The 10 Best Board Games With Companion Apps, Ranked

Want to spruce up your game night? These board games come with companion apps that make gameplay even more exciting!
The 10 Best Board Games With Companion Apps, Ranked

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Some people play board games to get away from technology. While it's nice to take a break from constant screentime, technology can sometimes make board games even better—with a companion app.

These enhancements come in two main forms: the companion app handles the game logic, the companion app assists with game setup and information management, or both!

For some games, the companion app is mandatory. For others, the companion app is there to make things easier—and can be the difference between enjoying the game or full-on hating it.

Here are the best board games with companion apps that are worth checking out if you don't mind mixing tabletop and tech!

10. Deck Box Dungeons

Players supported: 1 to 2 players

Average playing time: 20 to 60 minutes

Deck Box Dungeons is a lightweight dungeon crawler that packs in a lot of fun by relinquishing most of the game logic to a mobile app.

Not only does it tell you how to set up the game (with numerous scenarios), it'll tell you what's in each room as you explore, and it'll throw surprises at you while you're exploring the dungeon.

The character and equipment cards combine in different ways, allowing you to customize your character anew every time you play. The dungeon cards also combine in different ways for variety.

Deck Box Dungeons is a solid solo adventure that supports two-player coop. You can combine two sets to play with three and four players, too.

9. Cryptid

Players supported: 3 to 5 players

Average playing time: 30 to 50 minutes

Cryptid is a fantastic logical deduction game where the goal is to locate "the cryptid," which resides a single hex on the board.

At the start of the game, all players are given a unique hint as to where the cryptid may or may not reside. Then, players take turns exploring the board and asking each other questions, which serve to narrow down where the cryptid actually is.

There are hundreds of scenarios included in the box and the board is modular, so there's a lot of variety from session to session. It's one of the best games for players who like pure deduction.

The scenarios are handled via clue books, but you can ditch those and use the official Cryptid web app to handle all the setup and clues.

8. Unlock! Heroic Adventures

Players supported: 1 to 6 players

Average playing time: 60 minutes

Unlock! Heroic Adventures is just one of the many games you can find in the escape room-inspired Unlock! series.

Unlock! Heroic Adventures brings three new mysteries to the table: "Insert Coin," "Sherlock Holmes," and "In Pursuit of the White Rabbit."

In these installments, you'll get the chance to embark on a video game-themed adventure, solve a murder with Sherlock Holmes, and dive into the mystifying world of Alice in Wonderland.

Thanks to the companion app for Unlock! Heroic Adventures, you'll feel as if you're in an actual escape room. You'll use the app to time your escape, solve puzzles, and get hints.

The only downside to this game is that, while the adventures are really fun and interesting, there's little replay value once you know everything.

7. Clank! Catacombs

Players supported: 1 to 4 players

Average playing time: 45 to 90 minutes

Clank! Catacombs is an exciting fantasy deckbuilding game where you play as thieves who are competing to steal artifacts from a dragon's lair. Not only do you want high-value loot, you need to survive and escape!

While Clank! Catacombs is meant to be played multiplayer, you can use the Dire Wolf Game Room mobile app to turn Clank! Catacombs into a solo dungeon-crawling adventure that's just as great.

The mobile app also introduces a Mini-Quest mechanic that puts a fun spin on the usual multiplayer gameplay.

6. Mansions of Madness (2nd Edition)

Players supported: 1 to 5 players

Average playing time: 120 to 180 minutes

Mansions of Madness (2nd Edition) is a cooperative Lovecraftian board game set near Arkham, Massachusetts.

The game logic and all overhead are controlled by the companion app, allowing all players to assume the roles of investigators who must explore the cursed mansions of Innsmouth for clues and answers.

Along the way, players will run into all kinds of monsters and horrific encounters that'll drain their sanity and make it even tougher to survive against the encroaching madness.

On top of all that, the companion app sets a spooky atmosphere with eerie background music for a truly immersive game night.

Note: Don't get it confused with Mansions of Madness (1st Edition), as the two are substantially different. The second edition is more accessible because it relies on the mobile app.

5. Alchemists

Players supported: 2 to 4 players

Average playing time: 90 to 150 minutes

In Alchemists, players take on the roles of aspiring alchemists who must experiment with various ingredients to concoct viable potions, publish their findings, and sell their products.

The goal of Alchemists is to successfully publish the most viable theories while managing your reputation as a potion brewer.

Alchemists is played using a mandatory companion app that randomizes the ingredient rules every time and also handles the game logic (i.e. players input ingredients and the app spits out the mixing results).

It's a great example of a board game that incorporates a mobile app to simultaneously reduce complexity and increase replayability.

4. Gloomhaven

Players supported: 1 to 4 players

Average playing time: 60 to 120 minutes

Gloomhaven is a cooperative board game for up to four players across multiple missions that make up a long-running campaign, complete with a permanently branching narrative.

Throughout the campaign, you'll be making legacy-style decisions that result in "permanent" changes to the game—stickers cover certain parts of the board, sealed envelopes introduce new content.

Don't worry, Gloomhaven isn't a true legacy game. You'll be able to reset everything at the end if you want to play through the campaign again with different characters.

Given that Gloomhaven has over 1,500 cards and a huge rulebook, it's no surprise that one of the main complaints is that too much time is spent on setting up and administrating the game.

Fortunately, most of these complaints can be alleviated by using a companion app like Gloomhaven Secretariat or Gloomhaven Full Stack.

3. Forgotten Waters

Players supported: 3 to 7 players

Average playing time: 120 to 240 minutes

Forgotten Waters is one of the coolest adventure games to incorporate a companion app. In it, players take on the roles of pirates aboard the same ship, each with their own personal goals to achieve.

Across five different scenarios and numerous locations, players will need to interact with the world and complete shared missions while tending to their personal objectives.

And players aren't the only pirates! Certain decisions will increase discontent amongst the other pirates of the ship, and too much discontent will result in mutiny (i.e. shared defeat for all players).

The scenarios and game logic are handled by the Forgotten Waters web app, which streamlines what would otherwise be a complicated game and allows you to immerse yourself in the story instead.

2. The Lord of the Rings: Journeys in Middle-Earth

Players supported: 1 to 5 players

Average playing time: 60 to 120 minutes

The Lord of the Rings: Journeys in Middle-Earth is one of the greatest cooperative board games to date.

Each player plays as one of the main characters (e.g. Legolas) and must work together to defeat the evil that's overtaking Middle-Earth. Multiple adventures combine to form a long-running campaign.

The mandatory companion app handles a lot of the game administration plus game logic. It'll tell you how to set up the scenarios—the same scenario may start differently when replayed!—and it'll handle things like enemy movement and combat resolution.

The Lord of the Rings: Journeys in Middle-Earth is a complex but accessible game thanks to its companion app. It's one of the best options for someone looking to get into chunkier games.

And while it can be played solo or as a group, I find that it plays best as a duo. You get all the fun of its cooperative elements without being dragged down by too much downtime.

1. The Search for Planet X

Players supported: 1 to 4 players

Average playing time: 60 minutes

The Search for Planet X is the ultimate example of a board game with a companion app that really shines because of the app. There's no way it could work without the app, but it also wouldn't work as a video game.

The Search for Planet X is a logical deduction board game of the purest kind. Players are astronomers on a mission to locate the hypothetical Planet X, but they must do so by scanning and exploring the solar system.

Each sector of space may or may not contain entities like gas clouds, dwarf planets, and comets. Using various actions, each player will obtain information about what's in the various sectors—and that information is managed and doled out by the companion app.

There's so much to love about The Search for Planet X for players who enjoy logical puzzles. It's thematic, it's challenging, and it's accessible thanks to the app handling the brunt of the game logic.

Enhance the Board Game Experience

While some might think that board games and technology should never mix, these board games not only prove that the two can coexist, but that smart app design can truly elevate a game's experience.

If you're looking for a meatier experience but hate the finicky and fiddly nature of most heavier board games, it's worth trying one of these technology-enhanced options.

And, of course, there are many other ways to enhance your board game nights through the use of essential accessories that you can incorporate into your gaming sessions: