Who doesn’t love challenging their friends to an amicable game every now and then? With more and more apps available to play with friends over your smartphone, here’s a quick roundup.

Mafia Wars

Since the Godfather and the Sopranos hit our screens, we can’t get enough of the mob. Create your own mafia to fight other players online while completing missions and operations to gain rewards and strength in this endless game.

This Facebook app by Zynga is essentially freemium but play can be enhanced by purchasing coins to spend within the game’s marketplace. It gets you hooked so you’ll need some self-restraint not to squander your real world wealth on ill-gotten virtual gains.

One major drawback of this game is that there isn’t much direct contact with other players, so gloating when you beat your friends has to be done via another platform.  However, it runs smoothly and the revamped visuals make the interface much more user-friendly.

Island Empire

Fans of Haypi Kingdom should be thrilled with this new offering. It’s similar to Haypi in that you build and collect things in order to build up a prosperous settlement, but the difference is that the town is on a port, adding a nautical theme which adds an extra dimension to game play.

Despite the game being surprisingly addictive and layered with depth, play feels slow compared to other games (even more than the usual waiting). There is so much to do and explore, but you are limited in where you can place various building meaning you can’t really customize your creation. However, the social features are there. You can chat with other players to try and team up (or just socialize in general) but you can’t find specific people in the game because there isn’t a search function. Perhaps that could be included in the next update.

A major pain for some users: iOS only!

Clash of Clans

Available on Android and iOS, Clash of Clans has done away with one of the major limitations of other strategy games: the ubiquitous energy bar. You advance by amassing gold and elixir from the mines on your encampments. Game play doesn’t get cut off as soon as it gets interesting due to lack of energy, but you may have to wait a few days to have enough to try and complete quests. If you’re bored waiting, you can always entertain yourself by attacking NPC goblins or other players in their territories.

Game play is simple and the interface is intuitive, but beware of how the app is using your system requirements as leaving it running in the background can drain the battery somewhat.

Casino Rush

A casino game wouldn’t normally get a look in on a list like this, but PokerStars’ new Casino Rush app is definitely something different. It goes beyond their regular multi-player options and incorporates all the hallmarks of social gaming. It’s ‘casino reinvented’ and fuses slots and traditional card games for some great action that will keep players entertained for hours. Game play is free if you don’t mind waiting for chips, but the starting balance of 75,000 is likely to keep you entertained for a while.

The social aspect comes into play when you can challenge leading poker players on the leader board but you can also challenge friends in private ones if you prefer. The app plays smoothly and has no major bugs. Importantly, it doesn’t require too much memory so you can be sure that the fast pace of play which is the cornerstone of this app isn’t affected. Interface is intuitive and not too fiddly. Altogether, a very nice job by one of the world leaders in iGaming.