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The best puzzle and board games for the Apple iPad

The Apple iPad, in both the standard and mini varieties, is a highly underrated video game platform. The PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Xbox One, Wii U, and 3DS may command the attention of most "real gamers," but the iPad shouldn't be overlooked.

Only ten years ago, the mobile video game space was dominated by Microsoft, Nintendo, and Sony – no other company made a significant play, especially in hardware. Then the rapid growth of Apple's App Store combined with the wild success of the iPad created the perfect environment for the mobile video game market to truly take off. And it's done so marvellously.

The iPad and iPad mini's expansive displays give gamers a more open visual experience that isn't as restricted as the smaller displays on the iPhone, Nintendo DS, 3DS, or PlayStation Vita. The screen size alone makes it an excellent device for many sorts of games, but it especially benefits those with large footprints, excelling at porting board games from Checkers to Puerto Rico – and those are the games we're looking at in this article.

Previously, we've looked at the top iPad shooters, and we've also covered the best action games, arcade games, and adventure games – so be sure to stop by and browse those articles, as well.

Think we missed a good game? Let us know about it in the comments section!

Bejeweled Blitz (free)

PopCap's Bejeweled Blitz is easily one of the most addictive games ever created. You have 60 seconds to strategise, match, and detonate as many gems as you can. If you match three or more gems, you can earn power-ups (Flame gems, Star gems and Hypercubes) that you can use to obliterate gems.

Carcassone (£6.99)

At £7, Carcassonne is one of the more expensive iPad games, but many players will be glad to spend the money on the digital version of this famous board game. In this social game, you lay tiles and game pieces on a virtual board to build up a medieval landscape.

The goal is to own completed developments, like cities, farms, and roads – but unlike that other property ownership game, Monopoly, Carcassonne is thought provoking, and not too heavily reliant on luck.

Catan HD (£2.99)

Settlers of Catan sparked a revolution in board games, as the first so-called Euro game to blaze the trail for worldwide popularity. Catan HD, at £2.99, is quite a bargain, considering that the boxed set costs £25. Catan HD is a highly recommended game that's suitable for kids and adults.

Checkers Free (free)

Checkers is exactly what it sounds like... the iPad version of the classic strategy game we know as draughts. The ad-supported title features one and two player matches, a helpful undo feature, and computer AI provided by artificial intelligence researcher Martin Fierz.

ChuChu Rocket! HD (£0.69)

Sega's quirky puzzle title that amassed a cult following on the ill-fated Dreamcast is available in updated form on the iPad. ChuChu Rocket sees players helping cute ChuChus escape the clutches of evil KapuKapus in a whopping 145 puzzles sprinkled between Normal, Hard, Special, and Mania difficulty settings. The house that Sonic built also tosses in 25 multiplayer maps that support up to four players via Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, or, in a feature exclusive to the iPad, it allows a quartet of gamers to partake in the action on the device.

Contre Jour HD (£1.99)

Chillingo's Contre Jour HD challenges you to navigate and survive a dark and dangerous game world. Using your finger, you morph the landscape – by pulling, swiping, and tapping tendrils, air geysers, and pulleys – to complete clever puzzles and propel the mysterious creature Petit to safety. Conte Jour HD also features an orchestrated soundtrack from composer David Ari Leon.

Device 6 (£2.49)

Device 6 explores the concept of narrative and choice by using text to take you on a surreal journey. Though Device 6 is mainly a text-based title, the game is not really a "text adventure." Device 6 is more akin to an enhanced digital novel with puzzles. Device 6 isn't for everyone, but gamers who dig experimental gameplay should give it a go.

Draw Something (free)

Draw Something is OMGPOP's take on Pictionary. Player 1 receives three options for words to draw. She picks one, and draws it on screen with no time limit. When Player 2 logs into the game, he receives a screencast of Player 1 creating the drawing and has to guess the word, with his clue being the number of letters of the word. Upon its debut, the game stirred up quite a storm, because it's simple yet challenging, fun and funny, as well as highly social.

King of Dragon Pass (£6.99)

King of Dragon Pass blends a text adventure with civilisation building. You make diplomatic, social, political, religious and military decisions based on the information at hand. If you ever wanted to lord it over a kingdom, this is your game. It's an iPhone game, but there's so much going on, and it relies on maps so much that it's actually more fun to play on the iPad in 2X mode.

Neuroshima Hex (£2.99)

Neuroshima Hex is a tactical war game that sees up to four players (a mix of human and CPU) battle it out in a war-ravaged world dominated by machines, mutants, rebels, and gangs. The app features asynchronous multiplayer combat, six armies with different war capabilities, and three difficulty levels. There aren't many hex-based strategy games in the App Store, so it's good to see one that's worth the price of admission.

Puerto Rico HD (£2.99)

The highly praised European-style board game is another classic that has been translated to the iPad, and it's an excellent spin on the formula. Puerto Rico HD sees players attempting to become one of the island's governors during the days of colonial Spain. You prospect for gold, plant crops, and build up your economy in a quest for island domination.

SpellTower (£1.49)

One part Boggle, one part Tetris, Zach Cage's SpellTower is an engaging brain game that pits your wits against tiles that rise from the bottom of the screen. Forming words keeps them at bay, so you have to be fast and use a bit of strategy. If any of the letters make it to the top row, it's game over.

You Don't Know Jack HD (free)

Jellyvision's classic 90s PC game is on the iPad, and it's free, too. The pop culture-filled trivia game features over 20 episodes, with familiar segments that fans of the PC version will be familiar with, such as "DisORDat," "Jack Attack," and "Funky Trash." The bombastic announcer is also there, giving the game a touch of the wacky.

Words With Friends HD (£6.99)

This classic brings word creation action to the iPad. If you are a fan of the board game Scrabble, you'll find a lot to like here, with the added benefit of cross-platform play. If you don't want to shell out for Words With Friends HD, you can download Zynga's free, ad-supported version instead.

World of Goo HD (£2.99)

2D Boy's award winning title offers a slew of environmental puzzles which challenge you to drag and drop squirming globs of goo to build bridges, cannonballs, zeppelins, and other odd structures to complete your mission. You'll acquire goo with new abilities as you progress, which will help you solve the increasingly difficult puzzles.