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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: Frontline: Road to Moscow, by Slitherine Software

Walter OHara
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FRONTLINE: ROAD TO MOSCOW
Publisher: Slitherine Software
Price: 2.99
ITUNES link
Post repeats HERE in case of broken links or graphics

When I saw the first glimpses of Frontline: Road to Moscow online, I admit I had mixed feelings. On the plus side, this is a Slitherine product. They are an outfit that knows military conflict simulation games-- they've published dozens for the PC, and a few for the Ipad and other platforms. They know their craft. On the negative side, I have not been that impressed with Slitherine's game interfaces on an Ipad, which often are straight ports from computer games and are hard to read on an Ipad. Lastly, there was something about this game that seemed, erm.. hauntingly familiar, as we will see!


Probably the smallest screen on the IPAD version. This wasn't a port (at least I don't think it was), and thus far easier to read.

First of all, you should know, unless you're remarkably lacking in perception, THIS IS A WORLD WAR II game, about war on the Eastern Front. It is what most people would refer to as a "Wargame", meaning it is a game that simulates conflict in a historical context, usually involving a war of some kind. Old School wargame fans would call this a "light" or "not very complex" wargame. In Frontline: Road to Moscow, you play a role-- a sort of Eastern Supreme Commander or Field Marshal. You start with a few representative unit types, which become a coherent army of sorts, always heading East to the main objective, Moscow, the capital of the Soviet Union (duh). Front Line is a turn based, Igo-Yugo design, played against an AI. As a German general you fight 12 missions that are strung together episodically. Slitherine definitely went for the "Storyboard" concept.. having the campaign unfold as an ongoing narrative that you play in a straight linear fashion, right to the finish line. I could see where this approach might get a little tiresome after repeatedly plays, but I'm enjoying it for now.


The Big Picture.. the Road to Moscow, in several acts. The game unfolds in a story fashion.. kind of.

Along the road to Moscow, you'll earn a kind of victory point called Prestige (or honor, or glory or whatever). Prestige will give you more SUPPLY during a mission, and Supply is the currency that can be converted into new, tougher units with enhanced abilities, or to repair damaged units. The scale in time and distance is somewhat abstracted. You are aware of the passage of time in a general sense by the progress of technological change. This impacts what units will be available the farther along you get on the road to final victory. For instance, your first mission will start you off with a pretty crappy German tank (the Panzer II, I think), Regular Infantry, Paratroopers (which are pretty great), and some artillery against the Soviets with some half tracks, a decent tank, regular infantry, and some other units in greater abundance. As you accomplish more missions, more and better units become available. Each unit does one or two things unique to them, like Entrench, or Ambush, or Snipe, etc. As the game progresses, units will get tougher and you will have more choices of unit. There are apparently two expansion IGP modules that will expand potential units even further, but I haven't felt the need to expand game play yet, it's just fine as it is. So far.


A scenario/episode from fairly early in the game narrative. Unit choices on both sides are limited at this point; they will get better.

Combats between units are intense and bloody affairs, even when you are doing things right. A typical battlefield is seen above. There is an invisible hex overlay that regulates movement, and it recognizes terrain choke points such as rivers, bridges, woods, hills, etc. and will deny movement in certain circumstances and slow it in others. For instance, a unit may not cross across most rivers, except on a bridge. If another unit is on the bridge, it doesn't cross the river this turn. If it is next to blocking terrain, such as a cliff, river or dense woods, it will become evident when you select the unit where it can't go. Actually firing upon opposing units is easy enough-- move your unit within range and the opposing unit will display an overlay that indicates that it can be shot at. Depending on what you're shooting, you'll have greater or lesser chances of causing damage. Regular Infantry, for instance, don't do much damage to an enemy tank, but an anti tank gun surely does. One thing I liked about combat is that it never a sure thing. Bullets miss or ricochet all the time in this game, which is closer to reality than you'd think. Combats can cause retreats, sometimes unexpectedly. Missions (scenarios) are laid out with a pretty standard objective on some of them (take this town, bonus points if you take that town, etc.) but also they sometimes add in something unique, like "conduct an air strike for more victory", etc. Most missions seem like a race-- you are funneled by the terrain into making a certain avenue of advance, or maybe two or three, but the maps constrain any wild sweeping maneuver around a flank. Thus most missions become a flat out race to either bludgeon your way past resistance or fake them out and make an end run when an objective is lightly defended.


Only FAIR victory, hey, I had a single unit left! What the?

One thing I would point out for anyone new to the game-- use your supply points very wisely. You can heal a damaged unit up in the field with supply points and buy new units with them, but those points get used up fast, and in the early game, I found myself running out before achieving objectives once or twice. Note a few obvious things; the enemy AI can heal up HIS units, too, and never fails to. He also either purchases new units with his supply points or has reinforcements lurking in that foggy area you see around the edges of every battlefield. I'm not certain if the AI is cheating or not; the Soviet AI player always seems to have more units than I do and always seems to have reinforcements that I do not. No matter, it makes the game balanced, and dare I say it, FUN. The opposing AI is NOT a genius; I have end-run around it multiple times in the ten games I played for this review. However, it does seem to out-produce the German routinely, and it can win a game on numbers alone.


Unit Iconography, from the Tutorial scenario. You can see the overlay that indicates the German unit may fire upon the Soviet unit, plus the opportunity for advancing fire.

Unit iconography and map graphics are quite good. Normally, I find the little isometric soldiers and tanks to look a tad too cutesy.. not in the case of Frontline, however. They are easy to figure out, not confusing, and I was never at a loss to sort out who was who with infantry and artillery. Tanks do tend to look a lot alike, but you can always figure out who is a Soviet and who is a German by their orientation on the map.

So, in summary, that's generally the game of FRONTLINE: ROAD TO MOSCOW: you're playing a role somewhat like a German field marshal, episodically advancing on Moscow, mission by mission. You're earning victory to spend on more units with more capabilities so you will eventually end up on the doorstep of the Kremlin. Pretty cool and unique, huh?

Well, no, of course it isn't. We're describing Panzer General from SSI from way back in 1994, aren't we? Ummmm, yeah, well, we kind of are.


As paradigms go, it may be done to death, but it's still fun.

That's not to say there aren't differences. Frontline has a very similar flavor, but isn't the same dish. The older Panzer General engine did tend to flood the game with units that were all rather bland and lacking any special functions-- in Frontline, the units have much more individual character and there are fewer of them to move around. This cuts down on the micromanagement aspect of the older games a lot. I liked PG back in those days; but I really wouldn't go back 20 years to play it again. Or even Open Panzer, the direct clone of PG on the Ipad. Way too clunky on an Ipad for my liking.

"Hold the phone!" You might be saying. Doesn't this game resemble TANK BATTLE: EASTERN FRONT, by Hunted Cow, which was released a couple months ago? Thematically, sure. Tactically? Not the same game by a long shot.


Tank Battle: Eastern Front. I found it to be middlin' okay.

You either like that standard engine of Hunted Cow's or you don't. I tend to like the Ancient Roman game of theirs the best. Hunted Cow has improved gameplay quite a bit, but it is still fundamentally the same hex-based scenario driven wargame that they utilize for many periods. I give points to Frontline for being a little more unique than Tank Battle.

So, further along in our summary, you have a game that is something of a blast from the past, kind of like a more narrowly focused Panzer General with much better graphics, fighting a linear series of engagements using a limited store of units to fight combats in. Is it worth my precious 2.99? The answer is YES, it certainly is a very entertaining investment for three bucks. I'm even going to pop for the expansions. Eventually. I imagine it will run out of steam sooner or later but it's a decent gaming engine, with good graphics and an "okay, not very great, but not too stupid" AI that will try its best. I've played over a dozen games so far and I'm still very engaged with Frontline. Recommended for wargamers and non-wargamers alike- the game doesn't have much history to teach beyond the broad brushstrokes, and the level of decision making is rudimentary at best, but it is easy to entertaining and easy enough for new players. For 2.99, I'd definitely recommend it. For 6.99? Eh, maybe not so much.
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Tue Jun 3, 2014 2:00 pm
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Blurring the Lines Between Analog and Digital at NYU Game Center Practice 2012.

Brad Cummings
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Connecticut
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Hello Everyone,

Below are my thoughts on PRACTICE: Game Design in Detail. I have a few more images to add which should go up soon. Overall it was a great experience that gave a great look in to the state of game design.

Thank you,
Brad




This weekend I had the chance to attend PRACTICE: Game Design in Detail. This was the second time this annual event was held at the Game Center at NYU. It featured two days full of informative and enlightening panels and discussions, along with parties and networking time. This event gave the opportunity to swap ideas with industry leaders. It was also a chance to see the state of game design as it relates to both board and video game design. It was also evident that any barrier between the two disciplines and hobbies is fading fast.

The opening social was a chance to check out some very cool up and coming indie game projects. After an early round of Johann Sebastian Joust, the highlights for me were Super Pole Riders and BariBari Ball. If you have never played BariBari Ball, it is akin to Super Smash Brothers and rugby mixed. All of these games are actually holding a Kickstarter as we speak. Your goal is dunk the ball in to the water on your side of the board. This event was also a great chance to meet the first crop of students from the newly minted Game Design MFA at NYU. I was surprised by the diversity of candidates which ranged from LARPers to iOS developers. They also explained that they curriculum involves both analog and digital game design, allowing them to hone skills in all types of game design.

At another event I had the opportunity to speak with Zach Gage and Jesse Fuchs. These gentlemen epitomize the relation between board games and digital games. Zach Gage is the designer of Spell Tower, a very popular iOS title. He has now designed Guts of Glory in conjunction with Jesse which was successful on Kickstarter. Speaking with Jesse, he said that Guts of Glory was a great chance to show ideal board game design. Coming from video games he is trying to make sure the game not only plays well, but also looks great. This philosophy is something I certainly agree with and is a contrast to many war game and euro-games on the market. I personally see this as a key in helping the industry grow and become more mainstream, and it is great to see great designers entering the board game genre to bring this type of game to market.

Of course, apart from the many opportunities to chat and meet with attendees, the real meat of the conference were the excellent talks. The speakers ranged from established board and video game designers to experimental academic designers and even a game designer for the US Army. You should be able to very soon watch all of the talks online. Let me share a few of the highlights for me.

To start off, two words: Richard Garfield. He is one of the biggest names in gaming and responsible, through Magic: The Gathering, for creating a gaming genre that dominated the 90’s and still has a presence today. He also been involved in great board game titles such as Robo Rally and King of Tokyo. He spoke about balancing games and dove deep into several methods doing this. It was interesting to seem he tackle this topic as Magic is often accused of balance issues. He did mention some set that just failed, but most interestingly he said that balance varies on several factors. If a certain block of cards produces several viable deck types, the Magic designers consider this balanced. He also mentioned that many games balance towards the expert player, whereas they also must take the casual player into mind. For example certain Magic cards would never be played by an expert player, but work well in casual play. Richard also touched on how rarity or monetary cost for a component can be a way of balancing. This will be a sore point for many gamers, but it was interesting to consider it in the light of balancing.

Chris bell, a designer on Journey, shared a very interesting talk on folk games that have developed in the Journey system. In Journey, players are randomly dropped in to co-op games with others. These strangers have no ability to communicate apart from their actions and a chime. He explained that by mixing different types of players, new sub-games have emerged. Some players play hide and seek with each other, while others play tag. Players have also invented “rock climbing”, a sort of synchronized jumping, that has allowed them to overcome obstacles in new unplanned ways. The whole concept fascinates me. Players have found new freedom through a set of constraints.

Dan Cook actually spoke later on in a similar vein. He spoke on generating value in games, or how much quality time are users finding in a game. He spoke about how a trade system in Realm of the Mad God created an economy in the game, which in turn created several hours of quality play. He also explained how competition can also be a tool for retention, though it makes the players on top feel great, while those on the bottom can feel discouraged. He specifically reference Triple Town. Minecraft was brought up throughout the conference, and he called to it here praising its level of freedom, progression of players skill, and social aspects of the game. He also directly criticized one off games that can be completed in a matter of hours. He created a ratio of developer years spent versus quality hours for the player. In his view something like Bastion has a 1 : 6 relation, while something like Minecraft can have a 1 : 100 relation. It was an interesting point, but not one that was a extremely popular among much of the crowd.

In direct contrast Tracy Fullerton followed Dan, speaking about Walden, an academic game project. The goal of this game is to recreate the experience of Thoreau’s experience for players. It is a simple game with very few measurable goals. The player is given freedom to focus on simplicity as Thoreau did or to choose another path. This sort of short form experiment was purely academic with the hope of bringing a player an experience rather than retaining users through another method. This game surrounded by the many other games discussed was a very interesting. I am a very business focused person, but it was a interesting to see game design from an academic point of view.

The last event of the first day was an open questions session with developers who wanted advice on design challenges. There were really great questions from new developers to seasoned professionals. The stand out for me was an arcade/word game mashup called Lexcavator. Designed by Adam Parrish, the game has players speling words to create a path further into the mine. The screen is scrolling upwards, so players must act quickly. His design challenge is to bring this game to iOS and he received some great suggestions. I look forward to seeing this and the other titles discussed have successful launches.

Sadly, I was unable to attend the second day of meetings, but I look forward to watching them online. The whole experience was great and it was a good look in to the current state of game design. Many at the conference were from the video game world but they have begun to study board games and their influence on Game Design as a whole. The event is not cheap but it is a rare opportunity to connect with some of the biggest names in game design. If you are interested in board and/or video game design, I recommend you find a way to attend next year. As board gaming becomes more prevalent in popular culture, it would be great to see a large representation at Practice.
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Wed Nov 14, 2012 3:41 pm
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The Week in Review: Soctics, Lucky Dice, Sword and Sworcery, Diablo 3 and more...

Brad Cummings
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Connecticut
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The Week In Review


iOS



Here are some highlights and comments on some apps I have been playing this week. I got the chance to play many iOS titles this week:

Defender Chronicles 2: Heroesof Alethia
Tower defense is an interesting genre that has found a strong home on iOS. This app fit squarely in the genre but changes some of the basic premise. Instead of a long path for enemies to run along, the map is a tower. As monsters attack they will engage with defenders on the tower. Rather than using towers to slowly whittle down your foes, you must engage them one on one with soldiers and then damage them more with your ranged attackers.

I have enjoyed it so far and it is a unique take on tower defense. The art style does not greatly appeal to me but may to you if you like a sort of retro Sega Genesis feeling. You can check the game out here.

Fortune Street Smart
Fortune Street is a long running Japanese series, but not one that I have ever played. Basically it is a Monopoly clone that allows you to earn money by buying stocks in groups of properties. There is a lot of roll and move luck in the game, but I really feel there is a strong strategy in when to buy and sell stock. By improving a building in a certain area you are increasing the rent if another player lands on it but you are also increasing the value of that area for owners of stock in that area. This means that you can buy stock in your opponents Monopoly and make money as they improve it. I feel like this addition really improves the basic mechanic of the game and makes it one that a gamer may enjoy. It will not be something you play all the time but I think it is worth checking out. You can download it for free and play the first map, deciding later on if you want to add future maps.
You can check it out here.

Soctics League
Soctics is really fun dexterity soccer game that I once mistakenly told Gabe would make a great table top game (it would not as the basic mechanic is simultaneous movement). In Soctics players have a team of three or four discs. These discs can be small, medium, or large and each moves differently, the smaller sizes move faster and farther. Players are trying to use their discs to knock a small soccer ball disc into the goal. Players draw paths with their finger to choose where the discs will go and then moves are carried out. This sort of movement allows a player to plan blocks and passes.

The game is very fun and the app is well designed. It has a low entry price and this is perfect for an app like this. It is very fun to play with two players on one device but the AI also offers a good challenge. You can also use game center to play online.
You can check it out here.

Sword and Sworcery
Sword and Sworcery is not a new release but it is something I just recently tried. It is a point and click adventures with some light combat elements. I have played through around half of the game and I really enjoy it. Much like Bastion it is more an experience than a game. A lot of the enjoyment does not come from making the right moves but from feeling an emotional change through the music and the scene presented. The soundtrack to this game is just plain amazing. The title is not for everyone and is more of an art piece than a game but in my opinion that makes it worth experiencing.
You can check it out here.

Lucky Dice
Lucy Dice is a small app from Dice Hate Me Games, the makers of Carnival. The app has a simple premise: roll 9 dice, 3 at a time, trying to place the dice rolled in a 3x3 grid in a formation that will give you the most points. The app is simple and is intended as a promo for the Carnival card game.

I am not sure how I missed it when it first came out, but it is quite enjoyable. I do wish there was a high score system as this would give more motivation for repeated play and DHMG has hinted that they are working on this.
You can get it for free right now.

Draw Something Pics of the Week
It has been weeks since I posted so there are a few good submissions. This week we have pics from jasemills and lucapiu. As always, if you want to share your drawing please submit it to iosboardgames@gmail.com, with your BGG username, and you may see them show up here.



Other



Diablo 3
The Diablo series has been one that I always enjoyed, especially multiplayer. As a teenager I remember enjoying Diablo more than Diablo 2 because I did not mind the more limited story. I tried Torchlight a few months ago and it seemed to bring back that old sense of linear progression and loot gathering. In the Diablo games it was always a challenge to manage your inventory and decide what was important to keep and what could be thrown away. It took me many years before I discovered anything about optimal builds as I was just a casual player. I really enjoyed Diablo most when I was adventuring with another player which may be why I always preferred multiplayer over solo.

Diablo 3 is then the game for me. It seems (despite lacking voice chat) to be primed for multiplayer. The game is constantly online so if you are playing, your friends know it and can jump in automatically. Health pots (not just potions) drop from some monsters so you can get a quick heal when you need. Another feature is that your skills are learned by level but you can choose how to combine them. Perhaps you must be more of a tank than DPS, you can customize your skills to be that way. All of these features make it easy to switch from single player to co-op. I find the multiplayer very fast paced and enjoyable. There are moments where tactics are required but often it is just hack and slash. It reminds me of a deeper Gauntlet Legends, something my brothers and I played for hours as kids.

Diablo 3 really focuses on the fun, in my opinion. There is depth and challenge there especially at higher levels, but there also is simplicity that can turn it in to more of social outing than a technical gaming experience. Inventory management is easy with items taking up either one or two blocks and town portals being always available (no scroll needed, just click a button). Likewise identity scrolls are out, you simply click the item and a timer displays. The focus is on more playing and less management. I am sure most of you have already put hours in to this game, but if not I would really give it a look. It is a great experience and even more fun with friends to play with.

You can check it out here.
http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-8gf1UB9f-n8/T8ZKlx2GPEI/AAAAAAAABa...
Board Games



Origins 2012
Origins was quite a blast and I was able to check out many games. I have a huge pile sitting at home waiting to be tried. Be on the look out here in the coming weeks. We also were able to shoot tons of videos which should be up soon. Some of the highlights were getting to sit down for a demo of Mice Mystics and meeting Richard Borg. Mr. Borg was tons of fun and a great person to interview.

I was lucky enough to pick up a copy of Samurai Battles which comes in a massive box which is filled to the brim. I have not yet had a chance to play it as I am still in the assembly process. The figures look great and can mostly be assembled without glue, but there are over one hundred to put together. It features two rule sets and pieces to play both are included in the box. It is an awesome looking game and a must have for people who love great components.

The other game I have had a chance to check out is Morels by Two Lanterns Games. In Morels players are collecting sets of mushrooms and attempting to cook and sell them to score points. it is a two player game and features excellent art. I have tried to game with my wife and it went over very well. There is definitely a mix of strategy and randomness in the game, but really the best planning will bring the most success. The game features very quality components. I would really recommend this to fans of the Kosmos two player lines or other two player games.

I have more samurai to put together and games to try, I will keep you posted in the coming weeks.

Thought of the Week



As we discussed before, conventions mean different things to different types of attendees. This may be especially highlighted by Origins 2012. For me, as a “journalist” the convention was great, there were many people to speak with and it was usually easy to make appointments. For others it may have not been successful.

So my question for the week: From your point of view (as a gamer, developer, publisher, etc) was Origins 2012 a success and how can it be more successful in the future?
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Fri Jun 8, 2012 6:11 pm
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The Week in Review: Neuroshima Hex Online, Scotland Yard, Minecraft (Xbox360) and more...

Brad Cummings
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Connecticut
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The Week In Review


iOS



Here are some highlights and comments on some apps I have been playing this week. I had the chance to play many iOS titles this week:

Ascension: Storm of Souls
It is more than likely that most of you are already enjoying Storm of Souls on your iOS devices. This recently added in-app purchase for Ascension: Chronicles of the God Slayer is a great addition and provides an alternative way to play Ascension. Along with this expansion, the latest update to the app also adds a promo pack expansion and several welcome add-ons. Some of these include a next game button in online play and fast app switching.

I think this update is a must have for any fan of Ascension. The added expansions really add a lot of variety to the game and increase the number of ways you can customize the experience. I really enjoy no longer having to load the game each time I go in to play, though the connection to Game Center does seem to take a while (this could be my device). The new cards are interesting to check out and really open up new strategies. The next game button is amazing and has done a lot to ease playing multiple games at a time. The IAP system is actually set up well and restoring purchases is fairly easy. I would check this out if you have not already. You can check the game out here.

Casino by Zeniz
Casino games are not something I often try out. I had a stint of really enjoying Texas Hold Em when I was in high school, but not much since then. Casino by Zeniz is basically an online portal to play slots and poker. The poker interface is pretty well done and offers several levels of play. It is easy to hop in and out of a game. The slots, beyond the basic slot game, are somewhat beyond my understanding. It does seem like strong poker simulator and you do start out with credits, so there is no initial investment. I am not sure it is exactly my cup of tea, but if you are up for Texa Hold Em on your iPad it is a well designed option. You can check it out here.

Neuroshima Hex Online
The latest update for Neuroshima Hex is just around the corner. I was able to take a look at the update this week and have been quite impressed. The online system is a large improvement over Caylus and Army of Frogs. You start by creating a simple log in and password, it is sad that it is not straight Game Center, but it is not a long process. You can login in to see games that are available to join or start one of your own. Games can be async or real time if both players are online at the same time. There are also are neat options, like the ability to fast forward through the battle scenes like in a single player game. There is also in game chat. This seems like a laundry list of features, but really it is just to show that Neuroshima Hex online appears to be full featured. It really seems like this can be a new async go to. I hope that you all will check out the app when the update launches. I am very pleased.
You can check it out here.

Scotland Yard
This week Scotland Yard was released from Ravensburger Digital. I have had a chance to play around with it and it is quite well done. You can play with up to six players with local and AI players. There is also online play real time through Game Center. The interface is very well done and captures the game quite well. I will be doing a full review of this next week, but for now it looks like a great game, especially for families.
You can check it out here.

City of Secrets: Pipes
City of Secrets seems to be becoming something of a franchise and Reiner Knizia appears to be an essential part of it. Much like the previously released Skyline, Pipes is a puzzle game. Each round a series of pipes will be given to you and your task is to connect them to sockets around the edge of a grid in the optimal way. Pipes have large and small connectors. If you connect a larger connector to the outside sockets you score double the point shown, but if you connect a small connector you only score the points shown. You can also score bonus points if you have a chain of large pipes from the center (starting point) to an outside socket. It is a game that rewards preplanning and a little luck (as you don’t which pipes will come when). If you are a fan of these Knizia puzzle games this one is well done.
You can get it for $.99 right now.

Draw Something Pics of the Week
One picture to post this week from user katamarimanatee, who posted his excellent Monopoly pic a few weeks ago. As always, if you want to share your drawing please submit it to iosboardgames@gmail.com, with your BGG username, and you may see them show up here.


Other



Minecraft Xbox 360 Edition
Here is a video review I made this week of Minecraft Xbox 360 Edition:


You can check it out here.


Thought of the Week



It seems like more and more “old” video game and board game franchises are being redone or reprinted. A prime example is Diablo III which was released this week. Sometimes these sequels and reboots are improvements but at other times these rehashes can disappoint.

So my question of the week: Should board game and video game companies continue to reprint or sequelize old releases or should they focus on creating new content that learns from the past but is not directly connected to it?
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Fri May 18, 2012 3:42 pm
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The Week In Review: Rinth Island, Samurai Bloodshow and more...

Brad Cummings
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Connecticut
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The Week In Review


iOS



Here are some highlights and comments on apps I have been playing this week. I got the chance to play many iOS titles this week:

Samurai Bloodshow
Having been impressed by Total War Battles by SEGA, I decided to try Samurai Bloodshow as it was on sale. I had the opportunity to try the upcoming sequel, Alexandria Bloodshow at PAX East and so I was familiar with the basic mechanics.

Overall it is a pretty fun lane defense game that combines those mechanics with deckbuilding. The art style is also very interesting though the interface seemed a little overly complicated and unpolished. From what I played of the sequel, it seems like the level polish has been increased. You can pick up Samurai Bloodshow now for $0.99.

Rinth Island
Last week I spoke about some of the platformers I had been playing on iOS. This week I checked out Rinth Island which is a puzzle platformer. In this game you are moving around cylindrical levels trying to collect a wanted item. There is no jump and the puzzles come by pushing blocks in the right patterns to open up new pathways. The concept is neat and makes for some challenging puzzles. I have just started this game but it looks like it will present some good challenges. You can check it out here.

Jetpack Joyride Gadgets Update
Several months ago Jetpack Joyride was my casual addiction. During every spare minute in a car or while traveling I would pull it out. As many of you know, this app is especially addictive because of its mission system. In the latest update they have allowed you to use coins to purchase several gadgets which will give you special abilities. The best part about these gadgets is that they can be paired to your liking. I really enjoyed this level of customization, allowing me to prep my self for specific challenges and missions. If you have not played Jetpack Joyride in a while, I recommend trying this update. You can check it out here.

Draw Something Pics of the Week
I received some really great drawings from BGG Users RainFired, Greyrocks and Wildabeast this week. If you want to share your drawing please submit it to iosboardgames@gmail.com, with your BGG username, and you may see them show up here.


Board Games




Game Night and Battlegrounds Gaming
This week I was able to play more Lords of Waterdeep. This is really becoming a staple at the weekly game night and it is easy to find players. I also got the chance to play Summoner Wars this week. I tried a new to me faction, the Jungle Elves. I put up a good fight but the Fallen Kingdom managed to get several champions on the board using special abilities and in the end they were just to much for me. It was a bitter loss. Before leaving for the night I played my second game of King of Tokyo. This really is quite a fun dice game and, if players are focused, can play fairly quickly. It may be one that I need to pick up in the near future.

Thought of the Week



My thought this week stems from the latest update to Jetpack Joyride. Using the gadgets in this update you can set up different strategies to complete each mission in the game. For example if your mission is to collect 500 coins, you can switch to gadgets that increase you ability to collect coins. This element of strategy made this game even more interesting to me.

Thinking more closely about it, it appears that many of the top ranking iOS games contain elements of strategy, defined loosely here as rewarding the player for pre-planning. We can see it in Angry Birds as players must decide how most efficiently to use the birds they are given. We also can see it in Draw Something as much of the fun is deciding how to present the clue to your friends.

We are strategy gamers and we like large doses of strategy in our games, but can you think of a case where small elements of strategy have made a casual game appealing to you?



Note: I intended to have a video review completed for Xenoblade Chronicles this week but I ran in to last minute technical difficulties. Look out for the review next week.
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Fri May 4, 2012 3:19 pm
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The Week In Review: NyxQuest, Hippos and Crocs, Thunderstone Facebook, and a little more...

Brad Cummings
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The Week In Review


iOS



Here are some highlights and comments on some apps I have been playing this week, spoiler alert...it has been a light week:

iOS Platformers
Platformers are one of the genres that I feel do not work very well on iOS. Virtual controls often leave so many opportunities for failure that it is hard to perform the precise movements needed for this type of game. However, occasionally it is possible to get it right.

Paper Monsters is a recent platformer from Crescent Moon games. It has a cute arts style and theme that it carries throughout. It also gets through the usual control problems by using a virtual joystick and dividing the action areas to either side of the screen. This one was actually quite fun to play through and I was impressed by how complete of an experience it was. You can check it out here.

NyxQuest is a beautiful iOS platformer that was originally a WiiWare game. It is not a new title but certainly one to check out if you are an iPad user. NyxQuest does not have spot on controls but the platforming is more mild and the movement is floaty, so the controls are easier to forgive. Nyx Quest is about the experience and the atmosphere, similar to the recent Journey. I would recommend this to anyone looking for a light platformer. You can check it out here.


Hippos and Crocs
A few months ago, during a busy holiday season, Nestor games told me about their latest app Hippos and Crocs. I apologize for not mentioning it sooner, but I saw again the other day and decided to put it here. Hippos and Crocs is a abstract game where players are either hippo pieces or croc pieces, which are different shapes. Players are trying to place their pieces and prevent their opponent from placing pieces. The first person to be unable to place a piece loses. It is a fun little game and at $0.99 it is one that you really should check out. It even has online multiplayer. For me, I am still getting trounced by the AI. You can check it out here.

Draw Something Pics of the Week
I received some really great drawings from BGG User deadsqwirl this week. If you want to share your drawing please submit your drawings to iosboardgames@gmail.com, with your BGG username, and you may see them show up here.


Other



Thunderstone for Facebook
Thunderstone in Facebook is an excellent implementation by Zabu games. Facebook games have something of a taboo among gamers (as does iOS), but in some cases Facebook can just be the platform for delivering great content. Thunderstone on Facebook may not have the easiest interface, but it works well enough with a little experience. The single player campaign is fun and it is usually easy to find an online opponent. This will definitely be more played by me on iOS, but it is great to have an electronic version of this game to enjoy. You can check it out here.

Other



Castellan
Castellan by Steve Jackson games is a two player game where players compete to complete enclosed sections of a castle. It shares similarities to the dot game you may have played as a child. At PAX East I was lucky enough to get an early version of this game. It is quite fun and very tactile. Each turn you play cards to obtain building materials (walls and towers) for the castle. The key is to know when to spend your cards, as you only draw one per turn but may play as many as you like on a turn. It is a fun back and forth game that plays fairly quickly. That said, I am terrible at it. Seeing the castle fill the table gives the game a fun toy factor and should appeal to older children. Check this one out when it releases later in the year. You can read more about it here.

Thought of the Week



Many games on the market, videos games and sometimes board games, tend to objectify women (arguably they objective men too, just in a different way). Some recent examples for me include the "16 year old" from Hero Mages and Sharla, a character form Xenoblade Chronicles. Most pieces of armor worn by Sharla in the game are revealing and, sometimes, down right ridiculous. One recent rare drop is simply a bikini top. Sill, right?

So for this week, can you think of any situations where men or women are objectified in a game in a ridiculous, exploitative manner? Is this right or wrong, is there a line or perhaps a line based on the intended audience?
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Fri Apr 27, 2012 3:29 pm
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The Week In review: Total War Battles, Xenoblade Chronicles, Fez and More...

Brad Cummings
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The Week In Review


iOS



Here are some highlights and comments on some apps I have been playing this week:

Total War Battles: Shogun
The bread and butter of iOS development is the indie scene but it is great when a major studio puts out an app that fits the strategy audience. Total War Battles is a great example of this from Sega. It is a real-time with constraints strategy game where you recruit and direct units against your opponents. The game does initially appear to be lane based game as units will continue to move forward in a specified lane unless directed, but you do have the ability to move units anywhere forward on the board and this requires you to think about the whole strategy, rather than lane by lane. This is a lighter version of the Total War genre, but I found it very enjoyable and fun to play. The game includes a story track with additional missions along the sides. Each mission has different objectives, and I was surprised to find that some of the missions are more of a puzzle game than a battle (one has you figuring out how to build 8 temples without violating any of the building rules). The heart of the game though is its battle system and it does feature local multiplayer.

Graphically the game is a triumph. It has a distinct hand drawn style throughout and the in game animations are excellent. When units of soldiers meet they actually fight one on one. When a soldier dies, you see him stabbed by the enemy. This really increases the appeal of this game and you can see the big publisher polish. You can check it out here.


Sketch Nation Studio
This app is quite interesting, though not as promising as it may initially sound. Sketch Nation Studio allows you to make your own iOS games and then put them up for others to play, either through the app, or if the game is good enough, actually on the app store. The games you can make are limited to a few templates from the endless, score chase genre. These are not genres that always appeal to me but it is a fun experience to build your own graphic assets and then see the game in motion. It reminds me of the old RPG builder days. You can check it out here.


Kingdom Rush
A friend who I respect kept urging me to try Kingdom Rush. I am not a huge fan of the tower defense genre so I was reluctant to start out but eventually I gave in. This game does follow the basics of the tower defense genre but it does so with its own unique style. The art is great and the level design seems more interesting than other tower defense games I have played. There was always something new to do. If you are a fan of the genre or have not tried it before, Kingdom Rush is a good, quality example of tower defense.. You can check it out here.

Draw Something Pics of the Week
I received some great submissions this week and here are two of them. For those that made these drawings, please let us know in the comments below. I do not know your BGG usernames and do not want to give out your actual names. If you want to share your drawing please submit your drawings to iosboardgames@gmail.com, with your BGG username, and you may see them show up here.


Other



Apples to Apples on XBLA
I will be creating a video review of this in the near future, but I wanted to mention it briefly here. Apples to Apples is wildly popular party game and this digital implementation seeks to play off the popularity. The nature of Apples to Apples makes it a strange digital game to play solo and the mode offered by this game is really just a mild distraction. The real meat of this game is multiplayer over xbox live. Playing with strangers or friends is quite enjoyable, and I found that my wife and I can both enjoy sitting down and playing as a team. It is a strange fit in the digital space but it was still enjoyable. There is talk of this coming to other platforms (iOS?) so we may be seeing it again. You can check it out here.


Xenoblade Chronicles
Not often does the Wii get an amazing exclusive but this is one of those times. Much like Baten Kaitos at the end of the Gamecube’s life, Xenoblade Chronicles is an amazing example of JRPGness that is for Wii only. Many critics have lauded this as the best JRPG in a while and though I have just started, I am intrigued. The fighting system reminds me of Final Fantasy 12, though you do have complete control over your character. I will give a further review of this game once I have chance to get more than an hour in. You can check it out here.

Fez
I have to admit that before iOS I was generally outside of the indie video game world or even most of the video game world. I have been thrust back in and Fez is the first indie platformer I have experienced. Check out my video review below:


Thought of the Week



This week I was wowed by two games, Fez from an indie developer and Total War Battles from a big publisher. In both video games and board games we have large publishers and small indie publishers. I personally enjoy the mix and like the variety from indie publishers as well as the stability of larger publishers. Some game from big publishers feel like tailored works while playing indie games allows you to discover diamonds in the rough.

My question for this week: how do you feel about indie developer and big developers? What are the advantages to having both types? Do you generally prefer one over the other?

Thank you and have a good weekend,
Brad





Note on Purpose of this Column:

Welcome to my weekly columns. After shifting the way we post here on iOS Board Games, I decided that a weekly column like this may be useful. This column, apart from possibly being vain, will allow me to talk about more apps and games than we usually have a chance to cover. This column will also evolve as I receive new ideas and suggestions.

Initially, this column will do the following things:
- Allow me to highlight and comment on games that may not receive a full review for one reason or another. Perhaps because they are on the edges of what we cover or perhaps they are in need of severe technical fixes.

- Be a platform to speak about video games that may be of interest to lovers of digital board games. It will be a space where I can talk briefly about my physical board gaming experiences.

- Lastly, this column will be a place where we can discuss various topics surrounding table top and digital gaming. This will mostly be thoughts about the genre and industry as a whole.

I hope you enjoy reading this weekly and that it provides a small look at the bigger picture. If you have ideas or things that you would like to see in the column, please let me know in the comments below.

Thank you,
Brad
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Fri Apr 20, 2012 5:00 pm
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The Week In Review: Fealty, CodeRunner, War Metal Tyrant, and more...

Brad Cummings
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Connecticut
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The Week In Review


iOS



Here are some highlights and comments on some apps I have been playing this week:

Fealty
Amidst a busy week of convention preparation I had the chance to check out Fealty on iOS. Fealty is a game whose concept grabbed me from first seeing a video review. Something about covering the grid with tokens really spoke to me. I was excited to get the app and finally try the game out. I will go in to more details in an upcoming review, but in short it is a faithful representation of the game but does not add in many bells and whistles. It features one of the best multiplayer async integrations using Game Center I have seen. There is one bug in starting games with Game Center friends but a fix is in the work. You can check it out here.


CodeRunner
This is a must try app. No, it is not based on a board game, unless awesomeness has a board game adaptation. CodeRunner is an augmented reality game where you go on spy missions around your neighborhood or town. It has to be tried to be fully understood but basically it uses google maps to present a map of your area and then places random way points where you can perform “missions.” The game does not involve actually interacting with anything but your phone and it discourages trespassing.

I really enjoyed this app and I think the concept has some potential.
Also it works great for wanting to go on a walk as it gives you a
purpose to where you are going. I really recommend this one. You can check it out here.


Angry Birds: Space
I felt an obligation as an iOS user to try this app. Angry Birds was my time killers for many months and Angry Birds: Space does add enough to make it an interesting addition. It may not be the killer app that its predecessor was but it does add some cool new planet physics that make it worth checking out. You can check it out here.

Draw Something Pics of the Week
I thought I would start posting some of my favorite Draw Something drawings from the last week. The ones below are mine, but please submit your drawings to iosboardgames@gmail.com and you may see them show up here.


Other


War Metal Tyrant on Facebook
I got to meet with the creators of War Metal Tyrant a few months back
when it was solely on Kongregate. They have now moved to Facebook and
for some reason I find myself again interested in the game on this
platform, perhaps just based on ease. War Metal Tyrant is a
collectable card game where you build a deck of ten cards and face off
against an opponent. You get to play one card each turn and all of
your cards will fire on your turn. The catch is some cards take a few
turns before they can fire and cards have many special abilities that
work in various ways.

The game does follow the free-to-play model and there is even an
energy bar that limits how much you can play. I have not yet had to
invest in any in game currency and have enjoyed the game quite a bit.
The energy bar does limit play time but by the time it is empty I
usually feel like my session has been long enough for such a simple
game. This business model is not for everyone, but if you are looking
for a little neat strategy card game, I would check it out. There is
no cost to invest and the game does do some interesting things. You can check it out here.



Memoir 44 Online
Over the past few weeks I have had the opportunity to take some time to play more of Memoir 44 Online. The community is not gigantic but there always seem to be games available. The interface is top notch and is really enjoyable to play. It really provides an opportunity to play this two player game much more often than would be possible in a typical game group. The pay as you play system does hamper some from joining in, but it really lets you try for free and then choose how you will participate. It really is an interesting game and a great way to play it. You can check it out here.



Board Gaming



Game night
I got the chance to attend game night at Battlegrounds Gaming this week and got to play some great titles. The most memorable was a copy of Lords of Waterdeep the folks at Wizards of the Coast provided me at PAX East. Lords of Waterdeep may be the greatest game I have played in a long time. It has a medium weight (my favorite type of game), takes elements of some of the best worker placement games and streamlines them in to an impressive package. Combine this great gameplay with some of the best production value around and you have a classic in the making. I would recommend you give this game a try.

Thought of the Week



I have to be honest, I play most iOS board games with the sound off. This is because I am either playing them in public or next to friends or family members while they do some other task. I usually consider that element of the game fairly unimportant to my enjoyment. However, many iOS titles have quality original soundtracks such as Carcassonne and Nightfall. Video games in other genres rely heavily on soundtracks to create emotion and enhance the experience. I recently had the Bastion sound track come up on Pandora and I was struck by how much there was to it (Should I play this game? I am intrigued). It made me think more about how music affects board game experiences and called to memory soundtracks I remember from game I have played (Final Fantasy 7 and Mario for example).

So my question for the week is, does music affect your enjoyment of iOS board games? Should developers continue to put resources in to this part of an app?
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Fri Apr 13, 2012 5:07 pm
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The Week In Review: Delve again, Mother Lode, Web of Power: The Duel and More...

Brad Cummings
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Connecticut
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The Week In Review


iOS



Here are some highlights and comments on some apps I have been playing this week:

Delve: the Dice Game Update
I just wanted to give a quick update on Delve. A new patch has been released which fixes the previous crashing issues allowing me to enjoy a complete game. The game is quite fun and quick. It is really a lot about managing your dice and knowing when to hold back and when to proceed. At such a low price it really is a fun little distraction. Also don’t miss playing the game with the sound on occasionally, there is some pretty funny originally recorded audio in the game. You can check it out here.


Mother Lode
Mother Lode was released a few weeks ago and I have been enjoying playing it. Survive was one my favorite games from last year and Mother Lode is perhaps the closest thing we have to it at this time on iOS. Mother Lode uses the base mechanic of Survive (you are trying to get as many of your team members off an island before it disappears and these team members are worth different hidden point values) but does add a few changes. First, it's in space! Second, players can increase the score of their pawns by mining and adding one or two points of ore to the pawn. Any pawns rescued who are carrying ore score points equal to the amount of or they have. This gives more motivation to hang out on the island. The game also features a different set of player controlled monsters, and only one type of monster eliminates pawns from the game. There are also a few other additions such as an open knowledge game end condition and a wormhole mechanic.

I feel that Mother Lode does add enough to avoid being called a straight clone. The ore mechanic really adds a level of strategy and the lower level of player elimination may appeal to some players. The app does look great on iPad and at $0.99, and it definitely worth checking out to experience another take on a classic. You can check it out here.


Web of Power: the Duel
My somewhat lukewarm impression of many of the Skotos apps has garnered quite a negative reaction. I have to admit that they do deliver some great euro games for iOS that can be enjoyed against AI. They are not terribly progressive in terms of design or features sets, but they do put out consistent, quality products.

Web of Power: the Duel is a two player version of this euro-card game. The game consists of players taking turns claiming one or two cards of a certain country. The cards can feature a symbol of a country and also a symbol of a type of influence. Players are attempting to amass the most of each symbol, they will score points based on how much of a lead they have on each symbol they control. The game plays very quickly, but there can be some analysis needed. As with many Skotos games, it is purely a solo affair. The rules are presented in text which is annoying, but they are simple enough to pick up. It really has potential as a two player game so it is a shame it is AI only. It does, however, feature the same great challenging AI with multiple levels that we have seen in other games from this developer. If you are a fan of Skotos' other offerings you should enjoy this one. You can pick it up on iTunes.


Other



Battlefield 3
Wait! Before you start screaming “What the H-E double hockey sticks” and throwing full wine bottles at your computer (oh Strongbad...), let me explain my reason for this game's inclusion. Well first, if I didn’t shake things up I think life would get boring, but most importantly I want to share a little of my experience with Battlefield 3 because I think it is the current shooter for strategy gamers if ever there was one. It is almost obligatory that any owner of a console or gaming PC will play some type of shooter. For strategy gamers I can’t see the fast pace world of something like Halo or Call of Duty really working. Sure you can enjoy it, but it is really about who is fastest and team tactics don’t really feed into it that strongly.

Battlefield 3 shares some things with these other titles but at the same time it really provides a more strategic and team based style of play. Players can hop on with a group of friends and enjoy some real squad based tactics. Each person in the squad is more than just a man with a gun. They could be a medic or an engineer, for example. Likewise the squad could hop in a tank, or one member could drive the tank while the infantry helps defend it. All of these choices and chances to be more than just a dude with an assault rifle really make Battlefield 3 an enjoyable experience. I am terrible at shooters but in this game I feel like I can take on other roles that help my team and even help me progress as a character. Shooters may not be for everyone, but if I had to recommend a shooter to a reader of BGG, Battlefield 3 would be it.



Quarrel
Quarrel was one of my favorite iOS games from last year. It really combined some board game elements in to a an extremely fun game. One of the lacking elements of the iOS version was multiplayer. Quarrel has now been released for Xbox live and features the full game from iOS with new features including multiplayer.


Now before you get too excited, the XBLA servers are fairly vacant at the moment but I do hope that this posting can offer the game some needed publicity and perhaps increase the player count. The game looks great in HD and everything is polished. This game has actually been a hit with my wife and we like to play together (though sometimes in this game, two brains actually slow things down). If you pick this up, be sure to PM me. I can add you to XBLA and we can play. You can check it out here.



Board Gaming



Game night
I was able to attend a local game night again this week. We started out by playing a few dice games including Roll Through the Ages and To Court the King. I had previously only played Roll Through the Ages on iPhone so it was great to play in real life and with competition. I also had the chance to play Dungeon Run which was good fun until some of our players had to leave. The remaining player and I completed a two player game but it just does not have the same level of enjoyment and back stabbing.

Sadly my Risk Legacy group has not been gathered yet. We are still looking for players but hopefully we will get it going pretty soon. I am looking forward to playing in a game with a progressive campaign.


Thought of the Week



I have spent much of this week preparing for PAX East. I have several meetings lined up and now have a petty thorough sound and camera rig sitting in my living room (good bye iPhone camera, hello Final Cut). My thought this week is about conventions and is really more of a question.

For me thus far conventions have been an enjoyable form of work. I spend most of the day running around speaking with different companies and try to get some gaming in at night when possible. Conventions are obviously important to people like me because they offer a chance to interview several companies at once, and they are great for companies because they can interact directly with consumers and press. My question this week is “What are some of your favorite convention experiences and what do conventions mean to you? Why do you or do you not attend conventions?” This is more of a topic for discussion but I thought it would be interesting to see the reactions from different individuals.

Thank you and have a pleasant weekend,
Brad
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Fri Mar 30, 2012 2:00 pm
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The Week in Review: Delve, Battleloot, Chaos Rings II, Magic 2012 and more...

Brad Cummings
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The Week In Review

Hi Everyone,

Welcome to the first of my weekly columns. After shifting the way we post here on iOS Board Games, I decided that a weekly column like this may be useful. This column, apart from possibly being vain, will allow me to talk about more apps and games than we usually have a chance to cover. This column will also evolve as I receive new ideas and suggestions.

Initially, this column will do the following things:
- Allow me to highlight and comment on games that may not receive a full review for one reason or another. Perhaps because they are on the edges of what we cover or perhaps they are in need of severe technical fixes.
- Be a platform to speak about video games that may be of interest to lovers of digital board games. It will be a space where I can talk briefly about my physical board gaming experiences.
- Lastly, this column will be a place where we can discuss various topics surrounding table top and digital gaming. This will mostly be thoughts about the genre and industry as a whole.

I hope you enjoy reading this weekly and that it provides a small look at the bigger picture. If you have ideas or things that you would like to see in the column, please let me know in the comments below.

Thank you,
Brad


iOS



Here are some highlights and comments on some apps I have been playing this week:

Delve: the Dice Game
Based on the popular print and play game found here on BGG, Delve has now made its way to iOS. Some have complained about the anime art style used for the game, but it did not really seem to affect my experience. This game is a very fun dice management game with strategy level between Zombie Dice and Roll Through the Ages. Players venture in to a dungeon with four heroes. These heroes have abilities that are activated with various dice combinations and these combinations are used to damage dungeon monsters or heal the party.

I meant to play this one more this week, but currently it has some big glitches that will need to be repaired. This game has potential so keep it on your radar. We will be sure to let you know when a patch has arrived. You can check it out here.

Chaos RIngs II
Before starting iOS Board Games last year, my first iOS review was actually of Chaos Rings for iPhone. It is a series of original turn based RPGs for the platform. The first two installments were connected and featured similar mechanics, while this newest installment breaks new ground not only in story but also in the level of polish. The previous installments seemed like worthy experiments in bringing this genre to iOS, whereas Chaos Rings II feels perfectly at home on iOS, almost tailored to it, while still delivering a deep level of gameplay comparable to many console games of this genre. The term “console quality” gets thrown around a lot, and I dare not use it here, rather this game is iOS quality, but proof that iOS games can feature deep gameplay.

Chaos Rings II feels like a complete package. There are defined side quests and a tailored, compelling narrative that features real player choices. The basic premise is that you are tasked with sacrificing 5 people to save the world, and you make the choice of the order they are sacrificed. This can change your game drastically and encourages replayability. I have played for nearly 10 hours at this point and there appears to be much more adventure to go. This genre may not be for every player but the battles are very strategic and interesting and this is a great example of a deep title on iOS. Upon completion of the game and time permitting I hope to get a full review of the game up on Video Game Geek. You can check it out here.


Battleloot Adventure
This app has been advertised all wrong. Before its release Touch Arcade called it an Action RPG, and many other said similar things. Battleloot Adventure is actually a turn based battle game. Imagine the battle system from a 32bit Final Fantasy game combined with the quick-time events of the Mario RPGs, and then take all of that and mix it with the Tank, Healer, DPS mechanics of a MMORPG. After you combine all of those ingredients, distill it all into its purest form and skin it in some of the most beautiful art I have ever seen on iOS. That is a lot to imagine, I know, so justcheck it out yourself for $0.99.

Seriously though, this game is a blast. You assemble your own team of adventures which you can customize and take them on missions to battle monsters or other adventures in various locales. I have played a few hours, completed several missions and appear to have just scratched the surface. It may not be a board game port but it is extremely strategic and should be a good fit for fans of team based tactical battles.




Other



Magic 2012
One of my hopes is to one day expand the blog to cover board game experiences on many platforms. One such experience I had recently was with Magic 2012 on Xbox Live. This game is simply Magic: the Gathering with pre-constructed decks. There are several decks available at purchase as well as several that can be purchased afterwards. I found this game very enjoyable as a MTG player in my youth. It gave me the game of magic without the collectable aspect.

I would recommend this for any fans of the mechanics of MTG that do not want to have to find and build their own decks. You usually know your deck can match what is coming at you in this controlled arena. It may be worth a purchase if this fits your bill. You can check it out here.

Board Gaming



Counter to popular belief, I do take the chance to play physical board games whenever possible. Lucky for me I have had many opportunities to play games over the past week.

Conn Con 2012
This was my first year attending Conn Con, a local convention in Stamford, CT. It was a fun straight gaming focused convention with plenty of open gaming as well as scheduled events. I was able to play a few titles such as Haggis, The Resistance and Hive. I participated in an event for Eminent Domain, winning one of the two games we played. I am really enjoying that game and new strategies seem to open up each time I play. I got to shake hands with Eric Summerer and then played a game of Summoner Wars with Octavian of BGG. The game, like many SW games came down the wire but Octavian pulled it off just in the nick of time. Overall it was a great convention and I hope to attend in the coming years.

Game night
My wife recently started a great video editing job that has her working from noon to 8pm. This schedule is a bummer in any ways but one positive is that I can now attend a weekly game night at Battlegrounds Gaming in Norwalk, CT. This week we played Summoner Wars, 7 Wonders, Memoir 44, and Dominion. It was a fun night and I am looking forward to doing this more often. We are also hoping to start a Risk Legacy group in the next few weeks, so perhaps I will discuss that in the future.

Final Thought



This week I have been thinking a lot about games that elicit an emotional reaction and how much you can really become emotionally invested in a game experience. I am not referring to the desire to win or lose which can be a strong emotional trigger, but rather the ability to feel an emotion with/towards characters in a game. This has been on my mind after hearing the folks at Gamers with Jobs talk about the emotional feelings created for them by Mass Effect 3. This puzzled me as I had experienced emotional connections through other media such as books and films, but I don’t recall often being connected that closely to video game characters. However, with Chaos Rings II this week I actually experienced some moments of emotional and moral dilemma. For example, in the game you are forced to choose which of five characters will be sacrificed. This removes them from the game and changes the rest of the story. My first thought was to choose the weakest character stats-wise, but then I found myself thinking, there is no way I can kill a child or a woman first so obviously the choice must be so and so. This intrigued me as I suddenly felt the dilemma of the character I was controlling.

So that is my thought for the week. Can/should games have the power to elicit the same character connections and emotional reactions created by films and books? Also, are their board games that do this successfully and in what ways can board games do this? Discuss.
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Fri Mar 23, 2012 10:15 pm
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