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Board Games on the iPad

© Courtesy of Hasbro Inc.

These iPad board games offer a new, hybrid experience.

If you’re weary of loved ones—whether 6 or 60—hunched over an iPad game, emitting intermittent gasps of glee and sighs of regret in their own secret world, you’ll be happy to hear that some new products may bring back the joys of family gaming.

Discovery Bay Games has married the iPad with a physical device: Its Duo Plink unit (a 5-inch colorful cube) sits directly on top of the iPad, and the company’s quiz game called Yoomi interfaces with the Duo Plink. In Yoomi, players are asked questions (“Would you rather ride roller coasters or go camping?”) and respond by placing tokens into the Duo Plink, which registers their answers and scores. (The secret is that the Yoomi and Duo Plink communicate via codes that flash on the iPad and that the Duo Plink interprets.) Yoomi brings the benefits of digital back around the family table for what is now dubbed “heads-up gaming.” (Begone, personal huddling.)

For aficionados of the German-style medieval board game Carcassonne, long a passion of tween and teen players (and their parents), there’s a digital ray of light. The iPad app is meant to be played on a table, with players piecing together the tiles digitally. In addition, there’s online play available, so you’ll be able to duel with your 20-something son, who probably never outgrew it.

It’s the granddad of family board games: Scrabble. But if you don’t want to worry about tiles getting lost— especially when traveling—or if you don’t have a partner, the iPad app is a perfect solution. Play against the computer, online or with networked friends. But for a truly newfangled old-school experience, try the “party-play” mode: It makes the iPad the board, lying flat in the center of a table, with players using their iPhones as tile racks.

Trouble Brothers, which dreamed up Cargo Runners, wants to blend old-fashioned charm with the interactivity of digital. The iPad app can be played by an individual or up to four players around a table. The game board is a beautifully rendered world map (digital, of course) on which ship captains navigate contract negotiations, local governments’ politics and extreme weather. It includes spoken tutorials and a full digital manual that’ll never get misplaced.

Nancy Branka is the managing editor of Executive Travel.

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