Written by

Chris Gonzales



Whether you’re playing against strangers online or with friends and family locally, playing games with other people is always more fun than playing alone. In that spirit, here are a few of our favorite multiplayer games for iPhone and iPad, so you can play with others wherever you go.

(Given that Christmas is only a few days away, these may especially come in handy if you need a break from your family’s political arguments for a bit. But you didn’t hear that from us.)

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Vainglory »

Continuing its reign as the best MOBA (multiplayer online battle arena) for iOS, Vainglory recently updated to version 2.0, and the game is better than ever. Here’s a quick description of the gameplay, taken from the list of our favorite iOS games over at The Sweet Setup:

The gameplay should be familiar to any MOBA fan, but we’ll explain the basics for newbies: Two teams of three heroes (controlled by online players or bots) try to destroy each others’ home base, fighting through automated turrets and continually-spawning creatures along the way. All heroes begin every match at level 1, unlocking abilities and items as they go. Attack and defend the “lane” out in the open, or surprise enemies from the “jungle” areas, all while trying to control a few strategic points throughout the map that can turn the tide late-game.

Vainglory has changed a lot since we published that article. The game now boasts 30 unique heroes, most of which have multiple skins to unlock.

There’s now a seasonal progression system that lets you level up and unlock chests of goodies along the way. You can also earn “opals” — typically at a slow rate, which is by design — to unlock certain special skins, including some that used to be limited-edition. And earlier this year, they introduced Battle Royale, a fast-paced game mode with interesting rules:

  • You play a randomly selected hero who starts at level 4 (rather than 1) with 2,000 gold. Gold also accumulates faster (15 gold/sec rather than 5) during the match.
  • The map’s Jungle is walled off, limiting everyone to the Lane. It gets pretty crazy.

We’re only scratching the surface of what’s new here. More features and tweaks are being added all the time, so it’s no wonder Vainglory is still on top of the iOS MOBA game.


Hearthstone »

Based on the lore of Blizzard’s Warcraft series, Hearthstone is a collectible-card 1v1 strategy game in the vein of Magic: The Gathering.

You can read all about the gameplay style here, but the most basic gist is this:

  • You build decks full of creatures, spells, and weapons, then face off against other players online.
  • For every match, player gets to choose a hero/avatar class that has its own special ability; for example, the “Mage” class can pay 2 mana per turn to deal 1 damage to any target.
  • The objective is to bring the opponent’s health to 0.

There are over 1300 cards in the game at this point, and more expansions are being added all the time. There’s so, so much more to Hearthstone than we can get into in this guide.


Clash Royale »

Based on the universe of Supercell’s extremely popular Clash of Clans game, Clash Royale is a real-time multiplayer strategy game where you use cards from a “deck” of your making to unleash creatures, spells, and defenses on a field to destroy your opponent’s three towers before they destroy yours. It’s fast-paced and addictive, to say the least.


Marvel: Contest of Champions »

Marvel: Contest of Champions is a fighting game set in the Marvel Comics universe, similar to DC’s own Injustice: Gods Among Us.

If you’ve ever dreamed of seeing battles between Marvel characters that may never happen in the comics/films/TV shows, this is the game for you. Ant-Man vs Hulk? Daredevil vs Groot? Thor vs Dr. Strange? Hulkbuster vs Rocket Raccoon? It’s all here and more.


Carcassonne »

The classic medieval-style board game in iOS form. Using randomly-drawn tiles, each player attempts to claim the most land by constructing cities, roads, and the like, all while blocking opponents’ efforts to do the same. “Followers” (or “meeples”) can be placed on certain tiles to gain extra points. The basics of the game are easy to pick up, but there is a lot of subtle strategy involved.


Really Bad Chess »

Zach “@helvetica” Gage’s tongue-in-cheek game is just like regular chess, but with a twist: In every match, both players are given totally random sets of pieces to play with. Sounds crazy at first, but it’s super fun and makes every game feel exciting and new.

It’s free to download and by default lets you play against the AI in Ranked, Daily, and Weekly challenges. With a $3 in-app purchase though, you unlock these features:

  • “Versus Mode” so you can play against friends locally (which earns it a spot in today’s guide)
  • Remove ads
  • Display captured pieces
  • Additional color schemes

There’s also a $1 IAP to purchase 100 “undos”.