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iOS Board Games

Among the best things in life is playing printed games in person with family and close friends. When those are not convenient we like iOS Board Games. News, reviews, previews, and opinions about board gaming on iPhones, iPads, iPods and even Android devices. (iPhone board games, iPad board games, iPod board games, Android board games)

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Review Roundup: Apples to Apples, You Must Build a Boat

Brad Cummings
United States
Connecticut
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Apples to Apples
Availability: iOS Universal
Price: Free
App Store Links: App Store

While cloned endlessly on mobile, Apples to Apples was released officially last week. While we saw it digitally before on Xbox 360, this appears to be a whole new attempt for mobile.

Apples to Apples is a simple card game of funny comparisons. You have descriptive word and you match it with one of the cards in your hand, generally with a funny result. The key of this game is making people laugh and reading your opponents. These are two major elements missing from this digital version. You can communicate, but only by text, and the game moves so quickly that you don’t often have a lot of opportunities to do this. In terms of reading your opponents, games only last one round of each player being the judge, so it is hard to really learn what your opponents like. All in all, these are weaknesses you will find in almost any digital card game.

So while we can debate the validity of Apples to Apples on a tablet, I can tell you that the core gameplay is sound. The interface to play and select cards is very straightforward and equal to what you would expect. The only system is easy to use and there always seem to many active games (at least in this launch period). Games are on pretty tight timers so you will always be clipping along. If this core gameplay were taken in isolation, I would highly recommend this game if you could wrap your head around playing without table talk.

Sadly, Apples to Apples is packaged in a confusing free to play framework. There are two currencies: gold and silver. Gold is used to play games and can be purchased or earned by leveling up. Silver is earned by playing and is used to buy card packs and vanity items. Because cards must be purchased, you’ll find that you will see the same red cards over and over. It is also annoying to have your amount play artificially limited by your gold. Honestly, it feels like the way F2P was done back in 2012: ham-fisted and clumsy.

Apples to Apples is one I think you can avoid. While the core is great, the rest of this apple is rotten (I am so sorry).



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      42 answers
Poll created by thequietpunk





You Must Build A Boat
Availability: iOS Universal
Price: $2.99
App Store Links: App Store, Google Play

10000000 was a surprise hit when it was released. It took puzzle gameplay and sprinkled it with same indie dungeon crawling charm. The long awaited sequel You Must Build a Boat is now available. Does it live up to its predecessor?

It is tough to follow an act like 10000000, which was a slow burn cult hit. You Must Build a Boat follows the same match three gameplay while expanding it in almost every way possible. There are new monsters, new dungeons, new blocks to break, and more. YMBAB feels like a fleshed out version of its predecessor. It takes what you love and ads new locations, more characters, and smoother gameplay.

The titular boat is also a fantastic addition. As you go through your adventure it will become full of life. It is a place you want to come back to. It adds buckets of charm and a fair touch of humor. It is an odd concept, but fits right in with the quirky nature of the game.

It is hard to say a lot about this. If you have played 10000000 this is no brainer. If you’ve have yet to, You Must Build a Boat is the definitive experience. I highly recommend picking this up today.



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Tue Jun 9, 2015 12:01 am
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Review Roundup: Knights of Pen and Paper 2, EarthCore: Shattered Elements

Brad Cummings
United States
Connecticut
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Knights of Pen and Paper 2
Availability: iOS Universal, Android
Price: $4.99
App Store Links: App Store, Google Play

As you may recall, the first Knights of Pen and Paper grabbed me with its style but failed to deliver in the long term. It was with cautious optimism that I approached this sequel. Have they managed to overcome the weaknesses of the initial release?

In Knights of Pen and Paper 2 you take on the role of both a DM and a group of players in a tabletop RPG. The game features a series of quests that you can follow as well as endless numbers of battles you set up. You can have up to 5 heroes each with their own combination of class, race, and persona. My strongest character right now is a Cheerleader Human Warrior for example. The game almost entirely deals in the American stereotypes from the 80s and 90s. Like any RPG, you can travel from location to location, visit shops, explore dungeons, etc. While you can move anywhere you like at anytime, you will be generally focused along the games set story route.

You will generally use your DM freedom for grinding. The game has a pretty steep curve so you will find yourself murdering wave after wave of easy mobs to level up. This was a weakness of the game before and is definitely carried over. Battles (even on low levels) can feel very back and forth and so even grinding must be watched closely. There is not real option to just “mash A” so to speak.

In moderation the combat is pretty enjoyable. Each character class has a wide variety of skills and can be used in combination for great results. They really added some tactical choice and award players who think a few moves ahead. Of course, boss type characters are still a slog, but I am really enjoying the combat this time around.

The game is quite long you will find a lot to do. The story is nothing to write home about and the humor is a little off this time. That being said, I do find myself coming back from time to time to continue my adventure. It must just be the pace of game that fits of neurosis right now.

Knights of Pen and Paper 2 is a bit of a disappointment. A lot of the issues it had before still exist and the experience feels a little shallower overall this tie around. That being said, if you liked the first one, you will find a nice second helping here. The art is still charming and it is a charming homage to tabletop RPGs.



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Poll created by thequietpunk





EarthCore: Shattered Elements
Availability: iOS Universal
Price: Free
App Store Links: App Store

The app store is full of “card games” that are little more than slot machines disguised with gameplay elements. I have to admit, when I first heard about EarthCore, this was my assumption. I am happy to report that I was wrong. Earthier: Shattered Elements is a fully fleshed out digital card game that does several new things while appealing to existing sensibilities.

In EarthCore, your goal is to lower your opponents health to zero. This is done through a series of rounds in which you will each play a card to each of the three lanes on the board. After all cards are played, the cards battle winning based on their element. Earth beats Water which beats Fire which beats Earth. This simple Rock, Paper, Scissors mechanic is compounded with a few wrinkles. For example there is actually a fourth element called Dust that always loses, but can be evoked at certain times. many cards have abilities that either activate automatically or must by used by the player. These abilities really change the course of battle and are key to success. You are also looking ahead for the write combo to lead your opponent into a trap. Since each card you lay down is visible immediately, you have to figure out how to respond to their eventual counter.

Each card in the game has a risk value. This value is the amount of damage you will take if that card loses the battle. So while you can play strong cards, you also need ensure you will win or they will back fire on you. This is by the most unique element of the game and turns it into a really enjoyable push your luck affair.

This is a collectible card game, so a lot of your success will come from deck building. You will unlock cards by playing and can also buy packs through in game currency. Admittedly, the pricing structure is not extremely clear. You’ve got two currencies, one you pay for and one you earn, and they can be used in different ways. Decks are limited to 25 cards and you typically want to have a mix of all three elements. Cards come in different rarities and there is a limit of three copies of a card in a deck.

The game features a lengthy campaign that features some challenging battles and will net you a bunch of free cards. There is also a pretty robust online system with ranked play and different leagues. I am still in the lowly bronze league, but so far feel like things are pretty evenly matched.While it will take more time for it to mature, online play is enjoyable right now.

The game is certainly free to play but I have enjoyed my time so far with no spend. There is a lot of content upfront for you to get a good feeling for the game before dropping a dime. Because of the way the online leagues are split, you should be able to find someone at your spend level to play against, and stronger cards will not always win.

I’ve enjoyed EarthCore much more than I predicted I would. While it is hard to dethrone Hearthstone, this game is a nice alternative with a different play style and focus. I highly recommend it.



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Poll created by thequietpunk
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Mon May 25, 2015 1:46 pm
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Review Roundup: Legends of Grimrock and SpaceCOM

Brad Cummings
United States
Connecticut
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Legends of Grimrock
Availability: iPad
Price: $4.99
App Store Links: App Store

When I first played Legends of Grimrock on PC, I was fascinated by they way it captured dungeon crawling. Forced into a locked first-person perspective, you are both limited and immersed. There were hours and hours of dungeon exploration and puzzling to encounter. Now on iPad, Legends of Grimrock is simultaneously open to a new audience and right at home on a great platform.

Legends of Grimrock is of the old school style of RPGs. You control a party of four adventures in a fixed perspective. You can always move, map permitting, in the the four cardinal directions as well as rotate your facing. Most of your time in the dungeon you will be moving around and exploring. Items and secrets are scattered throughout each level, so you have to move slow and be meticulous if you want to catch everything. This game throws you your characters in a pretty bare state, so each peace of loot feels like a triumph.

Combat is real-time to a point. Each character can attack, but said attack has a set cool-down based on the weapon. Monsters can attack you from any side and it is up to you to control your facing and positioning. Kiting enemies and similar tactics are essential to success. Character control is fairly deep with an extensive inventory system and skill trees.

For the most part, Legends of Grimrock feels right at home on iPad. The controls have been rethought in a clever way to fit on the device and the graphics look great. Maybe the only weakness with the iPad controls is when you need to move quickly in combat. It is possible, but I find myself pressing the wrong direction at times. This of course is more a weakness of virtual controls in general.

Legends of Grimrock much like FTL is, dare I say, ideally played on iPad. The platform does not lose any of the graphic fidelity but instead offers convenient access to the hours of fun found in this game. The touch controls add a new element to the exploration and combat is generally as straightforward as usual. If you have yet to explore Grimrock, I highly recommend picking it up. If you’ve delved before, it may very well be worth a return trip.



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      76 answers
Poll created by thequietpunk





SpaceCOM
Availability: iOS Universal
Price: $2.99
App Store Links: App Store

In the far reaches of space, two factions vie for control of systems and resources. Published by the studio behind Anomaly, SpaceCOM is a semi-RTS game the has you conquering and controlling planets in deep space. Imagine it as a more thinky Planets Under Attack.

In SpaceCOM your goal is to defeat your opponent by conquering planets, raising fleets, and controlling key footholds. The game centers around three types of ships. One type is used for space combat against other fleets, another for conquering planets, and another for razing planets. The tradeoffs of each are central to the game. Do you focus on conquering and holding a planets or do you just bombard it and force your opponent to lose the resource? You have limited number of shipyards and travel takes time, so you really need to plan your strategies in advance.

Planets in the game often have strategic resources such as income, repair yards and more. The value of controlling a system has to be weighed against your gain and how difficult it will be to hold. Combat occurs when opposing fleets meet in a system. It is automatic with a superior force generally succeeding. Each unit can also gain seniority which gives it an edge in combat. The goal is generally to conquer your opponent’s home world and claim victory.

While realtime, the game is not twitch based. Ships take several seconds to move from system to system, so you are always trying to plan a step ahead. Apart from that, there are several choices in strategy. Which planet do you take next? What sort of fleet should you focus on? Many questions.

The game features several missions which can be seen as a tutorial, along with online and local play. I have not dived into only play yet, but the local Skirmish mode works well against AI. As you would expect from this studio, SpaceCOM looks great. The UI is highly polished and the iconography is clear. You’ll be able to jump right in and start your space empire.

SpaceCOM is a polished take on the mobile RTS. It has depth in the right places and also streamlined where it needs to be. While the pace may not be for everyone, it is definitely worth checking out.



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Tue May 12, 2015 3:00 pm
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App Review: Coup

Brad Cummings
United States
Connecticut
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Coup
Availability: iOS Universal
Price: Free
App Store Links: App Store

Every once in a while, a digital board game will manage to pull off something deemed impossible. That is the story of Coup. This bluffing and negotiation game seems like an odd fit on tablets as so much of the game seems reliant on table-talk. It would be a lie to say this is not lost in translation, but the core of the game makes it through intact. What emerges is a new experience, and the question is: how well does it work?

In Coup players are dealt two role cards. These role cards represent both what a player can do in the game and their life total. You are eliminated from the game when both of your roles are face up. Each role lets you take a certain action: the Assassin lets you try and kill (reveal) an opponent's role, the Contessa lets you block an assassination attempt against you, the Duke lets you take 3 coins from the bank, the Captain lets you steal coins from other players as well as block steals, and the Ambassador lets you exchange the cards you are holding and can also block steals. On your turn you can take one of these actions (either a card you actually have or claim another card) or you can take two special actions: Coup and Draw Income. A Coup costs seven coins and forces a player to reveal one of their cards. Draw Income lets you draw one coin from the bank.



On a turn of Coup, you take one action and then players can challenge you if they think you are bluffing. If you are caught bluffing, you must reveal a card, if you were not bluffing, the challenger must reveal a card. Gamely continues this way until one player remains. It is a quick game and can be swingy. You may get a bad draw or just get out played, it is all a possibility.

Most the talk around Coup has been focused on its payment model. The game is free to download with various IAP available for different content in the game. Some of this is pretty straightforward: you can buy the original art for the game or additional art styles, you can pay to turn off ads in the game, and so on. The sticking point comes in some of the sillier purchases. The most talked about are the chat packs which give you 10 or so additional preset phrases you can use in-game. They admittedly give you all the needed chat options for free, but you can pay for more, though they feel like purely luxury items. One odd choice is to have a currency for playing ranked games (games with friends are free). That being said, they start you out with enough to play what feels like dozens of games, and you can earn more by winning. It’s odd because Coup is such a swingy game. There are skill based plays, but so much is dependent on the chips falling your way. It does feel strange in parts, but so far I have had a lot of fun in the game and only spent about what I would expect to pay for any other digital board game.



Coup is purely an online experience. Their are three tutorials to get you started, but otherwise there is no AI to speak of. Online play is split into two camps: games with friends and ranked games. Games with friends are pretty straightforward. You can connect with those you know on Facebook or Game Center or with those you friend directly in game. The game supports up to four player games and is asynchronous to a point. With friend games there are no turn timers, but if a friend does not respond fora while, you can boot them. It really is an odd system as you can get added to games without any notice. I have had cases where, while I was asleep, I was both added and then booted from a game with a friend. What kind of friendship is that? I’ve really enjoyed playing with friends, but this sort of failure to alert players is a weakness. Games work best if you can get a group friends that are online at the same time, but this requires outside communication.

Ranked Play is much more structured and should be treated as real time. You can play head to head or with up to four players. So far it has always been fairly easy to get into a game. Turns are done on two minute timers and each player has the chance to challenge as needed. Communication is limited to the preset phrases listed above and so far the community seems pretty tame. The only downside here is you really need to commit to a full game, which is usually around 15 minutes. It really is something you can play quickly on a train, bus or other downtime.

Solidifying this online experience is a progression system. You earn different medals by completing certain tasks in a game. These could include bluffing several times or winning a certain number of games. Each player can then select a medal to display on their profile. These add a bit of theme as well let players know how far along you are in the game.



The game’s UI really does a good job of giving you the info that you need. You can scroll through all the moves made in a game and see the outcome of each, you can also tap on a player to see all they actions they’ve taken so far in the game. Each action is given it’s own button in the UI and those that you are bluffing are clearly marked. You also have quick access to a reminder of what each action does as well as what cards are currently in the deck (at least based on what you know). While you lose the ability to grill someone in person and get them to reveal something, it distills it down to taking the info you have and reading the situation.

I have really enjoyed Coup on my iPhone. Sure, it is no longer a negotiation game, but, much like video poker, it is still a very strong bluffing game. It is a game about learning about players by their actions and past actions. You have to make calls and sometimes you lose, but the rounds go quickly and you can hop right back into another game. Best of all Coup is very pay as you go. You can experience hours of fun for free and then buy add-ons as you want them. I know this not a popular model, but, to me, it has not limited my enjoyment in the least. I for one welcome our new Free to Play overlords.



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      186 answers
Poll created by thequietpunk
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Tue May 5, 2015 3:00 pm
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Review Roundup: Sentinels of the Multiverse Rook City and Hearthstone for Phones

Brad Cummings
United States
Connecticut
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Sentinels of the Multiverse: Rook City
Availability: iPad, Android
Price: $5.99 (for expansion)
App Store Links: App Store, Google Play

As promised, Handelabra has been hard at work on bringing more content to Sentinels of the Multiverse the video game. The first full expansion is Rook City which ads two new heroes, four new villains, and two new locations. If you have been looking to add new variety to your digital Sentinels games, this is going to be a nice influx.

The new content is really fun to explore and master. The new heroes are pretty awesome. There is Expatriate who uses guns and ammo to really decimate her foes, as well as the Fixer who uses a combination of mechanic's tools and martial arts. Both of these heroes seem fairly easy to play and really focus on themselves rather than supporting others. The villains on the other hand are very challenging. My favorite of the bunch is the Matriarch. She summons birds to help her and through several mechanics, she will often flood the board with birds. You and your team will have to focus on crowd control. This boss is indicative of the whole set: there are some fantastic new challenges here and a lot to explore.

If you have been enjoying Sentinels of the Multiverse the Video Game, this is really a no brainer. This is not going to make the game any easier if you found it too challenging, but it will provide hours and hours of more play.




Hearthstone iPhone
Availability: iPhone, Android
Price: Free
App Store Links: App Store, Google Play

Last week saw the release of Hearthstone on smartphones and, strangely, a dip in my productivity. They’ve been teasing this for a while now and it finally materialized close to the same time the game appeared on iPad last year. This is full Hearthstone experience you can have on a tablet or PC, just miniaturized. Did it make the transition well?

What really held up the release of Hearthstone on smaller devices, according to the dev team, was UI design. They knew the traditional UI and went through several iterations. What’s come out is certainly workable. The main focus here is the core gameplay. The layout is basically the same, with a few key changes. First of all, your hand is tucked to the side and must be tapped in order to access it. Once your hand is up, you can tap and drag cards as you usually would. Other changes include a simplified board with fewer clickables, a mana crystal number (only), and changed deck placement. The controls are basically the same, though it has taken some time to get used to the hand change. It is by far the biggest interruption to the flow you will be used to. Elsewhere in the app, menus have been simplified, but all the same functionality is there.

Admittedly, even with minimal changes, iPhone is not the ideal way to play this game. If you have another option, it is probably best to go with that, however, if you only have a smartphone, Hearthstone is a fine experience on the platform and certainly worth playing. The best part about playing Hearthstone on a phone is that, even though it may not be the ideal way, it is still a way to play! It now opens this game up to many situations that would have been cumbersome before, like busses, subways, doctor’s offices and more. For this reason, I find this version to be a great success.
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Tue Apr 21, 2015 6:00 pm
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Review Roundup: Boss Monster and Pickomino

Brad Cummings
United States
Connecticut
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Boss Monster
Availability: iPad, Android
Price: Free to Try
App Store Links: App Store, Google Play

Playing the villain in a board game or video game is not a new concept, but Boss Monster has managed to imbue this genre with an extra dose of nostalgia. Featuring an 8-bit inspired aesthetic that is sure to turn your head, Boss Monster invites players to take on the role of video game bosses and setup their own dungeon to ensnare heroes. In some sort of unholy ritual, this video game inspired card game has now returned to its video game roots on iOS and Android.

Each round you will be building a new room in your dungeon. You can add a new room or upgrade/replace an existing room. Each room features a damage indicator showing how much it will damage a hero that enters, a special ability, and one or more loot symbols. Loot symbols are key to attracting heroes to your dungeon. Each turn heroes are revealed from the deck and will venture into dungeon with the most loot of their type. Once a hero is at your dungeon, they will go through room by room until they either are killed (take too much damage) or reach the boss. If they reach you, you take a wound, if they don’t you receive a soul. The goal is to earn 10 souls to win or be the last boss standing.

The rules go deeper than that, but those are the basics. As for the game itself, there are are varying opinions but most agree that it relies heavily on luck of the draw. Sure, there are important choices throughout, but you will often feel like you lack full control. For a light, fun game like this, however, it is not really an issue. Also, the easy play with the app makes it even better, delivering all the fun with no math to be done. Dang that was cheesy.

Boss Monster fits pretty well on iPad. The game features single player play against pretty smart AI and both local and online multiplayer. The only seems to be working pretty well, thought it is near impossible to find a live opponent. Because the game relies heavily on reaction cards, it is real time for the online play. These sort of reaction cards also affect the single-player experience. Currently, even when playing against AI, you must wait through a timer for each room in a dungeon when a hero ventures through, or any other time a card is played. This is skippable in some cases, but just feels out of place. The team has said they are working on this, but I can tell you, it won’t be a quick fix.

One fun part about playing Boss Monster is the ability to bring the video game nature to life. The game features really great 8 bit style art throughout both in the backgrounds and gameplay. One nice touch is that the heroes actually hop off the cards to venture into your dungeon. Overall, the screen layout works pretty well on iPad. You always see your dungeon and can toggle between your opponents dungeons. Even on a full sized iPad, a lot of the text can be challenging to read. I often find myself misreading a 8 as a 6 or something similar. The UI also leaves a lot to be desired in terms of consistency. It can be tricky to play certain types of cards and abilities and you will often find yourself missing an opportunity because you were fighting the interface.

Overall, Boss Monster is a fun game that could use some polish in a few specific areas. It really allows you to play this game in a quick, enjoyable way. The presentation is well done and really feels at home on the platform. While opinions vary on Boss Monster on the tabletop, for the digital version I really recommend checking out the free version. If you enjoy it, you can then upgrade to the full content. Definitely give this one a try.



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How do you rate Boss Monster?
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4 Stars
3 Stars
2 Stars
1 Star
      108 answers
Poll created by thequietpunk





Pickomino
Availability: iOS Universal
Price: $2.99
App Store Links: App Store

We received the press release about the release of Pickomino about 5 days after it was available in the App Store, so let’s just say this one was a total surprise. Pickomino is a push your luck dice game from the venerable Reiner Knizia. While it appears similar to Chicken Cha Cha Cha, this is actually from USM, the folks behind Catan and more.

Pickomino has players take the role of birds vying for the most worms at a BBQ (but premise ever!). Each portion of worms on the grill has a target number that must be reached in order to claim it. On each of your turns you will roll all of the dice and choose one number to keep all of each roll. You can keep rolling until all the dice or locked or you can stop and claim a portion if you have the appropriate number. If, for whatever reason, you are unable to keep any dice then you are forced to put one of your portions back and the highest value portion remaining becomes burned (un-claimable). A round ends when all the portions have been claimed, and they player with the most worms is the winner.

Overall, this app is a model of great design. All the features you’d expect including AI, local, and online play, polished UI, and plenty of settings are present. While this may not be a game that will grab you constantly, what is there is highly polished and worked. The game is simple enough that this can work for both kids and adults. There are some important choices to be made, but a lot relies on the dice so it can even the playing the field across ages.

I’ve really enjoyed my time with Pickomino so far and highly recommend it. It will not be a go to strategy staple, but it is a quick brain teaser that perfect in short bursts.



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      39 answers
Poll created by thequietpunk
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Fri Apr 10, 2015 6:24 pm
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Review Roundup: Dice Town, Sid Meier's Starships, and Card Crawl

Brad Cummings
United States
Connecticut
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Dice Town
Availability: iOS Universal
Price: $3.99
App Store Links: App Store

Poker dice may be some of the best dice ever created, in my humble opinion. Dice Town uses these dice to create an interesting poker game.

Each round you will roll five dice up to five times, keeping one or more each time. The goal is twofold: to build the best poker hand and to collect the most of one type of card. After dice are rolled the players head to town to collect rewards for the types of cards they have the most of. The player with the most nines collects gold nuggets from the mine. The player with the most tens gets all the money currently in the bank. The player with the most Jacks gets a card from the General Store. The player with the most Queens can still a card from another player. The player with the most Kings becomes the Sheriff (who wins ties). Lastly the player with the best poker hand gets to draw land deed cards from the Town Hall. Wow, I don’t usually go into that much detail in the rules, but it really is that straightforward. The goal is to collect victory points in gold, money, land, etc. The player with the most is the winner.

Dice Town has finally made its way to digital devices. We heard about it last year but then it was radio silence until suddenly it appeared. This app is what I would call a bare bones offering. The game features a pretty challenging selection of AI players, with a whole slew available to unlock. Sadly, there are no multiplayer options; this is entirely a solo affair.

The interface is another point of contention. You will eventually learn it but things are not obvious at first. One of the most frustrating things is that the design language seems to shift with each mechanic. One general store card can work completely differently from another. Sometimes you will find your self hunting for how to proceed the game.

Dice Town is not going to light your world on fire. It is great to have this game on the go and the single player game really has a lot of neat goals in place. The experience is pulled down by a lack of multiplayer and overall polish. If you can brave the interface and are ready for a solo focused experience, there is a lot of fun to be had here.



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How do you rate Dice Town?
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4 Stars
3 Stars
2 Stars
1 Star
      100 answers
Poll created by thequietpunk





Sid Meier's Starships
Availability: iPad (PC/Mac)
Price: $14.99
App Store Links: App Store

When this game was announced a few weeks ago, I must admit I was very excited. Finally, we would have a Civ game built specifically for tablets. In this regard, the game has succeeded. It is a perfect tablet experience (really, don’t play it on PC) adding to the complexity of Civilization Revolution while still being manageable.

Starships features two different types of gameplay. The first is strategic level control of your planets and the galaxy at large. In this part of the game you will build improvements on planets, research science projects, construct wonders, and improve your starship fleet. The game features four currencies with clear and specific uses. Energy is for upgrading starships, metal is for building wonders and improvements on planets, science is for researching new starship technologies, and food is for building cities which boost production on a planet overall. This is definitely a simplification but it makes strategizing and specializing very clear.

The second part of the game is combat. To expand your star systems you will either need to complete missions for neutral planets or conquer the planets of other players. These all involve combat. Each player has just one fleet, so positioning them between turns is key. Your turn timer is the endurance of your crew. Once you are out of endurance, you pass your turn to the next player. Combat is turn-based with players moving all of their ships at once. Battles are on a 2D plane and are based around using asteroid and other objects for cover and then getting the jump on your enemy. The goal of a given mission may range from eliminating all enemies to escorting a specific ship to safety. There is quite a bit of variety in these battles.

I have really enjoyed Starships, and I think a lot of that has to do with expectations. This is a mobile game at its core. If you are looking for a deeper experience, you will want to look to one of its relations on PC. At higher difficulty levels, Starships players a lot like a game of Eclipse. There are very specific objectives to achieve and you are racing to be first. You have to really specialize and choose a path to succeed.

The game is not without its flaws, of course. Like many Civ games, if you are going for a domination victory, the final battles can be tedious. The enemy’s fleet recovers between each battle so to conquer a player you will find yourself fighting a similar battle over and over. The TBS natures of these battle can make this a long process. Another frustration has been AI players folding to each other towards the of the game. There have been a few occasions when I had a commanding lead and then suddenly lost because three players combined and instantly had a wonder victory. It was very frustrating.

I’ve really enjoyed my time with Starships and it is now my go to 4x game on my iPad. While it lacks the depth that some would like, I think it is the perfect weight for quick sessions on the go. I really recommend it as a portable Civ game.



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How do you rate Sid Meier's Starships?
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      109 answers
Poll created by thequietpunk






Card Crawl
Availability: iOS Universal
Price: $1.99
App Store Links: App Store

This little gem should already be on your phone! Card Crawl is a new take on Solitaire that also manages to scratch the TCG itch. Your goal is to battle your way through a deck of cards full of swords, shields, potions, coins, and, most importantly, monsters.

Each round four cards are dealt and you can hold up to 3 in your hand. You must deal with three of the four cards before more will be dealt. Potions and coins can be collected by dragging them to your hand. You can also equip swords and shields which will help you “fight” monsters. Each monster has a number value and will do that amount of damage to you unless you lower that number with swords or shields. The deck also features special ability cards that allow you to manipulate the cards in the game. Using the right cards at the right time is key to succeeding.

Your character can take up to 13 points of damage. If you can make it through the deck with your character still living, you win, otherwise you;ll need to try again. As I mentioned, the game feels like a TCG game to me because it is all about trading wisely. You need to get two for one deals as often as possible in order to succeed. These choices are so interesting that the minute you are done with a game, you’ll want to start up again immediately.

This is a go to quick game for me now. If you find yourself with a few minutes to kill, this is the perfect companion. Card Crawl is one of the best surprises in recent memory.



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How do you rate Card Crawl?
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      128 answers
Poll created by thequietpunk
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Fri Mar 27, 2015 1:06 pm
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App Review: Wars and Battles: Normandy Campaign

Walter OHara
United States
Burke
Virginia
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The Stats:
Compatibility: iPad
Current Price: $6.99
Developer/Publisher: Kermorio
Multiplayer: Yes, local.
AI: Yes.
iTunes link: Wars and Battles


I was given the opportunity to play and review the recent game from the Battle Factory, called "Wars and Battles". The core of Wars and Battles is a hex based battle game with an old school look to it, set in a very narrowly defined battlefield in linked campaign. Battles are launched from a standard interface that should be able to host future campaigns from other eras.



The main screen


Kermorio is gambling on a standard interface approach, somewhat modular with unit icons OR 2D pieces being the default view. These are played on a standard 22 hex map with variable terrain features whose cumulative effect is usually reduction of movement or influencing combat or line of sight.


In game touch tip and tutorial help is very good, as you can see above.


A Campaign is essentially a linked progression of battle scenarios played out on these 22 hex battle maps. Campaigns are in game purchases, with the base game being 6.99, and at time of writing, the Normandy Campaign in WW2 is available for additional charge beyond the default basic game.

Having played through the Normandie (sic) campaign, I would recommend this IGP. Historical material is very well done and it's clear research went into this game-- each unit has a background piece and it's more than a drag and click interface. The historical campaign follows Normandy closely and I had no complaints based on what I know about the campaign from a historical viewpoint, which is a decent familiarity. Campaign missions follow a progression from Easy to Very Hard, and you are debriefed for success or failure at the end of each one.



Mission Debrief, end of every scenario


I'm not sure if the map sizes will expand beyond the 22 hex per screen standard or the approach will be to stay modular. I can see the benefits of a modular system when


More Normandy Fun



More of the Wars and Battles in tutorial mode


Artificial Intelligence in this game is decent to moderate and the decisions being made were okay, though predictable at times. I found it to be overly defensive and not as aggressive as it could have been, but if you factor in that Normandy actually is a defensive campaign for the Germans I guess that makes sense. The campaign structure is logical and sensible. Players will accrue experience over time and replacement units to fill in for casualties. In this respect I was reminded, strongly, of several other games I've played in the last year that use a similar progressive campaign structure-- in particular and variation of Panzer General or its various incarnations over time, or near-knockoffs. That's neither here nor there-- a campaign really needs some form of structure or it is difficult to execute, and the PG template works as well as anything.

The modular "game engine" approach is somewhat new for wargames on the IOS. Kermorio has high hopes of porting the same approach to many different battles, including Napoleonic or ACW era battles. I remain unconvinced the scales of those two eras will work in this engine, but I'd be willing to give them a try.

In Summary, Kermorio has had a very decent first outing with WARS AND BATTLES-- which is a mix of old and new ideas that will appeal to hard core wargamers and newcomers alike. For 6.99 plus a pittance for the IGPs, I certainly think there is plenty of value for the retail price.

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How do you rate Wars and Battles?
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      43 answers
Poll created by thequietpunk


Note: Repost from the 3PoS (Third Point of Singularity) Wordpress blog.
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Tue Mar 24, 2015 6:00 pm
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Wargame Review Roundup: Ultimate General: Gettysburg, Pike and Shot, and Hell: Fight for Gilrand

Brad Cummings
United States
Connecticut
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Grognards unite! The last few weeks have played host to the release of several new wargames for digital devices. The settings vary from the American Civil War to a ghoulish fantasy realm. As I am very behind on my reviewing schedule, lets take a quick look at each.



Ultimate General: Gettysburg
Availability: iPad
Price: $7.99
App Store Links: App Store

This game has been tempting us with its beautiful design for more than a year. Ultimate General: Gettysburg is slow-paced RTS based on the famous battle. For an RTS, it really sticks to the history and provides the same challenges and lines you expect. On iOS the battle is split into different scenarios which cover a set number of hours. You are free to play both sides. While it is limited to the one battle, there is a fair number of scenarios and variety.

Units are controlled in real time but take quite a while to respond and move, this is not a twitch based affair. Units have some basic controls such as run, charge, fortify, and retreat. The use of these commands is key to success. There are also general units which an exert influence and increase morale. As you command your units you will see soldiers fall and lines form up. It is all presented in a beautiful way. This is hands down one of the pretties wargames I have played on iOS.

Ultimate General Gettysburg is difficult. I wouldn’t call myself an expert but I have played a few wargames in my day. With this one, however, I lose repeatedly. The biggest issue is I am not sure what to fix. While the game features an excellent tutorial, I feel like the first mission is directly into the fire. That being said, those wiser than I will not have issue, but for a more casual wargamer it is almost impossible to breach.

I really admire this game for its presentation, UI, and controls. They are literally some of the best on the platform. For me personally I found the game too crunchy and impossible to comprehend form a casual point of view. Your strategy game chops will really be the guiding light here. If you consider yourself a strong strategy gamer, this is not one to miss.



Poll
How would you rate Ultimate General: Gettysburg?
5 stars
4 stars
3 stars
2 stars
1 star
      58 answers
Poll created by thequietpunk





Hell: Fight for Gilrand
Availability: iPad
Price: $12.99
App Store Links: App Store

Back at Slitherine’s press convention in 2014, we learned about a fantasy wargame built in the BA2 engine by Hunted Cow. That game was Hell and last week it was summoned onto iOS. In Hell you command an army of fantasy units through a campaign fighting demons and other monsters. Much like Battle Academy 2, the game is all about using terrain to your advantage and properly flanking/supporting troops.

The main difference here is the fantasy world. instead of tanks and artillery, you have knights, wizards, and paladins. Each mission features a different mix of units and using each type of units wisely is key. The games features two lengthy campaigns and a well done tutorial. It is great to see the presentation of Hunted Cow improved through the Battle Academy engine.

If I have one complaint about Hell, it is that is too similar to Battle Academy. In many ways it feels like a quick re-skin. Many of the attributes and mechanics from BA2 are carried right over. This is not necessarily a problem as the BA series is very well done, however, it often does feel to dwell with the setting. Because it stays so close to its roots, battles feel slow and cautious. This made sense for WW2, you need to set up positions and attack the enemy. With a fantasy world, I expect more boldness and recklessness, but the system just doesn’t allow it. You are always on even power level with the enemy and need to use any advantage to get the upper hand. It feels disjointed.

It is great to see the Battle Academy engine branch out but here I think more could have been done. Hell is a fine strategic wargame but does not seem to bring much new to the table compared to the series it stems from.



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How would you rate Hell: Fight for Gilrand?
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4 Stars
3 Stars
2 Stars
1 Star
      21 answers
Poll created by thequietpunk





Pike and Shot
Availability: iPad
Price: $19.99
App Store Links: App Store

Pike & Shot is another title built in the Battle Academy 2 engine. Unlike Hell, however, the game feels fresh, different, and entirely unique. Some mechanics remain, but the core gameplay is very different.

In Pike & Shot war is a formal affair. On a given battlefield, you can get a clear view of all units on the board. Fitting in with the time period, this game is more about assessing the situation and finding a way to break your opponents. Each of your units has a very clear use that is explained beautifully by the game’s tutorial. Your goal is to correctly match up these advantages and hopefully cause the enemy unit to break. Most units have the ability to attack at range, but also the ability to charge. This ability is key as it is the main way you will set up fronts and push enemy units back. Charge also has its tradeoffs as it locks units in combats and prevents ranged attacks.

Much like Ultimate General: Gettysburg, this is game is all about setting up lines and knowing when to charge. Making these calls is the key to victory. The game features a tutorial along with two campaigns. They do seem lengthy and battles quickly escalate to a very large scale. There is a ton of wargaming goodness in this package.

I’ve really enjoyed Pike & Shot. It is a refreshing take on wargaming for iOS and shows great potential in what the Battle Academy engine can do. I really recommend checking this one out.



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How would you rate Pike and Shot?
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      33 answers
Poll created by thequietpunk
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Wed Mar 4, 2015 3:00 pm
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Review Roundup: Capitalism Quest, Auro, Sopio, and Trouble with Robots

Brad Cummings
United States
Connecticut
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I am ashamed. I have been playing many great things, but PAX and Toy Fair have made it hard to find solid review writing time. As a glorious cop out, I present a series of quick hit reviews.




Capitalism Quest
Availability: iOS Universal
Price: Free
App Store Links: App Store

This game is a mystery. It is a free to play (no IAP) timer based game that has me totally hooked. Capitalism Quest is all about building resource producing buildings, collecting those resources, and building more buildings. Each time you exploit a natural resource your charity level goes down, but can go back up by planting forests. All this is done on a shared world with other players. You can build houses that you can eventually sell (and other players can buy) as well as establish markets to sell excess resources.

The gameplay is fairly simple but great for dropping in every couple of days. While timer based, there is no need to constantly be checking in. The developer has said he intended most people to check in about once a week. The real hook here for me is the persistent, shared world. In my few weeks of playing, I have seen new players come into the game and suddenly start building up around me. The players even teamed up to build a road that runs down the vertical and horizontal middles of the current map. Imagine Sim City lite in a shared world.

Capitalism Quest is an interesting social experiment. Much like Peter Moleyneux’s Curiosity app, this game keeps you coming back to see what they community is doing. I highly recommend it.



Poll
How do you rate Capitalism Quest?
5 Stars
4 Stars
3 Stars
2 Stars
1 Star
      22 answers
Poll created by thequietpunk





Auro
Availability: iOS Universal, Android
Price: $2.99
App Store Links: App Store, Google Play

Keith Burgun is back again with another weird, bizarre, brilliant game. In Auro you are trying to bump all enemy monsters off the board with the titular character Auro. You have a series of spells and abilities to help you in this task, but it will also require a healthy amount of brain power. Auro is a deep, challenging puzzle game.

The game features a pretty lengthy tutorial which walks you through all the monster types you will encounter and the spells needed to defeat the. Some monsters are “heavy” and cannot be bumped without using a spell, others can only be bumped once they are frozen. You will want to do a good portion of the tutorial as the main game will expect you to have the majority of the knowledge contained within.

The main gameplay is a series of “dungeon runs” where you are trying to make it to the end of the dungeon and bump monsters off the board. Bumping monsters earns points towards a target score for that run. As you complete goals, you will level up which will unlock more challenging boards. The game is not afraid to throw almost anything at you. If you are a puzzle lover, you are going to find perfect gameplay here.

Auro features a beautiful animation style with sprites reminiscent of the SNES era. That being said, the monsters can be just plain weird, but that is part of the fun. Auro is a challenging game but a rewarding one. It makes you think and lets you celebrate your victories. This is a strategy puzzle game that should not be missed.



Poll
How do you rate Auro?
5 Stars
4 Stars
3 Stars
2 Stars
1 Star
      27 answers
Poll created by thequietpunk





Sopio
Availability: iOS Universal
Price: $1.99
App Store Links: App Store

Imagine, if you will, that Fluxx and Munchkin were designed from the ground up to fit perfectly on mobile devices. Both have a lot going on the table that really hinders mobile play (while the Fluxx app is a noble effort). Sopio is a game in the same genre (you lose because I played a card, haha) as the above, but is an digital original. Because of this the gameplay fits perfectly on mobile. This is by far its greatest strength.

In Sopio, your goal is to reach 1000 points. This is done by playing cards on yourself or others. Any card in your hand can be played on any player. You play one card each turn and draw one additional card each turn. Some cards give you points while others take them away. Additionally there are several cards that provide special actions like reversing the flow play or forcing a player to discard cards. Games go until either one player reaches 1000 points or a the deck runs out and ever card has been played. Generally it is the latter. It becomes this push your luck game of holding on to certain so your last play puts you in the lead.

Sopio is the best fit of this type of game on iOS. The flow is easy to follow and gameplay is quick. However, overall the game just didn’t grab me. This gameplay is fun in the right setting but solo against AI on mobile is not really it. It is a well done app, but a lackluster game.



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How do you rate Sopio?
5 Stars
4 Stars
3 Stars
2 Stars
1 Star
      16 answers
Poll created by thequietpunk





Trouble With Robots
Availability: iOS Universal, Android
Price: Free with IAP
App Store Links: App Store, Google Play

Don’t we all love a good defense game from time to time? Trouble With Robots takes the defense formula and mixes it with deck building. You are a fantasy army trying to stop an onslaught of robotic invaders. Accompanying your battles is a silly story with moments of humor.

Before each battle you select a deck of five to seven cards. These are then dealt to you in random order during the battle. Each card will either producer a certain type of unit such as peasants, elves, dwarves, and more, or a card may represent a spell. Unlock many defense games, the goal is to build up a larger and larger army throughout the battle. You even received rewards for not losing a unit during a wave. Healing is key and one of the main strategic choices in the game.

The game features half a dozen missions to try and then additional chapters via IAP. While not reinventing the genre, the deck and hand management does add a welcome twist to the defense gameplay. Definitely give this one a try.



Poll
How do you rate Trouble with Robots?
5 Stars
4 Stars
3 Stars
2 Stars
1 Star
      35 answers
Poll created by thequietpunk
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Fri Feb 27, 2015 1:49 pm
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