. Personally, I prefer the real thing. When the curse afflicts me I either grimace through or frantically switch from one d20 to the next struggling to find one that isn’t cursed. Never realizing that the curse was on me the whole time.
So what apps do I love? What apps do I use everyday? Most are going to be glaringly obvious as they are probably the same you use every day yourself.
Meepster (ios) built by Vadym Pavlov, who also has a Gloomhaven tracking app called Gloomster, is one I have stumbled onto more recently and I love it. Meepster is, quite simply a BGG browser app. It nicely streamlines things and tucks them into an easy to navigate app so you can be cruising through a trimmed down BGG in seconds.
It highlights the Top Games, The Hot Games, and News Feed but has a great search function to dig through the rest of the database as well.
I have had some connectivity issues and crashes since I started using it but it’s pretty stable and I like having a quick route to BGG. If BGG ever starts working on their own app this is a good place to take some notes for streamlining things.
Dized (ios / android) by Playmore Games is working hard on becoming a household name. Their bold plan is to become the go-to app for learning board games. They are working with publishers to integrate rulebooks, walkthroughs and accessory apps as fast as they can. Working on a tiered system that allows you to purchase content or subscribe for content the app also has quite a bit of free content to keep you busy and enrich your gaming experiences. They have been working with some of the best publishers in the business to make sure what they are offering is relevant and amazing. The Dized library of games is growing constantly.
Whatever they have been up to. However fantastic Dized is doesn’t really matter though. It is on this list for only one reason. Early on in the life cycle, they released the app with only a small bit of content so people could check things out. See for themselves what the future was offering. I downloaded that early release and found the Kingdomino scoring app. That’s why Dized is on this list. That scoring app took a fun game that we could play with our five-year-old and added in the ability for her to score it all herself.
It made scoring the board game a video game. Which is brilliant. Unfortunately, sometimes we have tried to use it and the app crashes constantly on our iPhone and iPad crashing our little girl’s spirits along with it. It has gotten to the point that scoring Kingdomino is the reason she wants to play. It is now more fun than the game. I highly recommend you check out Dized. Usually all the crashing means there is an update needed but there is not always time for an update.
Check it out for all it has to offer. But my recommendation stands on the strength of that one aspect alone.
Issuu (ios/android) is a pdf publishing platform that lets clients publish to a huge searchable cloud platform. It also gives access to read publications on the reader apps you can search publications and make lists and even download publications for offline reading.
There is a small amount of board game content published on this platform but the superb Game Nite magazine is enough to make it worth your while. You can also read through rulebooks and catalogs from publishers and distributors all over the world. I spend as much time digging for treasure here as I do actually reading publications.
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One of the toughest eggs to crack in board game design is first player selection. Some games build in rules that, while cute (the last person to have pet a tiger) rarely workout. We have a house rule for some games. If it is a game with a player who has never played before, they will go last so they have a turn to try and let things sink in a bit. This only works with a new player at the table though.
The trouble with this is the time. It takes extra time to sort out the sorting deck. Luckily there is a fantastic app that has become our go-to for choosing first player. Chwazi Finger Chooser (os/ android) by Ivan Seidel Games. This little app is such a quick and fun way to pick first player. The interface is, well, effortless. You open the app, give it a tap then everybody places a finger on the screen. The warm pulsing color will encircle each player’s fingertip while soothing sounds indicate the app is selecting. Then with a chime, the winner will be selected in a bath of light and color.
This is a free app that is worth its ephemeral weight in gold. If you aren’t using it already you should give it a try.
Board Game Stats
My number one is probably the most obvious, BG Stats (ios / android) by Eerko Vissering is easily the best board game stat tracking app out there. It has some competition but none that can currently “hold a candle to it”. Others are truly putting in good efforts but I have found them to be somewhat clunky or unintuitive.
The user experience with BG Stats is top-shelf. The app integrates with BGG to access game data including images and you can link your account and post your plays to BGG. The amount of statistics that BG Stats tracks and makes available for browsing through charts and graphs is almost mind-boggling yet the interface is so well thought out that it never feels overwhelming. It is actually fun to use, digging around for high scores, last plays. Who won that one game that time? ho has the top score for 4 player games of this?. It has not gotten old for me and may never.
I started using BG Stats 826 games ago. At first, I just wanted to see what was available. I was juggling three different stat keeping apps at the time. BG Stats was the only one I have enjoyed using. It is my top pick because it gets the most use. Every game I play it helps out. Perhaps a new contender will show up to challenge. Perhaps one of the other stat apps will pull themselves together. Maybe. By then it will most likely be too late. I have been using BG Stats for long enough now that I would begrudge switching. It is easy though. You can download your data and plug them into many of the other apps. You can pass single game data files to friends so they can upload them to their own BG Stats app or any other.
I could gush on and on, but I have a feeling you probably already use BG Stats yourself.
That’s it. That’s my list. For now anyway. Not sure what might be missing. What niche could still be filled? I keep looking for new things though.
Do you have a favorite app that’s not on this list? We would love to hear about it.
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