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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iOS News Bits: Lines of Gold • Ghost Stories • Elder Sign: Omens • Cyclades • Mancala FS5 • Starbase Orion • Fealty • It's Alive • Tactical Soldier • Tigris & Euphrates • Callisto • Lock 'N Load • Black Friday • And Much More

Gabe Alvaro
United States
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• Reiner Knizia's Lines of Gold Released
• Through the Desert Updated
• Ghost Stories Updated
• Go Fish-Multiplayer Released
• FFG Announces Elder Sign: Omens
• Cyclades Released
• Various Apps Updated for iOS 5 Compatability
• Mancala FS5 Gets Async with Game Center
• Starbase Orion Updated
• Fealty Info Update
• Pick-Up Sticks Released
• War of Words Updated
• It's Alive Released
• Tactical Soldier: Undead Rising Campaign 2 Released
• Double Across - Crossword Puzzle Game Updated
• Tigris & Euphrates Coming Very Soon
• Reiner Knizia's Callisto Released
• Lock 'N Load Publishing to partner with Playdek, Names Four Titles
• Alien Frontiers Info Update
• Chinese 13 Card Poker Update

• Reiner Knizia's Lines of Gold Released - October 13
We missed this one in our last iOS News Bits post. The good doctor rolls on, while we all lose count, with his second to latest release (see below), and second for Rational Brothers (who also did BattleLine). This one, for iOS Universal and priced at $0.99, is part puzzle game, part casino slot machine, part adventure game, part tile placing board game, and part sudoko style brain teaser. We know it's a puzzler instead of board game app, but when the doctor releases yet another new title, it's hard to just let it go by without mention.

• Through the Desert Updated - October 13
It's not clear if it was updated for iOS 5, but the most recent update introduced a "Much faster AI" and "iPad 2 stability fixes".

• Ghost Stories Updated - October 18
Finally, Repos updated Ghost Stories to play up to four players! The iPad only app is still priced at $5.99. Here's the newsome goodness:
What's new

• Bring your friends ! The game is now up to 4 players !

• The interface is improved : more shining buttons to guide you !
• Rare bug fix : having no mantra left in the stack and choosing the tea house action will no longer freeze the game

• Go Fish-Multiplayer Released - October 19
Believe it or not, there are nowhere near as many Go Fish apps in the App Store as Chess, Go, or even Mancala. I suppose, like so many things on the Interwebs, we could just chalk that up to geek-bias. Do you Geeks even remember how to play Go Fish? Well, maybe this app can help you.

Not to be confused with Go Fish Multiplayer, GoFish-Multiplayer is for iPhone, can support play of one to four players and uses Game Center claiming it is turn-based. Does this mean people will play async Go Fish? For the launch price of $1.99, you can find out.

• FFG Announces Elder Sign: Omens - October 14, 19
First we read a report that someone had seen Richard Launius and Kevin Wilson’s popular dice game, Elder Sign: Omens on the iPad, not exactly in the wild, but at at Fantasy Flight Games's Arkham Nights convention. Then, five days later, Elder Sign: Omens was announced by FFG, and not just for iPad ($6.99), but for iPhone/iPod ($3.99), Mac OS X ($6.99), and Android ($3.99) as well!

FFG takes pains to note that while Elder Sign: Omens conveys the spirit of the Elder Sign dice game, a few noteworthy differences were adopted to to optimize the mobile play experience. You can read more about it at the FFG site. The app will support from 1-4 players. At announcement time FFG said to look for the app in the App Store, Mac App Store, and Android Marketplace in the "coming weeks". We think the shrewd approach would be to release a week before Halloween, but we're guessing a Halloween release date.

• BANG! [HD] the Official Video Game Updated - October 19, 21
Palzoun and SpinVector updated both versions of BANG! the Official Video Game last week to version 2.0, finally adding multiplayer, much to the uncanny coincident timing of Brad's review wondering when exactly we'd ever seen an update. Brad, being the fast mover that he is, was able to post a follow-up review just a few days later. You can check it out and read all about the welcome, enjoyable, mysterious, and even frustrating (we hope not for long) aspects of the update.!-the-official-video-game/id...!-hd-official-video-game/id4...

• Cyclades Released - October 20
BGGers had been asking and asking, and information was hard to come by, but finally Cyclades, the app based on the ancient Greek mythology-themed city building board game, arrived in the App Store last week. Suprising in some ways, yet not in others. We did tell you that you would be playing Cyclades in October. I guess we're just so used to developers extending dates and giving them leeway that its surprising somewhat when an app actually hits a promised date!

And now the other news. While the print game plays 2-5, the iPad app plays just two, and only two. The app description does not take pains to make that completely clear, though it does call it "a game for two players". If one wonders whether one of those players might be a computer AI, the answer is no. There is no AI yet. We're checking in to see what might be next for Cyclades and will report when we know more.

A couple of threads around the Web, like this one focused on board games and this one focused on iOS gaming in general, show just what is expected by interested buyers of board game apps. In case you aren't clear on it, players want AI and online multiplayer, with the edge probably going to AI first. After all, when you download that app at 3 in morning, who else but you and you alone is gonna be ready to play it?

• Various Apps Updated for iOS 5 Compatability - October 17-21
Reiner Knizia's Kingdoms Updated (+ minor UI improvement) - October 17
Army of Frogs Updated - October 20
Army of Frogs HD Updated - October 20
Smart Way HD Updated - October 20
Smart Way Updated - October 20
Croke Updated - October 20
Neuroshima Hex Updated - October 21
Neuroshima Hex Puzzle Updated - October 21

• Mancala FS5 Gets Async with Game Center - October 21
FlipSide 5 has updated it's premiere Mancala app to take advantage of the new asynchronous turn-based gaming mode now available in iOS 5. Players are able to play up to 15 games simultaneously against their Game Center friends and players.

CEO of FlipSide5, Michael Sanford says,
"Turn-based, asynchronous gaming fits seamlessly into the digital mobile lifestyle. Mancala FS5 is the largest Mancala mobile community in the world and iOS 5 allows us to extend its social use in a very natural way. We are very excited to offer iOS users an even better user experience today."

Preach it (and practice it) brother Michael!

• Starbase Orion Updated - October 22
We've been having quite a bit of fun with the 4X turn-based space strategy game app known as Starbase Orion that draws inspiration from titles such as Master of Orion and Galactic Civilizations. While this iOS Universal app came with excellent features, learning one's way around the app and even playing on the iPad proved to be a bit of challenge. That was until Chimera software came up with one hell of an incremental (and quick!) update to version 1.0.3. Things are much better now, here's why:
Chimera Software][size=7 wrote:
What's new

Thanks everyone for the great feedback! Here is what's new:
Remember, if you like what you see make sure to review Starbase Orion with each update. Your 5 star ratings help ensure more free content updates!

*** Most Notable Changes and Improvements ***

- All new in-game reference guide. Please tap on the '?' button and check it out. (the '?' can be turned on and off in the Options)

- Stability and performance improvements, especially for low memory devices such as the original iPad

- Fixes for text descriptions on iPod/iPhone devices. The text is no longer cut-off.

- All building descriptions now include maintenance cost and lot space required.

*** More Changes ***

- Tapping on the portrait in the custom race selection properly changes the portrait now
- Fixed and issue with the planetary gravity generator
- Improved performance when you drag the colonists around in the planet view
- Fixed an issue of differing battle results between the server and client battle resolution code
- When moving population between planet in the same system, it was possible to move too many and they insta-die from over population. Now it alerts the player with a dialog before doing that.
- When there are multiple battles on the galaxy map at the same time, sometimes it would take you to the wrong battle. Fixed.
- Fixed a text issue with troop transports and how many marines they actually carry.
- Added text info for limited ammo weapons
- Sneaky people could put orbital bombardment packages on ships too small to carry it. Now they can't.
- Ship designer now limits ships to one bombardment package, and one shield upgrade.
- Fixed an issue with population starvation on planets with full population
- Starbase Orion will now automatically launch a mutliplayer game when the app is opened by a notification
- Turn compression didn't stop when you are actively bombarding a planet. Now it does.
- Adjusted the research indicators to use shapes as well as colors.
- Fixed a bug where choosing "Large Homeworld" or "Small Homeworld" could cause you to get a high or low gravity starting word.
- Fixed an issue when leaving the military screen it would select the top most fleet always, instead of the player selected fleet
- Added your own empire to the foreign empires listing, allowing you to see your own stats[/size]

• Fealty Info Update - October 21
We first learned at GenCon 2011 that Fealty for iPad was coming and reported about it back in early August. We've recently learned from Chris Cieslik at Asmadi Games that the iOS version of Fealty is coming along pretty nicely. They have got most of the gameplay engine coded (placing pieces, special abilities, counting score), but still have to tackle graphics, UI tweaks, and hooking it up to GameCenter for internet play. So far we know it will be for iPad at least, but other devices are not yet confirmed.

• Pick-Up Sticks Released - October 23
Seasoned gamers might laugh, but perhaps they forget that games like Pick Up Sticks might have been one of the first games to teach them even simple concepts like taking turns. I shudder to think just how much of a simulacrum the children of today are only experiencing through these little black devices and denying themselves the pleasure of dumping out a can full of multi-colored sticks. But thanks to multi-touch interfaces, developers like Speedy Winner Holdings are trying just about anything for app game ideas.

This one comes free for iOS Universal with single player, online multiplayer, and four modes of play including Causal Mode, Arcade Mode, Time Attack Mode, and a Creative Mode where you set your own pattern for victorious stick-picking glory. The app also comes with In-App purchase options for stick themes and backgrounds. Who knew there was some variation to be had in such simple game? We'll stomach the use of the Chicago font, but we're still not sure about the optional sausage theme.

• War of Words Updated - October 24
We learned about War of Words when we mentioned another combative word game called Scryptic. This Universal app is now available in both free and $1.99 versions. What's it all about? Well, take your common Scrabble-like crossword game, now add bombs so you can blow up your opponent's words. While you're at it, go ahead and steal some of your opponent's words as well. That's War of Words. Now Wolf Studios has updated the app to version 3.0 and added the $1.99 version (also 3.0 about a week later). Both are for iOS Universal. Here's what's new for version 3.0:
What's new

IMPORTANT! This update requires iOS 4.3 or higher. If you receive a message that this game doesn't support your device, you need to update your device. War of Words does NOT support iPod Touch 2nd Generation or earlier, or iPhone 3G or earlier.

- Introducing the Shield Tile!
- New game options have been added to the bottom of the board selection menu:
- Limit Swaps (each player will be allowed three swaps per game)
- Shield Tiles (Shield Tiles will be in the supply of most boards)
- Balanced Distribution (vowels and consonants will be balanced as much as possible)
- New feature: Statistics! From within a game, tap More | Statistics to see tons of info about your opponent and that game
- Players will now be able to see which tiles were blown up by a Land Mine
- Six new boards
- Six new achievements
- New game background: Particles
- Added an intro video for new players
- Now supports upside down portrait orientation
- New option: Lock Orientation (keeps the game upright even if your device is upside down)
- Updated many of the graphics
- Improved graphics performance
- Compatibility with iOS 5
- Many stability improvements and bug fixes
- This update requires iOS 4.3 or higher (up from 4.1)

War of Words -
War of Words Free -

• It's Alive Released - October 25
Just in time for Halloween, developer Jeremiah Maher and game designer Yehuda Berlinger (a long time BGG regular) bring us IT'S ALIVE! - Yehuda Berlinger's Monster Building Board Game. In this app for iOS Universal app you play the role of a mad scientist collecting body parts (ewww!) to assemble them into monster. And of course the first player to do this gets to maniacally shriek, "It's ALIVE!", which wins you the basic game, but body parts and coins count for most points in the advanced game for the truly mad. The app is launch priced for the holiday at just $0.99, which is cheaper than a bag of fun-sized Milk Duds. Our own not-so mad scientist, Brad Cummings, just posted a timely review for your pleasure and well-informedness. And for some audio/visual we offer the promo video:!-yehuda-berlingers/id4...

• Tactical Soldier: Undead Rising Campaign 2 Released - October 26
The folks at Full Control ApS want you to know that a new campaign for the turn-based X-com-like zombie killing game app, Tactical Soldier: Undead Rising is now available in version 2.0 of the iOS Universal app. The new campaign, called "Campaign 2 - Mopping Up", is available as an In-App purchase for $4.99. Let's hear more from the source:

Team Tactical Soldier wrote:
"Mopping Up" sees our team of soldiers chasing a renegade scientist through a rural countryside in the Pacific Northwest. You'll have to use both brains and firepower to guide your team safely through the dark woods, facing down grizzly zombified wildlife and hungry undead lumberjacks. As well as new enemies, the DLC [Ed: Downloadable Content] adds brand new weapons to your available arsenal.

Here's a short trailer too:

• Double Across - Crossword Puzzle Game Updated - October 26
We reported Double Across - Crossword Puzzle Game as being one of the first board game apps out of the gate ready for iOS 5. One of the new features of iOS 5 on the iPad is the ability to detach the keyboard from the bottom of the screen and split it into two keypads, which is a more ergonomic option for some given the iPad's dimensions. Sol Robots has made a fix to their app in version 2.0.1 that now accounts for this new feature.
What's new

- Better support for Undocked keyboards in iOS 5. We now increase the game board size as appropriate, the hide keyboard no longer shows untouchable regions of the keyboard, and the keyboard is now translucent when undocked. We plan to add better support for undocked/split keyboards in a future releases, but added these changes to specifically address the biggest problems with undocked keyboards on Double Across.

• Tigris & Euphrates Coming Very Soon - October 26
Codito, the good communicators they are, have posted once again to let everyone know what's happening with the highly anticipated release of their app of Reiner Knizia's modern classic, Tigris & Euphrates. They have moved the release date into November, but imploring folks to just hang on a little longer as they are extremely close.

All this waiting of course appears to have good reasons attached to it, the most notable perhaps being the addition of Game Center turn-based multiplayer support, which is reported to be working great but still in testing.

They have assured everybody that they will be letting us know when they are just waiting on Apple. Many people, and especially those of us who have enjoyed the async goodness of this modern classic on BGG, will certainly be waiting in breathless anticipation!

• Reiner Knizia's Callisto Released - October 25
According to our quick count, Reiner Knizia now has 25 different games as apps in the App Store. We've said before that the good doctor and his people are eager to work with developers of all kinds. The latest developer, Strayk, has the honor of releasing Dr. Knizia's very latest app for the iPad, Callisto. The app is launch priced at $3.99.

What's Callisto like? The casual gamer may see its polyominoes and call it Tetris meets Chess, which would be ridiculous. The more experienced board gamer will no doubt note its superficial visual and mechanical resemblances to Blokus. Distinguishing board gamers will see that, though the simple goal is to be the first player to place all your tiles onto the board, Knizia brings a bit more to this solid abstract strategy game. For a closer look at Callisto and its inspiration, I recommend this review from user lacxox, which not only covers Callisto, but gives a nice historical account of various polyoministic games.

• Lock 'N Load Publishing to partner with Playdek, Names Four Titles - October 26
We reported last week that Playdek had reported news of exciting new partnerships with more board game publishers. One of these is Lock 'N Load Publishing, maker of award winning board and computer war games. For all of its historical ubiquity--war games have been around forever, right?--getting real war games onto the iPad has not come as fast as some would hope.

We've heard from a few promising publishers about them and judging by their time lines, there could be a lot more blossoming in Spring time 2012 than just flowers. The latest of these promises was confirmed by none other than Mark H Walker, founder of Lock 'N Load Publishing, last week in a followup comment to our news post and light speculation about Playdek's announcement. Though not all war games, Mark confirmed the games that they will work on with Playdek to be: World at War Series, Tank on Tank, Run, Fight, or Die!, and Space Infantry.

• Alien Frontiers Info Update - October 27
Clint reports getting beaten by his own AI during testing and bug fixing for Alien Frontiers for iPad. Still no release date announce, but now's the time we start wondering if we'll see it in the next four weeks leading up to Black Friday.

• Chinese 13 Card Poker Update - October 27
In Chinese Poker, also known as Pusoy and Russian Poker, you are dealt 13 cards, make three hands of three, five, and five cards, and trying to have the best two or three hands. Smappsoft, developers of the Chinese 13 Card Poker app have given their app a big update to version 2.0 with all the modern features Game Center and more. Check it out:
What's new

This is a major update, with many new features including:

1) Online play using Game Center.
2) In-game text chat for online and bluetooth play.
2) New and improved game setup.
3) Choice of Easy and Hard levels for Computer AI Players.
4) Game Center Achievements.
5) Improved graphics & new icon.

• Just four weeks until Black Friday - October 28
All marketplaces have ebbs and flows of sales volume. The App Store is no different. Careful shoppers on the App Store know how to watch for sales on apps they they may have had their eye on. You generally never know when an app will get a price break. Some apps never get them. Holidays, even the lesser ones, are a great time to keep an eye out for deals. And the deals don't get any bigger (or perhaps any bigger hyped) than the day after Thanksgiving, otherwise known as Black Friday. Black Friday happens on November 25th this year.

Why should App Store developers (or perhaps merchants, many are one and the same) pay attention to this? For many reasons, but perhaps the biggest is because of volume. The App Store should see a great spike in activity on Black Friday brought on by sales or even by the mere expectation of sales. So with so much click-happy purchasing going on, a savvy App Store developer/merchant might want to make sure they've got something to sell during that time. It's our hope that Black Friday will bring opportunity for some great deals and even for some newly introduced and hotly anticipated brand new apps which have been in development but are close to being finished.
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