If there’s one thing the mobile platform has done, it’s bring about a multiplayer revolution. Gone are the days where I have to suffer through my friends’ taunts (or smells!) while going head-to-head. Okay, it’s more than that (though let’s be honest, we all knew that smelly friend).
In line with the bite sized morsels of gaming goodness we’ve come to know and love on our phones and tablets, we’ve seen the rise of something truly awesome: asynchronous play. Games unshackled from the need to constantly sit in front of them, while still being able to chip away at some great competition, one turn at a time. Because there’s nothing quite like being able to sneak in your gaming fix during the daily grind. We’ve gone ahead and chosen six of the best back-and-forth titles for you; after all, you were probably too busy.
Disc Drivin’ (iPhone, iPad) – Easily the best game on the list to play in quick spurts, Disc Drivin‘ may not be Mario Kart, but it certainly captures the thrill of racing one move at a time. Hopping online with friends or strangers, you speed your way to victory through strategic flicks of your POG-like racer. It barely takes more than 30 seconds to submit a move for one of your games, and a varied set of edgeless, hilly tracks make sure boredom is never an issue.
Carcassonne (iPhone, iPad, Android) – In the world of mobile gaming, a ten-dollar price tag can often send people running for the hills. If you’re even a casual fan of board games however, you should be running to the green pastures of Carcassonne. The mobile version of this classic board game has you placing matching tiles and adorable, generic “meeples” to craft and populate bigger, better cities than your opponents. Our official review rightly pegged this as a “gateway” experience — simple and full of depth. Far from fancy, this is a classic title, rendered beautifully and taken online. Huge bonus points for a local multiplayer for the family.
Draw Something ([Facebook], iPhone, iPad, Android) – Draw Something is that rare type of phenomenon that is polarizing people into two camps: those who love it, and those who don’t own a phone. By harnessing the culturally ingrained draw-and-guess rhythm of Pictionary, OMGPOP created something instantly accessible, and packed it with pop-culture references you’ll love. By focusing on Facebook and e-mail pairing, Draw Something refreshingly ditches faux “social game” tactics in favor of real connections. And since your only “score” is the streak you have going, you and your pals can lose yourself in the fantasy of being an artiste. A fantasy which is validated one successful guess at a time.
Dominion HD (iPad) – Ever wanted to take over the world? How about casually, when you have a few moments on lunch break? Chillingo’s Dominion HD at your service. Styled in a great, self-aware “spy gear” aesthetic, the game allows up to five friends (or enemies!) to jump into a game together, divide the world, and then slowly smile and backstab their way towards an eventual ruler of it all. The game benefits from extreme flexibility, whether in the upgrading and handling of troops, or the ability to tweak the rules and style of the game to accommodate players of all skill level and attention span. Already betrayed your friends too many times? Just hop into the game’s lobby and find yourself four new people to “befriend.” At least until they trust you…
Battle Nations (iPhone, iPad) – My biggest complaint with the Zynga sims has always been the way they evolve quickly into glorified psychological check-lists. Battle Nations turns this on its head, tasking you with managing resources and running a training grounds, only to throw you into epic miniature firefights full of real-time strategy. Adding to the resource-based chaos is an asynchronous attack mode that lets you siphon the resources of friends and other players. While not completely back-and-forth, I’m willing to fudge a little to let this imaginative mash-up on to our list. I mean, come on… Farmville with tanks.
Hero Academy (iPhone, iPad) – Setting the gold standard, Hero Academy is a strategy-lite, fun-heavy experience that will have you hooked — fives moves at a time. Your goal is simple: command a tribe of epic warriors-in-training as you move asynchronously across a board-like battlefield to smash your opponent’s precious energy crystals. What might seem rote, however, proves to be nuanced in the utmost, as each character has unique attributes that make for a chess-like series of infinitely different games. While everyone starts with the same free “deck” of heroes, I quickly purchased the game’s Dwarven army, and haven’t looked back since. And neither should you.