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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Halloween Special: Ghost Blitz Review

Brad Cummings
United States
Connecticut
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The Stats:
Compatibility: iOS Universal, Android
Reviewed On: iPad Air, iphone 6
Current Price: $2.99
Version: 1.0.6
App Size: 75.2 MB
Developer/Publisher: Terra Infinity
Multiplayer: Yes.
AI: Yes.
Itunes link: Ghost Blitz
Google Play link: Ghost Blitz


Do you ever feel a game is psychoanalyzing you? Ghost Blitz is that sort of game for me. This is ostensibly a children’s game about acting as quickly as you can. Because of this it can find a place with both children and adults, playing differently in each situation. The game actually fits really well on digital platforms and gains new ways to play in the translation.



In Ghost Blitz there are five objects: a grey mouse, a blue book, a red chair, a white ghost, and a green bottle. The game is played by flipping the top card from a deck, each card referring to one of the five objects, and then grabbing that object as quickly as possible. The trick is that the cards are in code. Sometimes the card shows and object in it’s correct color. If that is shown, then grab that object! In other cases objects are show in the wrong colors, These color and object combinations should eliminate four of the objects, leaving the one that is correct for you to grab. The goal is to try and figure out what the card is telling you as quickly as possible. The winner is the person who grabs the most objects correctly.

On iOS the game is played in real time. You can play a solo mode where you go for a high score or against AI or human players. Admittedly, this game is not great against AI as it is hard to not feel like it is either letting you win or cheating. Online play is pretty fun, and it is easy to get into a private game (using a password). Dave and I did notice some odd score keeping errors in our test games. We had one game where it told me I won on my end and that he won on his end. It was a bit odd.

One of the coolest game modes is an online challenge mode. Basically you play against all players worldwide, but not directly. You compete in a solo game, answering as many cards correctly as you can within a time limit. Your score is then sent to the global leaderboard where you can see how you compare with other players worldwide. These competitions reset every few minutes, so you can always try to climb higher the next time around. Admittedly, this feature is a bit empty right now, but with the right critical mass it could be a lot of fun.



Visually the game is great for kids who like spooky things. A friendly ghost appears on the screen periodically and the objects are large and easy to tell apart. The UI is pretty straightforward and easy to navigate. Iconography is used which makes it a fit for younger children as little to no reading is required.

This is a short review, I know, but Ghost Blitz is a game of quick decisions. This is not an iOS title that you will play all the time, but it is a great fit for a quick brain exercise. If you have kids, this is really a know brainer as it is a faithful translation of this hard to find game. I recommend picking this one up for some Halloween fun this weekend.

A fitting port of this spooky game.

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Poll created by thequietpunk
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Fri Oct 31, 2014 5:38 pm
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App News: Icewind Dale Hits Android, Handelabra Talks More Sentinels, Talisman Celebrates Halloween and more...

David Neumann
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Icewind Dale: Enhanced Edition Comes to Android
The latest Infinity Engine RPG from the 90's to get the "enhanced edition" makeover is Icewind Dale. The difference between this and the first two Infinity Engine ports is that Icewind Dale is out for Android devices first, with iOS users still waiting for the app to clear Apple review.

If you're familiar with the Enhanced Editions of Baldurs Gate or Baldur's Gate II, you know that Beamdog always adds a bunch of stuff to the game, like new characters, classes and quests. Icewind Dale is no exception:

Beamdog wrote:
- Swords and Sorcery: Discover dozens of new spells and items, including new magic armor and weapons.

- Blackguards and Wizard Slayers: Select from more than 30 new kits and classes to create the perfect adventuring party.

- A New Look: Experience the Enhanced Edition's all new interface, including the new Quickloot bar.

- Bring A Friend: Join your fellow adventurers in cooperative, cross-platform multiplayer games.

- See The Unseen: Explore quest content cut from the original game, now finished and restored.

- More to Experience: Enjoy the countless bug fixes and improvements that await you in Icewind Dale: Enhanced Edition!


The game also includes both the Icewind Dale: Heart of Winter and Trials of the Luremaster expansions.

You can pick it up right now for $10 on Google Play, and it should be hitting the app store for iOS Universal in the next week or two.

It's also available right now for PC gamers as well. You can pick it up from Steam here or DRM free from GOG here. Either one will set you back $20.





Handelabra Taking Sentinels to PC and Their Future Plans
Handelabra Games' port of Sentinels of the Multiverse is a pretty amazing piece of work.

That said, they're not sitting on their laurels. Recently, they announced that they are trying to get Sentinels on Steam. If you're interested, head on over and vote to Greenlight it.

That's not all, though. They also mention that they're already working at getting some of the promo cards into the game. Update 1.1 will include a bunch of new features, but it should also include 6 unlockable promos. Notice I didn't say IAP promos. No, these have to be unlocked within the game. How, exactly, Handelabra isn't saying yet. They're expecting the 1.1 update to be ready within a few weeks.

As for expansions, they're hard at work on the Sentinels of the Multiverse: Rook City expansion and expect to have something to show us by January of 2015.

Sentinels of the Multiverse is currently available for iPad here and Android tablets here. It costs $10 on both platforms.





Talisman Digital Edition Gets Cheap for Halloween
We love Talisman: Digital Edition here at iOS Board Games. We played it a few weeks ago on our weekly stream and, while online play is great, I've been playing the heck out of it on my iPhone.

It should only get better in the next couple weeks or so, when Talisman (fourth edition): The Dungeon Expansion goes live.

For now, Nomad Games has put the base game of Talisman on sale for only $1. It doesn't include any of the IAP, but getting your foot in the door for $1 is a steal.

Sale ends Monday, so don't hold off too long.

You can grab Talisman Digital Edition for iOS Universal here. The game is also available for Android here, but the sale is only for the iOS version.

The PC version also has some sales going on right now on IAP and The Dungeon is available as well. You can pick up the base game on Steam here for $15.





Tin Man Games Releases Cavern of the Snow Witch
We missed this news last week when it happened, and its a shame because it's another Tin Man Games gamebook, and those are always good.

This time it's an old Fighting Fantasy title, Book 09: Caverns of the Snow Witch. It's the 30th anniversary of the game, so Tin Man included a "retro" setting which lets you switch between the new art for the game and the classic art from the original game book.

Otherwise, if you've played any Tin Man gamebooks, you know what to expect: a highly polished and easy to use gamebook. Tin Man's been doing digital gamebooks longer than anyone, and it shows.

You can get Cavern of the Witch for iOS Universal here or Android here. It's $6 on both platforms.



Ghost Blitz Halloween Cup Announced
Ghost Blitz is a fun children's game that works equally well for adults. There are 5 items in the center of the board and a card is flipped showing a picture. You need to be the first to grab either an item in the picture, or figure out what's not in the picture first. It's super simple, but it's a lot of fun.

Plus, I'm better at it than Brad.



Developer Terra Infinity has declared this weekend to be Halloween Cup 2014, and they're giving out in-game prizes for those that rank in the top 20% of finishers in the "Ghost Blitz vs. World" mode.

All you need to do is play 3 games in the World mode and then Terra Infinity will announce the winners next week. Winners get "world ranking points" in the game, so don't go quitting your day job just yet.

You can pick up Ghost Blitz for iOS Universal here or Android here. Either one will set you back $3.


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Fri Oct 31, 2014 5:31 pm
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Live Stream: Ghost Stories and Ghost Blitz. Join Us Live!

Brad Cummings
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Happy Halloween! To celebrate Dave and I will be playing two spooky games. The first will be Ghost Stories, a great implementation that seems to be overlooked sometimes. Additionally we will be checking out Ghost Blitz which was released recently. It is a pretty light game, even a kids game, but it has some pretty cool online features.



If you can’t make it live on Twitch, be sure to check out the archive after the fact.
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Fri Oct 31, 2014 2:00 am
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App News: King of Dragon Pass Getting Sequel?, Rebels & Redcoats Coming, New Warhammer 40K Title Released and more...

David Neumann
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Wisconsin
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King of Dragon Pass Goes Cheap, Successor on the Way
We love King of Dragon Pass here at iOS Board Games. It's one of the best story-telling/RPG/Resource Management games ever created and it's done in such a novel style that you'll never find another game quite like it.

Well, now there's no other game like it. Hopefully in 2016 there will be another as A Sharp, LLC has announced that they're working on a spiritual successor to KoDP called Six Ages. It's really early in development, so we don't have very much info at this point. All we know is that it will take place in Glorantha and it will be a story-telling game like KoDP. What we can tell you is that it will not just be KoDP re-skinned with new stories. It will be a completely new game with a new feel and different mechanics.

To celebrate the 15th anniversary of KoDP's release, they have also put KoDP on sale for all platforms.

iOS Universal: now $5 (was $10)
Android: now $5 (was $10)
PC: now $1.50 (was $5)

The sale won't last for much longer, so if you haven't given this classic a try, now's the time to grab it.



Rebels & Redcoats Coming November 6th
Decision Games (I) has paired up with digital developers Hunted Cow Studios Ltd. to bring their board games to the iPad and the first collaboration, Rebels & Redcoats is hitting the App Store on November 6th.

You want some features? We got features:

Hunted Cow wrote:
● 5 Mission 'Tutorial' Campaign.
● 5 Mission ‘Resistance' Campaign.
● 5 Mission ‘Revolution' Campaign.
● All missions, apart from the tutorial, can be played as both sides.
● 37 different historical models representing 26 different unit types.
● Three classes of troop quality – Raw, Average and Veteran.
● New general quality mechanic, affecting command radius and leadership benefits.
● 14 different troop classes including infantry (line, grenadiers, guard, and militia), light infantry (and jägars), light cavalry (light dragoons and hussars), dragoons and artillery (4pdr and 6pdr).
● 5 types of infantry formation - Line, Column, Open Order, Square, Unformed.
● New joint Artillery and infantry formations, allowing for effective and resilient combined units.
● New troop morale mechanic (Disruption)
● New 'light' woods that block line of sight but don't give a defensive bonus.
● Detailed Combat Analysis
● Map zoom
● Flank Attacks
● Strategic Movement
● Game Centre Achievements and Leaderboards
● iCloud Saves


You can pick it up for iPad on November 6th for $10.



Warhammer 40K: Space Wolf Released
Games Workshop Ltd. has pretty huge presence on the App Store and, this week, it just got bigger. Herocraft Ltd has just released Warhammer 40K: Space Wolf for iOS Universal.

Space Wolf is a turn-based, tactical game in which you control one or more marines through a full single-player campaign. As you proceed, you can unlock new members to join your squad. It uses a collectible card mechanic, and you can build decks to take on different challenges during the campaign.

Oh, and did I mention it's free-to-play? It seems like you can grind and that, maybe, you can play for free without having to buy any of the "coins" that the game sells as IAP.

Here's the blurb:

Herocraft wrote:
Defeat the unrelenting enemies of the Space Wolves:
• An epic campaign, spanning hostile environments on a distant planet.
• Combat the Word Bearers - fanatical and deadly traitors who serve the chaos gods.

Squad-based tactical battles:
• Grey Hunter, Wolf Scout or Wolf Guard – select your main hero for each mission, to best match your own style, strategy and tactics.
• Unlock all five companions and choose two to take into battle with you.
• Level up your party and unlock numerous perks.
• Lead your Space Wolves into fierce battles in glorious, interactive 3D environments.

Collectible card driven combat:
• Hundreds of weapons and abilities with various mechanics.
• Customise your decks to fit your unique strategy and tactics.
• Victories unlock powerful new weapons, bonuses and tactics cards.
• Evolve your cards at the Iron Priest’s Forge to further enhance your killer deck!


The game only has single-player now, but PvP multiplayer is in the works.

You can get Warhammer 40K: Space Wolf on the App Store.





Playdek has Halloween Sale
Playdek has put some of its games on sale for Halloween. Which games? We have Nightfall, Ascension: Chronicle of the Godslayer expansions, and Lords of Waterdeep.

Right now through Saturday, November 1st here's what you can get:

Nightfall: now $1 (was $3)
Lords of Waterdeep: now $4 (was $7). Also all expansions only $1.
Ascension: always free, but expansions now $1 except Darkness Unleashed which is $2 (usually $3).

You can pick up Nightfall on the App Store here.
Lords of Waterdeep on the App Store here.
Ascension on the App Store here and Google Play here.
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Wed Oct 29, 2014 4:10 pm
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Battle Academy 2: Eastern Front - iOS Review

Brad Cummings
United States
Connecticut
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The Stats:
Compatibility: iPad
Reviewed On: iPad Air
Current Price: $19.99
Version: 1.2
App Size: 302 MB
Developer/Publisher: Slitherine
Multiplayer: Yes.
AI: Yes.
Itunes link: Battle Academy 2: Eastern Front

Battle Academy was a revelation on iPad for several reasons. It was, at that point, one of the deepest and most complex games on the platform. The breadth of content and amount of playtime available was outstanding. It also carried a price tag to match it’s depth. Now Slitherine is back with Battle Academy 2: Eastern Front. It promises more depth and a whole new campaign. Can it reach the already high standards set by the first game?

For those new to the series, Battle Academy is a turn based strategy game set in WW2 (although the engine will be used for several different time periods in the future). Each unit in the game represents either a group of 1-5 soldiers or a single tank, truck, or armored vehicle. The system is you go/I go, you attack and move with all of your forces and then the enemy takes their turn. The game is played in a series of missions within campaigns, and each mission has different primary and secondary objectives. Generally these involve capturing and holding victory point locations. The AI, even on easy levels, will do things to surprise you, launching counterattacks and more.



The series has a few wrinkles that really set it apart from the pack. Spotting and line of sight is a key mechanic of the game. Enemy units can wait in ambush in forests or buildings, and you often won’t see them until you stumble into the space next to them. There are scout units that can reveal enemies within their range, and most units can lay down suppressing fire on a space if you suspect enemy forces may be there. You as the player can use the same tactics, ordering units to hold fire until the enemy is in the perfect spot for an ambush. Battle Academy 2 adds smoke which allows you to actually create your own line of sight blockers and get into position.

The amount of rules can be daunting at first and sometimes the number of units you command can be downright tedious, but nothing on iOS really compares with this game in terms of scope and size (ok, maybe XCOM). Battle Academy 2 features four campaigns with an average of eight missions each. Any given mission lasts about an hour, so we are talking 30+ hours of content for a single play-through. Combine that with online play and the new skirmish mode with randomly generated maps, and you have an amazing amount of content.



Most of what I have said so far could be said of either Battle Academy or Battle Academy 2: Eastern Front. If you are new to the series be sure to read my original review of Battle Academy for more thoughts on the system itself (Disclaimer: I am much more of a wargamer now than when I played the original, so take my complaints about rule complexity with a grain of salt).

Let’s get in to what is new in Battle Academy 2: Eastern Front, for those that enjoyed the first one. First things first, for those expecting a new design, a new UI, and a breadth of new features, you are looking in the wrong place. BA2 is more of a sequel in a content sense than an entire new game. That being said, there is a massive amount of new content and features here that should not be scoffed at.

One criticism of Battle Academy was the comic book style that felt a little too cartoony and a little light for the tone of war. BA2 has taken that style and matured it a bit. Things are presented in darker tones and everything has added grit. Admittedly, I’ve found the new style does make it challenging to pick out units in trees and other cover (especially on the night maps). However, it does seem fitting not only for the game but for the tone of the Eastern Front. It was a very different war.

The Eastern Front also brings new units and abilities. A whole new slew of soviet units is available as well as new abilities for existing units. As mentioned earlier, throwing smoke is a new feature and provides a new layer of strategy. The ability to basically create your own cover opens up a whole new world of possibilities. The game also features an army designer which gives you options to customize your army with the units you prefer. You’ll be leading these units on very different terrain as well. Winter tiles sets and night time battles join the mix of possible scenarios.



By far, the coolest new feature is the skirmish mode. This mode allows you to setup random scenarios to play against the AI or online. We checked this out in our live stream and it was quite fun. The random nature keeps you on your toes and provides basically endless play. If you like the BA2 system, this is going to bring you hours of fun. Another feature I am dying to try more of is the online co-op mode. I loved teaming up in games of Starcraft as a kid and being able to do that turn based with a strategy game seems awesome. I look forward to getting more into this mode.

While the merit of these new missions and features can be debated, for me the best new features are under the hood. BA2 was designed with iPad in mind and the controls feel responsive and clear. While similar in UI design to the previous game, I felt like everything was much more polished here. The game feels natural on a tablet.

The game still carries its PC DNA which can be a blessing and a curse. As with the original, modding is available (on PC) and has been expanded in this version. Expect player created content to download soon. The PC baggage carries some clunky UI elements with it. They have streamlined some, but often times icons still feel entirely too small.



If you've never tried Battle Academy, this sequel is the place to start. It takes what made the original a hit and adds in new features. The skirmish mode and new online multiplayer modes have opened up hours of gameplay. If you fall in love with the system, the possibilities are endless.

For existing fans, this feels a lot like an expansion. There are improvements and new features across the board, more than come in the original game’s $25 expansion, so the value seems on track. If you love Battle Academy and want more content, dive right in. If you were on the fence about the game, the sequel will do little to change your mind.

Battle Academy is a step forward, not a leap. The same barriers that blocked it before still exist, such as a PC feeling UI and an odd save system. However, there is also a lot to love here and a raft of new features to keep fans busy. Battle Academy 2: Eastern Front is hands down one of the best and largest wargames on iOS. It is a must have for any digital grognard.

Battle Academy 2 is the wargame to beat on iPad.

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Poll created by thequietpunk
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Wed Oct 29, 2014 2:00 pm
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Weekly Stream: Halloween Special - Ghost Stories and Ghost Blitz. Join us Thursday 10/30 at 9pm EDT!

Brad Cummings
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Happy Halloween! To celebrate Dave and I will be playing two spooky games. The first will be Ghost Stories, a great implementation that seems to be overlooked sometimes. Additionally we will be checking out Ghost Blitz which was released recently. It is a pretty light game, even a kids game, but it has some pretty cool online features.

Here are the details:

When: Thursday, October 30th, 9:00pm EDT
Where: BoardGameGeek on Twitch
Who: Dave and I


If you can’t make it live on Twitch, be sure to check out the archive after the fact.
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Doodle City - iOS Review

Brad Cummings
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Connecticut
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The Stats:
Compatibility: iOS Universal
Reviewed On: iPad Air, iPhone 6
Current Price: $1.99
Version: 1.10
App Size: 37.2 MB
Developer/Publisher: Aporta Games
Multiplayer: Yes.
AI: No.
Itunes link: Doodle City

Games released at Essen Spiel can take months if not years to make their way to the United States. Digital board games sometimes give us the chance to skip this wait and play something new right away. Doodle City is such an opportunity. This new drawing/push your luck game was released last week Aporta and is already available digitally.

Doodle City could almost be described as a tile laying game. It is played on a 5x5 grid and your goal is to draw roads through these grid squares in way that will net you the most points. Each turn you roll dice to determine where you can draw that turn. One die dictates the column, while the two dice mark the rows you can draw in. If you have no legal moves, for whatever reason, you must burn a tree. Trees are limited resources and act as a timer to the game. If one player burns all their trees, the game is over.



Prominent on the board are neighborhood tiles that feature houses and lots to build new houses. These tiles already have roads drawn on them and are crucial to scoring, so they dictate the strategy of each game. When the dice mark these spots as legal moves, you can use your drawing that turn to add a house to one of these tiles. The grid features several other spaces such as hotels, shops, and taxis. Hotels, when a road is drawn on them, score 1 point for each connected road. Shops score similarly, scoring on number of houses connected via road. Shops also feature special bonus point shields, given when a player breaches a certain score threshold. Taxis are worth 4 points each but are contingent on there being at least two taxi stations on the same road.

Similar to Yahtzee, scoring is limited. When you score a certain number of houses, for example, that number cannot be scored again. You will either need to go above or below it. It’s and interesting mechanic and adds to the level of planning needed. The game really boils down to a solo puzzle. You want to maximize your city, your score. Sure, there are competitive multiplayer elements (the bonus point shields for example), but ultimately you will need to worry about how your city is working.



I actually enjoy Doodle City a lot more than I thought I would at first glance. While its merits as a multiplayer game can be debated, there is no denying that the puzzle of trying to maximize your score is extremely enjoyable. It has those beautiful risk/reward moments that really drive a good game. The dice and shifting neighborhood tiles make this a constantly shifting puzzle.

The mechanic of drawing roads fits perfectly on a tablet. The game handles all of the book keeping for you, highlighting just the legal places you can draw based on the dice. The game then lets you draw in the direction you choose. The scoring tracker is also always visible, giving you the info you need to make good decisions at any given point. The game flow can feel clunky at times but it is clear what you need to do at any given point.



You may be initially surprised at the lack of AI in Doodle City, but a few games in, it starts to make sense. The game has a very Yahtzee type feeling, you are playing your own game, trying to maximize your score. Of course, the score mechanics do add some interesting elements, so there options to play multiplayer either pass and play or online asynchronous. So while the experience feels incomplete, there definitely is a lot to do.

Doodle City is a great little preview of an Essen game. The app is pretty basic, but the game is quite enjoyable, especially as a solo challenge. I found myself coming back to it much more often that I thought it would. If you are looking for a game to really tease your noggin, this is a high recommendation.

A basic but surprisingly addictive game.

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Mon Oct 27, 2014 2:00 pm
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App News: Hearthstone Hints at iPhone & Android, Magic 2015 Making Changes, R&R Apps Galore and more...

David Neumann
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Blizzard Hints at Hearthstone's Other Platforms
Way back when Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft was just a glimmer is Team 5's eye, we heard that it would be releasing not just for PC but for iPad and Android tablets as well. They made good on part of that promise when it released for iPad back in April, but we've heard nothing of the whereabouts of the Android version of Hearthstone.

Earlier this week, Blizzard Entertainment brought Android back to the forefront with an update.

Looks like Hearthstone should be available for Android tablets before the end of 2014 but the iPhone and Android phone version is not going to hit until early 2015. Apparently, they're having a bit of trouble getting the UI to fit on a smaller screen. Surprise, surprise.

Anyway, those of you with Android tablets are, at most, 2 months from being able to play Hearthstone on your couch, which, frankly, is the best way to play it.

There is also some older Hearthstone news, but I don't think we covered it here at iOS Board Games. Last month, Polygon reported that the next expansion for Hearthstone will be a card-only expansion consisting of more than 100 cards. No single-player content like Naxxramas, just a straight out dump of new cards. No word on when the expansion will go live, but I wouldn't expect them until 2015.



Magic 2015 Losing Premium Bundles, Getting Expansion
When Magic 2015: Duels of the Planeswalkers was released this summer, it looked like it might be the best version of Duels of the Planeswalkers yet. While similar to its older brothers, this version offered open deck building which is something users have been wanting for a while. It also introduced a new pricing plan that, it turns out, wasn't so great.

Unlike the aforementioned Hearthstone, you couldn't get all the cards in Magic 2015 by grinding. Turns out there were a small subset of cards--some powerful cards--that could only be gotten by dropping money and buying "premium boosters".

Wizards of the Coast apparently thought it wasn't cool, either, as they will be changing how cards can be gained in an upcoming patch due for November 5th. The patch will change Premium boosters into Battle Boosters which you can earn through online play rather than forking over cash.

For those of you who have already sunk money into Premium Boosters, Wizards says they'll have something for you to make up for the money you've spent. What that might be, however, hasn't been stated.

Also coming on November 5th is the Garruk's Revenge which includes a campaign across Alara as well as access to new cards from the Alara block.

The expansion will be released for Android on Nov. 5th and coming to iPad shortly thereafter.



R&R Games Brings More Games to iOS
R&R Games made a splash on iOS a few months ago with the release of 1st & Goal. It is a good port of the board game and Brad liked it quite a bit.

Little did we know that R&R had been on the App Store for quite a while before 1st and Goal was ever released. Currently, they have 2 other titles on the App Store: Peeple Watching and AttrAction.

Peeple Watching is a party game of sorts, where you pick someone in a public space and then are asked 7 questions about them. Points are gained depending on what the others in your group answered. Frankly, it sounds creepy as hell to me, but it does come with "fake" people too, so you don't have to be a weird voyeur. Anyway, it's only a buck and can be found here.

The other title is AttrAction which is also an honest-to-goodness board game. In it, players flick magnets which attract or repel the other magnets on the board. It's kind of like a magnetic Crokinole. It's for iOS Universal and has local wi-fi and pass-and-play multiplayer. You can snag it for $1 as well.

Of course, 1st & Goal is still out there for iOS Universal and Android for $5.



Pro Strategy Football 2014 Released
Pro Strategy Football 2014 is the latest release of the PSF series. Like the previous titles, Pro Strategy Football is far closer to a board game than twitch games like Madden. Here, it's all about strategy, calling plays and then seeing what happens. It's actually a ton of fun.

Pro Strategy Football 2014 improves on the series a bit. Rosters are updated for this year and there are different difficulty modes to ensure that both the football grognard and newbie can get into the game.

Developer Pro Strategy Games has even promised to have a Career mode, allowing you to carry a team from season to season, make trades, etc. Unfortunately, that's not in the currently released version, but should be making it in via an update soon.

Pro Strategy Football 2014 is for iOS Universal and costs $5.


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Thu Oct 23, 2014 5:13 pm
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Slitherine's Great War Commander: A very challenging strategic wargame for multiple platforms

Walter OHara
United States
Burke
Virginia
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Commander The Great War
Publisher: Slitherine Ltd
Available on PC, Mac and Ipad
Itunes Link SRP as of review: $19.99
Ipad version reviewed

I've been meaning to get to this review sooner rather than later, but this is no light historically-flavored game, like my previous two Slitherine reviews (Quadriga and Frontline: Road to Moscow). Frankly, it's taken a long time to plod through just a few games. Commander The Great War (CTGW hereafter) is designed for serious wargamers who are in it for the long game-- and willing to pay a serious price for the privilege. Yes, that's right, CTGW is not going to be a cheap purchase, it's 20.00 as of this writing. Is it worth the high end price tag? Right up front I'll say yes, it is, with a few caveats that I will expand upon.



SCOPE: Commander the Great War is a grand strategy scaled game. Players assume the role of supreme leader of a nation or coalition of nations on either the Entente Cordiale or Triple Entente sides of the Great War (meaning World War One in this instance). In pursuit of this role, the player will be making strategic decisions for the individual nations on his or her side, including army movements and attacks, naval movements (and resulting battles) as well as research and development of new military technologies.


Game Start and setup-- with some nice multimedia bits

If I were to draw an analogy to a boardgame, CTGW relates to Advanced Third Reich and/or World in Flames the most, in that the player has to operate on the same grand strategic scale in a major theater of war, and there's a similar diplomatic and research element to those games. Yeah, I know, World War Two. I just don't know of any that fill the same niche set in the First World War era-- certainly not Guns of August. In terms of computer games, Matrix Games' own Guns of August (PC version) is roughly similar in scope, but not mechanics. To End all Wars (also published by Slitherine) looks similar in scope but is mechanically very different (being developed by Aegeon), but I have no experience with it.

The setting for Commander the Great War is vast; playing out on a hex map of Europe from North Africa and the Arabian Peninsula up to the North Sea, East to the Ural mountains, West to the Atlantic and French coast. That is a lot of hexes and a lot of ground to cover, especially in the grand campaign games after 1916, when so many fronts are opened up. This can get a little confusing on the Ipad, as one furiously swipes across the map to see what the enemy units are doing during his opponent's turn.

There are five preset Campaigns:

1914 The Great War
1915 Ypres – Artois
1916 The Battle of Verdun
1917 The Nivelle Offensive
1918 The Kaiserschlacht

Echoing the course of the Great War, the Triple Entente (Germany, Austria, Turkey) are favored in the first two scenarios and somewhat in 1916. In game terms, 1917 and 1918 become a real challenge for the Triple Entente player as more and more military technologies are present at start of the game (tanks, better airplanes, better artillery, armored trains, better ships, and etc).


I'm playing Serbia in the 1914 campaign versus the AI. Serbia is a thankless role, but the whole shooting match starts here and it's worth a shot as the Entente Cordiale player. I do have the advantage of interior lines, and a ponderous response from the Austrians, but numbers eventually tell.

No matter which you select, don't expect to be done with any grand campaign quickly. The AI is slow to make decisions (More on this later) and progress is very incremental-- there were no Schlieffen Plans for me.


Here are my vacation snaps from the invasion of the Low Countries (also the 1914 scenario). No grand Schlieffen Plan here; it's more like a bulge forming in the Allied line as the Germans pour in after limited local success. This pattern repeats throughout the game-- It's ALL about finding a spot to break through and exploit-- it's a real gamble, and broad front assaults are almost impossible

There doesn't appear to be any instructions or help file anywhere, but most of the action happens in a few screens and are very easy to figure out. Mechanically, moving land troops is just dragging them from hex to hex and clicking on highlighted squares when the moving unit is adjacent to enemy units. Terrain and Zones of Control factor into movement and combat in a very general way, in that you will move faster on a railroad and be held up by terrain features, or not be able to pass an enemy formation.


Example of moving Serbian movements into the abattoir.

The mechanics aren't the interesting part of the game, not so much. Movement and Combat are pretty simple. It's the other decisions you make per turn that will change the long game one way or the other for the player. Those decisions are made using a simple five tabbed menu:


How to fight a war, emphasis mine!

The management menus lead to production, research, diplomacy and management sub-menus. This is the point where I remind you of your role-- you may want to fight those tactical battles, they're fun and very visually rewarding. However, you're in it for the long haul here, and you are making decisions about what you'll be doing not just this year, but the next two years. So you need to start making the hard decisions early.. do I spend a lot of money on researching better weapons and hope I'm just lucky and don't need a lot of infantry replacements? Or do I feed more men into the meat grinder I'm dealing with right now?

The Diplomacy screen is rather innocuous, I haven't seen much come as a result of using it. Players need to focus on Production and Research decisions exclusively-- resources are what they are-- very precious. You have what you have and you must spend them wisely to be effective.


Serbia's rather bleak production options in 1914.


What can Serbia research this early in the war? Well, I'd choose barbed wire...

When you play a side, depending on the campaign you're playing, you are playing multiple fronts and multiple nations, with multiple national priorities. The Serbian/Austrian front at the start of the war is pretty much a doomed confrontation, so the Serbians need to do what they can do to stall the Triple Entente until the other powers can get engaged. So that "Cheap Infantry now versus expensive Tanks later" equation doesn't really work there, but it will for, say, Germany or England. You also have to consider what the major front you are working on needs-- not just now, but in three turns. For instance, Russia could use those cheap cavalry units. Sure, they are crap troops-- but they are great for moving vast distances without railroads fairly quickly, and can cut off troops nicely. The Germans will be tempted to spend it on better airplanes and artillery to force a result on the Western Front. The English may be the best power on Water but that superiority doesn't necessarily last forever-- and what about buying transports and more infantry, you know, to help those Allies out somewhere?


And this is where you get feedback from your decisions, each turn. What will be next in the production queue, what is coming up in the research queue..

There are a lot of variables in CTGW, and a lot to experiment with-- just don't expect a quick payoff. As I've already mentioned, this is a long game, and you NEED to be in it for the long game. Don't bother if you want a quickly resolving tactical battle game like Frontline. That's not the focus of Commander Great War. Even success creates tough situations-- combat is often very bloody for both sides-- when you lose most of your attacking force in a victory, what then? What happens next year when the other side comes roaring back in a counterattack? I certainly hope you planned for reinforcements!

What does all this mean? You have to plan ahead in almost every turn. In this respect, the game really generates interesting, and often historically flavored results. The game really does feel like World War One-- there's no way a broad front strategy works-- The Western Front ends up a pushing match, the Eastern Front has great scope for movement. The best results for the Western Front is to exploit a salient and push through in localized areas. That often is such a grinder that the Entente player really IS tempted to explore other fronts like Turkey.

The technological developments really enhance that feeling. Germany is tempted to use its finite surface fleet early-- but things really change for them when U-boats come into play.

If I sound enthusiastic, I am-- however there are a few drawbacks to this game-- it's slow, which is why I found it harder to review, than, say, the last 2 Slitherine games I've bought. I find that the AI is very capable, but is facing so many decisions that it does bog down somewhat after about four turns. Before the last update, the AI was consistently freezing right about turn 4. That seems to be fixed. It's still not greased lightning but remember, this isn't an arcade game. Each turn will require a lot of actions on the player's part, expect that to be the case for the AI as well. The other element that I find a drawback to total enjoyment is the lack of transparency. I often was stumped about units appearing out of the "Fog of War fog" that is on the edges of the map.. sometimes I was asking myself how the heck that unit got THERE.. teleporting? I also would like to know what the AI player's decisions were in the proceeding turn. I know it's historically appropriate for the human side to NOT know this, but it would help understand the mechanics, which certainly aren't explained.

Summary: Commander Great War is like a sipping whiskey; drink it too fast and you'll choke. CTGW is far too complex of a brew to be swallowed whole on first sip. You'll have to be patient, take it in gradually. This game will reward patience and foresight, but not an arcade player. Commander The Great War is a game of elegance and simplicity, and it will reward a player with a strategic mindset. Is it worth 20 bucks? That's up to you. I think there's a LOT of game in that 20 dollars, and a real wargaming fan will consider his money well spent. Replay value is excellent.
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Thu Oct 23, 2014 3:00 pm
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Weekly Stream: Battle Academy 2. Join us this Thursday 10/23 at 9pm EDT!

Brad Cummings
United States
Connecticut
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Battle Academy 2 is coming to iPad this Thursday, October 23rd! This is a sequel to the hit strategy wargame of 2013. PC gamers have been able to enjoy this one for a few weeks, but now it’s going mobile. I played a bit of BA2 at HOW14 and the reworked UI seems perfect for tablets. The graphics have also been updated with a grittier, less cartoony style. We will be playing this one and will have a review up shortly, but in the mean time, join us as we play through the game live on Twitch.

Join us as we celebrate the launch of this highly anticipated game. We’ll play through a few scenarios and show off many of the new features. This will be a great chance to see if this game is a fit for you. Be sure to watch.


Here are the details:

When: Thursday, October 23rd, 9:00pm EDT
Where: BoardGameGeek on Twitch
Who: Just me!


If you can’t make it live on Twitch, be sure to check out the archive after the fact.
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2 Comments
Wed Oct 22, 2014 1:05 am
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