Best board games for smartphones and tablets

The best party apps can bring any gathering to life, even if your celebration isn’t as crowded as usual this year, thanks to COVID-19 restrictions on large gatherings. Rather than digging up mysterious game boards or endlessly shuffling decks of cards, you can use your smartphone or tablet to start the fun with no setup or cleanup required.

If you’re wondering what to do this New Year’s Eve, check out some of the following apps for Android devices and iPhones. Whether you want to dazzle your guests with song and dance, impress them with your knowledge, or make them laugh with your drawing skills, these games can brighten up any shindig.

The best board games you can download

best psych board games

(Image credit: Warner Bros. International Enterprises)

Psycho! Outsmart your friends (Android, iOS: Free)

What is a group of zebras called? What is a mumpimus in the world? Inspired by board games like Balderdash, Psych has you cooking up the wackiest yet plausible answers to questions in an effort to fool your friends and score points.

Each player secretly submits a fun but plausible answer to a question; Once collected, the submissions (and the correct answer) appear on screen, and players try to determine which answer is correct. If someone chooses your submission, you score a point; if you guess the correct answer, you also score a point.

Goofy topics and themes are a great way to have fun with friends and family at your next get together.

Download Psycho: android, iOS

best board games

(Image credit: Adriaan de Jong)

Bounden (Android, iOS: $1.99)

Bounden is a dance game that takes advantage of your smartphone’s motion sensors to get you moving. What makes Bounden different is that it’s designed to be played with a partner, making it one of the best party apps for small gatherings.

Each dancer grabs one end of a smartphone, then tilts the device to move an on-screen sphere through a path of rings. Players swing their arms, twist their bodies, and before they know it, they’re both dancing. The app includes seven dances designed by the Dutch National Ballet and classical music written with dance in mind.

Download Bounden: android, iOS

best board games: charades

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Charades (Android, iOS: Free, with in-app purchases)

The classic party game goes digital with Charades, where your phone gives you challenges to complete. Draw a card by tilting your smartphone and you’ll be given something to play, imitate or even dance to, while your friends try to guess exactly what you’re up to.

Charades promises 100 theme decks with over 400 game cards, so there’s usually something new to try. The app is free to download, although in-app purchases may remove ads and give you additional maps.

Download Charades: android, iOS

Best Board Games: Heads Up

(Image credit: Warner Bros. International Enterprises)

Heads up! (Android, free; iOS: $0.99)

A charades-style board game made popular on Ellen DeGeneres’ talk show, Heads Up challenges players to guess as many words as possible from a themed deck of cards based on their friends’ clues. .

The guessing player holds their mobile phone in front of their forehead, the screen displaying the word to guess. Deck themes include celebrities, movies, animals and more.

Additionally, players can create their own custom decks by making in-app purchases for each new deck.

Download Warning: android, iOS

best board games: keep talking and no one explodes

(Image credit: Steel Crate Games)

Keep talking and no one explodes (Android, iOS: $9.99)

Keep Talking & Nobody Explodes is a group game where everyone participates to help defuse a real bomb within a limited time. The problem? Only the player with the smartphone game can actually handle the bomb, while everyone else can only give instructions using a set of free downloadable bomb defusing manuals that come with the game. Naturally, this leads to many scrambled directions, all around chaos and hilarity.

Download Keep Talking & Nobody Explodes: android, iOS

best smule party apps

(Image credit: Smule)

Smule (Android, iOS: free in-app purchases)

You can shell out $20 per person for a fancy karaoke room rental, or you can just download Smule for smartphone-assisted karaoke and stream your favorites to your living room.

Using your phone as a microphone and a Chromecast or Apple TV as a receiver, you can display lyrics on a TV screen with musical accompaniment and sing along to pop, rock, country, hip-hop and more. with a selection of songs available for free or through in-app purchases.

There’s a little something for everyone in this best party app, including Queen’s “I Want It All”, Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe” and Jason Derulo’s “Talk Dirty”.

Download Smule: android, iOS

just dance now

(Image credit: Ubisoft)

Just Dance Now (Android, iOS: Free, with in-app purchases)

Nothing brings a party together like making people dance. Still, not everyone can dance, and that’s where Just Dance Now comes in. This mobile spin-off of the hit console series brings over 200 titles to iOS and Android smartphones, including Mark Ronson’s “Uptown Funk”, Elvis Presley’s “Jailhouse Rock” and (for some unfathomable reason) Hungarian Dance No. 5 by Johannes Brahms.

Although the game is free to download, you will have to pay for most songs. However, you can purchase a temporary pass for as little as $1 per hour, which is great for a single night of entertainment. You can also stream it to the big screen via Google Cast or Apple AirPlay.

Download Just Dance now: android, iOS

best board games: Party Starter

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Party Starter (Android, iOS: Free)

Party Starter takes a series of popular icebreaker games and combines them into one convenient mobile package. You’ll find offers like Never Have I Ever, Most Likely To, and King’s Cup in this app, along with rules and visual aids to help you play.

The application offers a mode of the week and a selection of games available; an in-app purchase unlocks all game modes and removes advertising. It might not be an incredibly flashy selection of the best party apps, but if you’re looking for tried-and-true party games delivered in a handy mobile assistant form, Party Starter delivers.

Download Party Starter: android, iOS

best party apps: Triple Agent

(Image credit: Tasty Rock)

Triple Agent (Android, iOS: Free)

With Triple Agent, you and five to nine friends try to find out who among you is a Service agent or an infamous VIRUS infiltrator in this fast-paced game of social deduction. Inspired by social deduction classics like Mafia and Werewolf, Triple Agent brilliantly condenses the deduction game into a single set of clues, with the smartphone app acting as the facilitator.

At the start of each round, players pass around the phone to find out their allegiance to the Service or the VIRUS, then the app provides each player with a single operation that can reveal clues about other players or change the nature of the game. At the end of the round of deductions, players vote on who to imprison, and once the vote is counted, that player and their entire team lose the game.

Triple Agent is free, with an in-app purchase unlocking more expansions and variant rules.

Download Triple Agent: android, iOS

Best party apps: who can't draw

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Who can’t draw? (Android, iOS: Free, with in-app purchases)

Who Can’t Draw is inspired by the game of the phone and uses your phone’s touchscreen as a drawing pad for scrambled message hilarity.

The first player is given a word to draw in a limited time, and each player on the line is given a brief time to interpret and copy that picture. The last player then has to guess what the word was, and can then nominate players as the best and worst performer for that round.

The app comes with basic word packs, and users can access additional theme packs, like Pokemon, Star Wars, or Big Screen by watching ads or through in-app purchases.

Download Who can’t draw: android, iOS

best board games: Evil Apples

(Image credit: Evil Studios Limited)

Evil Apples (Android, iOS: Free, with in-app purchases)

A mobile board game that owes a lot to the infamous Cards Against Humanity, Evil Apples is a neat icebreaker game that challenges players to fill in the blanks with the funniest, weirdest, or just plain outrageous statements they can imagine.

Each turn, one player becomes a judge, reads the question card, and all other players choose one of their answer cards. Then the hilarity ensues. The judge then awards a point and the first player to reach seven points wins the game. The base game is free, with additional map packs available as in-app purchases.

Download Evil Apples: android, iOS

best party apps: mysterium

(Image credit: Asmodee Digital)

Mysterium (Android, iOS: $3.99)

Enter a haunted mansion and commune with a restless ghost in the mobile port of Mysterium, a social deduction card game in which players interpret cryptic clues in an effort to avenge an unsolved crime.

Each turn, the ghost player lays down a series of evocative cards that allude to the killer, the crime scene and the weapon used; the other players play the role of mediums interpreting the cryptic visions.

The app is a faithful adaptation of the board game, allowing you to pass around a single phone or tablet instead of shuffling a deck of cards. Mysterium also includes a campaign mode, as well as solo or online play. The app features the original game, with in-app purchases unlocking expansion sets.

Download Mystery: android, iOS

Best board games: Spaceteam

(Image credit: Henry Smith)

Spaceteam (Android, iOS: free, with in-app purchases)

Reattach the electronic grabber, activate the multi-spoon and set the contaminating Hypnothruster to 3. Spaceteam is a sci-fi cooperative technobabble board game, where you and your friends play as the deck crew of the ship spaceship racing to avoid disaster.

Each game features chaos, confusion, teamwork and lots of shouting. Each player’s screen is made up of a dashboard made up of buttons, switches, and sliders; as impending doom rushes towards the ship, players must complete timed tasks, barking instructions to others while paying attention to their own screen.

Conveniently, this board game supports cross-platform multiplayer between Android and iOS devices. How many missions can you complete before your untimely demise?

Download SpaceTeam: android, iOS

Joseph K. Bennett