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iOS Review: Michael Schacht's Web of Power Card Game: The Duel

Brad Cummings
United States
Connecticut
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The Stats:
Compatibility: Universal
Current Price: $2.99
Developer/Publisher: Skotos Tech
Version: 1.00
Size: 16.9 MB
Multiplayer: None
AI: Yes.
Itunes link: Michael Schacht’s Web of Power





The Good:
- An interesting euro game with clear, strategic moves.
- A few interface touches really speed up gameplay and help you know where you stand.
The Bad:
- Uses the same feature set and basic interface of previous Skotos releases.
- This has potential to be a great two player game as there is no hidden information, sadly this mode is not included.

Gameplay:
Web of Power: the Duel by Michael Schacht was originally released as Richelieu but has now been given a new theme involving the control of countries and powers in Europe. It is a tense, mathy, open information game where you must plan ahead and consider how each move will aid or hurt your opponent.

In Web of Power players take turns taking one or two tiles from either end of four rows of tiles. Players are attempting to gather the most of various symbols such as countries and also symbols that represent religion, military and other powers. At the end of the game for each symbol a player has the most of they will score points equal to the number of that tile they control. For any type tile they have none of, they lose 5 points. A few other wrinkles add some control and randomness to the game. Each player has three ownership tokens. After a player takes their tiles they may place an ownership token on one of the tiles on the board. For the other player to take that tile, they must discard an ownership token of their own from the game. This gives players some control in planning ahead. Some tiles feature facedown tokens on top of them that will give a player an additional symbol, though they do not know which one until they receive the token. The game really comes down to advance planning and players must be careful they are not setting up the opponent for a big move. It is very euro style in nature: strategic with very little randomness.

Implementation:
Web of Power is the latest from Skotos Tech and features their recognizable MobileEuroCard platform. I have ranted and raved about the look and functionality of the platform many times, but will refrain from going in to depth here. This app presents a pretty fun, if mathy, euro card game that, frankly, is held back and limited by the constraints of the engine upon which it was built.

The graphic design in Web of Power is on par with other Skotos releases, that is to say it looks like something from Windows 95. This aesthetic does not appeal to me and I believe it limits the games chances for mass appeal, but ultimately this design choice does not affect gameplay so I will not say anymore. The interface design for this app is actually very well done. You simply tap the tiles you want to take and then hit a confirm button. Each phase of the game is listed at the bottom of the screen so you always know what you can do. One of the most important bits of information in Web of Power is knowing how many symbols you control at a given time. You can view both opponents totals and count it out, but if you hit the “duel” button the game will actually graphically show you which symbol is controlled by which player and which symbols are tied or unclaimed. This is extremely useful and is a nice touch. These interface touches do seem like an improvement to the engine and help the game flow much more quickly.

Like many games from this publisher the app features several AI with different personalities. I was successful in my first game against the easy AI but the higher levels should provide a challenge for players. The game is calculable to a certain extent so turns can take a while as you analyze your best move. Luckily with AI play you never have to wait for an opponent’s turn. Because the game lacks randomness I am concerned that amazing players will be able to win in almost every case. Even if the hard AI never makes a mistake, it is probable that a player could also always make the optimal move. This of course may only apply to a small segment. Overall AI play is an enjoyable experience and makes this game ideal for portable solo play.

Web of Power is a fun and interesting two player game, and I think that this would work great with two human players. I am actually quite surprised that a pass and play mode was not included. This game would be ideal for laying the iPad between two players because of the game layout and the lack of hidden information. Developing a pass and play mode does incur additional costs but these costs are much less than other features such as AI and online multiplayer. A pass and play mode would allow casual players to play each other when the AI mode may not appeal to them because of its exactness at higher levels. The developers has commented that if sales are good a pass and play mode will be added, however this seems like a chicken and egg type situation to me. Frankly, it feels like a missed opportunity.

Conclusion:
Web of Power is an interesting game and it is great to see it rereleased in this new form. The interface features some interesting elements and the game will be enjoyable for fans of euro-style games. Sadly, there is not much in the game to give this app a wider appeal. I sound like a broken record, I know, but the key success on the app store is achieving wide appeal whether it be through feature set or graphic design.

Rating: 2/4 A fine game with limited appeal, by design.
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Subscribe sub options Tue Apr 3, 2012 2:00 pm
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