High Five #9: Our 5 Favorite iOS Games, Right Now

By now, you've probably tried a ton of iOS games. And your App Store account probably has hundreds of games in your "Not On This Device" folder.

This High Five isn't the "greatest iOS games of all time". I'm not putting Angry Birds or Plants v. Zombies on the list. It's the games we're enjoying the most right now.

5. MLB Full Deck  

A fully-licensed MLB / MLBPA baseball game in which you "make your team" with online "baseball cards", and compete and cooperate with other players.

Buy "packs" to get new players, then "train" them to maximize their ability.

If you haven't played MLB Full Deck, use our invite code and we'll both get a "gold" player!


I wish we'd used someone's invite code when we signed up - not having that superstar player at the outset really sets you back. 

I love this concept. I grew up loving baseball cards, and the fun of buying an in-game "pack" and seeing a rare Silver player card drop from the top of the screen is legitimately exciting. (We recently got a 3-star Adam Jones to be our new center fielder!)

The in-game terminology, previously stilted and strange, has improved by leaps and bounds. But I still wish that the game had been designed by people a bit more familiar with baseball strategy.

This game could be vastly improved with a few modifications.

First off, you should have to use a 5-man starting pitching rotation. As it is now, your #1 starter pitches every game.

Secondly, the game occasionally hosts "events", where high-powered limited edition cards are given away to the teams with the most wins in a finite time. Unfortunately, the players who won the previous events are likely to win any future events - because their teams already have the limited edition player cards!

Thirdly, the actual games could be massively improved. Show each at-bat, instead of just a scoreboard with inning results.

(In "versus" play, we blow about 60% of our save opportunities, despite having a pretty good Mariano Rivera as closer. I'd like to know what was happening there, but there's no info provided.)

Make defense matter! Add "slumps" and "hot streaks", so that you might occasionally give a guy a day off.

In sum, MLB Full Deck isn't my dream "iOS Strat-O-Matic" game. But it's the best one going right now. Give it a shot, and use our invite code!

4. SpongeBob Diner Dash 

This one's been out for a while. And honestly, I don't know that I've ever enjoyed playing any permutation of "Diner Dash". But it's such a perfect fit with the SpongeBob SquarePants universe, that it really works as an app.

SpongeBob lives for his job as a fast food fry cook. Of course, in "SpongeBob Diner Dash", they have him as.... a waiter? With Squidward working in the Krusty Krab kitchen? What was going on there?

Besides, we all know that when SpongeBob waits tables, he dresses fancy like this.

3. Simpsons Tapped Out  

This is a "freemium" game. And unfortunately, if you want to unlock all of the available content in the game, you're going to have to spend some cash on "donuts" on occasion.

(Otto's bus, for instance, is a cash-only purchase.)

But there's SO much content available in the free-only game, that it's still worthwhile. We've been at it for months, and we've only just now acquired the Springfield Retirement Castle and Grampa Simpson.

There's a ton of content, but not a lot to do in Simpsons Tapped Out - but that's by design. It's kind of a SimSpringfield type of game, but with none of that pesky city-management. You collect money and experience points, make your favorite characters do tasks, add and arrange buildings, and repeat.

It's still a LOT of fun. Especially for a fan of classic Simpsons. The in-game references go all the way back to Season 1.

2. FIFA 13 

Full disclosure - we're QPR fans. Probably the only ones in Chicago, and maybe in America. And after last week's loss to Villa, this may be our last chance to play a videogame as our R's in the Premier League.

Good thing the game is so great.

I'd previously thought that FIFA 12 was an un-improvable game. But FIFA 13 managed to be more than just a roster update - it's an incredibly well-thought-out game, available for a ridiculously low price.

You can act as the manager of your club - everything is under your control, from practices, to formations, to sponsorships. You make offers on players during the transfer window. And of course, you handle the on-pitch action.

I seriously cannot fathom how a game of this depth and beauty can be available for 99 cents.

1. Clash of Clans  

This game is almost completely perfect.

The gist of the game is this - you build a small "Age of Empires"-style encampment in a persistent online world, including walls, archer towers, and cannons. You mine resources. You build armies.

And you use those armies to fight against other camps - either "goblin camps", in the single-player campaign, or if you choose, you can attack other players' camps.

It's a "freemium" game, and it's consistently among the top-grossing titles in the App Store, but spending money is absolutely not required.

There are no "cash-only" items. Spending money on "gems" will speed up your progress through the game, but you don't need to spend any money to play competitively and advance in the game.

And strategy does matter! Your success will swing wildly based on how you design your fortress and lay out your defenses - and how you choose to deploy troops in combat.

My 6-year-old son enjoys this game immensely - it's easy to pick up and understand. The only "violence" in the game is cartoon-styled.

But what makes the game so excellent is the balance. Every army unit has strengths and weaknesses. Every choice you make (to invest in new walls, or in new cannons?) affects your clan's future - but your losses don't hurt so badly, the game provides a 12-hour "shield" when you lose a battle, and the setback from a "wrong" tactical decision is reversible in short order.


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