Best iPad Games: Castles of Burgundy Review

I am a big advocate of digital conversions of popular board games. While such digital interpretations can't match the camaraderie and engaged player interactions of the original analog source, I find the benefits of digital board game conversions far outpace these obvious shortcomings. I can carry the digital equivalent of a physical shelf full of analog board games in my iPad and never worry about misplacing any game pieces. I also don't have to scour over rules whenever a questionable action comes into play, since the digital app almost always alerts me of any invalid moves or valid options. Most importantly, the AI opponents in the digital interpretations means there is always someone to play the game with.

Related: Everything You Need to Know Before You Buy the New iPad Pro

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Digidiced is a developer that has honed  its iOS app skills on a number of successful board game analog-to-digital conversions. The best known is Terra Mystica, a complex worker-placement Eurogame that distills the complexities of this beloved, heavily component-managed game into a wonderfully playable iOS game. Check out my review Terra Mystica review. Since then, Digidiced has continued to convert number-rich board games to their digital equivalents with Castles of Burgundy ($9.99) being the most recent as of this article's publication date. Read on to find out if Castles of Burgundy is a "thinky" Euro-game you might enjoy playing.

Castles of Burgundy Main Game

Castles of Burgundy is a 2011 board game that has won nearly a dozen board game industry awards. The basic premise of the game is to strategically place a variety of settlement and goods tiles from the game board to the player princedom board. Over the course of five game phases with five rounds each, players acquire victory points from settlements, money, workers, and goods. The player with the most victory points at the final round wins the game. Like most heavy Euro-games, Castles of Burgundy's victory conditions are simple to understand but the path to achieving success is complex and highly variable. It took me several playthroughs to grasp the game's nuances and finally win playing against the easiest AI opponent.

Digidiced opted for a very different visual approach compared to its past titles. Instead of a 2D top-down view of the board and gameplay area, Digidiced decided that a 3D isometric view works better for the game flow. My initial impression was that the presentation of the physical board game was considerably more accurate, but there seemed to be a lot of wasted screen real estate. However, as I played several rounds of the game, it became clear that the Digidiced UI designers were cleverly utilizing all areas of the screen in an elegant, streamlined presentation. Keeping track of the various tiles, counters, and player status any other way would be clunky, awkward, and confusing.

Castles of Burgundy Help Text

The app runs flawlessly on iOS and is cross-platform with multiplayer on Android, Mac, and PC. Digidiced uses the same shell around all its games and benefits from having years of network code, matchmaking, and a gamer registration system that offers a real-life person-to-person gaming experience regardless of the OS the game runs on.

Pros

  • Excellent digital interpretation of an award-winning physical board game
  • High quality graphic flourishes and attention to detail enhance the gaming experience
  • Cross-platform multiplayer capable

Cons

  • Takes concentrated effort to learn how to play
  • Visual game components and iconography can be initially overwhelming

Final Verdict

Overall, I am quite impressed with the astute touches of perfection and polish Digidiced have invested in this digital adaptation of a challenging board game. If Digidiced had not decided to convert the game into the digital realm, I honestly can say I would never have played the game. What a loss that would have been, since I am finding myself consistently enjoying it so much as to compulsively create a new game of Burgundy as soon as the current instance concludes.

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Mike Riley's picture

Mike Riley is a frequent contributor to several technical publications and specializes in emerging technologies and new development trends. Mike was previously employed by RR Donnelley as the company’s Chief Scientist, responsible for determining innovative technical approaches to improve the company’s internal and external content services. Mike also co-hosted Computer Connection, a technology enthusiast show broadcast on Tribune Media's CLTV.